It was late when I woke that morning - 10am, which is very late for me when I'm camping. I had actually opened one eye and checked the time round about 7am but I was in no rush to get up and the dogs were quiet so I had drifted off back to sleep again, and it was only voices in close proximity to the tent which eventually penetrated my brain enough to wake me up. I lay there for a few minutes just listening to the sounds around me - John next door talking to someone, a car door closing and an engine starting up, then a voice calling goodbye as the car drove past. It seemed like some campers were already leaving for home, and when I finally got up and looked out of the tent door I saw that two tents across the field had already gone and most of the other UKCS members were in the process of packing up. I was in no rush to go home though and fully intended to make the most of the day so I wouldn't be leaving till the evening.
After a long overdue breakfast I took the dogs for a good walk off the site - there was a path at the far end of the field which led to a bridge across a narrow river and onto the nearby rail trail - I had a choice of going left or right, I opted for left and had a very pleasant walk along the tree-lined path for a good twenty minutes before turning round and heading back to the site. I hadn't been back at the tent long before a couple of UKCS members came to say their goodbyes, and looking across the field I could see that Lina's owner Ali and her family were near enough ready for leaving so I went across to say goodbye to them and give little Lina a final pat. While I was over there I got chatting to another camper who told me about a little place on a canal several miles away where you could have a free trip on a narrowboat - the weather, although windy, was also very sunny so as I have a 'thing' about boats and water I decided that would make a nice afternoon out. A quick study of the map book showed me where I needed to go to and how to get there, so with the dogs in the back of the van and their water container filled up I set off in search of a free boat trip.
My journey took me along the A1079 in the direction of York, then on the outskirts of Pocklington I turned down a little country lane and headed for the village of Melbourne which is where the boat trips went from. About halfway along the road through the village was a pub with a car park and a sign pointing the way to the boats down a nearby single track lane - a notice under the sign said that the car park could be used by people taking boat trips so I pulled in and parked up, clipped the leads on the dogs and went off in search of a narrowboat. The lane led down past a row of cottages and bungalows on one side and a field bordered by a hedge on the other and ended in a tree-shaded backwater off the canal, with several narrowboats moored stern-on to the bank on one side and a small car park for the use of boat owners. The trip boat, New Horizons, was moored on the opposite bank so I made my way round there, but apart from a couple of guys standing chatting in the stern of the boat there was no-one else around and no sign that the boat was going to go anywhere. An information board a few yards along the canal bank told me that the trips took approximately half an hour and didn't leave at any set time - talking to one of the guys afterwards confirmed that the boat only went out when there was enough people to make it worthwhile so he suggested that I went back in twenty minutes or so, which I didn't mind as I was quite happy to wander about with the camera.
Walking back to the top of the lane I turned right and went along the road through the village, passing an eclectic mix of bungalows, old cottages and newer semis and detached properties - but as nice as the village was I wouldn't personally have wanted to live there as there was absolutely nothing there. No village green, no duckpond, nothing you would normally associate with a country village - there was just one shop, and even that was closed! I turned round at the shop and headed back in the direction of the canal, and that's when I found something which made the walk worthwhile - through the gap between two houses I could see what appeared to be a church spire, and on further investigation I found, set back in a large garden at the head of a cul-de-sac, a lovely little church building with grey-painted bargeboard walls, mullioned widows, fancy fascias and a crested ridge above a corrugated sheet iron roof. The style of the building looked very much like something you would see in America's New England, rather unusual I thought for this country, though judging by the climbing frame in the garden and the double detached garage it was no longer a church but a private house - nevertheless, it was worth a couple of photos. Later research told me it was indeed a private dwelling but it had originally been St. Monica's church.
From there I took the lane back to the canal and I was rather disappointed to see that there was still no-one else waiting for a boat trip so it looked like I was going to be out of luck, however one of the guys told me to climb aboard and they would take me anyway - and just as I got settled in the front of the boat with the dogs three more people arrived so it made it more worthwhile. After casting off the boat moved slowly down the backwater and turned onto the main canal where we moved along at a leisurely pace for quarter of an hour before turning round and heading back to the mooring. The guy inside the boat was a mine of information regarding the history of the canal and all the flora and fauna in and around it so it was a very pleasant trip and well worth giving a voluntary donation to help with the upkeep of the boat. It was just a shame that the sky had suddenly decided to cloud over somewhat during the trip so I didn't manage to get any really decent photos, but it had still been a good experience.
Back on dry land I made my way back up the lane to the van and set off on the drive back to the camp site - it was only 3.30pm but I wanted time to have a brew and something to eat before I started packing up to go home. And Murphy's law decreed that once I was in the van and heading back to the site the sun came out again and stayed out for the rest of the day - typical! However, I was quite unprepared for what I was to find when I did arrive back at my tent - it was the only one left on the site, and though it looked fine on the outside the inside was a scene of total devastation. Both my tables had been overturned, the fridge was face down on the floor and everything that had been on the tables was also on the floor, including the washing up bowl which had been half full of water that had now saturated the carpet and formed a pool in the living area. It looked like I'd been targeted by vandals but I realised that the wind, which had become stronger while I was out, must have blown the back of the tent inwards, catching the nearby tables and up-ending them, sending everything onto the floor.
So bang went my idea of a brew and a sandwich, I had some serious clearing up to do first. Disconnecting the fridge and the kettle I put them in the bedroom out of the way, put the tables outside then picked up the carpet - the front half of it was saturated and I could only hope that by spreading it out in the sunshine it would dry out before I went home. So out on the grass it went, held down at one corner by my peg box and some breeze blocks, purloined from the nearby greenhouse, on the other corners. Then I had to get rid of all the water - there was too much to mop up using a towel so I went to find the warden who said I could borrow the mop and bucket from the disabled toilet, and that did the job nicely. Fortunately none of my bedding was wet so that was something I didn't have to deal with - and with everything sorted out I was finally able to make myself a brew before starting on the packing up process.
That didn't take long once I got going, and in no time at all I was ready for taking the tent down - it was still quite windy so I left the four corners pegged right till the last minute but I didn't really have any trouble with it. It was soon folded and rolled and back in its bag, and with all the pegs collected up and put in the box the only thing left to deal with was the carpet. It had more or less dried out in the sunshine so I folded it and packed it as it was - I could open it out again once I got home. So with the van loaded up and the borrowed breeze blocks returned to the greenhouse the only thing left to do was take the dogs for a final walk round the now empty site - and it's times like that, when I have a whole site to myself, that I wish I could stay longer.
It was 7.30pm by the time I finally left the site - the sun was still shining and with not much traffic on the motorway I had a very easy and pleasant journey home. It had been a great weekend and I had met and chatted to lots of different people who I would otherwise only have known through the forums of UKCS - it had also been my first time at Major Bridge Park, and although I probably wouldn't return on a regular basis because of its fairly remote location, for the occasional chill-out weekend it would certainly be added to my list.
- 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