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 September 11th 2010 - Forward and reverse

I woke just after 7am to a lovely sunny morning and hoped it would stay like that all day - I didn't really fancy the idea of learning to tow a caravan, and getting to grips with all the various technicalities involved, in pouring rain. I could already hear signs of life coming from the caravan next door so with no time to linger I got up and put the kettle on for breakfast. With tea and toast made I mixed up Tiger's formula milk so it would have time to cool down before I gave it to her, then after a very quick breakfast I took the dogs for a walk down the lane and back. After settling the dogs on their beds in the awning I gave Tiger her medication and put some milk, water, and a small amount of food in her pen, then disconnected the awning from the van. A few minutes later Roz emerged from her caravan and we were ready for off - she wasn't exactly sure how to get to the course venue from the site, so as I was already very familiar with the area it was up to me to lead the way. It only took a few minutes to get there and we arrived bang on time at 8.45am - and so began a very busy day.

The morning started in a classroom, there were twelve of us altogether and after time spent on registration and introducing ourselves the two instructors gave us a breakdown of the weekend's activities before taking us through an informal 'lecture' and question and answer session on the initial stages of caravan towing. At the end of the session we were taken over to the canteen for morning break, then out onto the large car park to get to grips with hitching and unhitching using our own vehicles. We were split into two groups, and with two caravans to each group we were each able to have several attempts. The next step was actually towing a caravan in a figure of eight round a cross-shaped course made up of a double line of traffic cones, with only just enough room to get a caravan between them - when it came to my turn I really didn't think I would do it, so I surprised myself by going round four times without touching a single cone. When we had all had enough attempts to be reasonably confident at forward towing it was time to adjourn to the canteen for lunch.

The afternoon followed the same pattern as the morning - a classroom session and a coffee break followed by more practise outside, this time reversing in a straight line. Yet again I didn't think I would do it, but remembering what I had been told, observing my partner's directions and taking it slowly meant I did better than I thought I would, and I managed to stay in near enough a straight line. With the practical session over with we returned to the classroom for a debrief (I've always wondered why it's called that - it makes me think of someone losing their underwear!) then we were free to go.

Arriving back at the caravan site I found Tiger in her pen outside the awning and no sign of Sophie and Sugar - a quick investigation by Roz told me that they were in her caravan. Her little girl, who absolutely adores dogs, had insisted to her dad that they go in the caravan so they wouldn't be lonely, and Niall had brought Tiger outside as it had got too warm in the awning.

After thanking him for looking after them all I attached the awning to the van and set about making something to eat and mixing up some more milk for Tiger before feeding the dogs and taking them for a walk round the site - I didn't need to go far as they had been out several times during the day. On my return I gave Tiger her medication and put her back in the awning, then went to spend an hour or so with Niall and Roz, chatting over a coffee and discussing what we had been doing that day. The weather had been good to us, staying sunny all day, so the practical elements had all been very pleasant, but we both agreed that it had been a very tiring day and we were more than ready for bed when the time came. 

Friday September 10th 2010 - Turnover Hall Farm

It was raining that morning as I drove up the M6, fine but heavy stuff, and I wasn't looking forward to putting up the awning and getting wet in the process, but I didn't have much choice as there was no other time in which I could do it. This wasn't a camping weekend for pleasure though, I was camping for necessity - I was attending a Caravan Club towing and manoevring course at an agricultural college near Garstang, and even though it was only forty minutes drive from home I had decided to camp nearby to save two lots of driving each day. I hadn't actually chosen the site myself though - I had originally intended staying at Wyreside Farm Park, but I had been corresponding with another UKCS member whose wife was also doing the towing course, and he had suggested that if I stayed on the same site as them he would look after Sophie and Sugar for me while I was attending the course. Well, what more could I ask for? Someone to pair up with on the course and chat to afterwards, and someone else to dog-sit while I was out - it was a no-brainer really! And the site he had chosen was in the same village as Wyreside Farm Park anyway.

There was only one minor problem though - the caravan course started at 8.45am Saturday and I wouldn't have time to drive to the site and set up my awning first so it meant doing it a day early, even though I would have to go back home to go to work at lunchtime then return to the site in the evening. It was 10am when I arrived at the site, a Caravan Club CL which was part of a much larger caravan storage/seasonal site. There was no-one around so I found my way to reception on the main site, only to find it closed and no way of booking in - however, after wandering round the adjacent farm yard I eventually found a guy who said he would come across and show me where to pitch. He did come across but then couldn't find the ehu posts - the back of the site was bordered by a tall thick conifer hedge with the ehu posts underneath, but the foliage was so thick at the bottom it was near enough impossible to find the posts. Now while I think it's a good idea to keep any ehu posts out of sight - they aren't the prettiest looking things after all - I also think it would be a good idea to trim the hedge occasionally! We both searched for several minutes before he found one and showed me where to pitch, then telling me to pay my pitch fee at reception the following day he went off and left me to it.

Thankfully by this time it had stopped raining, so I was able to put the awning up without getting soaked, but because it had taken so long to get onto my pitch I didn't have time to set all my things out inside - I just unloaded them from the van and dumped them in a corner of the awning, then set off to drive back home in time for work at 12.45. It was 8.15pm when I finally got back to the site, and this time not only did I have the dogs with me, I had my cat Tiger as well. Now I wouldn't normally take any of my cats camping, but there was a very good reason for this - Tiger had cancer and was on twice-daily medication from the vet, so I had to have her with me then I could administer it.

As I pulled into the site I could see that the pitch next to mine was now occupied by a large twin-axle caravan, and the sounds of children inside told me that this was Niall and Roz and their family who I was meeting up with. Once I had parked up and connected the awning to the van I set out my things inside, gave Tiger her medication and made her comfortable in her pen - I was just about to put the kettle on when Roz came across and asked if I wanted a brew, so I ended up going over to their caravan for a coffee and a chat. I didn't stay too late though as I'd had a long day and we all had to be up early the following morning, so after taking the dogs for a quick walk round the site and settling them on their beds I checked on Tiger and finally took myself off to my own bed for the rest of the night.