Martin Roberts

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TV star and Practical Caravan writer Martin Roberts loves his caravan holidays, but in his November 2013 column, it was time to let off some steam

I know I'm preaching to the converted when I extol the virtues and the joys of caravan holidays. There really is nothing like it, is there? But while I'm always looking forward to our next tour and I love hitting the road in our van, I do have a few gripes.

So this month, I felt I needed to put forward my list of things I’ve experienced during caravan holidays that have detracted from an otherwise wonderful time – and you may well have your own. Of course I've not named names, but sites (and wardens), you know who you are – pull your finger out!

First on my list? Incessant mowing and vegetation maintenance. Yes, well-kept campsites are lovely places to stay, but I've lost track of how many times my leisurely slumber has been disturbed by the sound of ride-on mowers or petrol hedge trimmers at what I considered an ungodly hour. It was before 9 o'clock on one Saturday morning. I questioned the warden about it. “There are 10 acres of grass. What do you expect?” I think he was hoping for some sympathy.

Now, I don’t know about you, but on holiday I’m not keen to rise at the crack of dawn to ensure I can have a shower using the site's facilities. Of course, I accept and understand that the washblocks need to be cleaned at some point, but surely that should never be any time before midday?

My next query is this: must dogs be kept on leads? I hope this doesn't generate a barrage of hate mail, but why on earth do well-behaved dogs need to be attached via ropes or leads when they are just mooching around the immediate vicinity of the pitch? Most caravanners I’ve met have the best-behaved, good-natured, wouldn’t-hurt-a-flea type dogs. It’s so sad to see these perfect pooches (who, after all, are on their holidays, too) dejected and restricted. Leave it up to the owners to decide whether their dogs should be tethered or not.

I've also been annoyed by overly officious wardens. Every site warden needs to remember the basic fact that the people pitched at a campsite are there on holiday. The wardens on one site where I stayed were so objectionable and unfriendly that all the caravanners in our row had their own stories of being treated in a less-than-acceptable way. Come on, guys and gals. You’ve got a job to do, we understand that, but a smile and a friendly attitude will make a big difference to people’s days. Having said that, I must say that most of the wardens we’ve encountered have been lovely.

Do you think campsite check-out times are too strict? I can understand why – especially in the height of summer – pitches need to be vacated in reasonable time to allow new arrivals to get started on their holidays. But being nagged when you’re 10 minutes over the stated check-out time and the site is half-empty seems petty. Packing away a caravan, awning and other paraphernalia and preparing for a long journey can take time, and there’s nothing worse than being rushed off at the end of your holiday.

So, there we go, rant over. As caravanners, what are your pet hates? Oh, and site wardens, what about your stories of obnoxious, outrageous or unacceptable behaviour from guests? Just to balance the books, you understand.

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter
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