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.
- 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