The morning arrived with a cloudless brilliantly blue sky and wall-to-wall sunshine, just perfect for embarking on my mission to find the place I wanted to see and take some photos of. The dogs, as always, were ready to go out as soon as I got out of bed so first off was a good walk through the heath then back along the beach. The bank holiday campers had left the day before and there were a couple of vacant pitches next to mine, so as I wasn't directly overlooking the side of someone else's caravan I put my table and chair outside the awning and had a very leisurely breakfast sitting in the sunshine with a magazine and the dogs on their beds at the side of me. It was so relaxing that I stayed there longer than I intended to but eventually I made a move and started getting ready for my day out - breakfast things washed and put away, dogs' water bottle replenished and the awning disconnected from the van, and with Sophie and Sugar safely in the back I was on my way.
The place I was going to was an old windmill situated in an out-of-the-way part of the broads; it was one which has featured on jigsaw puzzles and calendars and the picture has always looked so attractive that I wanted to try and re-create it. Unfortunately the only proper way to see the mill was from a boat on the river, as both it and its cottage were privately owned and used as exclusive holiday lets not accessible to the general public, but on the internet I had found a way of getting to it by road. I didn't know what I would find when I got there and there was no way of knowing if I would be able to get the photos I wanted but at least I could try.
The mill, when I found it, was at the end of a long tree-shaded lane and set in a large landscaped garden with the river and a boathouse down at the far end. I parked up in the nearby gravelled area and leaving the dogs in the van went to take stock of my surroundings. Although there was a ranch-style fence separating the garden from the lane there was no gate; there was no-one around and no immediate evidence of anyone being in residence. A wooden boardwalk led round the edge of the garden past the mill and the cottage so I decided to chance my luck and walk along to see if I could get the photos I wanted. And I found the exact spot that the jigsaw and calendar picture had been taken from, but what a disappointment - the 'commercial' picture showed a plethora of brightly coloured flowers of many kinds growing in the garden and along the riverbank, but now the garden had been landscaped and manicured to within an inch of its life, and apart from a small rhododendron bush there were no other flowers and no colour at all, though it was still worth taking some photos.
It was while I was busy with the camera that I noticed a small group of people near the front of the cottage - now where had they come from? Presumably they were renting the cottage and had previously been indoors, although there had been no indication that there was anyone at home. They watched me intently for several minutes before one of the women started walking towards me - I continued calmly clicking away with the camera but my brain was whirring furiously; this could turn out well or it could end in disaster.
The woman was perfectly pleasant when she spoke to me and said did I mind her asking what I was doing. Of course I didn't mind - I could hardly object really - and the first thing I did was apologise for being there, saying that had I known there was anyone in I would have asked permission first. Then I explained that I was a freelance photographer doing a feature on windmills for a website and this was on my list - and my camera lens having been zoomed out to its full extent, making the camera look more professional than it is, hopefully gave some credence to my story. Well I was taking photos for a website - this one - and windmills do feature in some of my posts so it wasn't a complete fabrication. Fortunately the woman accepted my explanation and was quite happy to leave me to get on with what I was doing, though I only needed to take a couple more shots before I was ready to go. I breathed a big sigh of relief when I got back to the van - things had turned out okay, and though I'd been disappointed to find that the mill garden wasn't exactly like the calendar pictures I'd still got some good shots. And to preserve the privacy of the mill, its cottage and any future tenants I won't be revealing its name or how to find it.
- 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