Spending summers on the road is part of annual life for the Alan Rogers campsite assessors. Travelling all over Europe, they produce in-depth, independent reports on each site they visit.
Alan Rogers employs a team of campsite assessors each year to ensure the sites included in our guides meet our high standards. Our assessors come from all walks of life but share a common love of camping and caravanning.
Meet the Corralls
Former magistrate John Corrall and his wife Margaret now spend their days doing some judging of another kind – ensuring the campsites recommended by Alan Rogers are kept up to scratch. Armed with clipboards and checklists, they visit 20-30 sites annually to ensure our readers get the quality they deserve.
Travelling across the continent is something the couple takes in their stride. In the past, the couple has travelled through Europe assessing sites across the UK, France, Holland and Belgium. As a former AA route department employee, Margaret is no stranger to a bit of map reading when the sat-nav attempts to lead them astray.
Neither are they unfamiliar with being at one with nature – the decision to move from tent to caravan came after an unfortunate experience involving a group of moles that undermined their Lilo bed!
Many years of touring later, John and Margaret fill their spare time making sure others get the most out of their holidays. "In a typical day, we would probably assess two to three sites, some of which would be new to the guide and require a full write-up." This consists of a detailed form outlining everything from opening times to electricity and gas availability on pitches. It's then up to John and Margaret to decide whether the sites are worthy of a place in the guides. Sites that have appeared in the guides previously are given an interim check to confirm their continued high quality.
Not for the feint hearted
Campsite inspection, notes John, is not all plain sailing. "We have been locked out of a site, refused entry to a site and bombed on by pine cones the size of coconuts." Neither is it a job for the faint-hearted. "We've been honoured to test the plumbing on a recently refurbished toilet block. The grand switch-on was marred by several jets of water spraying from several joints, and the sheepish owner hastily set about trying to fix the leaks. Happily, the second switch-on was more successful."
While the couple prefers to inspect each campsite at their leisure, some owners are keen to show them around. One site owner in the Vendée was eager to give them a tour on his golf buggy, which had been used as a maintenance cart and was in a filthy state. Nevertheless, Margaret climbed in the front with the owner, and John perched himself on the back with the tools. John recalls, "We set off at full speed, too close to the lake for comfort and at a rather a sharp angle. We then turned into a large field, where the grass was a least a metre high, without showing any signs of slowing down. Halfway across, he suddenly screeched to a halt and said, 'By the way, this is my golf course.' I hope he trimmed the grass before the main season!"
Outside their Alan Rogers duties, John and Margaret don their Caravan and Motorhome Club shirts to advise over 30 'Certified Locations' and represent our parent company at the Caravan & Camping Shows at Birmingham's NEC every February and October.
John's 3 top tips for first timers
Take a guide book
Buy or borrow a guide book of the region or country you are visiting. Study it before the trip and ideally take it with you.
Help your fridge (and yourself) cool down
Help your fridge cope with the ferry crossing by putting in one or two large frozen drinks at home. These will act as ice blocks, but of course can then be enjoyed once off the ferry, making room for local specialities.
If you’re new to driving on the right: many drivers come a cropper when pulling out of a service station or T junction, ending up on the wrong side of the road. Avoid this by forming the habit of waiting (within reason!) for a vehicle to pass in the direction you will be going, and then simply follow it.
To discover more about the role of an Alan Rogers assessor, visit the Assessors Portal
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.