Anyone may be forgiven for thinking that I was travelling a long way just to go camping but this wasn't California in the USA, it was California in Norfolk, a lovely little area just north of Great Yarmouth which I had been to many times before, though this would be the first time on my own. I had left the van packed up from my previous weekend break so all I had to do when I woke at 4am was make a quick brew and take the dogs for a short walk before making a 5am start, though I had to admit that I was feeling just a little bit nervous. I had only been driving since early April and this was my first really long journey - 240 miles - so I hoped I would be okay. There is no really direct route from the north west to the Norfolk coast so I chose the route my ex had driven many times before and which I was very familiar with, though I must admit that driving the route is a whole different kettle of fish to being a passenger/navigator. There were two reasons for leaving home so early, the main one being that my route took me over Woodhead Pass and I wanted to get that part of the journey over with early. For those who don't know, the A628 over Woodhead is a very busy and winding single-carriageway road used by a lot of HGVs - get stuck behind one of those and there's absolutely no chance of overtaking for miles (unless you want to risk meeting God a lot sooner than you anticipated), so it made sense to travel early and avoid the worst of the traffic. Also the earlier I set off the earlier I would get to the camp site and start enjoying my break.
An hour and a half into the journey, and with Woodhead Pass behind me I stopped at a roadside truck stop a mile before the M1 for a much needed coffee, then after taking the dogs for a short walk along the grass verge I continued my journey via the M1 and A57 to the A1, then the A17 and finally the A47. I stopped five times altogether over the whole journey as my eyes kept feeling tired and I didn't want to fall asleep at the wheel - I found that a quick five minute power nap in a layby was all I needed to be able to continue a bit further. The drive took me six hours altogether, which was the same length of time it used to take my ex, so I was quite pleased with my progress. As I drove up the lane leading to the site I felt quite a sense of achievement - I had just completed my first really long drive without accident or mishap, and actually quite enjoyed myself in the process.
When I arrived on site - Drewery Caravan & Camp Site - I checked in at reception and was given pitch No.1 on the touring section, but when I drove onto it I found that there was a dip in the middle which would probably have affected my awning fitting to the side of the van, so I went back to reception to ask if I could have a different pitch. Fortunately the site owner knows me quite well so he just gave me a list of vacant pitches, told me to choose one, then let him know which one I was on - I chose No.6 which was nice and level and sheltered by trees along the back, and once I had positioned the van where I wanted it I made a start on putting up the awning. Unfortunately though, there was quite a wind blowing in from the sea which didn't make for an easy job - every time I tried to stand it up against the van the wind blew it over again, but eventually I managed to get the centre rear guy line over the top of the van and pegged down at the other side. At least that kept the awning where it was while I got some pegs in it to steady it, then I was able to peg it down fully and attach it to the van properly. The next job was setting up the tv aerial, and once that was done I turned my attention to sorting out the inside and connecting the electric hook-up.
With everything finally done I took the dogs for a much needed walk round the site - it had been clouding over gradually while I was setting up the awning and I had just got back when the heavens opened. It poured down for the rest of the afternoon and evening so I settled in with a book and a dvd, and apart from taking the dogs for their final late evening walk I didn't go out again.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it