About Me

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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

Thursday February 24th 2011 - "I'm in the mood for camping"....

That was a song brought out by the Nolan Sisters in 1981 - sorry, it was actually 'dancing', but 'camping' seems more appropriate for today. I can't believe that it's a whole five months since I last had a camping weekend - no wonder I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

After a winter full of snow and the last three days being very wet, the weather today has been absolutely glorious. Blue sky, fluffy white clouds and sunshine, and actually mild enough to go out with my tracksuit top on rather than my thick jacket. Lunchtime saw me taking Sophie and Sugar for a walk round the playing field not far from home - the field is in an elevated position and the day was so clear I could see for miles over the hills of the West Pennine Moors. I did three circuits of the field with the dogs following behind, sniffing and exploring as they went, then stood for several minutes looking at the view. About a mile and a half away as the crow flies sheep were grazing in a field and far beyond there, about eight miles away, the blades of the wind turbines on the moors glinted as they caught the sunlight. Birds were singing in the nearby trees and it was so warm in the sunshine that it really felt like a spring day - hard to believe that it's still only February.

The lovely weather really put me in the mood for camping, and if I could have set my tent up there and then I would have done! I was very tempted to get away this coming weekend but I have too much to do here at home. My thoughts turned instead to places where I'm thinking of going to this year - Anglesey definitely, California probably, the Scottish Highlands possibly, a couple of tractor shows and who knows where else? One thing's for certain though - wherever I end up I fully intend to enjoy it. Roll on spring!

Tuesday September 21st 2010 - A very sad day

This has nothing whatsoever to do with camping, although it is connected in a way so I had to include it. After a 12-month fight against cancer it finally became too much, and less than 48 hours after our weekend at Carrog my lovely brave Tiger sadly died at ten minutes past midnight in the early hours of this morning. I'd had several discussions with my vet about her illness and he had told me the signs to look for which would tell me she was in pain or suffering in any way, and although she had slowed down and spent most of her time sleeping, right up to last night she had shown none of them. Although over the last couple of weeks she hasn't been eating properly she has been doing well on the formula milk, but yesterday she started refusing even that. Then last night she fell over and couldn't get up again, and I knew then that today I would be taking her to the vet's for the very last time, but bless her, she didn't give me that chance. She was lying on the bed at the side of me and I was stroking her when she quietly slipped away, so at least she wasn't alone. Needless to say, I was in bits.

This morning I went to B & Q and bought a wooden box with a hinged lid, to use as a casket; I lined it with Tiger's favourite blanket and painted her name on the lid. She has been buried in my back garden next to her long-time companion Mouse, who I lost three years ago - they were always together until Mouse passed away so it seems right that Tiger lies in the same place. Putting away her bed and bowl later on were hard and yet again I shed more than a few tears. I've had many cats over the years and I've loved them all, but every so often there has been one that was just a little bit more special than most - Tiger was one of these, a very special cat, and she will be very much missed.


Softly in the evening
You heard a gentle call,
You placed your paw in the hand of God
And quietly left us all.

A heart of gold stopped beating,
Four little paws at rest;
God broke my heart but this I know -
He only takes the best.

RIP Tiger, sleep safely at Rainbow Bridge little one  xx

Sunday September 19th 2010 - Bala Lake

I woke that morning to the sound of rain on the top of the tent - a sound which I was hoping I wouldn't hear as it didn't bode well for the second day of the Corwen show, but it was still reasonably early and the show wouldn't open till 10am so there was a chance it could turn out fine by then. Tiger was curled up asleep down by my feet and the dogs were still snoozing on their beds across the other side of the tent, so as I didn't need to rush to get up I rolled over and dozed off again for another half hour or so. When I did finally get up and poke my head out of the tent I found that it had stopped raining, so after giving Tiger her medication and mixing up some fresh milk for her I took Sophie and Sugar for a walk down the lane and along the riverside. Although the rain had stopped there was still a lot of low cloud over the hillside and it was just as grey and miserable a day as it had been the day before.

Back at the tent I made tea and toast and gave Tiger some of her milk, then spent some time reading a magazine before setting off for the show. There was to be a fun dog show at noon, and in view of the dogs' success at the Oswestry show in June I had decided I would enter them in this one. However, it wasn't to be - as I got to the far side of Corwen village I was passed by a couple of tractors and a vintage wagon going in the opposite direction, and when I got to the showground I found the entrance blocked and 'show cancelled' notices up all over the place. The exhibitors' entrance/exit was choc-a-bloc with tractors, wagons and cars all queueing up to get out, and a couple of marshalls were in the road directing traffic. Corwen show is a very popular event, but it seemed that the great unreliable British weather had put paid to what would have normally been a very enjoyable weekend for a lot of people.

Now at a loose end, I decided to drive on to Bala lake, a place which I had been to several times before over the last few years. Just through the little town of Bala itself is a large lakeside car park with the Loch Cafe near the entrance, so that's where I headed for - the cafe serves up the most delicious calorie-loaded Caramel Apple Granny I've ever tasted, so I figured that a portion of that with a latte coffee would make my weekend more worthwhile. As I drove along and got closer to Bala the already grey weather seemed to get worse - although it wasn't actually raining there were pockets of low lying misty cloud over the hillsides and the sky was a really dark oppressive grey. When I finally arrived at the cafe I found that the whole lake was covered in so much mist that I couldn't see any more than halfway across the water, and the lake isn't very wide at that point. What I had always considered to be a lovely place with beautiful views wasn't looking very beautiful at all, and there was certainly no point in getting the camera out. I parked the van so I could see it from the cafe window, and leaving the dogs in the back I went in search of something disgustingly gooey. Now I don't know if the young girl serving behind the counter was relatively new and not sure what she was doing, or if she was just being generous for some reason, but when my Caramel Apple Granny arrived I found it to be a double portion - and served with generous lashings of whipped cream it looked to be so much that I wasn't sure I would eat it all. Not that I was complaining - I hate places where they charge you the earth for a fiddly little slice of something topped by a brief squirt of aerosol cream, and ten minutes after you've eaten it you don't feel like you've had anything. At least what I had in front of me was worth the money and would fill me up for several hours - and I could justify at least some of the calories by taking the dogs for a walk afterwards!

When I came out of the cafe the mist had more or less cleared and I could see across and down the lake but it was still very grey. Collecting the dogs from the van I went up onto the footpath which runs along the top of the grassy bank behind the car park and walked till I came to the road which skirts round the end of the lake - I could have gone further but I didn't want to take up too much time as I had to get back to the camp site and pack my tent and belongings away, so when I reached the road I turned and retraced my route back to the van, and after giving the dogs a drink I set off back to base. Tiger was still asleep on my bed when I got back to the tent, and before I started to pack things away I took the only two photos of the whole weekend. And that's when I decided - I really had to get some blue bedding to go with the tent, that red stuff just doesn't look right at all!

With Tiger in her carry box and the dogs in the van out of the way it didn't take long to put everything away and take the tent down, and after a final check round for stray tent pegs I set off on the journey home, arriving back a couple of hours later. In some ways I felt like I'd had rather a wasted weekend - I could have got the same cloud and rain back home and it would have cost me less! - but at least I'd spent some time away from the busy lifestyle which is my norm. And on the plus side, having previously only tested my new tent in dry weather, at least I'd found out that it doesn't leak!

Saturday September 18th 2010 - Carrog and Corwen

Seven o' clock that morning saw me leaving home for Station Camp Site at Carrog in North Wales - I was going down for the annual steam and tractor show held on the large show ground at Corwen, just a couple of miles from Carrog. Station Camp Site had at one time been one of my favourite sites but up to 2008 I had been to the show as an exhibitor for a few years so had camped at the showground instead. It would be nice this year to go back to one of my favourite haunts - and as well as the dogs I had Tiger with me again.

The weather wasn't exactly sunny but it was bright enough, and with one of my favourite cds to sing along to the journey down was quite pleasant, but as I went from Cheshire into North Wales the sky clouded over and by the time I had reached Llangollen it was very grey and overcast - not the sort of weather I was used to down there. Carrog is only about seven miles from Llangollen and about halfway along on the A5 is the Tollgate Cafe, although it's not a cafe in the usual sense - a small, square, single storey stone building with an ordering/serving window at the front, it's set back off the road with a long layby in front of it and a couple of tables on a patch of grass outside. Serving really good hot and cold snacks and drinks it's a very popular little place, and my weekend in Carrog wouldn't be complete without stopping there for breakfast. I ordered a bacon and egg barm and a large coffee and took them back to the van, then returning my mug when I'd finished I set off again for Carrog.

The camp site is down a narrow lane off the main road, and is at the end of the Llangollen steam railway - the station is just across the lane from the site (hence the name) and the engines turn round right behind the site, though there's very little noise when they do. As I pulled in through the gates I could see that things had changed a bit since the last time I had stayed there - part of a small working farm it had once been just a well-mown field where you could pitch more or less anywhere and put your pitch fee in an honesty box if the owner didn't come round to collect it, but now there were proper hardstanding pitches round three sides, each with electric hook-up, and a warden's caravan in the middle. I've always known the site to be full on the weekend when Corwen show is on so I was quite surprised to see that there weren't many campers there, and when I went to book in with the warden she gave me the choice of several pitches. Having decided which one I was having I drove round and reversed the van onto the hardstanding, took the dogs for a quick walk down the lane, then set about putting up the tent. It didn't take long, and I had just got the last of my things inside when the fine drizzly rain started - not what I wanted at all. I couldn't really do much in that without getting significantly damp so I decided to spend a couple of hours in the tent to give the rain chance to stop.

It was late lunchtime when it eventually came fine - though the very low-lying cloud over the hillside across from the site made me think it wouldn't stay that way for long - so I thought I would go along to Corwen and have a look round the show. It looked rather deserted when I got there though and one of the stewards at the entrance, who I knew from other shows, said that the rain had been bad enough to cause the cancellation of many of the ring events and most of the stalls had closed. She did say though that if I still wanted to look round I could go in free as it wasn't worth me paying - well, that was good enough for me! It didn't me take long to walk round the whole show as there was nothing really to stop for - the fairground organs were silent, and the only stalls still open were the ones under cover and the catering wagons, and I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of visitors still looking round. After stopping to chat briefly to someone I knew who had a stall selling tractors spares I returned to the van, and as I was now at a loose end I decided to drive back to Llangollen and have a look round the shops.

Leaving the van in the main car park in Llangollen town centre I set off for a wander round - it didn't take that long as the town isn't big, and on my way back along the main street I called in the Courtyard Cafe for a treat of coffee and cake. Having the dogs with me meant I couldn't eat inside but I was quite happy sitting at one of the tables in the small courtyard. There were several different varieties of home made cake on display behind the counter and I chose a piece of the coffee and walnut one - and it was so good that I made a total pig of myself and had a second piece. Now this is where a bit of reverse logic comes in - even though I had consumed several hundred calories the cake had filled me up to the extent that I wouldn't want anything other than a brew later on (they were big pieces), and if I didn't have an evening meal I then had an intake of zero calories, so one would cancel out the other! Maybe I should start a new concept - the 'stuff-yourself-silly-with-cake-and-still-lose-weight' diet. I wonder if it would catch on??

Anyway, with all those calories distributing themselves round my body I returned to the van and made my way back to the camp site. The weather was still very grey and miserable but at least it had managed to stay fine while I was out. I spent most of the evening watching tv with Tiger by my side on the bed, and apart from taking the dogs for their final walk down the lane and back I didn't venture out again. It had been rather an odd day really, and when I settled myself down to sleep it was with the hope that the following day would be much better.

Sunday September 12th 2010 - Going in at an angle

I woke early again to another bright sunny morning, and after walking the dogs, giving Tiger her milk and medication and sorting out my own breakfast I was ready for another day of towing tuition - it wasn't to be a full day though as the final session of the course was due to finish around 2pm. The morning's format was much the same as before, but this time our practical session had us reversing the caravan onto a 'pitch' between two sets of cones, first to the left then to the right. At first I couldn't get the hang of turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go - it seemed a totally alien way of thinking - but once that had finally sunk into my brain I didn't do too badly on the left reverse. I couldn't say the same for the right reverse though - my hands, brain and eyesight just refused to work together and no matter how many times I tried I just couldn't get that caravan into that space without coming close to jack-knifing it or knocking the cones over. Eventually I had to concede defeat so that some of the others could have a turn, and I was pleased to see that Roz did quite well reversing in both directions.

After our lunch break we went back to the car park for another short practise session, then as it was a nice day we all got our folding chairs out of our vehicles and had our final classroom session outside. Then it was back inside for a quick debrief and to collect anything we had left in the room and at 2.30 we were free to go. Back at the site I checked on Tiger, went to retrieve Sophie and Sugar from Roz's caravan - her little girl would have loved to take them both home - then made myself a coffee and spent a while relaxing in the sun outside the awning. Roz and Niall were already packing up to go home, and when it came to hitching up their caravan she called me across, sent Niall to dispose of the rubbish in the bins on the main site, and between us we had their caravan hitched up by the time he came back. And putting theory into practise she was taking the bull by the horns and towing it back home herself.

I didn't have anything to rush home for, so after Roz and Niall had gone I took the dogs for a walk up the lane and along the riverbank before returning to the site and making a start on my own packing up. I left Tiger in her pen as long as I could, and when everything was packed away in the van and the dogs were in the back I took her out and put her down on the grass. She had been an indoor cat for several years and as I knew she wasn't well enough to even think about running off I thought it would be nice to give her a little taste of freedom. And bless her, with lots of encouragement she came for a walk half way round the site with me, following slowly a couple of steps behind me.

When I could see that she was getting tired I picked her up and carried her back to the van, putting her into her carry box for the journey home, then with her pen collapsed and stowed in the back I was ready for off. Forty minutes later I was back home, and with the dogs settled on their beds in the living room and Tiger on hers in my bedroom I made myself a sandwich and a brew and spent the rest of the evening relaxing. It had been a very busy, informative and enjoyable weekend which had given me the knowledge and confidence to tow my own caravan, though for several reasons that probably wouldn't happen for a while. But there was one thing I would have to consider first - getting a motor mover fitted to take care of those tricky right hand reverses!

Saturday September 11th 2010 - Forward and reverse

I woke just after 7am to a lovely sunny morning and hoped it would stay like that all day - I didn't really fancy the idea of learning to tow a caravan, and getting to grips with all the various technicalities involved, in pouring rain. I could already hear signs of life coming from the caravan next door so with no time to linger I got up and put the kettle on for breakfast. With tea and toast made I mixed up Tiger's formula milk so it would have time to cool down before I gave it to her, then after a very quick breakfast I took the dogs for a walk down the lane and back. After settling the dogs on their beds in the awning I gave Tiger her medication and put some milk, water, and a small amount of food in her pen, then disconnected the awning from the van. A few minutes later Roz emerged from her caravan and we were ready for off - she wasn't exactly sure how to get to the course venue from the site, so as I was already very familiar with the area it was up to me to lead the way. It only took a few minutes to get there and we arrived bang on time at 8.45am - and so began a very busy day.

The morning started in a classroom, there were twelve of us altogether and after time spent on registration and introducing ourselves the two instructors gave us a breakdown of the weekend's activities before taking us through an informal 'lecture' and question and answer session on the initial stages of caravan towing. At the end of the session we were taken over to the canteen for morning break, then out onto the large car park to get to grips with hitching and unhitching using our own vehicles. We were split into two groups, and with two caravans to each group we were each able to have several attempts. The next step was actually towing a caravan in a figure of eight round a cross-shaped course made up of a double line of traffic cones, with only just enough room to get a caravan between them - when it came to my turn I really didn't think I would do it, so I surprised myself by going round four times without touching a single cone. When we had all had enough attempts to be reasonably confident at forward towing it was time to adjourn to the canteen for lunch.

The afternoon followed the same pattern as the morning - a classroom session and a coffee break followed by more practise outside, this time reversing in a straight line. Yet again I didn't think I would do it, but remembering what I had been told, observing my partner's directions and taking it slowly meant I did better than I thought I would, and I managed to stay in near enough a straight line. With the practical session over with we returned to the classroom for a debrief (I've always wondered why it's called that - it makes me think of someone losing their underwear!) then we were free to go.

Arriving back at the caravan site I found Tiger in her pen outside the awning and no sign of Sophie and Sugar - a quick investigation by Roz told me that they were in her caravan. Her little girl, who absolutely adores dogs, had insisted to her dad that they go in the caravan so they wouldn't be lonely, and Niall had brought Tiger outside as it had got too warm in the awning.

After thanking him for looking after them all I attached the awning to the van and set about making something to eat and mixing up some more milk for Tiger before feeding the dogs and taking them for a walk round the site - I didn't need to go far as they had been out several times during the day. On my return I gave Tiger her medication and put her back in the awning, then went to spend an hour or so with Niall and Roz, chatting over a coffee and discussing what we had been doing that day. The weather had been good to us, staying sunny all day, so the practical elements had all been very pleasant, but we both agreed that it had been a very tiring day and we were more than ready for bed when the time came. 

Friday September 10th 2010 - Turnover Hall Farm

It was raining that morning as I drove up the M6, fine but heavy stuff, and I wasn't looking forward to putting up the awning and getting wet in the process, but I didn't have much choice as there was no other time in which I could do it. This wasn't a camping weekend for pleasure though, I was camping for necessity - I was attending a Caravan Club towing and manoevring course at an agricultural college near Garstang, and even though it was only forty minutes drive from home I had decided to camp nearby to save two lots of driving each day. I hadn't actually chosen the site myself though - I had originally intended staying at Wyreside Farm Park, but I had been corresponding with another UKCS member whose wife was also doing the towing course, and he had suggested that if I stayed on the same site as them he would look after Sophie and Sugar for me while I was attending the course. Well, what more could I ask for? Someone to pair up with on the course and chat to afterwards, and someone else to dog-sit while I was out - it was a no-brainer really! And the site he had chosen was in the same village as Wyreside Farm Park anyway.

There was only one minor problem though - the caravan course started at 8.45am Saturday and I wouldn't have time to drive to the site and set up my awning first so it meant doing it a day early, even though I would have to go back home to go to work at lunchtime then return to the site in the evening. It was 10am when I arrived at the site, a Caravan Club CL which was part of a much larger caravan storage/seasonal site. There was no-one around so I found my way to reception on the main site, only to find it closed and no way of booking in - however, after wandering round the adjacent farm yard I eventually found a guy who said he would come across and show me where to pitch. He did come across but then couldn't find the ehu posts - the back of the site was bordered by a tall thick conifer hedge with the ehu posts underneath, but the foliage was so thick at the bottom it was near enough impossible to find the posts. Now while I think it's a good idea to keep any ehu posts out of sight - they aren't the prettiest looking things after all - I also think it would be a good idea to trim the hedge occasionally! We both searched for several minutes before he found one and showed me where to pitch, then telling me to pay my pitch fee at reception the following day he went off and left me to it.

Thankfully by this time it had stopped raining, so I was able to put the awning up without getting soaked, but because it had taken so long to get onto my pitch I didn't have time to set all my things out inside - I just unloaded them from the van and dumped them in a corner of the awning, then set off to drive back home in time for work at 12.45. It was 8.15pm when I finally got back to the site, and this time not only did I have the dogs with me, I had my cat Tiger as well. Now I wouldn't normally take any of my cats camping, but there was a very good reason for this - Tiger had cancer and was on twice-daily medication from the vet, so I had to have her with me then I could administer it.

As I pulled into the site I could see that the pitch next to mine was now occupied by a large twin-axle caravan, and the sounds of children inside told me that this was Niall and Roz and their family who I was meeting up with. Once I had parked up and connected the awning to the van I set out my things inside, gave Tiger her medication and made her comfortable in her pen - I was just about to put the kettle on when Roz came across and asked if I wanted a brew, so I ended up going over to their caravan for a coffee and a chat. I didn't stay too late though as I'd had a long day and we all had to be up early the following morning, so after taking the dogs for a quick walk round the site and settling them on their beds I checked on Tiger and finally took myself off to my own bed for the rest of the night.

Tuesday August 31st 2010 - Back to reality

I always think that the worst thing about going away is having to pack up and go back home again, which is what I had to do that day. I'm lucky in that I don't work mornings so I'm able to extend a bank holiday weekend into Tuesday, but I still had to be home in time for work that evening. The weather was considerably better that morning than the day before, with blue sky and sunshine and just a slight breeze - there were plenty of clouds around but they were fluffy ones, and although some were tinged with grey most of them were white so it looked like it would be quite a nice day.

The first job was to take the dogs for their morning walk, then it was time to sort out some breakfast. I was just about to put some bread in the toaster when on the spur of the moment I decided to go round to the riverside cafe at Daylock Marine - I don't often eat fried things which resemble a heart attack on a plate, and I'd already had one cooked breakfast that weekend, but I figured if I had another that morning then I wouldn't need to stop for a meal on the way home. Anyway, it's nice to treat myself sometimes, and even nicer when I can sit in the sunshine by a river with lovely scenery to look at. It was very peaceful sitting there with the dogs so it was with great reluctance I drove back to the site, but before I made a start on packing things away I had a final walk round with the camera and took a few more shots round the lakes.

One of the best things about being on my own is only having my own stuff to put away, and wherever I put it that's where it stays, so once I made a start it only took just over an hour to get the van completely packed up and ready for the road. A few minutes drive away from the site was a lovely riverside walk at Huntingdon, so I headed for there to give Sophie and Sugar a final run before hitting the road for home. By that time the clouds had all but disappeared, leaving a bright blue sky which was perfect for photographs, so the camera came with me for one last time.

From the car park near the main road the footpath passed a large playing field then followed the river, passing through an area of trees and shrubs then crossing an expanse of open grassland before disappearing into another wooded area. I walked to the far end of the grassland before turning round and retracing my route back to the van - it was very peaceful along the riverside, and with no passing boats the surface of the water was so still that in many places it looked just like a mirror.

Back at the van I settled Sophie and Sugar on their beds, put on one of my favourite cds which I could sing along to, then set out for A14 which would lead me to the A1 and northwards towards home. Just over an hour into the journey I pulled into a roadside petrol station to get some fuel - the dogs were quiet in the back of the van, so with a couple of cans of Coke to keep me going I made it all the way back home without stopping again. Reality kicked in when I pulled up outside my front gate, and within half an hour of arriving home I was loading up the dishwashers at work as though I had never been away!

Monday August 30th 2010 - St. Ives

I woke early that morning to a complete change in the weather from the previous couple of days. The sun had gone awol and the sky was grey and heavy with rain clouds - not a very nice morning at all. It certainly didn't inspire me to go off looking for photo opportunities, so I thought I would have breakfast in bed again then have a generally lazy morning in the hope that it would get brighter later on. When I did venture out I took the dogs for a walk round the site then putting them on their line so they couldn't escape from the awning I went across the road to have a look round the garden centre. Now this place is huge and sells everything from sandwiches to wellington boots - there's even an outdoor area at the back where they sell hot tubs, and if you take your swimwear you can 'try before you buy' and have a complimentary glass of wine while you're in there! I must admit, it's not the cheapest of places for anything, but it's well worth a look round and it certainly passes some time.

The sky was still very grey when I got back to the awning so I decided to drive the three and a half miles into St. Ives and have a look round the shops and the market - the Bank Holiday market is so big it takes up almost the whole length of the main street, the town square and part of the bus station car park as well, and it takes quite a while to look round it all. There are three car parks in the centre of St. Ives, the largest one being the closest to the market, so I parked there and after getting a ticket from the machine I collected the dogs from the back of the van and set off for a look round the stalls.

When I reached the far end of the market I turned down the partially pedestrianised street leading down to the riverside - an old stone bridge crosses the water just there and built into the bridge on one side is a tiny little chapel. As I took a couple of photos it struck me - when I had been to St. Ives two years previously it had been a cloudy day then. Maybe one day I'll get lucky and take a photo of that bridge in the sunshine!

From there I went back onto the main street and walked towards the far end, away from the market - I had never been so far down before and I was curious. Towards the end was an old stone building with a central archway leading to what looked like a garden, and a sign pointing to a museum which was housed in part of the building. The building itself formed three sides of a square with the small garden in the middle - bench seats were set out on the lawns and there were colourful shrubs and flowers in pots round the borders. It was quite a sweet little garden and would have looked very pretty in sunshine.

Just past the museum the street opened out into a very pleasant riverside area with a triangular lawn, bench seats and raised flowerbeds, and the spire of All Saints church rising from the trees beyond. Another lovely area which would have looked so much nicer in sunshine.

While I was wandering around it had started to get windy, and as it looked like it might rain I thought I'd better make my way back to the van and go back to the site. It didn't take long to get back to base, and when I pulled up on my pitch I was quite surprised to find that it was more windy there than it was in St. Ives just a few miles away. My second surprise came when I went into the awning - my tv, which had previously been standing on top of my larder unit, was face down on the floor. There was nothing else out of place so I couldn't understand how it had got there - then it dawned on me. The wind was blowing so hard that the side of the awning was bowing inwards; it must have caught the back of the larder unit and rocked it, sending the tv crashing onto the floor. I fully expected the screen to be smashed - the larder unit is three and a half feet tall so there was no way the tv would have survived a drop like that onto hard ground - but when I picked it up it was still in one piece. With trepidation I plugged it in, not expecting it to work, so I was really surprised and also very pleased when it worked perfectly with no problems at all, and I spent most of the evening watching it. So I can highly recommend Tesco's own brand of portable tvs - this one certainly turned out to be totally drop-proof!

A couple of hours after I got back from St. Ives, and while I was having a brew and something to eat, the wind finally dropped and the sky brightend up till eventually the sun came out - better late than never I suppose. It turned into a really pleasant evening, and as the sun went down it left behind a gorgeous sky over the fishing lakes, so I kept my fingers crossed for the following day to be a nice one.

Sunday August 29th 2010 - Godmanchester and Wood Green

I woke that morning to blue sky, fluffy white clouds and sunshine, and the sound of birdsong in the trees and the quacking of a couple of ducks on the nearby lake. That's one thing I love about that site - with it being an adults-only fishing site peace and tranquility are guaranteed. It was still quite early and the dogs were still snoozing so I decided to treat myself to breakfast in bed and get up properly later on. It didn't take long to make tea and toast, so with that on a tray and a couple of magazines to flick through I disappeared back into the van for another leisurely hour or so. By the time I did get up the dogs were more than ready to go out so I took them on a couple of circuits round the dog walk, stopping briefly on the riverside to watch a couple of boats going past then stopping again to chat to another site resident who had a lovely Labrador dog.

Back at the van I put the dogs on their line so they wouldn't wander off then got my chair and sat in the sun outside the awning while I pondered where to go for the day. I remembered that a couple of years previously I had passed a lovely looking place on the riverside in Godmanchester a few miles away, which looked like it would provide a few nice photos, but not being the driver of the car I was in at the time meant that I wasn't able to stop and look round. So that was it, decision made - I would drive out there to take some photos, and also pay a visit to Wood Green Animal Shelter which was just beyond Godmanchester.

It didn't take long to get to Godmanchester as it was only just at the other side of Huntingdon. In fact it's hard to know where Huntingdon ends and Godmanchester begins as they seem to merge into one another, though I think maybe the deciding factor is the bridge over the river - Huntingdon one side, Godmanchester the other, though I could be wrong. I couldn't remember exactly whereabouts the place was which I wanted to get to, but I knew which direction it was in so I followed the main road and found it just at the far side of the little town. And it seemed that it was possible to park for free along the roadside by the river so I drove along till I could find a convenient place to turn round then went back and found a space. The river widened out into a large basin just there, with the water only separated from the roadside by a low wall and a railing. To my left and ahead of me across the water were large expanses of tree-shaded parkland, and over to my right was an ornate white footbridge spanning the river itself. The whole area looked really lovely and I couldn't wait to explore.

So with the dogs on their leads and camera at the ready I set off in the direction of the white bridge. It wasn't hard to find - just a hundred yards or so along the road was a small private car park and a cluster of old buildings and what looked to be an old primary school set back off the road, with the bridge at the far end. Walking down to the riverside I stopped for a few minutes to take a couple of photos - the river split into two with a weir just beyond the bridge; the peaceful, slow moving backwater where I was standing and a faster-flowing section across the bridge. To my left a couple of swans were swimming lazily near the far bank, and in front of me through the trees I could see the bright colours of some children's play equipment.

Crossing the bridge the footpath also split into two, with another bridge over the weir leading to the parkland beyond. I took the nearest path first, turning right from the bridge and walking along in the shade of the big weeping willow trees which overhung the water. There were several ducks resting at the water's edge in a patch of sunlight under a tree, and across the water were the back gardens of the houses on the main road, with boat moorings and small boat sheds. I wandered along till I came to another small bridge which spanned a rather overgrown backwater, then turned and retraced my route to the bridge over the weir.

Crossing the weir I turned and looked back, and the scene in front of me was well deserving of a photograph. Rising up beyond the willow trees was the tower of St. Mary's church with its tall spire on top, and in the foreground the graduated roofs of the old school buildings with the white bridge in front.

This was to be my last photo from the riverside - I could have explored much further and taken several more photos, but mindful of the time and not knowing what time Wood Green Animal Shelter closed I didn't want to be too late getting there, so I made my way back across the river and returned to the van.

It didn't take too long to get to the shelter - only about ten minutes - though I was glad I had a reasonable idea of where I was going as it isn't exactly well signposted. Driving into the large car park I picked a spot in the shelter of some tall trees and reversed in, though as you can take your own dogs into the grounds I thought I would have a general look round first before leaving them in the van. The centre itself is quite extensive, with low modern buildings surrounded by garden areas and paddocks, and a large lake with and island and a fountain. There was also a gift shop and a 'pre-owned' shop (sounds better than 'second-hand') where I managed to pick up an almost-new-used-only-once cat transporter for just less than £5 - bargain! When it came to actually looking at the rescue dogs and cats though I had to take Sophie and Sugar back to the van as they weren't allowed in the buildings, but before leaving them I gave them a drink, pulled the curtains and put the fan on for them so I knew they would be ok for the short time I intended being away.

Looking round the cat village was first - this was made up of four separate blocks, each with a central corridor and individual glass-fronted compartments on either side, each housing one or sometimes two cats with their names above the windows. There were cats of all colours and sizes, and had I been looking for one I would have had a difficult choice as they were all lovely. When I had looked in all four blocks I went round to see the rescue dogs - they were housed in two long blocks of individual kennels with exercise areas at the back. There were big dogs, small dogs, noisy ones, quiet ones - and out of all of them I fell in love with a certain one. She was called Jessica and was a scruffy little Jack Russell cross, rough coated and all white except for a faint light ginger patch on her back - according to the details on the board at the side of her pen she was nine months old and had been handed in by her previous owner only a week previously. There were three other people looking at her but for some reason she came over to me - she seemed to be a really happy friendly little dog and she stood there with her tail wagging while I scratched the top of her head through the wire. Now although I had never even considered having a third dog there was just something about this little one which really tugged at my heart strings, so much so that I even went as far as asking about the adoption procedure. The assistant I spoke to said it was possible even though I lived so far away, and they would even reserve Jessica for me if I wanted to take it further, though I said I would have to really think about it.

And back at the van that's just what I did. I made myself a coffee and sat for ages weighing up the pros and cons, but after a lot of thought and consideration I decided that for various reasons it wasn't really the right time for me to take on another dog. And no-one will ever know just how hard it was for me to drive out of that car park without going back for Jessica. I thought about her a lot that night but I had to be strong and stick with my decision - and I just hoped that before too long someone else would give her the forever home that she deserved.