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

Friday June 22nd 2012 - Blind dog Kip, Update 11.15pm

It's with the greatest sadness and many tears that I write this. Less than an hour ago I read the devastating and tragic news on Kip's Doglost page that the search for him had been called off - his body had been found washed up on the beach at Low Hauxley at the north of Druridge Bay earlier today; it seems that he must have been in the sea since soon after he went missing. I can only imagine what his owner Sylvia is going through right now; she must be absolutely heartbroken that she has been reunited with her beloved boy in this way. Everyone was so hoping that he would soon be found alive and well so this news is absolutely devastating. It's little consolation I know but at least Sylvia now has closure and won't always be left wondering.

Kip's story has touched the hearts and lives of so many people, and even though most of us never met him or Sylvia the sadness now he has gone is truly overwhelming for all of us. His passing hasn't been in vain though; the search for him has brought many Doglost helpers together and forged new friendships; it has also brought Doglost to the attention of many who didn't know about it, resulting in many new members who also helped in whichever way they could in the search for him. Some of those members will now be helping in the search for Archie, another spaniel who recently went missing in the north east. Kip may no longer be here but in his own way he has left a lasting legacy, so he has earned his wings.

Goodbye sweet Kip, you were loved so much. Run free at Rainbow Bridge little man  xx

Updated June 25th - Sylvia is arranging a get-together and barbecue on Saturday 30th for anyone who helped in the search for Kip, at a coastal location close to where he went missing, and his ashes will be scattered on the beach he loved so much. I've booked into a small camp site two or three miles from there and will be driving up early on Saturday morning; my life here is very busy at the moment and I've got heaps to do, but in memory of Kip I'm determined to be at that barbecue.

Tuesday June 12th 2012 - Blind dog lost in Northumberland

This has nothing whatsoever to do with camping but I felt I had to post it originally to help reach a wider audience.

Kip was a liver and white English Springer Spaniel rescue dog who went missing from Druridge Bay beach in Northumberland on Wednesday June 6th. His disappearance was made all the more upsetting as he was completely blind and had been since birth - needless to say, his owner Sylvia was absolutely distraught. When he went missing he was wearing a hi-vis vest with the words 'I AM BLIND' printed on it, though this was only fastened by velcro so could have come off at any time.

Sylvia had been working tirelessly to find him and there were people out searching for him day and night and in all weathers. A thermal imaging camera and a tracker dog were used on a few occasions and there were a few possible but unconfirmed sightings of a dog of that description in various areas close to where he went missing but unfortunately these all came to nothing. Kip went missing during the school holidays so it was possible that maybe someone reading this had been to that area of Northumberland on holiday round about that time and may have seen him. At the time of originally writing this there had been no sign of a body, nor had the hi-vis vest been found, so it was a possibility that someone could have picked him up and taken him out of the area, in which case he could have been anywhere in the country, though it was to be hoped that he was still close to home.

As an ardent dog lover and Doglost helper I asked anyone reading this to go to Kip's page on Doglost - http://www.doglost.co.uk/dog_blog.php?dogId=40127 and read through the posts, and if anyone could help in any way, however small, or even just send a message of support, then it would have been very much appreciated. Sylvia would have been absolutely overjoyed to have Kip returned safe and sound.

As of Tuesday June 19th there was a large cash reward being offered for information leading to Kip's safe return. I know I wouldn't have been the only Doglost helper who was keeping everything crossed that this would produce a positive result and Kip would soon be back home where he belonged. Although I couldn't physically help in the search for him I did what I could from my computer while also writing and posting pages on my recent trip to Anglesey, but I felt that Kip's plight was far more important so I left this, with a photo of Kip, as my home page for quite a while.

Unfortunately the outcome of the search for Kip didn't turn out the way everyone hoped, and though this post no longer applies I don't really want to remove it completely so I've amended some of the wording and will let it stand.

Monday June 11th 2012 - Home in the sunshine

The morning arrived with more blue sky and sunshine and a distinct reluctance to pack up and go home; if it's cloudy or raining then I don't mind packing up, but when it's sunny I always feel that by going home I'll be missing something. I sometimes wonder if other campers feel like that on going home day, or is it just me?

With Sophie and Sugar mooching about on the end of their line outside the awning I made tea and toast and had a leisurely al fresco breakfast then started the process of tidying up and packing up. I think the dogs realised it was going home day when I put their bed out on the grass in preparation for taking the awning down, and they didn't look happy at all - in fact they looked like I felt! It was just gone noon when I rolled the awning into its bag and stowed it away in the van, then with a check round the pitch for any unaccounted-for tent pegs I put the dogs in the back of the van and drove off the site for the last time.

As per usual on going home day I drove down to the promenade, parked up and took Sophie and Sugar for a good walk along the beach before setting off for home properly, but driving along the main road I made one brief and final stop. Set back off the road in a decent sized garden was an unusually-shaped house which had intrigued me every time I passed it, and I'd often thought about stopping to take a photo of it but had never actually done so. It was one of those places that you catch a fleeting glimpse of while driving past and you think "Oh that looks nice" but you never actually see it properly - well now I was just about to. There was a handy lay-by just across the road from it so I pulled in there and went across to have a proper look and found that the house was actually the bottom half of a windmill with other bits added on. It looked really nice, and just the sort of quirky place I'd like to live if I could; I would have loved to be able to look round inside but as that was never going to happen I had to be happy with a photo of it from just inside the gate.

That was my final photo of the holiday, and once I was back on the road I didn't stop again until I got home. It was a very pleasant drive back in the sunshine and I was well ahead of the start of the rush hour so there were no delays, and I had plenty of time to chill out before I went to work at 5pm. Weather-wise the holiday had been a bit of a mixed bag with five good days and five bad ones, but even though I hadn't been to as many places as I would have liked I'd still had a good break - and because I hadn't taken as many photos as I wanted to I had a good excuse to make yet another trip to Anglesey some other time. 

Sunday June 10th 2012 - Llynnon Mill, Holyhead and Cemlyn Bay

The weather had changed yet again that morning and I was presented with blue sky, fluffy white clouds and warm sunshine, and with no hint of the previous rain of the last three days. Over breakfast 'al fresco' I pondered on where to go for my final full day; the photography book suggested Llynnon Mill as a good subject on a nice day and as I'd never been there before - or even heard of it until reading the book - I decided to start off at the car boot sale over on the showground then drive up and check out the mill and think of somewhere else after that.

When I got to the car boot sale I found only about half the usual number of stalls there so it didn't take long to walk round. I was still hoping I might find a mouse for my collection but just as on previous occasions I was out of  luck, though I did buy a book about a cat. It was the picture on the front cover which attracted me - a grey stripey kitten with ears which were folded over so much it looked almost as if it had no ears at all. The book was new, and as I like true animal stories and it only cost £1 I couldn't not buy it, though it was only when I got back to the van and looked at the inside front cover that I realised that I wouldn't be able to read it for some time - it was the third one in a series of three so it would be pointless until I had read the other two first. So that would be my next mission - look out for the others as I was on my various travels.

From the showground I drove up the A5 in the Holyhead direction then turned off into a B road, following the photography book's directions to Llynnon Mill. It seemed to take ages to get there and as I followed the twists and turns of the narrow country lanes I began to wonder if I would ever find it, but eventually I saw it a couple of fields away as I rounded a bend in the lane. When I pulled into the car park the first thing I saw was a notice saying that dogs weren't allowed in the grounds, but I wouldn't be staying long anyway as I only wanted to take a few photos. I was destined to be disappointed with my first shot however; the photo in the book showed a very colourful flower border in the foreground, but although there were a few flowers here and there they were more of the wild variety rather than the coloured heathers and rock plants shown in the book. In the field next door to the mill were some mock Iron Age dwellings which showed how farmers from that time lived, but as I would have to pay to get in I just wandered round the grounds and took several photos of the mill from different angles.

The mill was situated in an area of land which was slightly higher than that which surrounded it and as I'd driven along the nearby lane I'd noticed over the tops of the hedges that Holyhead wasn't too far away so I decided to make that my next stop. The book had suggested the Celtic Gateway Bridge as a good subject to photograph, although the examples given had been taken at night when the bridge was lit up; I'd no intention of waiting several hours until nightfall though so it remained to be seen if I could get some interesting daytime shots of it.

It didn't take long to get from Llynnon Mill to Holyhead and as I drove under the bridge I saw an almost empty car park just on the left providing a very convenient place to stop, so I pulled in there, got a ticket from the machine, and with the dogs on their leads set off to get creative with the camera. The bridge was certainly unusual in many aspects and I took several shot of various bits of it from different angles; I don't know what the huge pointed thing was supposed to be but viewed from underneath it reminded me of a giant whalebone, and from the bottom the steps to the top looked rather like the stairway to heaven though nowhere near as fancy.

With the bridge photos done I went back to the car park and climbed the nearby steps to the grounds of St. Cybi's church which was another suggestion in the book, and my first photo there was taken from underneath the trees in exactly the same spot but with a bit more overhead foliage. There wasn't really anything much to see other than the church so with just four shots from different angles I made my way back to the van; the time was almost up on my ticket anyway and as there was nothing else to see in that vicinity I decided to drive round to the promenade near the marina and have a walk along there. Parking was free along the promenade and I was lucky enough to find a space but I wasn't there very long; with lawned areas on each side of the road and tubs of flowers here and there it was a very pleasant place but there was nothing really exciting to take photos of, so three shots and I was back in the van and on the way to my next port of call.

I couldn't pass through Holyhead without calling to see Louise, who I'd got to know through UKCS, so I made my way round there but found there was no-one in; her next door neighbour told me she had gone shopping, so not knowing when she would be back I wrote and posted her a brief note then drove the few minutes down the road to Penrhos for a cheeseburger - well it would be a sin to drive past without stopping for one wouldn't it?! It was while I was eating my burger - which I managed to do without dropping any onions - that Louise sent me a text; she had arrived home and read my note, and though it wasn't far for me to go back I knew she would be busy so I put my visit on hold until another time. Anyway, the tide was well in in the bay and Penrhos looked much more attractive than it had done in the grey weather a few days previously, so with the burger finished I took the dogs for a walk along the path and snapped a couple of photos.

My next stop was at Sandy Beach round the other side of the bay; I'd been there last year but the weather had been quite dull so I wanted to see if it looked any nicer in the sunshine - it did, marginally, but as there was nothing there only a huge caravan site I only stayed long enough to get a couple of photos, in fact I didn't even take the dogs out of the van for that one. On the way back to the main road I passed a quaint little chapel situated on an 'island' at the junction of two lanes; it was the brightly coloured wild flowers growing all round the perimiter wall which attracted me so I pulled up on the nearby grass verge and took a couple of shots before continuing on my way.

My final stop was at Cemlyn Bay; it was one of the few places on the island which I hadn't been to before so I didn't know what, if anything, would be there. The winding country lane from the main road ended in a small rough-surfaced car park belonging to the National Trust and it seemed that much of the area was a designated nature reserve. A long sloping shingle ridge separated the sea from a large inland lagoon which was home to a variety of seabirds, and clumps of colourful coastal plants were growing from the shingle. With no-one else around, and nothing but the sound of the sea lapping the shore and the calling of various birds on the lagoon it was a really peaceful place to be, and with no dog restrictions on the beach, other than to keep them away from the immediate area of the lagoon, I was able to let Sophie and Sugar run free. I walked along the water's edge for quite a distance before turning round and heading back to the van; it was well after 7pm by then and time to think about going back to the camp site.

When I finally arrived back at my pitch I found that the lads from the tent across the field had packed up and gone, and other than one tent pitched near the top corner I had all that section of the field to myself so I would certainly be having a very quiet night. I spent the rest of the evening watching a bit of tv then when the daylight faded I took the dogs for their pre-bedtime walk before settling them down for the night and taking myself off to my own bed. I'd had a lovely day, the weather had stayed nice for me and I'd got some good photos so it was a good way to end my holiday - and if it rained the following day, well it didn't really matter as I would be going home.

Saturday June 9th 2012 - Penrhyn Castle

I woke that morning to the third wet day in a row, and began to wonder what this country had done to deserve all this rain; this was summer for heaven's sake, we should be having wall-to-wall sunshine, not this wet stuff! I had wakened to rain on Thursday and apart from a couple of short periods when it had stopped just long enough for me to take Sophie and Sugar for a quick walk it had rained all day. As photography was out of the question I had driven over to a campsite near Rhosneigr to visit a UKCS member who was camping there with her two kids, and had spent a very pleasant couple of hours having a brew and a chat before driving straight back to Benllech. On Friday the wind had returned to accompany the rain, and though maybe it wasn't quite as bad as the previous Sunday it was bad enough and I'd spent most of the day in the awning reading or watching tv, though by the time I took the dogs for their late night walk the wind had dropped considerably.

By the time Saturday lunch time had been and gone I was feeling thoroughly bored and fed up; I needed to get out and go somewhere, but where? Eventually I hit on the idea of going over to Penrhyn Castle near Bangor - I'd picked up a leaflet about it from reception a few days previously and it looked quite interesting, also it was a National Trust property so I would be able to make use of my membership again. So with that decided I put the dogs in the back of the van, disconnected the awning and set off to see if I could at least get some photos that day. By the time I'd got across Britannia bridge and onto the mainland the constant heavy drizzle had stopped, and although it was still very grey when I reached the castle it wasn't quite as dark as over on the island. Unfortunately dogs weren't allowed in the castle or the immediate grounds so I took them for a walk round the car park area first before settling them back in the van with their window open - with a cool breeze blowing and no sun there would be no danger of them cooking while I was away.

The castle itself isn't a castle at all in the true sense of the word, it's a stately home built to look like a castle, but that's just a technicality and didn't make the place any less fascinating; I don't normally 'do' stately homes but this one just had to be an exception. The internal stone architecture was very impressive and all the rooms were very opulently furnished, including hand painted Chinese wallpaper in one of the bedrooms and a one-ton slate bed built especially for Queen Victoria. There were plenty of knowledgeable staff on hand to impart information and answer any questions, and though the leaflet I had said that taking photos wasn't allowed I managed to take several sneaky ones when the various staff members weren't looking, though I had to take them without using the flash and hope they came out okay.

When I was sure that I'd seen all there was to see in the main part of the castle - I looked in some rooms twice as they were so fascinating - I made my way through the Victorian kitchen to the railway museum section outside where there were several steam locos on display, then took a walk over to the Victorian walled garden and wandered round there for a while. It was a nicely laid out garden with well-trimmed hedges, a couple of small lilly ponds and various trees and shrubs, and I could imagine it would look really nice on a sunny day. By the time I was heading back towards the castle the were some faint patches of blue sky appearing through the clouds but they weren't really enough to make a difference to either the day or my photos.

Back at the van I released Sophie and Sugar and took them for a good walk round the vicinity of the car park, then after giving them a drink I set off back for Anglesey and the camp site. Penrhyn Castle had been extremely interesting and well worth the visit, and I would certainly make a return visit sometime in the future and hopefully in better weather. Arriving back at my pitch I connected the awning to the van, made a brew and prepared to settle in for the evening; the rain seemed to be holding off once it had stopped and it was still fine when I took the dogs for their last walk of the day. The following day was the last full day of my holiday so I really hoped that the sun would return and it would turn out to be a good one.

Wednesday June 6th 2012 - Camping means being inventive

It was all change yet again weather-wise that morning - bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds and very warm sunshine, too nice to ignore for long so I decided that for once I would have breakfast outside. With no other campers in the vicinity, and the dogs mooching about on the end of their line, I felt almost as if that corner of the field was my own 'front garden', and I did rather hope that no-one else would come along and put a tent there to spoil my view, even if I was only looking at a hedge. With breakfast over, and not having thought where I was going to go that day, I decided to do some washing; now normally I don't even think about things like that when I'm camping, but the previous day I'd somehow managed to drop some ketchup-covered onions from my cheeseburger onto my leg, where they'd made a couple of red marks on the white stripe of my tracksuit and on the front of my t-shirt as they made their way down there, so as it was such a nice morning I thought I may as well sort them out.

In the absence of any soap powder - I wasn't buying any for the sake of just two items of clothing - concentrated washing up liquid would have to suffice, and not wanting to risk splashing the side of the awning with soapy water and possibly ruining its 'waterproofness', or spilling water on the groundsheet, I thought I'd better do my laundry outside. The only problem was, my chair and small table were both the wrong height to be comfortable while working so I had to think of a suitable alternative - and came up with the idea of using the waste water carrier as a table and the caravan step as a seat, and both were absolutely perfect. With a couple of kettles of boiling water topped up with cold and a bit of rubbing here and there the job was done in no time and the Happy Shopper washing up liquid had completely obliterated any evidence of the previous day's cheeseburger. Next I had to find somewhere to hang my things while they dripped - a makeshift washing line was needed, and this came in the form of two spare dog leads linked together, then with the back of the van opened and raised to its full height and the dog leads clipped across the window grill I had the perfect place to hang my stuff.

It was just after I'd finished my chores that a couple of cars pulled up just a bit further up the field and across the other side, disgorging a group of lads in their late teens and a couple of older guys who proceeded to pitch a large tent, and when I heard various bits of their conversation, which included a running total of how many bottles and cans they'd each brought with them, I thought my peace and quiet were about to be rapidly shattered, especially when the two older guys said goodbye and drove away again. But it's a free country and I couldn't stop them pitching there so I just had to hope that they didn't make too much noise at night.

It was well after midday when I finally decided to take myself off out somewhere; my washing had finished dripping and was well on the way to drying, so hanging it up in the now very warm awning should finish it off nicely. For once I had no clear idea of where to go but following a suggestion in my book, and as it would be high tide, I thought about going to Amlwych port and photographing some boats. There was a bit more cloud around when I got up to the north end of the island but the sun was still shining, so parking the van on the headland just beyond the fishing dock I clipped the leads on the dogs and set off down to the harbour, walking right round to the far side where I hadn't been before. I got several nice photos from various points before heading back to the van, and as my breakfast had long since worn off I stopped at the cafe overlooking the fishing dock for coffee and cake en route.

From Amlwych I decided to drive round to Port Lynas; it was only last year that I'd gone there twice but on neither occasion had I actually been down on the beach, so as the tide was in I thought I may get one or two different photos from there. However, I hadn't reckoned on how far the tide actually was in; there was only a few feet of shingle not covered in water, and most of the available space was taken up by a crowd of various people and dogs, either swimming, picnicing or messing about in boats. It would have been impossible to wander around taking photos without invading their privacy to some extent so I just stayed on the path above the slipway and took a few photos from there.

All the time I was there the clouds had been increasing and the sun had gone in, and I had only just got back to the van when it came on raining; it didn't last very long but it was enough to put me off going anywhere else, so I sat for a while watching a guy on an old Ferguson T20 tractor manoeuvring a couple of boat trailers round the grassy car park then I set off back to the camp site. By the time I got there the clouds had cleared somewhat and the sun was out again so I made a brew and sat outside the awning for a while. The five lads who had arrived earlier on were all sitting in a group outside their tent, and though there was quite a lot of laughter and I could hear various snippets of their conversation they weren't being excessively noisy, though it remained to be seen what they would be like later on after they'd downed copious amounts of their alcohol supplies.

As it was, I needn't have worried about having my peace disturbed later on. As I got back from taking the dogs for their pre-bedtime walk round the site one of the lads said hello to me and asked what the dogs were called so I went across to chat to them - and I think we were all surprised when it turned out that they were from my home town and lived only about a mile from me on one of my regular dog walking routes!They were all at college and were celebrating finishing their exams with a few days camping and it was the dads of two them who had dropped them and all their gear at the site. One of them offered me his chair - even though I could have got my own from the awning - another offered me a drink, and I ended up sitting with them and chatting for over an hour. They were a great bunch of lads and the time passed very pleasantly - and I couldn't have been more surprised when they said they would be going to bed before me. Once they'd retreated into their tent and settled down I didn't hear anything of them for the rest of the night - so far from being noisy and disturbing my peace as I'd first thought they were actually very polite and considerate young people - now those are the sort of camping neighbours I like!