Sunday, 21 August 2016

The 7 Deadly Sins of Campsites

It could have been so lovely...
After a couple of nights in rather lovely hotels our journey continued with 4 nights at a campsite in Fife.  I had high hopes for this site, it’s located right on the coast with stunning views out to sea and the pretty village of Crail is right next door - perfect for walks to the shops, cafes or pubs. 

The problem is that although the site (Sauchope Links Park in case you were wondering) is in an ideal location, it is far from an ideal site and, as with most things, it’s not one big thing that’s the problem but rather a collection of little things, things like...

  1. Being handed a printed list of rules as soon as you arrive.  Nothing says “welcome, relax and enjoy yourself” quite like a list of do’s and don’ts that look as if they were written by an overzealous Blackpool B&B landlady in the 1970s.
    Even Moses only had to deal with
    10 commandments.
  2.  A code for the toilet block because when I’m desperate for the loo I really want to try and remember the code, swear several times, turn the knob the wrong way, have to start again and then swear some more before finally cracking the code just in the nick of time.  Oh and if you could ensure the hinges on the toilet block door are ferocious enough to make it slam good and loud so the whole campsite can hear it banging throughout the night that would be great too.
    Krypton factor entry system
  3. Grotty showers.  The temperature will only ever be one of 2 things – hot enough to burn the flesh off your bones or cold enough to freeze your assets.  And there is a special level in hell reserved for whoever invented the push button water supply ensuring you spend half your shower freezing to death, dripping with water and shampoo while desperately prodding the wall with soap in your eyes and trying to locate the damn button again.
    I love the smell of a damp shower
    in the mornings.
  4.  Wedging us in like sardines.  This particular site has this down to a fine art.  The pitches are so small and closely spaced that caravan owners have nowhere else to park their cars apart from on the grass between the pitches and there’s only 1m clearance on most pitches between you and the site road either side.  We’re currently on a pitch that shouldn’t be a pitch at the end of a row with a road running around 3 sides of the van – rather like being parked in the middle of Hanger Lane Gyratory System.  The turning circle around the end is so tight that caravans, motorhomes and the local bin van generally need 2 or 3 goes to make it round – we’re thinking of holding up cards awarding people marks out of 10 for their attempts.
    Three goes for this one - only 6.5 marks awarded
  5.  Inadequate numbers of showers.  There are 44 touring pitches on the site plus 5 or so “pods” and there are just 3 unisex showers to keep us all clean.  Yup, just three.  Of course this could be a plan by the site to encourage us to chat more as we queue politely and admire each other’s PJs.
  6. The silent loo.  OK, I know this is probably an expensive and seemingly unnecessary fix, but it’s so nice when a site thinks to pipe music into the toilets – even if, as one site once did, all you get is 1 Enya album on a perpetual loop.  Maybe the gents is different but in the ladies there are a variety of methods employed to disguise the sound of our bathroom visits – the well timed cough, fiddling with the toilet role holder or the shuffling of feet.  A little Enya can go a long way.
  7. Allocated pitches.  I know I’m a woman that knows her own mind and hates being told what to do (just ask poor Steve), but my heart sinks when we arrive at an allocated pitches site like this one.  Plenty of other sites are able to treat you like a grown up and allow you to choose your own pitch so why can’t others?  We’ve basically paid good money for 4 nights on a pitch that is more like a traffic island than a campsite.  (When we arrived we both asked nicely if we could move onto one of the empty pitches, and there have been several available every night including one opposite us, but were repeatedly told no) and we can’t afford to just take off and pay to stay someplace else. It brings out the rebel in me and makes me want to park diagonally across 3 pitches...
    Note the wrap around road.

Of course it could be that I’m just getting grumpy as I get older, a sort of Victoria Meldrew if you will, but I’m sure we’re not the only ones with campsite peeves, are we? 

"Here's what you could've won" - all the pitches we weren't
allowed on

(If you read the blog regularly you’ll know I rarely have a bad word to say about the places we stay, and in 6 years of travelling the length and breadth of the UK this is only the second time we’ve been unlucky.  We tried to do the right thing and raise our concerns when we arrived rather than just bitch about it online but were both told that nothing could be done.  They did say they’d look into a refund but nothing ever materialised.)


This is my TripAdvisor review & the manger's, rather curt response - it's the same tone we were faced with when we tried talking to them.

Just to clear up a couple of things: I didn't demand a sea view - of course it would have been nice - I simply asked if it was possible for us to move to another pitch and explained why.  In fact one of the pitches they offered that I was quite happy to go and take a look at didn't have a sea view and the only reason we didn't move there was because their system was wrong and there was already someone one it.  

Secondly, there must be another issue with their system because the sea view pitch almost opposite ours remained vacant the entire time we were there. And I agree the bin lorry was only there for a few minutes, as was every other vehicle that drove within 1m of the van throughout the day.

Also, they didn't tell us about the other shower block when we arrived - that would have been useful to know.

Here are some other photos of vehicles passing...

I honestly never complain about things, take a look through the blog and you'll see, but this really hasn't been a great experience at all. (Even if I had been the most rude & demanding customer they had ever experienced, which I really wasn’t, that is still an inappropriate response, especially on a public forum).

Final update: We contacted head office who just forwarded our email back to the lovely Caroline and we received a similar response to the one above.  I'm just drawing a line now - life is too short to care about a place that clearly doesn't care about you. I've never had an experience quite like this one so time to move on to new & more fun things - none of which will ever involve Largo Leisure.  😀

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