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 June 5th 2011 - Horses, donkeys and more friends

Weather-wise the day was much the same as the previous one, with blue sky and sunshine but with quite a bit of cloud cover, and as I had my Sunday morning treat of breakfast in bed I pondered where to go which didn't need a lot of sunshine. I hadn't yet got round to visiting my friends in Bungay, and as I only had three days of my holiday left I thought I should make an effort so it was decided - Bungay it was.

It was getting on for lunchtime before I set off, and as I headed down towards Yarmouth I was planning which order to visit everyone - probably Ady first, then his twin brother Andy, and finally their mother Jane. Ady and Andy lived in close proximity to the town centre but Jane lived just outside it and the road past her house would take me back in the direction of 'home' so it made sense to visit her last. The roundabout near Yarmouth Asda was nowhere near as busy as the day before, and as I headed along the Yarmouth bypass I thought of somewhere I else I could go - Redwings Horse Sanctuary. It was on the A143 and as I would be driving right past the entrance I thought I may as well stop off there for a while and say hello to Rusty, my adopted horse.

The Redwings sanctuary occupies over seventy acres of the Caldecott Hall estate and shares an entrance with the Caldecott Hall Country Club, but as I turned into the driveway I had the weirdest feeling that I had gone to the wrong place. I've been there many times over the years - in fact I was only there last year - and there's always been a large sign at the entrance with the Redwings name on it, but this time there was nothing, and no horses in the paddocks near the road either. I wondered if maybe the place had closed down but if that had been the case I'm sure I would have had a newsletter about it. I couldn't just turn round and drive away again as a car had pulled into the entrance behind me so I had to carry on to the end of the driveway - and when I got there I saw that the sanctuary was still very much in existence. Car parking and entrance to the sanctuary is free and dogs on leads are welcome so once I had parked the van I clipped the leads on Sophie and Sugar and went for a wander round.

Just inside the entrance gate is the gift shop, cafe and reception and after booking in and getting my visitor's sticker I had a browse through all the information leaflets that were out on display before making my way out to the paddocks. And that's where I got another weird feeling - on all the previous times I've visited Redwings there's always been lots of horses and ponies in evidence and several staff on hand, either going about their work or chatting to visitors and answering questions; now there was only a handful of horses dotted here and there, in fact there were more donkeys in one paddock than there were horses in all the other paddocks; many paddocks were empty, and I didn't see one single staff member. It felt just like a shop that was running down all its stock and getting rid of its staff before closing down for good. And I was disappointed that didn't even get to see Rusty, I don't know where he was. So the lack of horses and ponies coupled with the sign having gone from the entrance made me wonder if the place really is closing down, though I know Redwings has two other centres in other parts of the country so maybe a lot of the horses and ponies had been moved for some reason - I would ask at reception on my way out. After wandering round for a while I managed to get just half a dozen photos before I made my way back towards the entrance - I did call in at reception but there was only one member of staff on duty and her time was taken up with the lengthy process of arranging adoptions for several members of one family, and even though I waited patiently for over five minutes there was no sign of any other staff members so unfortunately my queries went unanswered.

Back at the van I let the dogs off the lead so they could have a quick run round the grassy parking area then after giving them a drink I set off for Bungay - it was a pleasant drive and twenty five minutes later I reached the main street of the little town. Ady has a ground floor flat in a modern block of four in a quiet little cul-de-sac just behind the main street and as he has a designated parking space but no car I had no problem finding somewhere to put the van. The communal front door was open so I walked straight in but in spite of knocking on his flat door several times there was no answer - by this time I was feeling quite hungry so I wrote a note on some scrap paper I had in the van, wedged it into the door handle, and took myself and the dogs off to the local cafe for something to eat.

Situated down a side street off the market place the Buttercross Tea Rooms sounds very much like the sort of place where you would get elderly ladies in twin sets and pearls drinking tea out of delicate china cups, but this place is nothing like that - it's down to earth and anything but fancy, frequented by many of the locals in working gear, but it's clean and serves up great meals at very reasonable prices. After studying the menu and the 'specials' board behind the counter I opted for home made steak and kidney pie with chips and peas and a large mug of milky coffee, then went to sit at a table in the corner. There were half a dozen local guys sitting round a couple of tables further along, they all seemed to know each other very well and as I drank my coffee I found listening to their jovial banter quite enjoyable.

My meal, when it came, seemed to swamp the whole plate and I didn't think I would manage to eat it all but I must have been hungrier than I first thought as the only thing I left was a bit of the pie crust. After a second mug of coffee, and feeling extremely satisfied, I went back to Ady's but he still wasn't in so I took the dogs for a walk round by the castle and the nearby common. Every time I walk round the castle grounds I promise myself that one day I will go in and look round properly (it always seems to be closed whenever I go) but up to now I never have - and even though nothing ever changes I always take a photo or two.

Back at Ady's flat for the third time I found that he still wasn't in, so I retrieved the note from the door handle, put Sophie and Sugar back in the van and set off for Andy's place. Lavender Cottage is only just at the other side of the town so it only took a couple of minutes to get there and I was pleased to find that Andy and his wife Sue were both at home. Andy put the kettle on and we all settled in for a good chat, during which he told me that I wouldn't find Ady at home as he now has a new lady friend and spends all his weekends at her place. I was sorry I wouldn't get to see him but I was pleased at the news -  he's a nice guy and has been on his own for too long so it was good to hear that he's found someone after all this time.

It was over an hour before I took my leave of Andy and Sue and set off for Jane's house just outside the town centre. The narrow road through the town eventually joins a wider road at a T junction and on the far side of the junction is a roadsign which has amused me for about five years. Pointing to the right it says simply 'Swimming pool' - well that's what it should say but some of the letters have either been taken off or obliterated with white paint as it now reads 'Swim in poo'. Certainly not something I would want to try! I would have thought that after this length of time Suffolk County Council would have sorted it out but every time I see it it still says the same and it still makes me smile.

I think the Bungay bush telegraph - alias Andy and Sue - must have alerted Jane to my imminent arrival, because as I pulled up by her garden gate she was already waiting by the door to greet me. Jane is a lovely lady; the sort of person who you would choose if you could pick someone to be your mum, and someone who instantly makes you feel welcome and at home - it's just a shame I don't get to see her very often as I've always liked going to visit. So with yet another mug of coffee to hand - and with a downstairs loo close by if it was needed! - I curled my legs up on one of her comfy settees and prepared to catch up on some more family and local news and indulge in a bit of 'putting the world to rights' while Sophie and Sugar mooched about between the kitchen and the living room. The time flew by and before I knew it it was 7pm - I had stayed longer than I intended and it was now time for me to go. Jane came to the garden gate with me and I got back in the van with the promise that I would call again next time I was down that way - well it was more of a foregone conclusion than a promise as I would never go to Bungay without going to see her.

It was almost 8pm by the time I got back to California and still quite a pleasant evening, so after connecting the awning to the van and feeding the dogs I took them for a walk through the heath and back along the beach, then spent a couple of hours on my laptop before going to bed just before 11pm. In spite of my mild disappointment and puzzlement at Redwings it hadn't been a bad day at all, and being in the company of some lovely friends had made it even better.

Saturday 4th June 2011 - Shopping and mooching

I woke that morning to yet more blue sky and sunshine, but by the time I had taken the dogs for their first walk and then had breakfast there was quite an accumulation of white clouds up above. I find it can be rather frustrating trying to take photos of places when the sun keeps disappearing behind various clouds so I decided that I would stay local for once and keep my photography to a minimum. Also my food supplies were looking rather depleted so a trip to Asda down in Yarmouth was something I needed to do.

I spent the morning pottering about round the awning and doing all those little jobs which need doing when camping - checking the guylines and the pegs, emptying the loo, filling up the fresh water container, disposing of the rubbish etc - so it was getting on for lunchtime by the time I was ready to go out. My first stop would be Asda then I would have a look round the market and the town centre and maybe walk down to the sea front if the mood took me. I don't normally bother going into Yarmouth town centre these days as I went so many times in my pre-camping years and nothing is ever any different, but just for once it would make a change.

The main road into Yarmouth took me past the greyhound/stock car stadium and the turn off to the racecourse before curving round to the right and heading for the railway station, Asda, and all routes to the south and west, and it was only when I saw the long line of traffic up ahead that I remembered - being Saturday many visitors were leaving Yarmouth for home as others were arriving and the big roundabout near Asda would be extremely busy, causing the long tailback of stop-start traffic. I had no choice initially but to join the queue, but being very familiar with the area I knew a way to avoid most of it so as soon as I could I swung off to the left and went along a minor road in the direction of town, then turned right down a side street and rejoined the queue almost where it reached the roundabout, saving myself several hundred yards, at least ten minutes in time, and keeping my patience intact!

Arriving at Asda a couple of minutes later I found a space down at the bottom end of the car park, and leaving the dogs in the van I went to do my quick bit of shopping. It didn't take long and when I got back to the van I stored my stuff away under the bed then clipped the leads on the dogs and set off for a mooch around town. The town centre is about seven minutes walk away from Asda and my route through the side streets brought me out at one end of the large and very busy market so that's where I started my mooch. I hadn't gone very far when I came to a stall selling ladies wear and on one of the rails were some nice looking casual tops in many different colours - ideal to wear for work, around the house, and camping. It took a bit of searching to find my size in each colour but I managed it eventually and handed £20 to the stallholder. Now unlike many women I don't often shop for clothes but when I do and I see something I like I get one of every colour available as long as the price is reasonable, and at £1.99 each or three for £5 these hardly broke the bank - so I came away from the stall a very happy bunny with a dozen nice tops which would last quite a while.

Resisting the temptation to buy anything else I wandered to the far end of the market, along the main street with its modern shops and down a couple of arcades filled with more old fashioned shops and little tea rooms. I didn't go into the big modern shopping mall as dogs aren't allowed and I wouldn't leave Sophie and Sugar outside for any length of time, so I headed down Regent Road instead. This is the long road, now pedestrianised for most of its length, which runs from the town centre to the sea front, and which is full of the usual seaside type shops selling clothes, gifts, rock, ice cream etc and with a few cafes thrown in for good measure. It had been a few years since I last went down there but things had changed so little that it could have been only last week - there were still the same old shops selling the same old stuff.

Reaching the bottom of Regent Road I crossed the road near Britannia Pier and turned right along the promenade, aiming to walk along as far as the Pleasure Beach and back. The amusement arcades and cafes all seemed to be the same as the last time I walked along there and the horse drawn carriages still trundled along, but where they used to be in the midst of all the traffic they now had their own lane separated from the rest of the road. The sea front gardens were much the same but a lot of other changes had taken place - a pirate-themed crazy golf course had sprung up part way along the promenade and beyond it was a sprawling two-storey brick and concrete monstrosity of a building which seemed to be made up of several different sections sandwiched together. Part of it seemed to be a leisure centre and glancing through an open door as I walked past I could see people roller skating in what looked like an indoor basketball court. The pirate crazy golf place looked quite attractive and I took a few photos of it but this building was just downright ugly and did absolutely nothing for the look of the promenade. 

Beyond that building were more gardens, broken up by a large car park, the entrance to Wellington Pier and a few gift shops and take-away kiosks and finally the Pleasure Beach with a huge log flume ride which hadn't been there the last time I was down that way. I stood for a few minutes watching the logs and their occupants go round, it was quite a long course with the steepest decent being just near to where I was standing - there was quite a sizeable splash when the logs hit the bottom though I was just out of range so I didn't get wet. It looked to be quite a good ride, it's just a shame that the whole thing looked like it had been built out of inferior quality scrap metal - a nice bright paint job would have made it look so much better.


Fairgrounds and amusement places don't really hold much attraction for me - if it goes more than three feet off the ground and turns round or upside down you won't get me anywhere near it! - and I had no desire to actually wander round the place, so after watching the log flume I set off back in the direction of town and on to Asda car park to retrieve the van. Back at the camp site I connected the awning back up to the van as I had no intention of driving anywhere else, then made a brew and a sandwich and prepared to relax for the rest of the day and evening. Mulling over my mooch round Yarmouth I came to one conclusion - the sea front is not, in my mind anyway, a particularly attractive place, and I certainly won't be in any rush to go there again.

Friday June 3rd 2011 - Gardens and greenery

Another beautiful day arrived with yet more cloudless blue sky and sunshine, perfect for taking photos where I planned to go. Last year I had discovered How Hill, a large manor house - now used as a conference centre - set in its own estate and gardens near the River Ant, and I had found out too late that on certain days of the year the gardens are open to the public; this was now one of the open days so I was going for a look round. I was also tying in my trip there with a visit to Fairhaven Water Gardens, which I had read about and which sounded nice. I was in no particular rush to go out though so after taking Sophie and Sugar for their first walk of the day I breakfasted at leisure and spent much of the morning relaxing in the sun with a magazine before I finally decided to disconnect the awning from the van and get on the road.

The gardens at How Hill didn't open till 2pm so I made Fairhaven my first stop. The leaflet I had said that dogs on leads were welcome so at least I didn't have to leave Sophie and Sugar in the van when I got there. Access to the gardens was through the gift shop and when I paid my entrance fee I was somewhat surprised to find that I had to pay for the dogs too - that's the first time I've ever had to pay for them when I've taken them in somewhere. However, I was provided with two very substantial poo bags with incorporated cardboard scoops so I suppose that justified the charge of 25p each!

Next to the gift shop was a tea room with a small balcony and a sloping path leading from there to the start of the gardens, with a signpost pointing down various paths to different areas. The actual full name for the place is Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens, though to be honest after spending quite a while walking round various paths and across several bridges I came to the conclusion that there wasn't much actual garden there. The words 'water gardens' conjure up, for me at least, visions of lily ponds with fountains and miniature waterfalls surrounded by small shrubs and flowering plants, but there was none of that. There was plenty of woodland though, in fact 99% of the place consisted of tall trees and dense shrubbery with the odd small clearing here and there, and several long water-filled dykes running from the private broad. And the one thing which struck me was that although everywhere was lovely and green - even the surface of the water in the dykes was covered in green weed - there was a distinct lack of colour. The flowers on the rhododendron bushes had long since disappeared and apart from a species of yellow orchid growing in a small area near the gift shop there was no colour at all. I wondered if maybe I was between seasons - too late for the rhododendrons but too early for any summer flowers - or if I had expected too much, as the word 'garden' can mean different things to different people, but with my liking for flowers and bright colours I had to admit to being more than a little disappointed. Even the private broad was nothing to write home about - just a vast expanse of tree-shaded water with one small trip boat running from the jetty belonging to the gardens, and costing an extra £3.50 for a twenty minute trip.

I was distinctly underwhelmed by the whole place and as I went back to the car park I decided that although it was nice in its own way I wouldn't be wanting to make a return visit at any time. There were only half a dozen cars in the car park and no-one around when I got there so I was able to let Sophie and Sugar have a quick run round before I put them back in the van and set off for How Hill. It didn't take long to get there, and judging by all the cars in the grassy parking area it looked like the garden open day was a very popular event. The entrance fee was £4 and gave access to the Edwardian gardens surrounding the house and also the woodland garden beyond, and I was provided with a map of the woodland garden showing all the areas of particular interest. I decided to look round there first, and I must admit that my initial impressions were definitely favourable. The trees weren't as dense as at Fairhaven and there was a much more open feel to the place - wooden boardwalks meandered here and there and there were many more clearings with seats dotted about. There was even a lily pond overhung by a couple of rhododendron bushes with purple flowers and with some yellow flowering reeds at the water's edge. I spent quite a while wandering round and found it to be a much more enjoyable garden than Fairhaven.

The Edwardian garden surrounding the house was just as enjoyable though in a very different way. Immediately in front of the house was a large flat lawn of almost bowling green proportions surrounded on three sides by thick, well-trimmed box hedges split at various points by steps leading down to different terraces and enclosed areas of the garden. Yew hedges were trimmed into different shapes, bench seats were placed at various points and in almost every section of the garden there were flowers. If I had been impressed with the water garden then I was even more so with this formal garden and I got several really nice photos.

I have to admit that the whole place was certainly well worth the entrance fee, though I did have one slight disappointment - it turned out that the beautiful garden which I had seen from the riverside last year and which I so wanted to look round was privately owned and not part of the estate so there was no way of accessing it. However I did find out from the young lady steward in charge of the parking area that as part of a national scheme the owner does open the garden to the public on just a couple of days each year, so armed with that knowledge I made a mental note to look it up on the internet, and if there would be any possibility of getting there on the right day next year then I would do it.

Satisfied that I'd seen just about all of both gardens I decided to take the dogs for a walk down by the river and maybe have a look in Toad Hole Cottage. I had passed the cottage last year but didn't get to look round as it's only small and there were too many people in at that time, however this time when I got there I was lucky and there was no-one in except the guy in charge sitting in a corner near the door, so hitching the dogs to a nearby railing I went in to get a taste of times gone by. The cottage is an old marshman's house, set up just as it would have been lived in by the marshman and his family 100 years ago - there were just two rooms and a pantry downstairs and two small bedrooms upstairs. The steep wooden stairs led straight into the first room where the marshman and his wife would have slept and through a door in the far wall was the second bedroom which would have been the children's room. There was no running water, no electricity, no bathroom, in fact there wasn't even an indoor toilet, and thinking about present technology and all the conveniences in today's modern homes which we take for granted I found it strangely humbling to see everything so simple and old fashioned.

Back outside the cottage I retrieved the dogs from the railing and walked down the path to the riverside - there was a bench seat close to where the path joined the riverbank so I sat there in the sunshine for a while just watching the comings and goings of various boats on the water before I headed back up the path to where I had left the van. By this time it was well after 5pm and I was beginning to feel quite hungry, so rather than go anywhere else I decided to call it a day and return to California.

As I was driving up the road towards the camp site I decided on the spur of the moment to treat myself to a meal out - and I mean a proper meal, not coffee and cake - so I turned into the entrance to California Sands, the chalet site where I used to stay many years ago before I got into camping, and drove along to the Poolside Cafe. I had to leave the dogs in the van but I was able to park in the shade of some trees right across from the cafe windows so at least I could see them while I was having my meal. I noticed that the place seemed to have changed hands since I dined there last year but I was quite pleased to see that my old favourite of ham, egg and chips was still on the menu so that's what I ordered along with a mug of milky coffee, and it was all very enjoyable.

When I finally got back to my pitch I fed the dogs and put them on their line outside the front of the awning while I connected up the back of it to the van, then I settled down to a quiet evening downloading my photos onto the laptop, watching a bit of tv and catching up on the posts on UKCS before I took the dogs for their bedtime walk round the site. I had no clear plans for the following day but whatever I might do would depend largely on the weather, so as I snuggled down into my bed I metaphorically crossed my fingers for more blue sky and sunshine.

Thursday June 2nd 2011 - Part 2 - Sheringham to Wells


Leaving Sheringham behind I drove west along the A149 coast road passing the golf course, part of which I had seen from the cliff top gardens, and two or three miles of fields, then on through the village of Weybourne. A couple of miles further on the fields on my right turned to salt marsh with a high bank in the distance which hid the sea from view, and a road sign on my left told me that this was the village of Salthouse - and that's where I made my next stop. Rounding a bend in the road I came upon a large roadside pond - actually part of a dyke - split into two by a rough footpath and a small bridge. Ducks and seagulls were swimming in the water or preening themselves on the bank, and across the far side of the pond a piebald pony wandered about grazing contentedly. It was such a nice and unexpected thing to come across that I just had to stop to take some photos - there was what could loosely be termed a 'lay-by' on that side of the road so I pulled in there, and as it wasn't worth taking the dogs with me I left them in the van for once. It took me roughly five minutes to walk along the road to the end of the pond and back, and having got half a dozen nice photos I got back in the van and continued on my way.

The next village along the road was Cley-next-the-Sea although that's a bit of a misnomer. Because of the vast expanse of saltmarsh it's actually nowhere near the sea - well, probably about a mile away - though I think many years ago it must have been. It looked to be quite a nice place with several interesting little shops, though I couldn't take much notice as I really needed to concentrate on where I was going - not only did the road go round two very sharp bends as it passed through the village, it also narrowed to not much more than the width of two vehicles, and with cars parked by the roadside in various places negotiating a way through was like taking part in The Krypton Factor. I finally got through without hitting anything or anyone or being hit by something, and continued to my next stop which was Blakeney. The road passed through the upper part of Blakeney village where I came to a crossroads with two signs - a right turn would take me to the quay and left would take me to some free parking, so left turn it was. The free parking turned out to be a large and well-surfaced car park belonging to the village hall, and as I didn't know what parking would be available closer to the quayside I thought I may as well leave the van there.

It was only a few minutes walk from the car park to the quayside and when I got there a very pleasant sight met my eyes. The road curved round to the right and on the left of the bend was a very pleasant grassy area with several roadside parking spaces, all occupied, and three or four bench seats dotted about. A wide channel of water cut through the salt marsh and meandered past the road, and just beyond the parking spaces was the start of a promenade. Several boats were moored along the quayside and over on the other side of the channel a group of kids played on a small beach which bordered the marsh. Across the road were a handful of cottages and the Blakeney Hotel and further along the road was a large parking area for cars and boat trailers.

At the entrance to the parking area was a kiosk with a board displaying the parking charges - and reading how much they were I was glad I had taken the option of free parking at the village hall. Set in a corner not far from the kiosk and close to the road was a static caravan which had been set up as a small cafe with tables and chairs outside; behind that was a large expanse of salt marsh and across the road was a small tea room and ice cream shop and a bit further along was the attractive looking Manor Hotel, with it's white walls and terraced garden. I decided that I would walk as far as the next bend in the road before turning round and retracing my steps, and as I got past the cafe I was both surprised and pleased to find another roadside pond similar to the one at Salthouse. This one was more 'formal' though and had landscaped edges with various shrubs and bushes growing on the banks - it was also surrounded by wire fencing, and an information board at one corner told me it was a wildlife area. And it was certainly busy with wildlife - ducks, geese and swans were prevalent with the odd seagull here and there, and several moorhens continually diving under the water to pop up again several yards away. It was a very attractive corner and I spent several minutes taking photos round the perimiter.

When I had photographed just about everything which interested me I made my way back to the van, and after giving the dogs a drink I set out for Wells. The next village along from Blakeney was Morston, one of those 'blink and you miss it' places, but seeing a sign for Morston Quay I thought it was worth taking a look. The lane down to the quay was quite long, bordered by hedges and passing a few quaint cottages and a very small caravan site with only about half a dozen caravans on it, to end in a large gravelled parking area at the edge of the marsh. If I was expecting to see an actual quayside then I was destined to be disappointed; there was just a long channel winding through the marsh, with boats moored up to the banks, and other boats on trailers scattered about the grassy areas. A two-storey timber building with steps up one side was situated on one part of the parking area and this seemed to belong to some sailing club or other, though there was a small ice cream and drinks kiosk on one side of it. There wasn't really much else to see, and after taking my one and only photo I returned to the van and set off once more.

It took me another fifteen minutes or so to reach Wells - or Wells-next-the-Sea to give it its full name - and it didn't surprise me to see that the place was extremely busy, so finding a parking space somewhere wouldn't be easy. Driving along past the quay - which was a proper quay this time - I saw a parking sign and followed it to a car park just behind the quayside road but I hadn't a cat in hell's chance of finding a space there, so out I came and followed another sign pointing to the beach and another car park which, looking at the length of the road to it, seemed to be quite a distance away. The road ran along one side of a raised embankment - on the far side of the embankment was a large 'inland sea' and on the other side of the road were low lying fields, with a miniature railway track running close to, and parallel with, the road. And right at the very end of the road was just what I was looking for - a large and very pleasant purpose-built grassy car park with lots of vacant spaces and a cafe in the corner, all backed by an area of pinewoods. I parked up, got a ticket from the nearby machine, and with the dogs on the lead I set off to explore.

A flight of steps and a path led up the side of the embankment to the top and from there I could get an idea of what to see and where to go. On the other side of the embankment was a wide tarmac path bordered by a long and perfectly straight beach - the inland sea had been split by the recent construction of a large sandbank, creating a sheltered area with a long pontoon where several commercial boats were moored, and this beach was part of it. And looking at the tracks on the sand and the large digger over on the sandbank it seemed that work was still ongoing. To my left was a proper beach backed by an area of dense bushes and trees and with what I assumed to be a lifeboat house at the end, and to my right the inland sea, stretching right back to the quayside, was dotted with private yachts, fishing boats and dinghies of all descriptions bobbing about on the calm water.

I decided to go left first, and the embankment path led me through the trees to the main beach. There was nothing much to my right but further along to my left was a long row of colourful and attractive beach huts backed by trees and built up off the sand, with little balconies and steps up to the front. I didn't go too far along the beach before I turned and retraced my steps back to the embankment with the intention of walking along the top towards the quayside. However it was quite a distance - at least a mile - and if I walked there I would only have to walk all the way back again to get the van, so I decided to get a can of Coke from the cafe and drive along, hoping that when I got there I would be able to find a space in the other car park.


Lady Luck must have been shining on me for once, because as I pulled into the car park and started to look round for a space another driver pulled out from the far corner and I was able to drive straight into the space he had just vacated. So with yet another ticket stuck in the front windscreen - maybe I should start collecting these things! - I released the dogs from the back and set off along the quayside.

At the corner of the road leading to the beach was an amusement place and ice cream shop and on the main road itself was a mixture of gift shops, cafes and take-aways. Several commercial fishing boats were moored alongside the quay and the inland sea became a very wide channel running parallel to the road for quite a distance. I did think about treating myself to fish and chips as I was beginning to feel quite peckish, but every single cafe and take-away was full to bursting and with long queues outside so I gave up on that idea. As I walked along the road curved round to the right away from the quayside but with a lane continuing along by the water, and just by the corner was a small and very pleasant green area with tubs of flowers near the edge and a handful of bench seats overlooking the water. I could see that the lane ran behind a row of cottages further along and emerged again by the waterside, but as time was getting on and I had a long drive back to the camp site I didn't go any further than that corner - finding out what was along the lane was something for another time.

When I got back to the van I had a quick look at the map book with the idea of maybe driving back across country instead of taking the coast road, but the route didn't look to be any shorter plus I would have had to go round the outskirts of Norwich, so I abandoned that idea and set out back on my original route. By then the evening was creeping on but the sun was still shining and with a cd to sing along to it was a very pleasant drive back to California. Arriving back on my pitch I reversed alongside the awning and connected it up to the van, and while the dogs were still in the back I went round to the take-away on the lane and got some fish and chips. Then with the dogs on their beds in the awning I opened my bottle of wine, turned on the tv and settled down to my supper. The busy day and all the driving had taken it's toll though and I was ready for sleep much earlier than normal, so after taking the dogs for a last quick walk round the site I settled them back on their beds and took myself off to mine. It had been a really good birthday - the weather had been great, I had been to places I hadn't seen before and got lots of good photos, all rounded off with fish and chips and a couple of glasses of wine - can't be bad!