Waking up to yet another glorious morning I realised I didn't want to go home the following day - the weather was too good and I was enjoying myself too much. So after the dogs had been walked and I'd had breakfast I phoned my son back home to ask if he could look after my cats for an extra day - he said it was no problem so I went straight round to the site office to see of my pitch would still be available. I was in luck, it was, so I paid for another night and phoned my son back to tell him. If only I could afford to give up work - I don't think I would ever go home!
Not long afterwards I got a call from an old friend, Steve, who lives near Peterborough - he knew I was staying at California so said he would come down later that day for a visit. Although we keep in touch regularly by phone, text and email I hadn't actually seen him for quite some time, so I thought it would be nice to have a good 'catch up' and maybe a meal out. He said he wouldn't arrive till very late in the afternoon though so I still had plenty of time to do what I wanted with my day. Consulting my map book I decided to go to Barton Broad and the village of Barton Turf, which I had never been to before. "Want to go out again?" I asked the dogs - and the way they were jumping about with their tails wagging told me that was a definite "yes", so I put a supply of fresh water in the van, collected my camera and set off on my voyage of discovery for that day.
Barton Broad lies in a triangle between the A149, the A1151 and the A1062 and is on the River Ant, but try as I might I couldn't find it. I drove down several country lanes, some of them twice, and though I came across a couple of staithes off the river I couldn't find the broad itself, so I came to the conclusion that unless I'd missed something obvious it could only be reached by boat. I did find Barton Turf though - it's a lovely little village with some very pretty cottages, a village green and a pond. There's also a boatyard, a car park and the staithe where many different boats were moored. It's this staithe which leads to Barton Broad itself, and though I walked along the moorings as far as I could go I still didn't come to the open water. The staithe looked very attractive in the sunshine though, with all the boats moored peacefully in the tranquil water - there's something about boats and water which I find fascinating, they always make a good subject for photos so I was quite happy to spend some time wandering around with the dogs and the camera.
When I had seen just about everything there was to see I set off back for California, calling at Tesco in Stalham en route, to get some bread and a few other bits. Arriving back on my pitch I reversed the van and attached the awning - I had no intention of driving anywhere else that day - then got changed into something better than cycling shorts and t-shirt and settled down to await Steve's arrival. He rang me just after 5pm, he was parked on the lane approaching the site but wasn't sure where the entrance was so I said I would walk out to meet him while he was still on the phone - and when I got to the lane he was only a few yards away! Getting into the passenger seat I directed him round to my pitch and while he parked the car I put the kettle on. He was suitably impressed with my awning and admitted that it was a lot larger than he had first thought from my descriptions of it - and I don't think he could quite believe that I'd erected the thing all by myself! I made us both a coffee and we sat chatting and messing about on the laptop for well over an hour before we decided it was time to eat. And it wasn't hard deciding where to go - across the lane from the site, to the California Tavern, where they do very nice meals at very reasonable prices.
Being the height of the season the restaurant was very busy - many of the tables were occupied and all the ones which weren't had 'reserved' tickets on them - so we thought we would have to go somewhere else. However, I don't know whether it was because Steve is a well-heeled businessman and looks the part, or they didn't want to turn potential customers away, but a waitress came across, took the reserved sign off a cosy table for two in the corner, and seated us there. After getting a drink from the bar and studying the menu for quite a while we ordered our meal - it took a while for it to arrive but it was worth the wait and we both enjoyed it immensely.
Back in the awning I made another coffee and we settled in for an evening of chat and discussion, and a few reminiscences of years gone by. All too soon though it was time for Steve to drive home, but he accompanied me on my final walk round the site with the dogs and made sure I was safely back in my awning before he left. I told him it wasn't necessary as I've walked round that camp site many times in the dark over the years, but he insisted, which I thought was quite sweet. But then that's Steve - I've known him for thirty six years and he's always been considerate. Once he had gone and I was alone once more I settled the dogs on their beds and got into mine, wondering what the delights of the following day would bring.
- 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