Yet again I woke to another lovely sunny morning with blue sky and fluffy white clouds, just right for exploring and taking more photos. First off was a good dog walk round the site; the people who had kept an eye on my tent for me during the week were up and about by the time I got back so I stopped to thank them for their help then after a brief chat I put the dogs on their line outside the tent and set about making some breakfast. The next thing was to decide where I would go that day - I was beginning to run out of places to go to on the island without making repeat visits so my thoughts turned to trying somewhere on the mainland. One place I had been to twelve years previously was Portmeirion and I hadn't been particularly impressed with it at the time - maybe because it had been very early in the season and rather a grey day - so a return visit was long overdue, if only to see if it looked any nicer than previously. So that was decided - Portmeirion it would be, and after tidying away the breakfast things and topping up the dogs' fresh water container I loaded them both in the back of the van and set off for my day out, stopping at reception on my way out to pay my pitch fee.
It was while I was heading along the road towards Britannia bridge that I began to have doubts about going to Portmeirion. Rounding a bend in the road I had a good view across the island towards Snowdonia, and although Anglesey and the mainland north of Bangor were bathed in brilliant sunshine and blue sky south of the bridge it was a dull grey and totally devoid of any sun - it was almost as if someone had drawn a line right across the sky with blue on one side and grey on the other. Momentarily I thought about changing direction and heading north once I got across the bridge but decided to stick with my original plan - the Snowdonia mountains were between me and Portmeirion so it could possibly be sunny when I got to the other side. However, I must have travelled about ten miles south of Caernarfon with about the same distance to go when I realised that the grey sky wasn't getting any better - I needed blue sky and sunshine for my photography and without them there would be absolutely no point going to Portmeirion, so I decided to abort my trip, turn round and head back north to where the sun was shining.
Driving back towards Caernarfon I noticed a camping and outdoor store set back off the road on my left, and not being one to pass a place like that without having a look I pulled in and parked up. There was a small display of half a dozen tents on the grass 'island' outside the store and my attention was caught by the largest of these - it was a 6-person model of the same design as mine, in the same shade of blue and with a bedroom at each end and a central living area, but compared to mine it was huge. Now I have to say that I've loved my tent since the day I got it last year but having used it several times since then I've come to realise that although the design works well for me and the dogs it's just a bit small space-wise. The living area isn't very big - with two very small camping tables and a folding chair in it there's not much room left - and it's only just about my head height in the centre, which is just less than 5ft, so not ideal for dressing and undressing in a standing position. The tent I was looking at was over 6ft high in the centre, had large bedrooms and a living area the size of a small ballroom - and the more I looked at it the more I liked it and wanted it. My only doubt was if I would be able to put it up on my own but then it had only one flexible pole more than my current tent and was about the same height as my awning, which I could deal with easily, so maybe I wouldn't have too much trouble. So taking the bull by the horns I went into the store to make some enquiries - and the conversation went like this : Me - "Do you think I would be able to put that tent up on my own?" Assistant - "How many people will be camping?" Me - "Just me" Assistant (with raised eyebrows) - "Do you really need a tent that big??" Me - "Yes, I like a lot of space!"
When the assistant's eyebrows had climbed down from his hairline and he realised I was being serious he told me that all the poles were colour co-ordinated so I couldn't go wrong, and also explained the best way of actually getting the tent upright once the poles were in place. It sounded okay in theory and the more I thought about it the more it made sense space-wise, so I decided to go for it if I could have just the tent - it actually came as a package which included air beds and sleeping bags for six people, which I didn't really want, so after chatting to the assistant I got a bargain price on the tent on its own. Unfortunately the display model was the only one they had which I was a bit dubious about but the assistant assured me that they had only put it up the day before, so after a thorough inspection to make sure everything was okay I decided I would have it as long as it came with a good guarantee. It didn't take the assistant and his mate long to dismantle it and pack it away and after paying for it and getting the receipt and guarantee I heaved it into the van and drove away from the store a very happy bunny.
It was as I approached the outskirts of Caernarfon that I saw a sign for a place called Llanrug - and that's when I had another change of plan. My cousin Dave and his wife Hilda live in Llanrug, and as I only ever see them at occasional family do's I decided to pay them a surprise visit so I turned off the main road and went the way the sign was pointing. I had only ever been there once before, which was twelve years ago, so finding Dave and Hilda's bungalow without stopping to ask for directions would be a good test of my memory and sense of direction. It didn't take long to get to Llanrug as it's not really that far from Caernarfon, and as I approached the village things began to look familiar. Just up ahead was a junction with one road going off to the right with a convenience store on the corner and two roads forming a V shape on my left - seeing the shop jogged my memory and I remembered that I had to take the second road on my left and Dave's place would be in an avenue somewhere behind it. And sure enough, the first avenue on my right was the one I was looking for and turning right again I recognized Dave's bungalow at the end of the cul-de-sac. As I pulled onto the drive I had to admit that I'd surprised myself by finding it so easily after all these years - with a memory like that who needs a satnav? I just wish I could remember other things as easily!
I didn't know if Dave and Hilda would be at home but the maroon coloured people carrier parked on the drive gave an indication that someone was - it was Hilda who answered my knock at the door and needless to say she was very surprised to see me. She said Dave was at work at the golf club and wouldn't be home until much later but she asked me in and we sat down for a chat. It was during our conversation that Dave phoned her so she passed the phone over to me so I could speak to him, and he was just as surprised as Hilda that I had turned up out of the blue. I must have been there for over an hour and it was great to have a chat but eventually I had to go - it was a shame that I hadn't got to see Dave as he's my favourite cousin and we have always got on great, but I know now that if and when I take it into my head to visit again I'll leave it until the evening.
Time was getting on as I headed back towards Caernarfon and there wasn't really much point in chasing the sun north of Britannia bridge so I decided to go straight back to the camp site, stopping at the Spar shop to get something for my tea. The dogs were long overdue for a walk so once I'd parked up on my pitch I took them round the site then settled down with a brew and something to eat. Later in the evening I took them down to the beach for a good walk before the daylight faded, then whiled away an hour or so on my laptop before bedtime. It had been an odd day and one which hadn't gone according to plan, though it had been a very pleasant one. Although I hadn't managed to get to Portmeirion as I'd intended I wasn't disappointed - I could always go another time. And if I had gone then I wouldn't now be the owner of a nice new tent, which I was looking forward to using sometime in the not-too-distant future.
- 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