I woke that morning to the sound of rain on the van roof, and when I looked through the window I saw it was that fine but heavy stuff that wets you in minutes - great, just what I didn't want when I had to pack everything up. I lay for a while debating with myself whether to revert to my original plan and stay until the following day in the hope that it would be fine then, but there was no guarantee and if it wasn't I would still have to leave anyway. It looked like I would be packing up in the wet, so after a short dog walk round the site and a breakfast of cereal, tea and toast I made a start. Transferring everything from the awning into the van meant that I stayed dry for a while; I left the tv aerial until last so it was only when I went out to dismantle it and wind up the co-ax cable that I started getting wet, and by the time I'd taken the awning down I was beginning to look like something the cat had dragged in. The dogs were okay though, they were nice and dry in the back of the van!
Packing the awning away wet didn't really matter for once though as it was being put up again that evening. My original plan had been to drive home from California on Wednesday then go down to Anglesey early Saturday morning for the bank holiday weekend, but because there were only two days between, and to save myself any unnecessary driving, I had decided to leave California a day early and drive straight to Anglesey where I would put up the awning, spend one night then leave it on site as I had done previously with my tent, returning on Friday evening after work. Sounds complicated but there was a method in my madness - the Anglesey site would be very busy over the coming weekend so by going a few days early I had a better chance of getting a decent pitch with a hook-up point.
I had researched my route with the aid of RAC Routeplanner and my map book and written the directions on a post-it note which I stuck to the dash for reference - Routeplanner had given my journey time as being just slightly over seven hours so I figured out that if I left California at midday I would be at the Anglesey site in plenty of time to put up the awning in the daylight. However, things didn't quite work out like that. My first delay came just as I got back from walking the dogs prior to setting off - the couple I'd been chatting to earlier in the week came to ask me if I would like a brew before I left, and seeing how wet I was offered me the use of their daughter's hairdryer. It seemed churlish to refuse and I was ready for another coffee anyway so I joined them in their awning, but though I was grateful for their hospitality it meant that it was almost 1pm by the time I finally left the site. The rain lasted until I was out of Norfolk and heading through Cambridgeshire then it brightened up and eventually the sun put in an appearance, making things much more pleasant. The drive itself was a bit tedious at times though, especially on one particular road which seemed to be nothing but a series of many roundabouts all within a few hundred yards of each other, and at one point I began to wish I'd never started it. I did have a few short breaks though to walk the dogs and stretch my own legs and those breaks, along with a supply of cds to sing along to, made the long trek across country much more bearable.
My second delay came as I drove along the A5 through north Wales, with about forty five minutes of my journey still to go. Rounding one of the many bends in the road I was flagged down by a policeman standing in the middle of the road a few yards ahead - when I pulled up and wound my window down he told me that a wagon had overturned and shed its load just round the next bend, blocking the road, so until it was cleared I was going nowhere. Unfortunately at that point there was no alternative route so I just had to wait it out, but at least I was able to walk the dogs up and down the nearby grass verge. Eventually though the road was cleared and I was able to drive on but I had been delayed by another hour, meaning that by the time I finally reached the camp site it was 9.30pm and dark. After getting a barrier pass from the warden I drove through the site to look for a pitch - I didn't dare hope that I would be able to get in the same 'cul-de-sac' I'd been pitched in three weeks previously but it wouldn't do any harm to look, and when I got to that part of the site I was quite surprised to see that there was a large vacant spot right there. It was more to the right of where I'd previously been pitched but there was plenty of room for the van and awning and there was a hook-up point available so the decision was made there and then and I didn't need to look any further. And so it was that I notched up another 'first' in my solo camping life - the first time I'd pitched the awning at night.
Parking the van so it was facing away from other campers I left the lights on so that I could see what I was doing, and though it took me slightly longer than normal to put the awning up I got there eventually, connected up the hook-up cable then moved the van round so I could connect the awning to it. By the time I'd finished all that the long drive and the hour delay had taken their toll and I felt absolutely shattered - I didn't really feel like unloading all the stuff from the van but if I wanted somewhere to sleep I had no choice as most of it was on the bed. The only things I really needed though were the means to make a brew and feed the dogs, so I set out my small table with the essentials and piled the rest of the stuff in one corner - I could set it all out properly the following morning. The next job was to feed Sophie and Sugar and take them for a walk, and though they would normally sleep in the awning just for once I put them back in the van to sleep behind me - I could sort out their beds along with the rest of the stuff in the morning. Then with a very much-needed brew and a magazine I finally collapsed into bed, but it wasn't long before the tiredness overtook me completely - there was certainly no need to count sheep that night!
- 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