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

Sunday February 24th - Cleethorpes and an expensive packet of stuffing mix

I woke that morning to what I thought was a fairly bright sky but when I looked outside I saw it was just the same as the previous day, dull, grey and miserable; the tent was nice and warm and my bed was so lovely and cosy that I didn't really want to get up, so as the dogs weren't very enthusiastic about going out anyway I made some coffee and toast and stayed put for another couple of hours. When I did finally get up I took them for a couple of circuits of the nearby lake while I decided what I was going to do for the rest of the day, then spent some time chatting to some of the other campers.

It was gone noon before I was ready for going anywhere - I'd decided on a drive over to Cleethorpes on the coast, which wasn't too far away, and as I'd never been there before I thought it would be good to have a look round and see if it was somewhere I would go back to in better weather. So with the dogs settled in the van I said goodbye to my camping friends, some of whom would be gone by the time I got back, and set off to see what Cleethorpes had to offer. It didn't take long to get there, and as I had no wish to see the town itself I followed the appropriate signs to the sea front. The promenade was quite a long affair with parking spaces on the seaward side along most of its length; quite surprisingly most of these were occupied and I had to drive almost to the far end before I found a vacant one. As luck would have it it was right beside a ticket macine so with a ticket purchased and stuck on the windscreen I collected the dogs from the back of the van and set off to walk the length of the promenade.

In view of the grey day and the very cold wind blowing in from the sea I was surprised to see that almost all the promenade amusement arcades, cafes and ice cream places were open - I didn't think there would be so many people about in that weather. The promenade itself was actually quite pleasant, with gardens running along part of it on the seaward side and an ornamental waterfall and 'castle' on the other side, and I could imagine that on a sunny summer's day it would be really nice.

When I reached the end I turned and retraced my steps back to the van, and on the way I noticed a sign outside a cafe advertising a Sunday 'special' of coffee and cake for £2.50 - I was ready for a brew so that would do for me but there was nothing outside the cafe to hitch the dogs to, so as some of the nearby parking spaces were now vacant and to save myself another long walk I put them in the van when I got back to it and drove back down to a parking space almost opposite the cafe. It was while I was having my coffee that I noticed the sky brightening up out to sea, and by the time I left the cafe there were big patches of blue showing through the clouds. It would have made quite a difference to my photos but by then I'd already taken what I wanted and I didn't fancy walking all the way back down the promenade again to retake them, so it looked like I would indeed be making a return visit to Cleethorpes during the summer.

With the time almost up on my parking ticket, and having seen all I wanted to see, I set off back to Willow Lakes but by a slightly different route, and on the outskirts of Cleethorpes I came across a large Tesco Extra. As I needed a packet of stuffing mix and I never normally shop at Tesco anyway I decided to go in for a look round, though I certainly wasn't prepared for how much that stuffing mix would actually cost me. With the purchase of a new ink cartridge for my printer (which I really needed) and a cd (which I didn't need but it would sound good in the van) I spent almost  twenty six quid! And the price of the stuffing mix? - just 27p!

When I finally got back to the camp site I found that everyone else had left except for John and his friend Graham; I put the heater on to warm up the tent, made a brew and settled down to a couple of hours of tv - I never miss Dancing On Ice! - then later on I zipped Sophie and Sugar into their bedroom so they wouldn't escape and wandered over to John's caravan for a chat with him and Graham. I hadn't intended to stay long but the converation was good and before I knew it a couple of hours had passed and it was almost 11pm; when I got back to the tent the dogs were curled up in their bed and obviously hadn't missed me at all, though they soon woke up when I picked up their leads to take them for their last walk of the day. With a circuit of the fishing lake and stables completed I settled them back in their beds and snuggled into my own, finally drifting off to sleep with the sound of an owl hooting somewhere in a tree not far away.

Saturday February 23rd 2013 - First camp this year - Willow Lakes

An overcast early morning saw me leaving home at 7.30am for Willow Lakes in North East Lincolnshire and my first camping weekend this year, meeting up with the same small group of campers who I'd met up with last December. The weather over the previous few days had been reasonably mild with blue sky and lots of sunshine, great for camping and getting out and about with the camera, but not so that morning; it was dull, grey, and with a very cold wind blowing, but as I'd been looking forward to this weekend for a while I wasn't letting it put me off.

The drive across to Lincolnshire was easy enough, being mainly motorway and one A road, and just over two hours after leaving home I pulled into the entrance at Willow Lakes. I didn't need to book in as I'd already paid my fees over the phone so I just drove straight round to the camping field, and after spending a couple of minutes taking stock of my surroundings I decided to pitch on the same side as everyone else and in the shelter of a very tall conifer. I'd got the tent up and was just in the process of making up the bed when I heard what I thought was rain on the roof, but when I looked out it was to see snow. Not proper snow though, more like fine hailstones, but it did enough to put a thin covering all over the grass; this didn't bode well for the weekend and I did have a moment where I questioned my own sanity regarding the decision to camp, however I was there, the tent was up and everything was in it, so giving up wasn't an option. The 'snow' didn't last long though, and within a couple of hours it had melted away into the grass, leaving little trace of its existence. With everything in the tent sorted out I went out for a quick chat to some of the others then made a long overdue late breakfast of coffee and toast before taking the dogs for a wander round and a bit of exploration.

At the far end of the camping field was a small fishing lake backed by a row of modern terraced holiday cottages with a view across the Lincolnshire Wolds to the Humber estuary in the distance. A track ran behind the camping field and down past several paddocks to a much larger fishing lake with more paddocks at the far side and where three chalet-bungalows were being built near the water's edge. Just inside the site entrance was a large stable block with tack rooms, feed storage areas and many unoccupied loose boxes, and coupled with various mounds of rubble and hardcore dotted round the place it looked to be very much a site which was under development as an equestrian centre with fishing and camping facilities thrown in.

After a good walk round I went back to the tent and made another brew, then with the dogs back in the van and a quick look at the map book I set off to find Waltham windmill. It turned out to be closer than I thought, being only a five minute drive away from the site, but being out of season it was of course closed. A few of the surrounding buildings had been turned into shops and a restaurant, but with the exception of the small garden centre and the outdoor shop these were all closed as well so I just had a quick wander round the grounds, snapped a couple of photos then got back in the van and returned to the site.

The rest of the afternoon was spent chatting to other campers in the group then as the daylight faded I took the dogs for a quick walk round the field before retreating to my own tent for the evening. With the fan heater on it was quite snug inside and I passed the hours until bedtime reading and watching a bit of tv, then when I started to find it hard to keep my eyes open I braved the cold wind once more and took the dogs for their last walk, making a circuit of the nearby lake and the stable block before returning to the tent. With the dogs snuggled into their bed on one side of the tent I snuggled into mine on the other side, and it wasn't long before sleep overtook any thoughts I had for the following day.

Friday February 8th 2013 - Thinking ahead and making plans

As far as camping trips go I tend not to plan too far ahead in case the good old British weather decides to put the kibosh on things before I even get to packing up the van, but although it's still only early February I've been thinking about where to go for the first part of my main holiday, which will be in late May/early June - and I've decided on something which will be my most ambitious solo trip so far.

Back in August 2007, long before I became a solo camper, I went to a little place on the coast in the Scottish Highlands for the bank holiday weekend. The camp site was next to a small river estuary, the end of it was right on the beach and the views were to die for. Unfortunately the weather was a bit hit and miss and with only four days on site there wasn't enough time or opportunity to explore the area as I really wanted to do; also both the outward and return journeys were very long and tiring, and with the driver not being keen on repeating the experience I never got the chance to go back. I've never forgotten how lovely the place is though, and a few days ago a germ of an idea planted itself in my mind - I would make that return visit as a solo camper and turn it into The Great Scottish Adventure.

Now although I'm confident behind the wheel and I enjoy driving long distances I think 350 miles over a period of eight hours - allowing for rest stops - is a bit too much to tackle all at once, so I've decided to break both the outward and return journeys with an overnight stop somewhere en route. So with this in mind I've been asking questions and doing some research and things are falling nicely into place. On the outward journey I can get the bulk of the mileage done on the first day and make a stop north of Glasgow in the Loch Lomond area - a couple of sites have been recommended to me which would be perfect for an overnight stay - then on the homeward journey again do the most mileage on the first day and make an overnight stop, this time south of Glasgow, at another recommended site. Both stops, and indeed a big part of my planned route, should give me some good opportunities for plenty of photos, and if I have time on the second leg of my outward journey I might even manage to squeeze in a boat trip on Loch Lomond.

So on a ten or eleven day holiday I'll have four days travelling and sightseeing and six or seven days in which to explore the area where I'm staying. I've never done any overnight stops before as up to now I've never been far enough to need to, so this will be a whole new adventure for me and the dogs. I've got two or three short camping trips lined up before then, but the more I think about going to the Highlands the more I really want to do this trip, so all I can say is roll on May!