It was raining as I left home at 5am for my 6-hour drive - that heavy but fine stuff that wets you within minutes. I hate driving in the rain but as I couldn't do anything about it I had to accept it, so turning the radio to my favourite station and with Sophie and Sugar settled safely in the back I set off. I was heading back to my favourite site at California in Norfolk, this time for nine days, and I was looking forward to every minute - though I hoped the weather would be better than at home.
I took the same route as before, over Woodhead Pass, and when I reached the truck stop just before the M1 I pulled in for a much needed brew and a bacon and egg barm. Motorway services don't figure in my travels - the food is expensive and not very good, and the coffee always tastes like the sump oil from an old banger. Not that I've ever had to drink sump oil but you get my drift. The coffee at the truck stop was decent and came in a large mug, with a bacon and egg barm the size of a small dustbin lid - I only just about managed to eat it all and it would certainly keep me going for most, if not all, of my journey. My second stop was at the Cheerio Cafe on the A17 near the airfield at RAF Cranwell - the large mug of coffee had taken its toll and I needed the loo. On the outside of the cafe door there's a notice - "The cafe toilets are for customers' use only" and on the door leading to the toilets inside is another notice which has amused me for many years - "No tea - no pee!" Certainly short and to the point. So in order to justify using the loo I purchased a can of Coke and a KitKat, then took the dogs for a walk along the edge of the field behind the cafe car park. I say car park, but it looked more like a lunar landscape with rain-filled potholes the size of small craters - not to be recommended if your car has a low-slung exhaust or you like to keep your pride and joy clean, although the car park at the front of the cafe has a tarmac surface and is much better. By the time I hit the road again the rain had petered out and it was getting brighter by the minute, and when I reached the A47 and the outskirts of Kings Lynn the sun was almost shining. By my third stop at the Necton Diner just past Swaffham it was positively blazing, and really put me in a holiday mood. "Are you ready for the last leg?" I asked the dogs. "Yip" squeaked Sophie, and "Yap" replied Sugar. Am I mad for talking to the dogs? Are they mad for answering me? Who cares? - I don't!
My route to California took me off the A47 at Acle and through several small villages, one of which is Filby - I've previously only ever been through there in spring and early summer or late September, never in August, so I was surprised and amazed to see that almost the whole village from one end to the other was bedecked with flowers. They were everywhere - on bus shelters and lamp posts, outside the village shop, cascading over garden walls, along the roadside and on the village green. The whole place was a riot of colour worthy of a place at the Chelsea Flower Show, and certainly warranted a return with my camera.
I finally arrived at the camp site a few minutes after 11am, and after calling in at reception I parked on my pitch (I had the same one as last time) and set about putting up the awning. Now for some strange reason, even though the sun was blazing and there was hardly a breath of wind a mile or so inland, on the site it was blowing a gale worthy of a mention on the BBC Radio shipping forecast. Not very good for erecting an awning but I had my (almost) foolproof method of coping with it in the wind and within an hour and a half it was erected, fully guyed and pegged, groundsheet down inside, ehu connected and everything set out. By that time I was feeling rather tired and would have loved a nap, but I can't sleep during the day so I made a brew instead then took the dogs for a walk through the site and onto the beach.
Oddly enough, it wasn't as windy down on the beach as it was up on the site and it was very pleasant walking along in the sunshine. When I finally made my way back 'home' I called in at the site shop to say Hi to the lady who owns it. She used to work in the cafe on the chalet site just down the road, you wouldn't believe I've known her to talk to for more than twenty years but I still don't know her name! I picked up a couple of magazines while I was in there and after having a sandwich and a brew I spent the evening reading till it was time to take the dogs for their last walk and go to bed. It had been a long day and I was tired, but more than happy to be back in one of my favourite places.
- 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