A very early morning start that day - 4.15am - saw me leaving home for my journey down to California, my first and only holiday down there this year. I hadn't really intended leaving home quite so early - 5 o'clock would have done - but my son was finishing a night shift at 4.30 and as he worked not far away and I would be passing close to his home I'd said I would give him a lift. By the time we'd gone to Macdonalds drive-through for his breakfast and I'd finally dropped him off at home it was 5.20 so I hadn't really lost much time, and as it happens it was to my advantage. I was taking my usual route over the winding and twisty A628 Woodhead Pass, and by the time I got there the early morning gloom had turned into proper daylight which I much prefer on a road like that, especially as when I got to the highest point of the pass the whole area was shrouded in a mist so thick I couldn't see much more than twenty yards in front of me. At least the daylight helped a little and I managed to negotiate the bends without getting unnecessarily intimate with the front end of a wagon going the other way.
As soon as the road started going downhill again the mist cleared quickly and the grey early morning sky was streaked with lighter patches, promising a bright and hopefully sunny day. When I reached the picnic area just along the A616 I stopped for a while to take the dogs for a walk - the poor little things had only had a quick run round a very short block prior to leaving home - then continued my journey and didn't stop again till I got to the Cheerio Cafe on the A17. By that time I was more than ready for breakfast so as I was on holiday, and I don't have this at home, I decided to have a heart-attack-on-a-plate fry-up; I only ordered the small one though, which was more than enough, and as I don't eat sausages I saved the one I got as a treat for the dogs - they must have thought it was a special occasion when I got back to the van and gave them half each. After a short walk along the edge of the nearby field the rest of my journey was completed with no more stops and I arrived at the camp site in a very sunny California just before 11am. I was given pitch no.6, which I've had before, and by 1pm the awning was up, everything set out inside, the tv aerial in place and tied to a tree behind the pitch, and the kettle was on for a brew.
The first, and most important, task of my holiday was to find a new media card for my camera. The existing one had become full the weekend before and as I hadn't yet had the photos printed out I couldn't delete any; I would normally have got one from Ebay but with only four days between Northumberland and California there hadn't been time; none of my local places had the type of card I wanted so I would have to search further afield. I knew Latham's at Potter Heigham sold a few photography accessories and as I didn't really feel like going too far after my long drive I thought I may as well start there. Unfortunately they didn't have what I was looking for, though by the time I'd finished having a good wander round the store my fry-up breakfast was becoming a memory so I had a good excuse to have a coffee and a cream-filled Belgian bun while I was there. And I have to say that the bun was just as divine as on previous occasions - now if only Latham's could open a store close to home!
Back at the camp site I attached the awning to the van as I had no intention of driving anywhere else that day, then took Sophie and Sugar for a walk down on the beach. And what a surprise I got - that part of it was totally different to last year. Where previously the whole beach had sloped gently down from the sea defences at the base of the cliff the tide had shifted the sand so there was now a shallow ridge along the centre and a long narrow water-filled hollow near the rocks, and where there used to be shingle there was now bare sand with ridges made by the incoming and outgoing waves. I'd never really thought about things like that before, I suppose like most people at the seaside I've always taken it for granted that the beach and the sea are there, but this just showed how powerful nature can be and what effect it can have on our land.
With a good dose of sea air in my lungs and the dogs happy for having had a good run and play I returned to the awning and settled in for the rest of the day, and apart from taking the dogs for a bedtime walk round the site later on I didn't go out again. I spent quite a while going through the photos on my camera card and managed to delete about twenty which I didn't really need, but knowing that I was likely to take a lot more than that in the next ten days meant that the following day would see me continuing my quest for a new card.
- 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