After the previously two sunny days the weather had turned overcast again on Saturday so other than paying a second visit to Latham's at Potter Heigham I hadn't been anywhere worth mentioning. Sunday, however, was completely different and the sun was back, so after a breakfast of cereal, toast and coffee I clipped the leads on the dogs and set off to walk the mile and a half up to Hemsby for a look round the market. As on previous occasions my route there took me through the local avenues, past the fishermens' cottages and through the dunes to Hemsby Gap, but my return route was back along the beach. I hadn't actually bought anything from the market so as I wasn't hampered by anything to carry it was a very pleasant walk, with Sophie and Sugar running off the lead and enjoying themselves on the sand.
It was lunchtime before I disconnected the awning, put the dogs in the van and took myself off out for the afternoon. My first port of call was the seal hospital at Winterton - I had checked the poster displayed in reception earlier in the week and I hadn't been mistaken, it did say that the place was open on Sundays so it was worth paying another visit. However, I was destined to be puzzled and disappointed for a second time - yet again there was no-one around and no cars, in fact the rough ground which was the 'visitors car park' had a rope across the entrance and the hand-made sign had been removed. So regardless of what it said on the poster this place definitely wasn't open; in fact there was such a deserted air about it that I began to think that it was no longer operational. I did try to ring the number I had for it but got the same pre-recorded message as before so there was nothing for it but to give up and drive away again.
My second stop was three miles up the road at Horsey - I had been told last year that there were seals on the beach, and though I saw several of them in the sea when I went there I didn't see any on the beach itself, so this time I was determined that I would find them even if it meant walking all the way back to Winterton. Turning off the main road I drove down the lane as far as I could before I could go no further, and parking up on the grass verge in more or less the same spot as last year I let the dogs out of the van and set off on the long walk down the path to the dunes and the beach - there was no livestock in any of the adjoining fields so Sophie and Sugar were free to run about and explore. When I finally got to the top of the dunes I saw that there were several people in the area close to the access ramp but looking further along it was just as deserted as last year - a real Robinson Crusoe type place but without the exotic palm trees. Turning away from the ramp I headed south, keeping to the top end of the beach while the dogs were running free; I could see several seals in the water about fifty yards or so from the shore so obviously there were some around, and after walking past several breakwaters there they were - a small colony basking in the sun down by the water's edge.
With the dogs back on the lead I walked down towards them, picked a spot a safe distance away and sat down on the sand, looping the dog lead round my ankle so I could keep both hands free to use the camera; then slowly and quietly, bit by bit, I inched my way closer to them, stopping when I was still several yards from them. Some of them watched me curiously but most of them completely ignored me and continued snoozing in the sunshine, though had I made any sudden movement the whole lot would probably have disappeared straight into the sea. With the dogs lying down at my side I just sat there quietly, watching the seals and clicking the camera every so often, and of all the time I was there I never saw another person. With the warm sun on my back, the sound of the waves breaking on the sand and the wildlife just a few yards in front of me this was just about as perfect as it could get, and it more than made up for the seal hospital not being open.
I don't know how long I sat there as I hadn't been taking much notice of the time - I could quite happily have stayed there for several hours but eventually I decided it was time to go as there was somewhere else I wanted to visit. Not wanting to spook the seals I inched my way backwards for a few yards with the dogs still attached to my ankle before I freed myself from the loop of the lead and stood up. It had been so peaceful sitting there that I felt quite reluctant to leave, but as I made my way back to the van I promised myself that I would return on another sunny day in the not-too-distant future.
My route from Horsey took me round the country lanes and through the village of Hickling to Brambly Hedge, the premises of FAITH animal rescue. I had never been before and didn't know what to expect, but as I pulled up in the pleasant gravel driveway my first impressions were quite favourable. Just inside the entrance gate was a small office and reception, so leaving the dogs in the van I went to ask if it was alright to look round. I had picked up one of their newsletters from somewhere a while ago and I knew they were open to visitors but thought it best to ask first, and the young woman I spoke to in reception confirmed it was okay. FAITH is only a small charity so I didn't expect to see very much but as I wandered round I found that although the place isn't big there was more to it than I first thought and there were quite a few visitors.
The cats were the ones I looked at first - big ones, small ones, some which came up to the wire to say hello and some which remained rather aloof - and being a great cat lover I was in cat heaven. Next I moved on to the rescue dogs, and in a pen at the end of a row of kennels was a little dog which I instantly fell in love with. The pen was a large area where several dogs played together and of all the dogs in there this little one was the one I would have chosen to adopt had I been looking for one. It was white, a cross between a Jack Russell and something else which could have been anything small, and had shaggy scruffy fur which made it look rather like a mop on legs. As it stood by the wire and looked up at me my heart just melted - I knew I could give a good home to another little dog and the time was right for me to do it, but would it be fair on Sophie and Sugar? It would do no harm to make a tentative enquiry though; the young assistant I spoke to said the dog - it was a boy - was only two years old and had been deaf from birth, which would have been no problem for me, but I had no chance of having him as he had already been adopted and his new owners had just arrived to collect him. I watched as they took him out of the pen and tried to get him to walk on the lead but he didn't know what was expected of him and just sat down, looking very bewildered and reluctant to move. I went to look round the rest of the sanctuary then, but as I made my way back to the van the little dog's new owners were still trying to get him to walk on the lead - it was obvious that being deaf he didn't understand, and would need a lot of time and patience investing in him - I just hoped that he had found a family who could do that. As I drove away from FAITH and back through Hickling I couldn't stop thinking about him and feeling a bit sad - now why is it that I always fall for the little scruffy ones??
Away from Hickling I decided to lighten my mood with the best antidote I could think of - coffee and cake at Latham's. It wasn't far to Potter Heigham and once I'd parked up in Latham's car park I took the dogs for a quick couple of minutes up and down the nearby grass then went to the cafe to indulge in a cream-filled Belgian bun and a much-needed coffee. Finally, with my thirst quenched and something like fifty thousand calories rapidly distributing themselves round my body, I drove away from Potter Heigham - it was late afternoon by then so rather than go somewhere else I just headed back to California. The sun was still warm so once I'd connected the awning back to the van I put the dogs on their line and spent quite a while relaxing outside with a magazine - a couple of hours with the laptop followed then as the daylight faded into darkness I took the dogs round the site for their final walk of the day. This was followed by a quick brew then I retreated to bed with the map book, to get some ideas and make plans for the following day.
- 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