6.30am on Good Friday morning saw me leaving home for Centenary Way, a site in Filey which I had stayed at with friends for one night nearly three years ago, and having been impressed I had wanted to go back but never got the chance. Well the matter was about to be rectified - I was booked in for four nights and really looking forward to my time there. The sun was shining and the traffic reasonably light on the M62 so the drive went well, till I got to the Yorkshire side of the motorway where a thick wall of mist descended and swirled around, swallowing up everything in its path. I hadn't expected that! And this was my first experience of driving with limited visibility, but as I couldn't change things I had to accept it and carry on - I could hardly chicken out in the middle of a motorway!
The mist lasted until I was on the A64 and past York then it cleared and the sun returned, making the drive much more pleasant. By then I was ready for some breakfast, and though I hadn't intended to stop en route when I came to the Highwayman Cafe I pulled in. I've been there a few times in recent years and they do an excellent all-day breakfast, but toast and coffee was enough for me just then. With the inner woman satisfied and the dogs walked along the adjacent lay-by I set off once more and the rest of the journey was uneventful. Approaching Filey I hoped that my good sense of direction and my memory for places wouldn't let me down - I had my map book with me (I don't 'do' satnav) and I had referred to it before leaving home but I didn't want to keep consulting it if I didn't need to. And sure enough, as I got within a couple of miles of my destination, I recognised where I was and instinctively knew which way to go - and less than three hours after leaving home I was pulling up by reception at Centenary Way.
After booking in and getting the code number for the toilets I drove round to my allocated pitch and started to set up camp. With the awning up and pegged securely (it took a while as I was on a hardstanding pitch) and everything set out inside, I went for a wander round the site. Nothing seemed to have changed since I was last there - I think the only thing different was the kids play equipment which had had a smart coat of blue paint, other than that everything was just the same, and just as nice, as before.
Back at the awning I made a much-needed brew and had half an hour's relaxation while I pondered on what I was going to do over the weekend - a visit to Scarborough was definitely on the cards, other than that I had no firm ideas just then. First things first though - I knew I would need lots of change for various car park charges, and other than a few coppers and 20p pieces I had none at all, so I had to rectify that somehow. I didn't really need to do any shopping as I had all the food I would need for the weekend, but if that was the only way I could get some change then I needed to make a trip to Tesco, so with the dogs loaded in the back of the van off I went. The car park at Tesco was very busy and I only just managed to find a space, though unfortunately in full sun, so not wanting to leave the dogs too long I grabbed a £10 note from my secret hiding place and dashed into the store. Not needing food I made for the household section and spotted some toilet rim blocks for 99p and sponge scourers for 69p - but buying both items together wouldn't give me as much change as I wanted, so I bought the rim blocks first, took them back to the van, then went back in the store and got the scourers, paying with the £5 note I got in the change from the rim blocks. And I made sure I didn't go through the same checkout or the assistant may have given me some very odd looks! Altogether I ended up with £8 in pound coins, which would be great for feeding parking meters, but it was a bit of a daft way to get it!
As the parking at Tesco was free I thought I may as well leave the van where it was and have a look round the rest of the town, so collecting the dogs I set off down towards the shops. Filey isn't a big town so it didn't take long for me to look round, and I only actually went in one shop. It was a small gift shop and I only went in as I was able to see the dogs all the time I was there - and I was so glad I did as I found a mouse ornament for my collection. It was locked in a display cabinet, and when the assistant brought it out for me I found it wasn't a new piece as I first thought but a rare piece from 1997. It wasn't exactly cheap, but nowhere near the price it should have been, so there was no way I was leaving that shop without it. And because there wasn't an official box for it I managed to negotiate a small discount so I was a very happy bunny. My first day in Filey and I'd bought a mouse - well two actually, and they look better in 'real life' than they do on the photo.
So with the mouse (mice?) well wrapped and in a bag I collected the dogs from where I'd left them outside the shop, went back to Tesco to retrieve the van, and drove back to the site - and that's when I thought my holiday was about to be ruined. The two pitches next to mine, which had been vacant when I went out, were now occupied by a large extended family who were in the process of setting up camp. There was a huge tent on each pitch - so big they looked like marquees - two cars, a huge Transit van, a barking dog in a large cage, and heaven knows how many boxes, bags, tables, chairs and windbreaks spread out on the grass. It looked like a very disorganised car boot sale set up by a load of travellers, and when the music went on my heart sank. However, it wasn't on long before it was turned off and I didn't hear it again. Making myself a sandwich and a brew I settled down in the awning with a magazine, and when I looked out later on it was to see the Transit driving away and my neighbours sitting enjoying a communal meal on a very tidy pitch. They turned out to be mum and dad with their grown up kids and their partners and a couple of young kids, plus grandma, and because there was so many of them another family member had brought all their stuff in the Transit. They sat out chatting and laughing late into the evening and I was just hoping they weren't going to turn out to be party animals but I needn't have worried - just before 11pm they disappeared into their tents and I didn't hear anything from them or the dog after that.
It was round about that time when I took Sophie and Sugar for their final walk round the site before bed - it had been an eventful day and after my early morning start I was more than ready for sleep. I had no firm plans for the following day, but needless to say if the weather was good then I would be out with the dogs and the camera and exploring new places.
- 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