Since taking delivery of her motorhome in March this year, the subject of toilets - or rather the emptying of - has become very dear to Gillian Comfort's heart. Now she finds herself pondering on the way to a new venue what joys await – or indeed don’t!
During my very brief spell as a Girl Guide (hated it) some 40 years ago, being on ‘Latrine duty’ meant digging holes in the ground, erecting tents around said holes then filling them in when the camp was over. It was horrible. So, with the invention of our supa-dupa Thetford cassette toilets, things must only be better... or are they?!
Well, that depends on where you go. Those of squeamish disposition or eating a meal stop here.
Cassette emptying facilities seem to fall into one of two main categories:-
in the ground that go straight into a drain
Finally, the real nightmare, the bete noir of elsan points... Unless you are 6ft tall with big muscles, there are those high tanks with small openings and no means of raising yourself off the ground. Trying to swing a toilet cassette to shoulder height, aim and deposit the contents with 100% accuracy is a terrifying experience and one that almost tempts you to forget the facilities of your own van but head for the portaloos. The fact that previous users have had similar problems is evident from the blue liquid 'matter' that invariably engulfs the top. Yuuuuuck.
Actualy finding said elsan points is, to say the least, challenging. Furtive whisperings spread the word. One has even been known to make a beeline for someone cheerfully swinging their empty cassette - you can’t swing them when full - to find out where they have been. Sometimes their whereabouts are even unknown in the Secretary's tent. It was evident at the Kennel Club Festival that the term ‘elsan’ is not used throughout Europe.
So, show organisers – please when booking your toilet emptying facilities, if you have a choice, do try and find something user friendly. Please also make sure that they are well marked and the location showed on the maps.
Meanwhile – my box of disposable latex gloves are in the van reserved specifically for what awaits at our next outing.