Mike Le Caplain

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After a week touring Kent, Practical Caravan's Test Editor Mike Le Caplain wants your tips – how do you fill your caravan’s toilet flush tank with water?

My wife, son and I decided that Easter week this year would mark our first proper caravanning adventure together. As such, I secured the services of our long-term Bailey Unicorn Cadiz and Volkswagen Tiguan, filled the former to the gunwales with all the stuff that all five-and-a-half year-old boys seem to need, squeezed a handful of bits for mum and dad in the latter’s glovebox and sallied forth – destination Black Horse Caravan Club site in Densole, Kent.

And I must say it was a fabulous week. Mother Nature decided to break the habit of a lifetime and provide glorious weather throughout, we visited some wonderful places and generally relaxed, like all the best caravan holidays.

However, I found myself pondering a few thorny, caravanning issues throughout the week – and as they say a problem shared is a problem halved, I thought I'd share my tale.

What’s the best way of filling a caravan’s toilet flush header tank? I appreciate that this probably isn’t an issue that keeps many caravanners awake at nights, but I found myself initially stumped.

First, I tried dribbling water into the filler direct from the 40-litre Aquaroll, but damn near gave myself a hernia – without a single drop making it into the tank. Then I tried the kettle, which proved to be considerably more manageable. But my 12v camping kettle isn’t very big, and after a couple of dozen goes, I decided that life was far too short for this sort of nonsense and went back inside the caravan to put said kettle to its proper intended use. The flush, meanwhile, lasted all of half a day.

I’ve used a bucket in the past (mine has a little spout on it), but find that at least as much water ends up cascading down my trousers as makes it into the tank. And besides, I’d left it at home. Watering cans are better, but rather bulky to store, and the ideal method – a hosepipe – only works if you’re on a fully serviced pitch. Which, on this occasion, I wasn’t.

I tried to get a sneaky peek as to what my neighbours did to address this important issue, but either they hadn’t bothered to fill theirs, or their solution was so fiendishly clever that they only ever employed it in the dead of night so as to keep their discovery completely secret. Either way, I saw plenty of Aquaroll and Wastemaster action during my week away (other fresh and grey water containers are available), but no-one attending to their flush tanks. Baffling.

The answer (well, my answer, at any rate) came, rather unusually, during a visit to a busy petrol station in Dover. Having inspected – and discarded – a cheap washing up bowl as a possible solution, I suddenly spotted a row of petrol cans. You know the sort of thing – they’re plastic, usually green, and come with a spout that you screw into the top. The idea is that they’re big enough to swallow just enough petrol to get your car going again should you be daft enough to run out, but not so big that they fill your boot entirely. Closer inspection revealed a quoted capacity of five litres – and a little light bulb pinged on over my head.

Now, I don’t know the flush tank capacity of a 2015 Bailey Unicorn Cadiz, but I can tell you that, having sloshed a generous slug of flush fluid into the tank, it took just a couple of fills from my snazzy new acquisition to fill it to the brim. Better still, it fitted perfectly inside one of the Bailey's bedding lockers, and the screw-in pipe meant that my trousers remained bone-dry throughout the whole procedure.

My only worry now is that I inadvertently mix it up with the couple of identical cans I keep in the garage, both of which contain five litres of unleaded petrol...

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