This weekend wasn't just the first camp of the year but also the first outing for my brand new awning, and once I'd parked the van where I wanted it to be I set about building my new 'home'. Last year, on my last camp of the season, I had decided that even though my old awning still functioned well it had suffered too much wear and tear and was looking past its best so it was time to get a new one - and I'd been lucky enough to find one on the internet identical to the old one and at a price much lower than normal so I'd treated myself, and as the seller was only in the Manchester area I'd gone to collect it, thereby saving myself £15 postage. As I'd had no opportunity since then to put it up and check it I'd also packed the old one in case there was anything wrong but I needn't have worried, everything was as it should be, and looking at it attached to the van I had to admit that it looked so much smarter and cleaner than the old one so I was well pleased.
I'd finished setting everything out inside the awning and was putting my solar lights by the guy ropes when I noticed a convoy of three vehicles by the entrance, signifying the arrival of some more of the group; once they'd decided where they were pitching I went over to say hello then left them to sort themselves out while I took the dogs for a walk and explored the site and the immediate area. Just by the site entrance was a small paddock with some of the most adorable tiny baby pigmy goats, and across the lane in a small wooded enclosure were a couple of large pigs which came grunting up to the fence when they saw me. Walking up the lane past the site I came to a large and very pleasant looking golf course, and though I could have gone further on to the castle I decided to leave that for another time and return to the awning for a much needed brew.
It was a while later when I realised that I hadn't packed the dogs' tie-out cable, and as I hadn't got anything which would make a reasonable substitute I decided to go in search of a pet shop then drive down to the beach, so with the two hounds in the back of the van I set off to explore Abergele. The town itself is only a few minutes walk from the camp site entrance, with a Tesco supermarket at the beginning of the main street, so I parked there and set off along the row of shops, but although I walked right to the end and back I couldn't find a pet shop. However there was a charity shop in aid of abandoned animals so I called in there and the nice elderly man in charge told me where to find a large pet and farm store just a few minutes drive away. It was easy enough to find, and with a new tie-out cable duly purchased I drove back through the town and followed the signs for the beach.
Never having been to Abergele before I didn't know what the promenade and beach would be like, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got there. Compared to some places it was nothing to write home about but it was nice enough and seemed to provide most things that visitors to a small seaside town would want. There were two car parks along the main promenade, both of which were free, a small cafe at each end, a couple of take-away kiosks, beach shop, a kiosk selling fishing bait, two amusement arcades, crazy golf and childrens go-karts, and an area where a bouncy castle would be later in the season. At the southern end was a large static caravan site, and as I walked along northwards I passed a grassy children's play area and the railway station, and in the distance I could see Rhyl. Just past the station the main promenade narrowed into a cycle path and footpath so I turned off there and went down onto the beach, walking back along the sand to where I'd left the van. The tide had gone out leaving behind several large pools on the sand - I threw a few stones for the dogs and though Sugar was quite happy to swim across to retrieve one there was no way Sophie was attempting it. With our little game eventually over we went back to the van and after towelling the dogs down I paid a brief visit to the nearest cafe for coffee and cake before setting off on the short drive back to the camp site.
Back on my pitch I reversed the van into place, connected up the awning, fastened the dogs' new cable to the ground anchor which I'd previously pegged down, then spent a while chatting to other group members before retreating to the awning to make a brew and a sandwich. I went back out again later for another chat but once the sun went down it turned rather chilly so I spent most of the evening in the awning watching tv until I could hardly keep my eyes open. Then with the dogs fed and a brief bedtime walk along the lane by the site I settled them into their bed and retreated to mine in the van. I did have some vague thoughts for the following day floating through my mind but sleep finally overtook me before I could form any definite plans.