The sun was shining from an almost cloudless blue sky and it was unbelievably warm as I left home at 9.30 that morning for Riverside campsite a few miles from Skipton. I was joining the UKCS 'single parents and solo campers' meet but unfortunately family commitments meant that I couldn't camp for the full weekend so I was going just for the day instead. The site was only just over an hour's drive from home so allowing for traffic my plan was to be there by 11am at the latest, however I hadn't allowed for an invisible gremlin throwing a spanner in the works.
With the window open and a cd to sing along to the drive was very pleasant and took me through some lovely countryside, though part of the route was a bit winding in places. I was about four miles from my destination when the invisible gremlin struck - approaching a roundabout at the bottom of a long steady incline my brakes didn't want to work. Holy Moley!! Fortunately there was nothing immediately in front of me but if I got into the traffic on that roundabout then the dogs, the van and I would more than likely be history. My foot was almost to the floor when the brakes finally worked and I came to a stop just before the roundabout - phew! We had just escaped being seriously mangled! Now being neither technically nor mechanically minded when it comes to cars I hadn't a clue what had happened or why, but I couldn't continue my journey if the brakes weren't working properly. However, I couldn't stay where I was either so I put the hazard lights on and drove slowly round the roundabout to my exit, hoping to find somewhere to park up safely. About a quarter of a mile down the road I came to a long wide lay-by so I pulled in there and phoned the AA, then to give the dogs some fresh air I walked them up and down the nearby grass verge while I waited for someone to come to my rescue.
It was about fifty minutes later when the AA guy arrived and after I explained what happened he checked things over then told me there was nothing wrong with the brakes! I looked at him in disbelief - there was definitely something wrong with them when I was coming down that hill! Just to make sure he double-checked things again and when I tried the brake pedal it was perfect - now that one I just didn't understand. He assured me that everything was okay and said the most likely explanation was that the brake drums had overheated, but while I'd been parked up waiting for him they'd cooled down sufficiently for the brakes to work properly again. He asked where I was headed and it turned out he knew where the camp site was - the village was only another three miles along that road - so he said he would follow me to where I had to turn off to make sure I was okay. And he was as good as his word, he stayed behind me all the way to where I turned right then with a wave and flash of his lights he was gone. What a lovely man - and both he and the person who took my call had been extremely helpful; much better than the RAC, but my experience of their services is another story altogether!
So nearly two hours after my intended arrival time I finally turned into the narrow lane leading to Riverside camp site - the site itself was down a slope off the lane and as I turned into the entrance there was a wonderful view of the countryside beyond. I had just parked on the hardstanding near the entrance when one of the UKCS members came over to introduce himself and suggest that I park in the big space between two tents - after that it wasn't long before I was chatting to several different members and making friends with various dogs. One of the members had made a water slide out of a couple of tarpaulins pegged firmly on the grass and various kids were having a great time on it, getting extremely wet in the process - if only I'd known, I would have taken a change of clothes and joined in! After making myself a brew and a snack I spent the afternoon chatting to various members and sitting in the sun with the dogs on their bed at the side of the van.
It was 6pm when I decided it was time to be setting off for home as I didn't want to be too late back, so after taking the dogs for a walk through the site and along the lane I settled them back in the van and said my goodbyes to most of the campers - it was a shame that I hadn't been able to stay for the full weekend as the weather was great and the company had been good but a few hours there had been better than nothing at all. Riverside was a lovely site in a lovely location, and as I drove back up the lane I promised myself that I would return on my own for a full weekend in the not-too-distant future. I didn't know if I would be able to manage it before winter or if I would have to wait till the following spring, but I would most certainly be back.
- 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