It was a lovely sunny day as I made my preparations for my second bank holiday weekend at Bridge House Marina caravan site. This time my caravan tower was Vanessa, another member of the camping and caravanning forum, and she was coming to collect me at 1pm. But this would be a weekend with a difference - not only was I taking an extra dog, I was also taking my motorbike. Little Pip-dog belonged to Malcolm, a good friend of mine - I've looked after her many times before and as he would be away for two days and staying somewhere dogs weren't accepted I had offered to take her for the weekend. In return Malcolm said he would come up to the site and help me set up camp, and the dogs could travel with him. And the reason for the motorbike? There was somewhere I wanted to go to on the Sunday which meant having my own transport, and as I still couldn't drive using the motorbike was the only way I could get there. But not being able to transport it in the caravan meant I had to ride it all the way to the site.
Malcolm arrived with Pip just before 1pm, and after taking the dogs for a quick walk round the field at the end of the street we loaded them and my belongings into the back of his car. Vanessa arrived after a short delay and we set off to the storage site in convoy, with me leading the way as neither Malcolm nor Vanessa knew where they were going. Once there it was a relatively simple matter to remove the caravan cover, wind up the corner steadies and hitch up to Vanessa's car, and after a quick lights check we were ready for off. And that's when we went our separate ways - my motorbike having an engine of less than 125cc meant I wasn't allowed to ride on a motorway, so while Vanessa and Malcolm were going the motorway route I had to stick to the A roads. After giving them directions to Bridge House Marina I left them at the storage site gate - my route took me back towards home, then northwards over the moors and on into Preston. Once away from Preston itself it was a fairly easy journey up the main A6 to the site - I went as fast as I could without breaking any speed limits but I knew the others would get there before me. When I arrived at the site they were parked just inside the entrance, Vanessa said they had only been there about twenty minutes so I wasn't too far behind them.
After booking in at reception and getting a barrier key we drove over to my pitch and Vanessa reversed the caravan onto it, then after unhitching and having a chat she left, having arranged to come back for me the following Monday. Malcolm stayed to help me set things up and the first thing we tackled was the awning - I had decided that this time I would use the porch awning instead of the full one, but this turned out to be a decision I would much later regret.
Since its purchase the awning had never actually been used, though with the aid of the instructions I had put the frame together in my garden and colour-coded all the poles with tape to make things easier, and I'd also had a practise set-up without the canvas only a couple of weeks previously. But for some reason things that day just didn't want to go right - in spite of the tape on the poles we couldn't seem to get things right and a couple of times we put the wrong pole into the wrong corner. Then when we did get all the poles in their correct places they didn't seem to want to stay together, and as fast as we were linking two poles at one side the poles on the other side were coming apart. At one point I could see that Malcolm was getting really frustrated but he was too polite to say anything - I was just about to admit defeat and give up when miraculously everything seemed to fall into place. The poles stayed joined together and the frame stood upright without falling over, so finally we were able to tighten everything up and start pegging the canvas down. Once that was done and the groundsheet was down I connected up the electricity, got some water from the nearby tap and put the kettle on for a much-needed brew. It wasn't long after that when Malcolm said he had to go, so after transferring my bags and the dogs into the awning he took his leave. I continued setting up camp and finally wheeled my motorbike from where I'd left it on the vacant pitch next door and parked it behind the caravan. Then it was time to feed the dogs and take them for a good walk before making something to eat and another brew.
I spent much of the evening watching tv, but after the rigours of the day I found myself falling asleep long before bedtime, so I took the dogs for a final short walk round the site, settled them on their beds in the awning and got into my own bed - and I didn't even have time to make any plans for the following day before my eyes closed and I was fast asleep.
- 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