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

Saturday May 21st 20011 - Making new friends and exploring

It was just before 5.30am when daylight and the dawn chorus penetrated my brain - apart from the birdsong there was no other sound anywhere and it was far too early to get up so I just lay halfway between sleep and consciousness. Then all at once, BANG!! - it came from across the field and sounded like someone had just discharged both barrells of a 12-bore. It took a few seconds for my brain to register it, then I realised it was a bird scarer and not one camper murdering another!  Being familiar with the noise of bird scarers, though not usually so loud, I dozed off back to sleep again and it was eight o' clock when I finally woke up properly.

The first thing was to take the dogs for a walk - emerging from the tent I expected to see a hive of activity going on around the site but there weren't many campers about at all. I didn't go far as I was more than ready for some breakfast; out of the site and a short distance along the road was enough - I could take them for a longer walk later on - then it was back to the tent to try out my new folding toaster for the first time. And I must say, having initially been very sceptical about these things I was very pleased with it - and I even managed to do four slices of toast without burning any of them. So with breakfast ready and the dogs on their line I sat outside the tent in the sunshine and watched the rest of the site come to life. After breakfast I got chatting to John from the campervan next door, he had driven up from Norwich and during conversation it turned out that he was very familiar with the site I stay on at California, and had been staying there when I was there myself last year, though we didn't actually meet at the time. Later on I took a walk round the site and introduced myself to a few more UKCS members and made friends with their dogs - and of all of them I think my favourite just had to be little Lina, a whippet. She had the most lovely face and was so cute - one of those dogs you've just got to love.

Back over at my own tent I decided to get practical and creative - even though it was lovely and sunny someone had mentioned the possibility of rain showers later so I thought about erecting some form of canopy over the tent door. It was simple enough to do with a spare cheap builder's tarpaulin and half a dozen lengths of cheap washing line (it's surprising what I carry in my van!) and with the tarp being near enough the same colour as the tent it didn't look too much out of place. In fact the only things which stood out were the bright pink guy lines! Okay, so it didn't look exactly professional, but if it meant I could still sit outside the tent even if it rained then it was good enough for me.

With that done I decided to take myself and the dogs off out somewhere though I hadn't a clue where. All the UKCS members were having a get together and a communal meal that evening so I didn't want to be out too long, but as I had never been to that area of Yorkshire before I wanted to do at least a little bit of exploration. So with the dogs in the back of the van and a quick look at the map book I set off to see what I could find. My first intention was to head for Hornsea Mere near the coast - I didn't know how far it was but driving along the country roads it seemed to take forever to get there and I realised that maybe I was being a bit too ambitious, so finding a convenient lay-by I turned the van round and headed back the way I had come. I had already passed through a nice looking little village so I decided that when I got back to it I would stop and have a look round there instead.

The village was called Bishop Burton, and driving through it the road ran alongside a large village pond bordered by white railings and with an island in the middle on which was a stone-built war memorial. The village had, for reasons unknown to me, very strong equestrian connections and across the road from the pond was a large pub/restaurant called The Altisadora - it was later that evening, while talking to John in his campervan, that I learned the pub had at one time been called The Horse And Jockey but the name had been changed in 1813 to The Altisadora in honour of the local squire's horse of that name winning the St. Leger at Doncaster. The village itself was lovely, with many chocolate box-pretty white-walled thatched cottages and a smaller duck pond set on a village green. I could have taken several photos but unfortunately the sky had decided to cloud over and the sun was only appearing in fits and starts so I didn't get many.

With my wanderings over I returned to the van and set off back in the direction of the camp site. After several miles I passed through the village of Market Weighton, and driving along the main street my eye was caught by a couple of intriguing looking shops, so finding a large public car park just behind a pub at one end of the village I stopped to take a look. I walked the length of the high street on one side then back again on the other, just browsing in the shop windows - one of the shops sold gifts and fancy goods and I thought I might find a mouse ornament to add to my collection but I had no luck. By the time I got back to the van the sun had returned with a vengeance and although there was a breeze it was quite warm - the shop on the corner near the car park was a newsagents which sold ice cream, so leaving Sophie and Sugar in the back of the van I popped in there for a magazine, a can of Coke and the rare treat of a white Magnum, which I ate while sitting in the van and watching the world go by. Just across from the car park was an island in the road with a small brick-walled garden and a bus shelter, and a sign pointing to the left which told me that Holme village, where the camp site was, was only four miles away so that's the way I headed when I left the car park.

It didn't take long to get back to the site and when I pulled up by my tent it was to find a hive of activity going on over the other side of the field. A line of tables had been set up sheltered by a line of windbreaks, some of the men in the group were making preparations for a couple of camp fires while other members were setting out the tables with plates, pots and bowls of different food. This was a 'Jacobs table', where each person in the group provided an item of food - someone was cooking a very large pan of chilli so I had agreed to provide the pitta bread to go with it. With that in mind I thought I'd better take it across and also see if I could help in any way but it seemed as though everything was under control, so after a brief chat with a couple of the members I returned to my tent.

It was an hour or so later, with the two camp fires now blazing, that various members of the group started assembling in a large circle so I took my chair and went over to join them. When everyone else had arrived the buffet was classed as being open and everyone was free to help themselves to any of the food and drink available - it was all very informal and it was great to sit round and chat to other UKCS members who I might otherwise never get to know. There was only one slight downside though - what had earlier been a slight breeze was now a proper wind and it was blowing the smoke from the fires over most of the group. Many of the members, myself included, moved round to get out of the way of it, only to move again when the wind changed direction - this happened several times and it seemed like we were all playing a mad game of musical chairs but without the music. It was a great way of getting to know people though as I seemed to end up sitting next to somebody different every time! One member I chatted to, Wendy, turned out to be from another area of my home town and it came out in conversation that she had actually gone to the same senior school as me and had been taught by many of the same teachers, though there was four years between us. What a small world!

As the evening got later some of the members with children took themselves off to bed though there was still quite a lot of us sitting round the camp fires. It was a shame that no-one had a guitar, a sing-song would have really added to the ambience of the evening. It was gone midnight when I finally decided to call it a night and go back to my tent - I still had to take the dogs for their last walk and things were beginning to wind down anyway. I didn't go far with the dogs, and by the time I had zipped the tent door closed for the night I was more than ready for my bed. It had been a great night - the forecast rain had held off, the food had been good, and I had got to know some really nice people, and although I had been to a couple of UKCS meets in previous years this was the first one I had been to since becoming a solo camper - and it certainly wouldn't be the last.

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