Seven o' clock that morning saw me leaving home for Station Camp Site at Carrog in North Wales - I was going down for the annual steam and tractor show held on the large show ground at Corwen, just a couple of miles from Carrog. Station Camp Site had at one time been one of my favourite sites but up to 2008 I had been to the show as an exhibitor for a few years so had camped at the showground instead. It would be nice this year to go back to one of my favourite haunts - and as well as the dogs I had Tiger with me again.
The weather wasn't exactly sunny but it was bright enough, and with one of my favourite cds to sing along to the journey down was quite pleasant, but as I went from Cheshire into North Wales the sky clouded over and by the time I had reached Llangollen it was very grey and overcast - not the sort of weather I was used to down there. Carrog is only about seven miles from Llangollen and about halfway along on the A5 is the Tollgate Cafe, although it's not a cafe in the usual sense - a small, square, single storey stone building with an ordering/serving window at the front, it's set back off the road with a long layby in front of it and a couple of tables on a patch of grass outside. Serving really good hot and cold snacks and drinks it's a very popular little place, and my weekend in Carrog wouldn't be complete without stopping there for breakfast. I ordered a bacon and egg barm and a large coffee and took them back to the van, then returning my mug when I'd finished I set off again for Carrog.
The camp site is down a narrow lane off the main road, and is at the end of the Llangollen steam railway - the station is just across the lane from the site (hence the name) and the engines turn round right behind the site, though there's very little noise when they do. As I pulled in through the gates I could see that things had changed a bit since the last time I had stayed there - part of a small working farm it had once been just a well-mown field where you could pitch more or less anywhere and put your pitch fee in an honesty box if the owner didn't come round to collect it, but now there were proper hardstanding pitches round three sides, each with electric hook-up, and a warden's caravan in the middle. I've always known the site to be full on the weekend when Corwen show is on so I was quite surprised to see that there weren't many campers there, and when I went to book in with the warden she gave me the choice of several pitches. Having decided which one I was having I drove round and reversed the van onto the hardstanding, took the dogs for a quick walk down the lane, then set about putting up the tent. It didn't take long, and I had just got the last of my things inside when the fine drizzly rain started - not what I wanted at all. I couldn't really do much in that without getting significantly damp so I decided to spend a couple of hours in the tent to give the rain chance to stop.
It was late lunchtime when it eventually came fine - though the very low-lying cloud over the hillside across from the site made me think it wouldn't stay that way for long - so I thought I would go along to Corwen and have a look round the show. It looked rather deserted when I got there though and one of the stewards at the entrance, who I knew from other shows, said that the rain had been bad enough to cause the cancellation of many of the ring events and most of the stalls had closed. She did say though that if I still wanted to look round I could go in free as it wasn't worth me paying - well, that was good enough for me! It didn't me take long to walk round the whole show as there was nothing really to stop for - the fairground organs were silent, and the only stalls still open were the ones under cover and the catering wagons, and I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of visitors still looking round. After stopping to chat briefly to someone I knew who had a stall selling tractors spares I returned to the van, and as I was now at a loose end I decided to drive back to Llangollen and have a look round the shops.
Leaving the van in the main car park in Llangollen town centre I set off for a wander round - it didn't take that long as the town isn't big, and on my way back along the main street I called in the Courtyard Cafe for a treat of coffee and cake. Having the dogs with me meant I couldn't eat inside but I was quite happy sitting at one of the tables in the small courtyard. There were several different varieties of home made cake on display behind the counter and I chose a piece of the coffee and walnut one - and it was so good that I made a total pig of myself and had a second piece. Now this is where a bit of reverse logic comes in - even though I had consumed several hundred calories the cake had filled me up to the extent that I wouldn't want anything other than a brew later on (they were big pieces), and if I didn't have an evening meal I then had an intake of zero calories, so one would cancel out the other! Maybe I should start a new concept - the 'stuff-yourself-silly-with-cake-and-still-lose-weight' diet. I wonder if it would catch on??
Anyway, with all those calories distributing themselves round my body I returned to the van and made my way back to the camp site. The weather was still very grey and miserable but at least it had managed to stay fine while I was out. I spent most of the evening watching tv with Tiger by my side on the bed, and apart from taking the dogs for their final walk down the lane and back I didn't venture out again. It had been rather an odd day really, and when I settled myself down to sleep it was with the hope that the following day would be much better.
- 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