This article appeared in the June 2011 issue of the ‘Caravan and Outdoor Life’ magazine:
Camping all over the UK a few years ago, was an interesting experience.
The Brits like camping, there are plenty of camp-grounds and they are usually well-equipped and maintained. But the usual style of camping is a tiny crawl-into tent, a fire made in a circle of stones for cooking, no chairs or tables, just sitting in the soggy grass (and in England, the grass is very soggy). Maybe the campers spend their days hiking or sight-seeing or sitting in the local pub? Because their camp-site would be unbearable otherwise.
Of course, you see plenty of motorhomes, such as the one we were in, mostly occupied by touring foreigners, like us. Then in the south of England, especially Cornwall and Devon, there a lots of caravans, which are popular with the families with kids in summertime.
The campsites range from absolutely luxurious to downright bizarre. The further north you travel in the UK, the rougher the camp-grounds get – one campsite in the Lakes district was well laid-out and maintained, but the water in the showers was rationed – you had to push the tap in and hold it to get a steady stream of water – try doing that and shampooing your hair, while not getting soap in your eyes!
Then there was a very rough camp-ground at Stirling in Scotland where we spent one night – the showers worked on a three minute burst of water for 20p. My daughters and I were okay, we could feed the shower-meter for each other, but my husband was on his own. That meant hopping out the shower to feed another 20p into the slot. Fortunately we were sharing the camp-ground with a busload of well-mannered, long-haired French school boys. My husband remembers entering the ablution block to find a long line of school-boys queuing for the shower. He decided he wasn’t waiting, so he marched to the front of the queue, announced he was next, to which he got a chorus of ‘oui, monsieur’. He then selected a young chap, gave him a handful of 20p coins and told him to feed the slot. Every time he yelled ‘another coin’ one more would be fed into the meter!
The most impressive camp-ground we stayed at was Morton Hall, Edinburgh. It was situated in the grounds of what was a manor house, there were over a thousand sites, all in beautifully laid out blocks, with areas designated for tenters, caravanners and motorhomes. Each stand was level cement, a gift when camping with a motorhome, as leveling those vehicles isn’t easy.
But the majority of campers here too were camping with tiny tents and little else! I guess that’s just their way!
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I remember the family going camping quite often when I was a child. The tents were tiny, and it really wasn’t home from home. One year, my sister and I stayed in a caravan with our granny. What a tight squeeze that was too. I would hope that these days, the ablution facilities have improved. 😉
Hi AD – yes, camping has improved no end nowadays – some places have ablutions that are absolutely luxurious!! Many caravans have built in bathrooms, too, and the finishes must be seen to be believed (we don’t have one of those 😉 )
And of course, SA is the perfect country for camping, with mostly glorious weather 🙂
Now you know why many Brits (like me!) are wary when anyone mentions camping! Love the story of your husband and the showers 🙂
As a South African, I was truly horrified at the way Brits camp! We like things much more comfy here in SA 😀