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

Monday December 24th 2012 - A Very Merry Christmas......

And a Happy New Year to all my blog readers!

It doesn't seem long since this blog was just a vague idea at the back of my mind, but it's well over three years since I started camping solo and over two years since I started writing about it - and in that time I feel I've come a long way and achieved so much, both in my camping and in my writing and photography. And it's good to know that I have so many readers - not just 'followers' who I know about but others I don't know, and in so many different countries too. Sometimes I've wondered if anyone really is reading my posts or if I'm just writing to amuse myself, but then I look at my blog stats and they tell me different - there are some readers out there after all!

So thank you everyone, wherever you are, for continuing to log in and read about my travels, and here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous New year - I hope it's a good one for all of you!

Monday December 10th 2012 - The end of the weekend

I woke to another clear sunny morning with lots of blue sky, and as I was in no particular rush to pack up and go home I decided to treat myself to an extra hour or so in bed with my breakfast - a bit of a luxury for a Monday morning as normally when I'm working I'm out of the house by 7am. First though was a dog walk round the lake, and as there was no point getting dressed if I was going back to bed I went out in my dressing gown. Now normally you wouldn't see me on a camp site in anything other than my daytime clothes but as I was the only camper there it didn't really matter what I was wearing; yes, there was a chilly wind blowing but in the sun it was actually quite pleasant and I didn't feel cold at all. I'd done two circuits of the lake and was just taking a couple of photos of the tent when a train went past - heaven knows what the passengers thought if they saw me. A woman in a fluffy pink dressing gown with hair like Worzel Gummidge, walking round a field on a cold windy morning with two dogs wearing little pink and black t-shirts? Sounds rather like a case for the men in white coats!

With my coffee and toast made I retreated back to bed and spent a very quiet and cosy hour reading my book before I decided to get up properly and make a start on packing up. I didn't really have a lot to pack so it didn't take long, then with the dogs in the back of the van out of the way I dismantled the tent. As I was working I noticed a very grey cloud coming over the sun, and I'd just got the tent rolled up and back in its bag when the cloud dropped its rain in a sudden heavy shower. It only lasted a few minutes though, and by the time I'd checked round the pitch for any stray tent pegs and taken the dogs for another quick walk the cloud had drifted away and the sun was out again.

With a cd to sing along to it was a very pleasant drive home in the sunshine and I arrived back just a few minutes after 3pm. After letting the dogs into the garden for a few minutes my first task was to download the weekend's photos onto the pc as I couldn't wait to see the results of Expedition Seal - and I was very pleased with most of them, I'd got some good shots in spite of not being able to go out onto the sand flats. All in all it had been a good, if all too brief, weekend - the camp site had been nice, I'd met up with a nice group of fellow campers and the weather, although cold, hadn't bothered me unduly. This had been my first solo winter camping experience and I'd survived - and to be honest I felt quite proud of myself!

Sunday December 9th 2012 - Expedition Seal at Donna Nook

I woke just before 8am that morning to the promise of a fine bright day, and as I was lovely and snug in my bed and there was no movement from the dogs I decided to stay where I was for a while longer. When I finally did get up and venture outside the tent it was very chilly but lovely and sunny with an almost cloudless blue sky, just right for my photography expedition later on. After a dog walk round the site and a breakfast of coffee and toast I went to have a chat and say goodbye to everyone else - they were leaving that day and would be gone by the time I got back to the site later on - then I made preparations for visiting the seal colony at Donna Nook. Having been there four years before on what was then, according to the weather experts at the time, the coldest weekend ever, I knew from experience that there would be a bitingly cold wind out on the sand flats and I needed to be dressed appropriately, so on went the first three layers of clothing with the rest stashed in the van to be put on when I got there. Even the dogs had their winter hoodies on for extra warmth,  and as I couldn't take them with me out to the sand flats there was a duvet in the back of the van for them to snuggle under while I was away. With fully charged batteries in the camera and the means to make a brew if I needed one I finally set off on Expedition Seal at 11.30am.

Now although the camp site was only about 20 miles from Donna Nook as the crow flies my van unfortunately didn't have wings and there was no truly direct way of getting from one to the other, so my route took me north east first then back in a southerly direction, most of which was along very winding roads and which added several miles to the journey. At one point it seemed as though someone was moving my destination further and further away and I didn't think I would ever get there, but then I passed the entrance to the site I'd stayed on four years before and knew I hadn't much further to go; and finally, an hour after leaving the camp site, I arrived at the car park at Donna Nook. Unfortunately though it was full, such is the popularity of the place, so I drove straight round and out again and went to the overflow car park further along the lane where there was plenty of room and a catering van in one corner. Parked up in a nice sunny spot I made the dogs comfortable under their duvet then put on my final layers of clothes, which in total added up to - 3 pairs of long socks, 2 pairs of leggings, 2 pairs of tracksuit bottoms, long-sleeved t-shirt, short-sleeved t-shirt, cycling top, padded jacket, motorbike jacket, waterproof jacket and overtrousers, 2 pairs of gloves and wellies. And if that lot didn't keep me warm and dry then nothing would - I probably looked a bit like Michelin Man but I didn't care, I was on a mission!

As it turned out I didn't really need all those layers after all; when I got to the place where I would be able to go down onto the beach, at the far end of the protected area, I found it closed off with barriers and several notices prohibiting access - it looked like Expedition Seal was scuppered before it had even started. Disappointed but curious I went to find a seal warden to ask why the beach access had been blocked and he told me that it wasn't just a handful of serious photographers who went out there like it used to be, but sometimes whole coachloads of people on organised trips would turn up and there could be as many as three hundred people out on the sand flats at any one time. This was having a detrimental affect on the seals and between fifty and sixty pups were dying each season because of human interference; and if the young ones kept dying the adults would stop coming to the area and eventually there would be no seal colony left. Put like that it was a no-brainer - to protect the seals the public had to be kept off the beach, and though I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to get any truly wild shots I fully understood and respected the decision which had been made - and I could still get plenty of photos from behind the fence.

Unfortunately though, there was one big drawback to staying behind the fence - dozens of other people were there too and several times I would just get a photo lined up then two or three people would stand next to me, casting a large shadow, or someone would stand completely in my way and ruin the shot. It took plenty of patience and over an hour of wandering up and down before I was satisfied that I'd got all the shots I could - and all I can say is thank goodness for a good zoom lens! Many of the seal pups seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lying on their backs, which gives them the cute look - or maybe the world looks better viewed from upside down - and one baby turned out to be a real poser. He was lying not far from the fence with his nose on his paws but as I pointed the camera he lifted himself up and sat perfectly still while I took several shots of him. Bless him - if I could have given him a treat for being so good then I would have done. I took almost a hundred photos altogether and only had to discard a handful; unfortunately I don't have the web space to put them all on here and it would get boring anyway, so I've chosen the following few as some of my favourites.

With my photography finished I made my way back to the van and took Sophie and Sugar for a walk right round the car park - which was actually a large farmer's field set aside for the purpose - then after stripping off a couple of layers of unwanted clothing I went across to the nearby catering wagon and got myself a cheeseburger and a coffee. They weren't a patch on what I get from Pete's burger bar on Anglesey but they filled a hole and buying the coffee saved me from making my own. Then it was time to head back to the camp site but with a slight detour; along the lane leading to Donna Nook was a sign for The Ark animal sanctuary, and although I didn't know anything about it, or even if it was open to the public, I decided to drive along and check it out. When I got there I found it was open so I left the van in the small parking area and went to have a look round. It wasn't a big place so fifteen minutes was all it took to see everything, but they had quite a range of pets looking for homes and I fell instantly in love with four adorable tiny kittens and a scruffy little blind dog. It's a good thing I live too far away for a home check or I would have the lot!

Back on the road again I decided to go back to the camp site by a different route, so headed south towards Mablethorpe then turned off in the direction of Louth and Market Rasen. Unfortunately though I was heading west and the sun by then was getting low in the sky and shining directly in my eyes - not a good idea when the lane I was driving along passed through a vast expanse of open fields and was narrow and winding with deep unfenced ditches on both sides; my sun visor didn't help much either. Thankfully I reached the outskirts of Louth without any mishaps - though I did pass a car which had gone off the road at some time and landed on its side in the ditch - and once I reached the main A road to Market Rasen the rest of the journey was fine.

The daylight had all but disappeared by the time I got back to the camp site so I fed the dogs and took them for a quick circuit of the lake while I could see without needing my lantern then I put the heater on in the tent and settled in for the evening. With my camping companions gone, and no-one in any of the nearby caravans, I had the place to myself and there was no noise apart from a few hoots from an owl in a tree across the lake and the rumble of the occasional goods train passing on the nearby track. With very little of interest on the tv I spent most of the evening reading my book and playing games on my DS, then as it got later I took the dogs for their bedtime walk, made a final brew and got into my own bed. It had been a good day, and although I'd been disappointed at not being able to complete Expedition Seal as I'd wanted to I'd still got some good photos and I couldn't wait to download them to my pc when I got home.

Saturday December 8th 2012 - First winter camp

A very sunny but chilly Saturday morning saw me leaving home for north east Lincolnshire and my first solo winter camp. Okay, so if various people thought I was slightly mad when I went camping in late October they must have thought I was positively insane going in December, especially as the weather had, for the most part, been bitterly cold and frosty over the previous couple of weeks. But I was going to a particular place for a particular reason and winter is the only time I could go; my eventual destination was a place on the Lincolnshire coast where, between mid October and mid December there is a large breeding colony of grey seals, and my mission for the weekend was to get some photos of them. I'd been there four years previously and though I'd got some good photos of the seals in the protected area of the dunes I'd actually trekked right out along the sand flats almost to the water's edge, which was about a mile walk, and got some even better photos there so I was keen to repeat the experience.

When I'd first thought of going, which was only a couple of weeks beforehand, I'd asked my friend Janet if she fancied coming with me and at first she was all for it, especially as the site I'd stayed at previously had a B & B which would, in the current cold weather, be far more comfortable than camping. However, when I'd phoned to check availability I found that dogs weren't allowed in the B & B, and as neither of us would be happy leaving them in the van overnight when it was so cold, and Janet wasn't really too keen on actually camping anyway, the idea was initially scrapped. But the more I thought about it the more I wanted to go, though it would really all depend on the weather - if we had any snow or anything which could make driving conditions difficult then I wouldn't be going anywhere, but if I left it till the last minute to make a decision then I probably wouldn't get a pitch on the camp site anyway as it's only a small place and being close to the seal colony it gets booked up quickly.

So after several days of watching the tv weather forecasts and with my thoughts alternating between ''I'm going'' and ''no I'm not going'' (I'm not usually so indecisive!) and the possibility of getting a pitch on the camp site dwindling with every passing hour, a solution came in the form of MissE, a UKCS member who had seen one of my posts on the forums and suggested an alternative camp site where she and a few other UKCS-ers would be spending the weekend. It was about twenty miles inland from where I wanted to be but it would be quiet and there would be no problem in getting a pitch with ehu, also it was behind a pub which did meals - that all sounded good but again it would depend on the weather, so as she was going on the Friday she said she would let me know what conditions were like. So on Friday morning I packed up the van in readiness - I decided to take the small tent as it would be easier to heat than the big awning - and waited for an on-site weather report, which came that evening and was very favourable. And now, after a quick phone call to the pub to double check that there was indeed an electric pitch available, I was on the way to Lincolnshire to indulge in some seal photography.

The drive over was relatively easy and quite pleasant in the morning sunshine, and I arrived at the site in the village of Moortown just two hours and ten minutes after leaving home. The first thing was to park by the pub and go to book in; I hadn't a clue how much it would be as I'd never asked when I'd phoned earlier, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was only charged £7.50 per night, and that was including electric. The camp site was behind the pub with a small car park and a hedge separating it from the pub itself, and as I drove round and into the main part of the site my first impressions were good; a large level field with one end split by conifer hedges into a smaller section where there were a few seasonal caravans, and backing onto the main part was a large fishing lake with access all the way round which would be ideal for walking the dogs. A railway line ran past the far side of the site but I'd been warned about that by MissE, and trains don't bother me anyway so it wasn't an issue. After being greeted by MissE and the others, and introduced to Shorty and her hubby who I hadn't met before, MissE made me a very welcome coffee then I had a wander round the field to suss out where to pitch. John and Bill had both pitched between two unoccupied caravans and as there was a vacant hook-up point and plenty of space between their tents I decided to pitch there. It didn't take long to put the tent up and get my belongings inside and once everything was sorted out I took the dogs for a walk round the lake then spent a while chatting to the others, during which I was asked if I wanted to join them when they went to the pub later on for an evening meal. That sounded good to me and it would save me making something for myself so the answer was most definitely a 'yes'.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing on my bed in the tent, reading a book and watching a bit of tv; it had gone cold again once the sun had gone down but with the fan heater on the tent was actually quite cosy. It was getting on for 7pm when Bill shouted that they were all off to the pub so zipping the dogs into their bedroom so they wouldn't escape while I was away I put my jacket on and went out to join them. The pub menu wasn't extensive but home made steak and ale pie was one of the items on it so I settled for that, and though Bill had said earlier that the food was only so-so I actually found the meal quite nice, and at only £6.95 for the pie, three veg and lashings of gravy it certainly didn't break the bank. And as pub meals go it was far better than the meal I'd had at that place in Northumberland in August!

After a very pleasant hour or so we all made our way back over to the camping field and though it wasn't late we said our goodnights and retreated to our own tents for the rest of the evening. I spent a couple of hours reading and watching tv then when the long day began to catch up with me I took Sophie and Sugar for their bedtime walk round the field aided by my camping lantern. Back in the tent once more I settled them into their bed and snuggled into mine for the rest of the night, with my fingers metaphorically crossed for good weather for my seal photography the following day.