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

Sunday August 12th 2012 - Welsh Mountain Zoo and Rhos-on-Sea

I woke at 8.15 that morning to something I didn't want, or expect, to hear - rain on the top of the tent. The previous evening had been lovely and clear and had given no indication that rain was likely - but then this is Britain, and after all the wet weather of the previous weeks a bit more of the same should really come as no surprise. I lay for a while hoping it would stop long enough for me to take the dogs out but it didn't, in fact if anything it rained even harder - no way was I taking the dogs out in that, and even if I did they wouldn't be happy, so I decided we would all have to stay put for a while longer. And it was while I was lying there planning my day that I noticed it - drip, drip, drip, there were drops of water dripping off the toggles above the door - and not only was it dripping over one door it was also dripping over the other, again running down the toggles used to hold back the door when it's rolled up. Now why on earth was it doing that? The tent was fine the last time I used it so where had all these leaks sprung from? A quick inspection of the rest of the tent confirmed that it wasn't leaking anywhere else so it seemed to be just the seams over the doors which were the problem - hopefully a dry day and some seam sealant would cure that.

The rain lasted for most of the morning and effectively put paid to my plans to visit Deganwy and Llandudno; I had to be off the pitch by noon anyway so I decided on a change of direction and have another ride inland, this time to the Welsh Mountain Zoo in the hills above Colwyn Bay - at least photographing animals didn't depend on blue sky. By the time I started the packing up process the rain had stopped and a bath towel took care of most of water droplets sitting on the tent surface; I'd just got the tent rolled up and back in its bag when the next occupants of the pitch arrived, so after a quick 'hello' and a look round for any stray tent pegs I reversed off the pitch and left them to their own setting up. Before I left the site completely though I wanted to take a few photos of the resident animals so I parked a little way down the lane then went back with my camera. When I stayed there at Easter I never actually looked round the different pens so I was quite surprised to see that as well as the various ducks and chickens, pygmy goats and pigs there were also a couple of very young wallabies. They were adorable, and came right up to the wire where they put their little paws in my hand - needless to say I fell instantly in love with them.

The weather had been brightening up for a while and by the time I left the site properly the sun had put in an appearance, so I decided to drive down to The Beach caravan site, park up and take the dogs for a walk before going on to the zoo. The area round the caravan site reception and the access road was a riot of colourful flowers in tubs and the island by the car park looked much more attractive than it was when I went down there at Easter - certainly worth a few photos before I took the dogs for a walk along the beach.

With the dogs happy after a good run and play I returned to the van and set off for the zoo - and although it wasn't that far from the coast itself it was really cloudy up in the hills. The first car park I came to was full and I thought I would have to park in the open but as I sat debating where best to go a car came out and I was able to reverse into a nice space in the shade of some tall trees - and the best part about it was that the car park was actually within the zoo itself so it would be easy for me to check on the dogs at any time while I was wandering round without having to go outside the zoo to do it. A path led downhill from the corner of the car park so I took that first and came across the enclosures with the deer, Przewalski's horses and ostritches, then back up the hill was the sea lion pool. One of the staff was just about to start the sea lion show so I watched that for several minutes before making my way over to the cafe for a much-needed coffee - and for once I didn't have any cake as they only sold pre-wrapped muffins and flapjack slices, which I thought were dear for what they were.

The cafe itself was situated up a flight of concrete steps and was a hexagonal affair with windows almost all the way round which made it look rather like an airport control tower, and sitting with my coffee I could see why it had been built like that - there was an all-round view towards the coast and over the hills and if the sky had been clear and sunny I could have got some great photos. With my coffee finished I continued my exploration and worked my way methodically round most of the zoo. There were several animals I didn't get photos of as they were either too far away, hiding in their dens or behind glass; the tiger was the one I most wanted to get a shot of but it was roaming through the thick undergrowth in its enclosure and though I tried from different places I just couldn't get a clear view of it. Some animals I missed out altogether as I wasn't interested in them; I didn't bother going to see the chimps but I spent quite a while watching the little cotton-top tamarins playing in their den. There was an adorable little baby in there which I wanted to get a shot of but it wouldn't stay still long enough so I had to be happy with a shot of its mum instead.

One thing which did impress me about the place was the amount of flower beds and vegetation. This wasn't just an animal zoo, it was also a botanical garden with many plants, flowers and shrubs from different countries making splashes of colour in various places around the grounds, and a little stream tumbling over a shallow waterfall into a lily pond just below, with a hump-back bridge leading across it; I took almost as many photos of the flowers and plants as I did of the animals themselves.

When I'd seen everything I wanted to see I made my way back to the van, released the dogs and took them for a short walk round the parking area before leaving the zoo and making my way back down to Colwyn Bay. At sea level the sun was shining and there was plenty of blue sky around, a big difference to up in the hills, and as I still had plenty of time before I had to set off for home I decided to make a return visit to Rhos-on-Sea which was only a few minutes drive away. It had been a very grey day when I went there at Easter so it would be interesting to see what it looked like in the sunshine - and very nice it was too. I parked up in a vacant (free) space on the promenade, clipped the leads on the dogs and set off to see what I could photograph; from the gardens above the promenade I could see that the tide was on the turn and gradually filling up the harbour so I made my way in that direction, stopping for a minute to photograph a lovely little cottage garden which I thought was very pretty.

I spent quite a while wandering about by the harbour, though unfortunately I couldn't go on the beach as dogs weren't allowed and I wasn't going to leave them tied up anywhere, so I had to take all my harbour shots from the promenade and the slipway but I still got several good ones. I must remember that if I ever go again, and I'll park closer to the harbour then I can leave the dogs in the van while I walk across the beach to the harbour wall. My final shot of the weekend was of the small garden on one corner of the promenade then I made my way back to the van for the journey home.

The drive home was trouble free and very pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine and with no delays I was back for 6.45pm. My weekend hadn't exactly gone according to plan, the very changeable weather had seen to that, but I'd come up with a couple of alternatives which had worked out well and I'd still got some nice photos - and the fact that I hadn't managed to get to Deganwy and Llandudno just meant that I had a good excuse for another impromptu weekend at Manorafon sometime in the not-too-distant future.

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