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

Sunday April 24th 2011 - Part 2 - A visit to Bridlington

Leaving Scarborough behind I drove back down the A165 and past the turn off to Centenary Way, heading for the completely fresh territory of Bridlington, which is about the same distance south of Filey as Scarborough is north of it. I had never been there before and didn't know what to expect, although more than once I had been told it was nice, so I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. I did wonder if I would have any trouble finding somewhere to park but I needn't have worried - following the relevant signs led me to a huge cliff top car park at the north end of the bay, and with plenty of free spaces I could take my pick. The charges were reasonable too, so after feeding the meter I gave the dogs a drink and set off to explore new ground.

An opening at the far side of the car park led onto a tarmac slope which in turn led down to the promenade and a wide expanse of flat wet sand which glistened in the sunlight. Further along the sand was broken up by evenly spaced wooden breakwaters, and closer to the promenade was a long stretch of gleaming white stones. Although the promenade was quite busy the beach at that point contained only a handful of families, and the whole scene was very attractive - if this was Bridlington then I liked it so far.

The promenade was split into an upper and lower level, attractively divided by a steep grassy bank of cultivated shrubs and bushes, and with bench seats set at intervals. About halfway along was a kiosk-type ice cream and snack bar with several tables shaded by brightly coloured parasols, and a bit further on I came to the hustle and bustle of the colourful promenade fairground. I spent several minutes watching the log-shaped boats going round the Jungle River ride, and as an experiment decided to test the sports shot facility on my camera, which I had never really used before - and I was happy to see that it worked well, 'freezing' the boats as they rapidly descended the steep slope to the watersplash.

Further along from the fairground the promenade turned a corner and I came to the harbour with its many fishing boats moored alongside the piers and a row of cafes, gift shops and ice cream places along the promenade. I walked right round to the far side of the harbour and back, stopping several times to take shots of the boats - by the time I had got back almost to the fairground it was 6pm and I was feeling rather peckish, so I chose a cafe which didn't look too busy, fastened the dogs to a suitable anchor point near a table, and after looking at a menu went inside to order. I opted to treat myself to an all-day breakfast, and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived - two large slices of bacon, sausage, beans, tomatoes, egg, fried bread, bread and butter and large mug of milky coffee, all for £4.40. Can't be bad!

With my hunger satisfied I unfastened the dogs and made my way back along the promenade towards the van, but turning down a slope onto the beach - the dogs had been good and they deserved a run so I walked out to the water's edge where they could play without having too many people around. As soon as I let them off the lead Sophie went mad, running round in ever-increasing circles and generally having the time of her life, while Sugar played with some seaweed near the water. Then Sophie found a small crab and they both spent several minutes burying it and digging it up again before deciding that once it was dead it was no longer any fun.

With their little game over we walked back up the beach to the promenade then with them both back on their leads made our way back to the van, stopping briefly to take my final three photos of the day. My first visit to Bridlington had been a good one, it was a nice little place and I would certainly make a return visit another time.

The drive back to Centenary Way was an easy one and didn't take long, and once settled back in the awning it was time to relax. The dogs must have certainly been tired after all their walking, first round Scarborough and then round Bridlington, as apart from their very brief late night circuit of the site they never moved from their bed all evening.

With no tv or laptop to keep myself occupied I spent the evening reading my book till my eyes decided they didn't want to stay open for much longer - snuggling into my cosy bed my mind drifted over possible plans for the following day, but I didn't get very far before sleep finally overtook my thoughts and I became dead to the world.

Sunday April 24th 2011 - Part 1 - Old haunts and memories

Another lovely sunny morning arrived and I was making a reasonably early start for my second trip to Scarborough. With the dogs walked, breakfast made and eaten and the awning tidied, I set off at 8.45 - if this didn't get me a parking space then nothing would! I had only gone about three miles along the main road though when for the second time in two days I ended up at the back of a long line of very slow moving traffic. I couldn't believe it - so early in the morning?? If this was all the way into Scarborough - another four miles - then I hadn't a hope in hell of finding a parking space when I finally got there. However, as the queue inched forwards I eventually saw the reason for the delay - there was a huge car boot sale in a field just by a roundabout, and the delay was caused by cars entering the roundabout from the right to get into the field. Ahead of there the road was clear - phew! Thank goodness for that!

When I finally got away from the roundabout there was hardly anything left on the road - everyone must have gone to the car boot - so the rest of my journey was quick and uneventful. And as I passed through the outskirts of the town I realised why I hadn't found that free car park on my way in the previous day - there was a large sign for it opposite the road you turn down but the arrow pointing to the right had been covered over, meaning people just drove straight on. Crafty Scarborough Council! - they obviously don't want people to know about the free car park; they want everyone to drive into the centre and pay to park! Of course the sign on the other side of the road isn't covered over because anyone seeing it is by then on their way out of town and has already parked and paid for the privelage! That's certainly one to remember if I ever go there again in the future.

With the car park puzzle solved I continued through the top end of the town centre and out onto the road heading to the North Bay - at one point I thought I had taken a wrong turn as nothing looked familiar and it seemed to be taking a long while to get there, but when I came to the top of a hill and saw part of Peasholm Park at the bottom I knew I was on the right road. I drove down the hill and round onto the promenade, and bingo!, not too far along were any number of vacant parking spaces, so it looked like my early start had paid off in spite of the delay on the way there. With no traffic on the road to interrupt my manoeuvre I reversed the van into place and went to get a ticket from the machine,  then gave the dogs a drink before setting off to explore.

My first port of call was Scalby Mills, right at the northern end of the promenade. Back in 1971 I had stayed with my parents at a small holiday camp there, and though I knew that the camp had long since disappeared I was interested to know what, if anything, was in its place. The first major change I saw was right at the beginning of the pedestrianised part of the promenade - where the single storey Corner Cafe complex had existed for many many years the North Bay had been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by its demolition in 2007, and the subsequent erection of a large modern four-storey block of holiday apartments curving round the corner, with shops and a cafe at street level. Further along the promenade the old and dated wooden beach huts had been replaced by two rows of brightly painted new huts which added quite a splash of colour to the area.

Walking along past the Sea Life Centre I finally reached the end of the promenade and the area of Scalby Mills, where Scalby Beck runs down into the sea. This was very much as I remembered it, the only difference being that the rickety old wooden bridge across the beck had been replaced by a concrete one with metal railings. It's always been quite a popular place for kids to paddle and dogs to swim but there was hardly anyone around just then. Crossing the bridge I climbed the steps at the other side and took the path onto the cliff top, where I followed it for several hundred yards with the dogs running free before turning round and retracing my steps.

Back across the beck I followed the road up the hill to where I knew the holiday camp used to be on another area of the cliff top. A path to my right led to a small private housing development which occupied the land where the camp had once been, and where the owner's large house had once stood there was now a row of four smaller white-walled modern houses with upper balconies which would give a view over the bay. I stood at the end of the path for several minutes, looking at the houses in front of me, remembering the holiday camp and letting my memories wash over me.......the chalet my parents and I had stayed in back in July 1971, with a double bed which folded down from the wall........the famous wrestler Giant Haystacks who had been the main attraction in the club's wrestling tournament, and whose autograph I had got......the two brown bear cubs I had bottle fed.......getting to know the entertainment staff and helping out in the projection box when films were shown in the cinema.......and the local boy who I fell madly in love with for two weeks. His mother owned a big hotel near the town centre and his father was an RAF Wing Commander. He had hopes of becoming a chef, and a few times over the years I've wondered if he ever made it. Remembering all these things and more gave me an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and I would have loved to have been transported, if only for a little while, back to that summer when I was just seventeen and hadn't a care in the world. But that wasn't possible, and my reverie was broken by Sophie jumping up and telling me she wanted to be going - it was time to put my memories back in their box and return to the present.

Walking back down the hill I retraced my steps part way along the promenade then took the path which led through Northstead Manor Gardens, taking me past the lake and the Open Air Theatre and emerging opposite Peasholm Park. Taking my life, and that of the dogs, in my hands I crossed the very busy main road and went into the park, following the path to the lakeside. And what a wonderful riot of colour met my eyes! The surrounding trees were resplendent in their fresh green foliage, cherry trees were full of pink blossom, the bright green grass of the lawns was dotted with white daisies and the flower beds were a profusion of bright red tulips and yellow bedding plants. The water in the lake was a mixture of large blue and green patches reflected from the surrounding trees and the sky above, and a constant parade of brightly coloured dragon boats sailed past, propelled by the efforts of whoever was pedalling. The whole scene looked just like a rich bright oil painting brought to life, and as I walked round with the camera I fired off shot after shot.

Walking round to the far side of the lake I decided to do something I had never had the opportunity to do before - go over onto the island and see what was there. Crossing the bridge I stopped for a moment to watch the progress of some dragon boats in the lake below, then continued and turned left, following the path past the waterfall with the Chinese pagoda at the top and round to the other side of the island, where the grass beneath the trees was covered in a carpet of daisies. Half a dozen geese were chilling out in a patch of sunlight, though one of them took exception to Sophie and Sugar and rushed at us to scare us off but it didn't work. Ignoring the geese I climbed the steps up to the top of the island and was rewarded with a lovely surprise - a pretty and very peaceful Chinese garden, with a path all the way round and a pond in the centre crossed by a couple of oriental bridges, and surrounded by trees and shrubs with stone ornaments dotted here and there. It really was lovely, and I spent quite a while wandering round taking photos.

All this photography and wandering was getting to be thirsty work though, and knowing there was a cafe over by the widest part of the lake I decided to head over there for some coffee and - yes, you've guessed it - cake. It was very busy and most of the outside tables were occupied but I managed to find just one which was free, so tying the dogs to the nearby rail I went inside to order, hoping that no-one would sit at the table while I was away from it. I think Sugar must have decided keep watch over it for me though, as the minute I got out of her sight she started barking and didn't shut up till I appeared again - and the table was still free. It was very pleasant sitting in the sunshine with my coffee and cake and I lingered for a while afterwards, taking in the view and watching other people enjoying their day.

However, as nice as it was sitting there watching the rich tapestry of life unfolding in front of me, I had other places to explore, so untying the dogs from the rail I made my way down the terrace and back round the far side of the lake, emerging from the park not far from the promenade. Following one of several paths which traversed the nearby cliff side I headed in the direction of the castle, stopping to take a couple of photos on the way.

I couldn't remember much about the castle itself, but one thing I did remember was going there while on holiday with my parents when I was about eight years old and there were lots of ladybirds about. I don't know if there had been a sudden influx of them that summer but they were everywhere. Not that I had minded at the time, I like ladybirds. I reached the castle after quite a long walk, and although it's dog friendly I decided against going into the actual grounds as, through sheer fascination, I would have stayed there longer than I intended. Instead I just walked round the outside of the perimiter wall as far as I could before following a path down towards the promenade.

The path brought me out near the harbour in South Bay, which was a long way from where I'd parked the van in North Bay, so it looked like I was in for a good walk along Marine Drive to get back to it. It took me almost twenty minutes walking at a good pace, and when I finally arrived back there the dogs and I were more than ready for a drink. Once we had all quenched our thirst I put them back in the van and set off south along the promenade, out of Scarborough and into the next part of my day.

Saturday April 23rd 2011 - Scarborough, South Bay

I woke that morning to brilliant blue sky and sunshine and the promise of another lovely day. There was no sound from the dogs in the awning so I lay for a while letting my thoughts drift through my mind, but when the sun started to turn the van into an oven I decided it was time to move. As soon as I slid the door back the dogs were out of their beds and eager to start their day, so taking them for a walk was first on the list. With that done, and the two of them on their line just outside the awning door, I made some tea and toast and sat down with the map book to decide where to go. Bridlington wasn't too far away and was a place I had never been to, so that was one option, but I decided that my first trip out just had to be Scarborough. My last visit there had been a day trip in 1997, and before that a week's holiday in 1980, so it would be interesting to see what had changed in that time and what, if anything, had stayed the same. So with the breakfast things washed and put away and the dogs in the back of the van I disconnected the awning, secured the back of it, and set off on my day of discovery.

The drive towards Scarborough was very pleasant and didn't take long, but when I hit the outskirts I wondered if I'd made a good decision - there was a queue of very slow moving traffic snaking all the way down the road as far as I could see, and I had no choice but to join it. I crawled along at snails pace, and I was just beginning to get fed up when I saw a sign for parking, so I pulled out of the queue and headed down towards the sea front. And it was when I got there that I realised one of the reasons for all the traffic - hundreds of scooters and motorbikes, with part of the promenade cordoned off for them to park, and riders buzzing about all over the place. It must have been one of the biggest scooter rallies in this country. Any hope of parking near there was non-existant, so I drove right along the promenade to the far end at North Bay and back, but there wasn't a parking space to be found anywhere. By then I was just about losing the will to live, and I didn't really fancy the idea of getting back in that traffic queue to see if I could park in the town, so I decided to give up, drive back to the camp site, have a brew, and decide on a change of plan. And it was as I was heading back through the outskirts I saw a parking sign pointing down a street on my left, so I thought I would have one last attempt at finding a space - and I was so glad I did. The street went down to the cliff top, and there at the end was a large car park with only half a dozen cars in it - and best of all it was free! There was a time limit of three hours though but I could do a lot in that time, so I parked up by the grass verge and took stock of my surroundings. In front of me the sloping grassy cliff side was traversed by several paths which meandered through trees and bushes, and over to my left was South Bay and the castle headland in the distance.

It looked like I was in for a good walk though, so not wanting to waste too much time I gave the dogs a drink then set out along one of the cliff side paths, following the sign for the Italian Garden. My route took me through a very pleasant wooded area and then into the garden itself, which contained a central pond with a statue, bright flower beds and stone terraces, each end of the garden being an exact replica of the other.

From there I climbed several sets of steps up through the trees and came out in a nice cliff top garden with a central clock tower and yet more lovely flower beds. Across the road was a building which I suppose was quite famous in a way - it masqueraded as the hospital in the tv series The Royal, and although many years ago it actually was a hospital it eventually became a care home and is now private apartments. I think the makers of the programme must have done a bit of computer-generated jiggery pokery with the shots of it though, as it's nowhere near as big as it looks on the tv.

From the gardens I walked along the cliff top and down a winding path which brought me out at the Spa complex at the end of the promenade, where all the scooters were parked. The place was absolutely heaving with people and I had a job to get through the crowds milling around the scooters, but I managed it without either of the dogs getting stood on and emerged onto the promenade proper. My aim was to concentrate solely on the South Bay area and walk along just as far as the harbour before retracing my steps - I hadn't seen any car park officials where I left the van but I didn't want to risk outstaying my time, so I would return and explore the North Bay area another day.

The Spa complex itself had been modernised but the rest of the promenade looked to be pretty much the same as I remembered it from years ago, though the amusement places looked much brighter and more colourful and there seemed to be more cafes. Even the old cliff lift was still in operation - more than once, while on holiday in my teens, I set off at the top and ran all the way down the steps at the side to see if I could beat it to the bottom!

The combination of a bank holiday and excellent weather had brought holidaymakers out in droves and there were people everywhere - there were so many that if viewed from a plane they would have looked like a huge army of colourful ants crawling across the promenade, and the beach was absolutely packed with families enjoying the sun. I don't remember ever seeing Scarborough so busy, but then it was a long time since I was last there. Weaving my way through the throngs I finally reached the harbour which was much quieter, and after wandering round and taking a few photos I sat near the lighthouse for a while. The sun was quite hot and I was so warm that I wished I had put my cycling shorts and beach sandals on instead of the track suit pants and trainers I was wearing - I would probably have got a tan if I'd stayed there for any length of time. Soon though it was time to make my way back, and I was just about to cross the road in search of a can of Coke when a line of scooter riders came past - I don't know how many there were but one after another they passed, their mirrors glinting in the sunlight, and it took several minutes for them all to go through. For anyone who likes that sort of thing it was quite a spectacle, but it does nothing for me so I abandoned the Coke idea and just headed straight back along the promenade.

When I arrived back at the van I gave the dogs a much needed drink then went and got my own much needed can of Coke from the catering wagon situated at the top end of the car park - I had well over half an hour left before I needed to move, so I sat on the grass in front of the van while I enjoyed my Coke and pondered on what I was going to do next. The dogs really needed a decent walk and a run round, so I decided to drive back to Filey and go to Filey Brigg country park where there would be plenty of space for them to run and explore - when I put it to the vote the tail wags told me they were in agreement, so I loaded them back in the van and headed off out of Scarborough. It didn't take long to get back to Filey and once I reached the country park I got a ticket from the machine near the entrance then found a convenient parking space. I had only been there once before, very briefly, and I didn't remember much about it other than there's a cafe which did a very nice milky coffee, so I was quite surprised to find that the area was more extensive than I first thought.

Close to where I parked was a lane leading down through trees and signposted Coble Landing, which I knew was at the north end of the promenade, so I decided to have a walk round the headland first then go down there afterwards. The dogs really enjoyed running through the grass and exploring in the bushes and we had a good walk round before I put them back on their leads to go down to the promenade. Coble Landing is a tarmac roadway and a wide cobbled slipway leading from the end of the promenade down onto the beach - on one side there are a couple of cafes and amusements places and on the other are several fishing boats on trailers, lined up alongside the sea wall. I could have got a couple of really colourful photographs but there were far too many people about so I had to be happy with taking some shots from the end of the slipway instead.

By this time I was feeling quite peckish, but rather than wait till I got back to my awning I thought I would sample the coffee and cake at the cafe in the country park so I made my way back up there, and tying Sophie and Sugar to the rail near an outside table I went in to order.  I chose and paid for a wicked-looking slice of chocolate cake and a milky coffee then went to sit outside and wait for its arrival. The cake, when it came, was lovely and moist with a delicious topping and it was really very nice, but I must admit to being slightly disappointed with the coffee. On the previous occasion when I had been to that cafe the coffee had been made with milk and was really nice, but this was just normal coffee with lots of milk in it. Maybe the cafe has changed hands and things are done differently now, or maybe the assistant was having an 'off' day, I don't know - however I didn't let that put me off, and if ever I go there again I'll try another one before deciding it's not for me.

With the coffee and cake dispatched, and the time almost up on my parking ticket, I untied the dogs from the rail, made my way to the van and set off back to the camp site. When I arrived the large family next door were preparing a communal meal in their cooking area and one of the young men was stirring what looked like a copious amount of chilli in a huge pan the size of a dustbin lid. I got chatting to them over their windbreak, and far from being the 'family from hell' as I'd initially thought the day before, they turned out to be very friendly people. After a while I disappeared into my awning, and apart from taking the dogs for a short walk before bedtime I didn't venture out again. I could only get four rubbish channels on my tv and my laptop had decided it didn't want to work properly, so I spent the hours before bedtime reading a book.

My plans for the following day were simple - I would go back to Scarborough and explore North Bay (if the weather was good of course) but this time I would get there early so I would have a chance of getting a parking space on the promenade where I needed to be. And I would be paying another visit to that free car park as there was one thing puzzling me - why had I only seen the sign for it when I was on my way out of Scarborough and not on the way in? This was something which most definitely had to be checked out!