No, I haven't spelt the word 'site' wrongly - I mean 'site' as in camp site, not visual sight, however more of that later. Looking out of the van window when I woke that morning showed me that it was a very grey day, and though it wasn't raining it certainly wasn't the sort of day to be roaming round taking photos so I had to think of an alternative. For one thing I needed to find an O2 shop, which would mean a drive into Yarmouth so that was my main priority, but I decided that before that I would drive up to Hemsby to have a look round the market.
First off though was a dog walk through the heath at the end of the site then back along the beach, followed by a breakfast of toast and marmalade and a good brew. Then with the breakfast things washed and put away and Sophie and Sugar in the back of the van I set off for Hemsby just over a mile up the road. I've been there many times over the years and nothing much changes - some of the gift shops and clothes shops have closed down and re-opened selling the same sort of stuff, a couple of different cafes have appeared and there's a crazy golf place about halfway down the road, but otherwise the place is much the same as it always was. There was a car park close to the market but it wasn't a very big place and there were no spaces available so I drove down to the much bigger car park by the dunes and found a space there - the fee was £1 per hour, and as I didn't intend to be any longer than that £1 was all I paid. Then with Sophie and Sugar on the lead I set off to browse the shops on one side of the road before reaching the market. Hemsby market isn't very big so it didn't take long to walk round it, and once I'd seen everything I returned to the car park via the shops on the other side of the road - and I didn't buy a single thing from anywhere.
It was while I was driving back to the main road that I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go and check out a nearby camp site as a possible alternative to staying at California, so putting my indicators on quickly I made a sharp right turn down a narrow tree-shaded lane. This particular site had been recommended several times by UKCS members to other members looking for sites in that area, one of the attractions being that it had its own beach, but I must admit that having arrived and started to look round I was more than a little perplexed and most definitely less than impressed. The lane went straight into the site, and just by what could be classed as the entrance was a small car park with a clubhouse on the left and the site reception on the right. In close proximity to the clubhouse was a small enclave of static caravans and beyond reception was a row of obviously private chalet-type bungalows. I parked up by the clubhouse, and leaving the dogs in the van for once I set off to find the actual 'camp site' - except I didn't find it as it didn't seem to exist, at least not in the way most camp sites exist.
The lane led past reception and curved round to the left, and on each side were private detached chalet-bungalows, each set in its own little garden and many with a driveway - the ones on the right backed onto a wide sandy valley with high dunes on the far side. I must have passed a dozen or so of these bungalows when out of the blue I came across a grassy space between two of them, and in that space was a tent. At first I thought it probably belonged to one of the bungalows but then further along the lane, and between two more bungalows, was another grassy space and another tent. Behind the inner row of bungalows was another 'street' and this was the same - a few bungalows then a tent tucked away in a corner, all the way along the row. How very odd! Walking down a narrow path between two of the bungalow gardens I came across a very large area with nothing but static caravans, in fact there were so many of them it was almost a site in itself - then just past the last row of statics, and not far from where I'd left the van, was a children's play area and a small grassy area with four tents pitched on it with maybe enough room for another two. So that, along with the few spaces between the bungalows, must be what constituted the 'camp site' - how totally and absolutely weird! Of all the sites I've stayed on over the years I've never come across anything like that before, and to be honest it wasn't my cup of tea at all. So one thing was certain - I wouldn't be booking a stay there no matter how many people recommended it.
Driving away from the site and back along the lane I noticed a field with several tents pitched in it and a corner entrance set back off the lane - I did wonder if this was part of the site I'd just been looking round but it had a totally different name so maybe it wasn't - and if it was, then it was at least half a mile away from the beach. As far as camping fields go it looked okay but I decided I would stick to my favourite site down at California in the future - better the devil you know etc.
The drive down into Yarmouth didn't take long using the Caister by-pass and I was soon pulling into the car park at Asda. The Asda supermarket is about a seven minute walk from the town centre but I would rather park there than attempt to use the multi-storey car park and find that the van won't go under the barrier. Finding a space at the far side of the car park I reversed in, then collecting the dogs from the back of the van I set off to find an O2 shop in the town centre. It took a while but I found one eventually, and luckily there was a rail not far from the door where I could fasten the dogs while I nipped into the shop - I wasn't in there long, and when I came out again I found Sophie and Sugar being given a lot of attention from a couple of kids and their mum, which they looked like they were enjoying. Walking back to the van it crossed my mind that I might drive up to Potter Heigham and pay my customary visit to Lathams but I decided instead to drive down to the north end of Yarmouth sea front and take the dogs for a walk along there.
Even though it was such a grey day there was still a lot of people and cars on the promenade and I had to drive quite a way along before I found a parking space. Finding a ticket machine I paid my fee, stuck the ticket in the windscreen and released the dogs. A nearby set of steps led down into the low lying dunes and one of several paths ran through the dunes to the beach; I followed the path with Sophie and Sugar running through the grass, exploring and sniffing as dogs do, then reaching the beach I turned and walked northwards for quite a distance before finding another path through the dunes and heading back towards the van. Once there I gave the dogs a drink, then after settling them on their bed in the back I set off back to California. I didn't intend going anywhere else that day so once I had reversed onto my pitch I connected up the awning and put the kettle on for a brew. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing with a magazine, a bit of tv, and some internet surfing on my laptop until it was time to take Sophie and Sugar for their last walk of the day, then once they were settled on their beds for the night I took myself off to mine with fingers metaphorically crossed for much brighter weather the following day.
- 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