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

Monday August 1st 2011 - The view that started it all

It was another glorious morning, if anything better than the previous day as there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I certainly didn't feel like packing up and going home but I had to do. And this time I really was packing up - after three consecutive weekends on the same pitch I was finally taking the tent down and taking it home. In less than two weeks I would be making my second trip of the season to California so it was time I spent a weekend at home beforehand. I was in no rush to leave though so after the first dog walk of the day I had a leisurely breakfast and sat in the sun for a while before I made a start on sorting my things out and loading them into the van. Sophie and Sugar had retreated to their beds in their side of the tent but when there was only the tent left to move I put them in the back of the van out of the way - and looking at their faces I don't think they wanted to go home either.

It didn't take long to take the tent down and get it packed away in its bag and after checking the ground for any stray pegs I was ready for off, but before I left there was one thing I wanted to do. Several times in conversation with different people at home I've been asked why I always stay at that particular site, so as it was such a beautifully clear and sunny day I decided to take a few minutes to photograph the view I saw the very first time I camped there fourteen years previously - the view which started my love affair with Anglesey.

Now maybe many people wouldn't think there was anything special about that view but to me as a first time camper it had the 'wow' factor, and as many times as I've camped there since I never tire of seeing it. There are many different views from that site, in fact there was a good one looking over the hedge a few yards from where I had just been pitched, but that very first view will forever remain my favourite.

Those were to be my last shots of the weekend, and returning to the van I stashed the camera away in my bag and finally drove away from the corner which had played home to my tent for the last few weeks. As always I drove down to the promenade and took the dogs for a final walk along the beach, then with them settled safely on their beds in the back of the van I set off for home. With the radio to sing along to it was a very pleasant drive back in the sunshine and I arrived home with a few minutes to spare before I had to go to work. My next trip would be the California one but going off recent weeks there was every possibility that I would make yet another visit to Anglesey before the end of the season.

Sunday July 31st 2011 - Portmeirion at last!

Another sunny morning arrived, and I decided that this was the day I would definitely go to Portmeirion. There was a fair amount of cloud around but it was broken white cloud so it shouldn't interfere too much with my photography as there was still plenty of blue sky. It was while I was walking the dogs round the site that I got chatting to the warden and she told me that if I went to Portmeirion after 3.30pm I would get half price admission - I didn't know what the admission charge was but I imagined it wouldn't be cheap so getting in for half price had to be a bargain. When I got back to the tent I made a brew and some toast, put my camera batteries on to charge then got the map book out to see where else I could go in that area - if I wasn't going to Portmeirion until later in the afternoon I would have plenty of time to look round somewhere else first.

With my route decided I spent a leisurely morning in and around the tent then as it got past noon I topped up the dog's water container, put the batteries back in the camera and loaded the dogs in the van ready for off. My route took me down the A487 from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, and once I had left Caernarfon behind it was a very pleasant and scenic drive through many little villages and passing part of the Snowdonia mountains. Reaching Porthmadog I turned off onto the A497 and headed for Criccieth, a few miles along the coast. It was a place I had passed through several years previously but I hadn't had the opportunity to stop, and although I could remember it having a castle on a headland I knew nothing else about it so it would be good to do a bit of exploring round there. About half a mile before the town the road turned towards the coast and rounding a bend I had a great view of the castle on the headland - there was a lay-by just up ahead on the left so I pulled in there to spend a few minutes taking in the view. In front of me and to the right a large expanse of rough grassland dotted with trees and shrubs sloped down from the road to a railway line and a long straight stretch of beach beyond it, and sheep wandered about grazing contentedly. Beyond the rough land was what appeared to be a pitch and putt course and in the distance was the castle on its headland. To my left the undulating landscape seemed to be more cultivated, probably as a result of the grazing sheep, and in the far distance were more of the Snowdonia hills.

Leaving the lay-by I continued on towards the town and not much further along the road was a sign directing me down a side road to the beach - I wasn't sure if I would be able to find somewhere to park but I needn't have worried; at the bottom of the road and set back off the promenade was a large car park with plenty of vacant spaces so I pulled in there and once I'd fed the nearby machine and stuck the ticket in the windscreen I clipped the lead on the dogs and with my camera slung round my neck I set off to explore. Between the car park and the promenade road was a long lawned area with a few bench seats and picnic tables dotted about, and the very pleasant pedestrian part of the promenade was separated from the road by a low stone wall. At the end of the lawned area a road went off up the hill towards the town and beyond there, set up on a grass bank above the promenade, was a row of hotels and private houses. Another road to the right followed, with another hotel and a cafe/tea room on the corner, and across from there was a small semi-circular lawned area with a couple of bench seats and some tubs of brightly coloured flowers. A bit further on was the lifeboat station with its long concrete slipway going down across the beach and to the right was a harbour wall of sorts, with a handful of fishing dinghies pulled up onto the nearby grassy area.

The promenade itself ended there and the road turned inland - a sign for the castle pointed up the hill so I headed in that direction. There seemed to be a lot of people coming down the road eating ice cream and when I got about halfway up I saw there was a large open-fronted ice cream parlour on the left, and judging by the queue it looked like it was a very popular place. The road narrowed a bit there and consisted of mainly terraced houses and garden-fronted stone cottages, and it was only when I got to the top of the hill that I saw the castle on the left. As the road passed the castle grounds it went downhill again and I could see the sea in the distance so out of curiosity I went to see what was down at the bottom, and was quite surprised to see another beach. The section at the bottom of the hill was shingle but further along I could see it was sandy, split into sections by wooden breakwaters. As much as I would have liked to go further I decided against it as I didn't want to be too late in getting to Portmeirion - and missing that part out gave me a good excuse to return to Criccieth another time. By the time I had got back to the promenade the clouds were beginning to increase and some had a decidedly grey tinge to them so I just hoped that my visit to Portmeirion wouldn't be affected too much.

Back at the van I gave the dogs a drink then set off to return through Porthmadog and on to Portmeirion. As I was coming into Porthmadog I noticed a large camping store on my left so I decided to call in to see if I could get a footprint groundsheet and a carpet for the tent I bought the week before. After a lot of searching I still couldn't find what I was looking for so I asked an assistant who eventually did manage to find a groundsheet but the carpets were out of stock. The groundsheet was the more essential of the two items though and the price was good so I came out of the store a very happy bunny and continued on to Portmeirion. Driving through Porthmadog and out towards Portmeirion I saw briefly what looked to be a harbour on my right, then further along a straight stretch of road was some lovely scenery over to my left but as there was nowhere for me to stop safely I couldn't take any photos, however I decided to try to find somewhere to park when I was on my way back. Reaching the car park at Portmeirion, which was just outside the village and was free, I found a nice shady spot under some trees and reversed the van then went to the entrance to make sure I could go back in if I came out to check on the dogs - I could, so once I'd put the fan on for them I collected my camera and set off to see what delights Portmeirion had to offer.

The village itself was very much as I remembered it from twelve years previously but with one big difference - flowers. My previous visit had been very early in the season - the village had seemed very dull and drab at the time and I hadn't been too impressed, but now it was just full of colour. There were flowers everywhere - in ornamental tubs and pots, in flowerbeds, and alongside the lawns, and coupled with the brightly-painted walls of the houses and cottages they made the whole place so much more attractive. It was while I was wandering round that I did notice one thing - because of the surrounding tall trees some parts of the village were in the shade, which they wouldn't have been earlier in the day. Maybe that's why admission is half price after 3.30pm, as you don't get all the sun, but it didn't affect my photography too much and I still got lots of good shots. And I make no apologies for including many of them on here.

I had been wandering round for quite a while, lost in my photography, when I realized that it was time to check on the dogs - they were fine, but I let them out of the van, gave them a drink and took them for a brief walk round the large parking area before returning to the village for more photographs. There were so many parts to explore and take photos of but because of the increasing shade I missed out a lot, so it went without saying that I would make a return visit another time. I had initially expected the full admission price to be expensive but it was only £9 so not as bad as I thought, and it would certainly be worth paying that full price to get there much earlier in the day and make the most of the sun.

When I had photographed just about everywhere I could, missing out the areas with too much shade, I made my way back to the van and took Sophie and Sugar for another walk round the car park before setting off on my journey back to Anglesey. Driving back along the road between Portmeirion and Porthmadog I saw again that lovely scenery and a bit further on was a car park sign on the right, so at least there was somewhere to stop - and as it was after 6pm by then there was no charge. Across the road from the entrance to the car park was a short row of modern shops with the harbour just beyond but I walked back along the road first and managed to get several good shots of the view towards the Snowdonia mountains.

Retracing my steps to the harbour I had a wander round there and found it to be quite a pleasant little place. Across the far side were white-painted modern houses and apartments, and moored in the harbour itself were rows of small colourful fishing boats and larger yachts. I could have spent quite a while exploring as there was obviously more to see than the part where I was, but time was getting on and I still had to drive back to Anglesey so I just took half a dozen photos then made my way back to the van.

It was a very pleasant drive back to Anglesey and the sun was still shining when I arrived back at the tent. First thing was to make a brew and a sandwich, then just before the daylight faded I fed the dogs, took them for their last walk round the site then settled in for the rest of the evening with my laptop and an hour or so of tv. I'd had a lovely day and had been quite impressed with Portmeirion even though several parts of it were in the shade, so having seen how nice it can be I'll certainly be making a return visit in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday July 30th 2011 - The Church in the Sea

My journey back to Anglesey the previous evening had been an easy one and again I had arrived on site to find my tent exactly as I'd left it four days before. As soon as I had transferred my few bits and pieces from the van to the tent I had taken the dogs for a walk round the site then settled in for what was left of the evening. I woke in the morning to sunshine and a blue sky streaked with white cloud so it looked like it would be another nice day for photographs, though I was in no rush to go out - although I still wanted to go to Port Meirion I had decided to stay local as there was a place on the island that I really wanted to see. After taking the dogs for their first walk of the day I had a leisurely breakfast, went across to thank the guys who had kept an eye on the tent for me during the week, then spent most of the morning pottering about. The back of the van was starting to get a bit untidy - God knows how as there's only ever me in there - so I decided to do something about it before it started to look like a mobile jumble sale. It was mainly just camping stuff and once it was sorted out and stacked neatly in the space behind the seats the van looked a whole heap better.

It was lunchtime when I finally set out, and my first stop was at a car boot sale just out of the village on the way to Llangefni. I had actually forgotten all about its existence until I was approaching the field where it's held, though I didn't think it would be worth stopping, but I was quite surprised to find a great majority of the stalls still there so it was worth having a look round. I wasn't really looking for anything for myself but a friend of mine needed a dog cage and I had said I would look out for one when I was on my travels - and I couldn't believe it when I saw one on the last stall I looked at. But it wasn't to be, as it had just been sold to someone else. Damn! If only I'd walked round the field the opposite way that would have been the first stall I looked at and the cage would have been mine - I don't know who Sod is but I really think there should be a change in his law!

My second stop was at Asda in Llangefni for a few bits and pieces then I headed for Aberffraw and the place I wanted to see. When I was talking to my cousin Dave's wife Hilda the weekend before she had asked me if I had been to the Church in the Sea - I had to admit that I'd never even heard of it let alone been to it so she had told me where it was and how to get there, and it sounded so fascinating that I just had to take a look. It was exactly as the name implies, a church in the sea - an ancient chapel built on a small island and reached by a rocky causeway from the beach, but at high tide it was completely surrounded by the sea. My route from the main road took me through Aberffraw village and down a narrow winding lane in the direction of the sea, and as I rounded a bend I got a view of where I was heading for - a bay with an island in the middle, on top of which sat a small white-walled chapel. A bit further along the lane widened out a little before coming to an end almost on the beach - there were several cars parked on the grass verge and as it looked like that was the only parking place I pulled in behind the last vehicle in the line, clipped the leads on the dogs and set off to explore.

The beach at the end of the lane was very rocky but a little distance to my right a long stretch of sand swept round in a curve to the headland on the far side of the bay. The tide was in but on the turn and I could just see a couple of small sections of the causeway exposed - hopefully it wouldn't be too long before the whole of it was clear and I could walk across to the church. Starting at the left side of the bay I walked all the way round to the right, pausing every so often to take a photo or two and at one point actually walking into the water, which was amazingly clear. About halfway along the beach I came across the outlet of a freshwater stream - for some reason it didn't flow from the fields and straight across the beach, it came through an enclosed concrete tunnel built at ground level and with a heavy cast iron sluice gate at the end. The beach immediately in front of the sluice gate had been sectioned off with some corrugated iron edgings and the stream flowed under the gate and into this section, forming a shallow pool - to be honest I thought the whole thing looked ugly and spoiled what was otherwise a nice bay, but the dogs liked the pool and spent a good couple of minutes paddling about.

When I reached the far side of the bay I looked back the way I had come and could see that the top of the causeway was now fully exposed and there were some people already making their way across so I set off back that way. I had to pick my way carefully when I went across the causeway as many of the rocks were slippery with seaweed but I made it without mishap and finally reached the rocky base of the little island. A steep flight of stone steps led up to the top of the island which was just a flat expanse of grass with the chapel towards the landward end. There was a wooden bench seat set against each of the gable end walls and set in the grass a few yards from the building was a single gravestone with a posy of artificial flowers placed on top, weighted down by a chunk of rock. The chapel was closed but on the door was a notice saying that it is used for summer services a few times each year and that arrangements can be made in advance to view the inside at other times. I was quite surprised to learn that the chapel is actually still used, and had a vision of a line of elderly people all dressed in 'Sunday best' and carrying bibles picking their way carefully across the causeway. Curious to know what the inside looked like I stood on the bench seat at one end and peered through the window - the glass was very dirty but I found a small patch clear enough for the camera lens and managed to get a reasonable photo.

The people who had crossed the causeway before me seemed to have disappeared and I had the island to myself so after walking all round the perimiter and taking a few photos I sat on the bench in the sunshine, taking in the view and enjoying the peace and tranquility while the dogs mooched about in the grass. I don't know how long I sat there but I began to feel peckish after a while and decided it was time to head back to the van, so calling the dogs I made my way down the steep stone steps and back across the causeway to the beach.

It was a pleasant drive back to Benllech and the camp site and once the van was parked at the side of the tent I fed the dogs and set about making myself some sort of a meal. It was only sandwiches and a brew, with a piece of cake for 'afters', but it was enough - and my philosophy is that I don't cook when I'm at home (well, very rarely) so I'm certainly not cooking when I'm away! An evening with the tv and my laptop followed my meal, then just before darkness fell I took the dogs for their last walk of the day. As I snuggled down into my bed later on my thoughts returned to the Church in the Sea; even though I've been to most places on Anglesey I had been totally unaware of the little chapel on the island until a week before when Hilda had mentioned it. I was glad she had as I'd had a lovely afternoon out and got some nice photos of a quaint little place I would otherwise probably never have known about.