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

Monday July 15th 2013 - Home time comes too quickly

It was another gloriously sunny and very warm day, just right for doing some more exploring and photography, but unfortunately that little thing called 'work' meant it was also going home day - on short weekends such as this home time seems to arrive far too fast. After the usual dog walk and very leisurely breakfast - trying to put off the inevitable! - I made a start on the packing up process, interrupted at one stage by a long conversation with the warden's brother-in-law who was doing his maintenance rounds, and by early lunchtime I was ready for leaving the site.

With plenty of time to spare, and leaving the van where it was, I walked Sophie and Sugar through the site, along the path round the cliff and down to the beach; a stroll along the water's edge with a bit of stone fetching and seaweed catching kept them happy then we walked back to the site through the caravan park next door. The journey home was, as usual, very pleasant and trouble-free and I arrived back with well over an hour to spare before I had to go to work. That would be my last trip to Anglesey for quite a while as I don't normally go there during the long school holidays and my next two planned breaks would be taken elsewhere, but my love for the island would make sure I didn't stay away for too long.

Sunday July 14th 2013 - Rhoscolyn, Trearddur Bay, and a pile of stones

It was yet another very warm and sunny morning and after the usual dog walk, leisurely breakfast and consultation with the photography book I was off to the opposite side of the island. The first port of call though was the car boot sale on the Anglesey showground; with such great weather it was very busy and there were a lot of stalls to look round. As always I was on the lookout for mice to add to my ornament collection but although I saw the usual dogs, frogs, cats, pigs and owls I didn't find a single mouse, and with nothing else attracting my attention I didn't spend a single penny.

From the showground I headed up the A5 to Valley where I had my customary look round the Stermat store then headed west, and braving the extremely narrow single track lane with its several right-angled turns I arrived at Rhoscolyn. I'd only ever made one brief visit, three years previously, and there'd been hardly anyone there then, so I wasn't quite prepared for how many people were there this time. The car park was full, and with no way of turning round and going back I had to wait just inside the entrance until a space became available; fortunately I didn't have to wait too long and with the dogs on their leads I set off to explore the place properly.

A short sandy path led from the car park to the main beach and a high concrete sea wall with steps up to the top ran along the right hand side. There were rock pools at the bottom of the wall and at the top was a small field with half a dozen sheep and a footpath leading to the far end. Beyond the rock pools was another small beach and beyond that a narrow headland with three detatched houses with lovely gardens and yet another small beach at the far side. Just up the hill from there was a small enclave of a couple of dozen houses, presumably what passed for Rhoscolyn village; this little place was quite a surprise, and certainly not what I'd expected to see when I set out to explore. With several shots taken - which were nothing to do with the photography book - I made my way back to the main beach where I walked right to the far end before heading back through the dunes to the car park.

Having managed to negotiate my way back along the long winding lane to the main road without meeting something coming the other way I headed for Trearddur Bay where I wanted to search out a couple of shots which were in the book. I knew roughly where I needed to be so with only an hour on the car park ticket I set out to find the right spot; scrambling around a rocky promontory wasn't easy with the dogs in tow but I managed it without dropping either the camera or the book into the sea, and after fine-tuning my position I got two identical shots to the book ones, the only difference being the time of day when they were taken.

From Trearddur Bay I headed a couple of miles inland on the search for Lon Trefignath, an ancient burial chamber; following the book's directions it was easy enough to find and as it was only about fifty yards across the grass from where I parked I left the dogs in the van for once. To say that this thing was an ancient burial chamber there wasn't really much to it, and the pile of stones round the base looked more like something dumped haphazardly from a builder's wagon rather than something which supposedly was centuries old. However, I got the two photos I wanted, the difference this time being in the length of the grass in the foreground, then satisfied with the shots I returned to the van.

By that time my breakfast had long since worn off and I was feeling more than a little peckish so there was only one place to go - Pete's Burger Bar at Penrhos. I wasn't a million miles away from it so it only took five minutes to get there, and though the car park was busy I managed to find a space overlooking the bay. The cheeseburger, as always, was delicious and with a nicely chilled can of Coke I was more than satisfied. With nothing else planned I decided to head back to the camp site, this time via the A55, and spend the rest of the late afternoon and evening relaxing in and around the tent. Most of the weekend campers had gone by the time I got back there so the site was very quiet, and apart from an unoccupied caravan and a campervan in one corner I had all 'my' field to myself; if it had been quiet the previous night it would be even more so this time - just how I like it!

Saturday July 13th 2013 - Another Anglesey weekend

Having got up at a ridiculously stupid time that morning I was taking advantage of the continuing good weather and hitting the road at 5.30am for a weekend down on Anglesey. The van was still packed up from the previous weekend at the steam rally so I'd only needed to add a few essentials plus the dogs and I was away. With very little traffic on the roads it was a very pleasant and problem-free drive and I arrived at the site at 7.45. There was no sign of the warden - she was probably still in bed - but that didn't matter anyway as the last time I was there, and knowing that I like to turn up early, she'd given me a barrier pass which would last for twelve months so I could access the site at any time. To be honest I did briefly wonder if it really would work but it did and I headed for my favourite small field where I found an available hook-up point not far from the water tap. That would do for me, and by 9am I had the tent erected and fully set up inside, and after a quick walk with the dogs it was time for a leisurely breakfast and a study of the 'photographing Anglesey' book which I bought last year.

My first port of call later that morning was the car boot sale a mile or so out of the village and on the very first stall I looked at I found a really fab summer dress. It was multi-coloured, very bright, and just 'me', and though it was ankle length I just had to have it. Now I don't 'do' long where clothes are concerned - I still have the legs for mini skirts and still sometimes wear them! - but my creative head reckoned that I could shorten it to a length just above my knee and make a skirt out of the cut-off piece. So I handed over my three quid and came away from the stall with effectively two items for the price of one. Then a few stalls further along I found a nice pair of casual shorts, brand new and still with the original price tag on, for only a quid, and later on in the charity shop in the village I found a lovely sleeveless top for 50p. It seemed to be my morning for bargains and I returned to the tent a very happy bunny.

After a can of Coke and a short chill-out in the shade I set out again, this time to Penmon Priory and Black Point just across from Puffin Island. I'd gone there a couple of years ago though I hadn't been all the way down to the Point, but there were a couple of photos in the book which I wanted to replicate so that was my goal. Black Point, when I got there, seemed to be a very popular place and the rough ground which was used as a car park was almost full to capacity, though I did manage to find a spare patch of grass to park on and with the dogs on their leads and book in hand I set off to find the right positions for my photos. I took the two I wanted according to the book then spent quite some time wandering along the beach and the rocks in search of other good views.

With several shots in the bag I made my way back towards the van but did a detour to the nearby cafe - it was time for coffee and cake and the slice of home made Victoria sponge which I ordered was very nice. Back at the van I gave the dogs a drink then set off back along the lane to Penmon Priory where I parked up and went for a wander. The chapel was open to visitors and as I'd never been in there before I thought I'd take a look, then following a rather overgrown footpath from the lane I made my way round the back of the building and up the hill, finally returning to the van by a better path. Just across from the small parking area was the old dove cote belonging to the priory so I got a couple of shots there before setting off and heading for Beaumaris.

Parking in what has always previously been a free car park belonging to the local library but which is now a pay-and-display - the council had obviously got wise to the fact that people park there at weekends when the library is closed - I had a wander along the seafront near the pier first then made my way back to the van via the main street, browsing in the shop windows as I went and snapping a handful of shots in a very colourful little courtyard. Not really feeling like going anywhere else I headed back to the camp site, stopping at the Spar shop in the village to get something to eat later on, though it was so hot that all I really wanted to do was drink copious amounts of well chilled Coke.

Back at the tent I spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening relaxing with my book and on a couple of occasions chatting to the couple on the next pitch, then just as the daylight faded I took Sophie and Sugar for their bedtime walk round the site before making a final brew and settling down in bed. I had no real plans for the following day, just a vague idea in the back of my mind, but wherever I went it would no doubt involve a fair amount of photograph taking.

Monday July 8th 2013 - Finding the Golden Gates

Another gloriously sunny and very warm morning arrived and with it the task of packing up to go home, though I wasn't in too much of a rush; officially I had to be off the field by noon but it wouldn't take long to sort things out so I had plenty of time. After a short dog walk round the top of the field I had a scrappy breakfast of coffee and a couple of cereal bars - if there were any catering stalls left on the showground they would be closed - then set out in search of the Golden Gates which were somewhere over in the country park and which I hadn't managed to find the last time I was there.

It was very peaceful walking along in the sunshine with the dogs running round exploring; it was still fairly early so there was hardly anyone around, and with the steam rally having finished the previous day there was no background noise other than the birds in the trees. On a wall in the courtyard behind the castle I found a large map of the castle grounds and country park and after several minutes of study I managed to work out where the Golden Gates were; it seemed as though it was quite a long walk to get to them but in reality it wasn't as far as I first thought. Walking down a wide grassy avenue between the trees I came to the quaint and oddly-shaped Moorish temple with its fancy roof and windows then a couple of hundred yards further on I finally reached the Golden Gates - and looking at them I couldn't really fathom out why they were called the 'golden' gates as most of the paintwork on them was light blue. They were very ornate though and certainly worth a few photos.

Across the lane from the gates an area of land had been turned into a wild flower meadow; apart from the obvious poppies and cornflowers I hadn't a clue what any of the flowers were but the mix of bright petals intermingled with various grasses made a lovely splash of colour against the background of the field behind. With a couple of photos taken I headed back the way I had come, lingering for a while by the lake before finally returning to the camping field and the tent.

With the dogs in the back of the van out of the way I began the packing up process and with only five things to take out of the tent it wasn't long before the tent itself was folded, rolled, and back in its bag. After a quick check for any stray tent pegs I took a shot of Sophie and Sugar looking rather cheesed off then closed the van doors, and at ten minutes before noon I drove across the field for the final time; there were still a handful of caravans in the other field so at least I wasn't the last to leave.

The journey back home went without problems and I pulled up outside my front gate just two hours after I'd left the camping field. The weekend had been a good one, made all the better by the fantastic weather; I'd met some nice people, done a bit of exploring, been to visit Sophie's 'other mum', and the cobbled-together 'temporary' single bed in the van had been a success - so roll on next year when I can do it all again!

Sunday July 7th 2013 - Visiting and exploring

Another glorious morning arrived and even as early as 8am the sun was making the van far too warm to stay in there even with the windows and the side door open, so I washed and dressed quickly and took the dogs for a walk round the top end of the field then made my way over to the showground to get some breakfast. Having been put off somewhat by the not-very-nice bacon and egg roll I'd had the day before I didn't really fancy anything like that even if I did get it from a different stall, so I went for something completely different - a large pancake filled with apple and cinnamon and topped off with cream. Not the sort of thing I would normally have for breakfast, and no doubt the calorie content was very high, but it was absolutely delicious, very filling and made a nice change from a 'normal' breakfast.

Wandering round the stalls afterwards I stopped at the one for rescued parrots; I'm not really that keen on parrots or cockatoos and things but what attracted me was a very small and cute-looking green bird sitting on the shoulder of one of the guys running the stall. I got chatting to him and he told me to hold my hand out palm upwards then he placed the little bird gently into my hand - and there it lay, on its back and perfectly still and content while I chatted to its owner. It definitely had the 'cute' factor and I was instantly smitten, but as cute as it was I would never be interested in owning one and eventually I gave it back to its owner and continued my wander round the stalls.

Back at the tent, and while the dogs lay in the shade under the van, I spent quite some time reading the book I bought the previous day then as it started creeping up towards noon I made preparations for going out. This time I was going to call on Christina, Sophie's 'other mum', who lived about fifteen miles away; I hadn't contacted her to see if she would be in, I was just going on spec, but if she wasn't I could always find somewhere to explore with the camera. The drive there was very pleasant and took me through some nice little villages, and I arrived at Christina's to find that she was in. She was very surprised to see me - it was two years since my last visit - and was really thrilled to see Sophie again; she invited me in for a brew and I spent well over an hour in her company before it was time for me to leave. I could have stayed longer but there was somewhere else I wanted to go to and I also wanted to be back at the showground for the last performance of the dancing diggers. Christina came out to the van with me and as she said goodbye to Sophie and Sugar she said that she couldn't have wished for Sophie to go to a better home; praise indeed, and I was glad she approved of me as Sophie's second 'mum'.

Heading back towards Elvaston I made a detour to Foremark Resevoir which I'd seen a sign for as I was on my way to Christina's; it sounded like the sort of place where I could explore and maybe take the dogs for a good walk but I wasn't prepared for just how popular it was. The car park was full and people had parked along the lane and on several of the grassy areas; the place was heaving with people all enjoying the sunshine, families and groups were having picnics, ball games were being played in various areas and youngsters of all ages were having fun down by the water. Unfortunately it seemed as though I couldn't walk all the way round the reservoir and the place was too busy to let the dogs off the lead so I went as far as I could in one direction before making my way back to where I'd left the van.

Back at the showground I was just in time to watch the dancing diggers give their last performance then I had one final wander round the stalls, bought a couple of sandwiches to eat with a brew then made my way back to the tent. Many campers had already packed up and gone while I'd been out and many were in the process of packing up; various exhibitors were already leaving the showground and there was a long line of very slow moving traffic snaking down the lane, probably held up by a tractor from the show. I was glad I wasn't leaving until the following day, at least I wouldn't be stuck behind that lot.

After having my brew and sandwiches I drove along to see some friends who lived only a mile or so away but they weren't in so I returned to the tent and my evening was spent relaxing and reading my book. As the daylight started to fade I took the dogs for their pre-bedtime walk, made another brew then settled down in the van for the rest of the night; although I'd pitched away from the crowd I'd still been able to hear voices from across the field but now most people had gone and I had a vast expanse of field all to myself I was certainly guaranteed a very quiet and peaceful final night.

Saturday July 6th 2013 - A canal walk and a get-together

Having gone to bed quite early the previous night I woke ridiculously early that morning; I lay for a while listening to the sounds of the birds in the nearby trees but eventually decided to get up and do something useful - like put the tent up. My nearest neighbours were quite a distance down the field so I wouldn't be disturbing anyone, and by 5.30am I'd knocked the last peg into place. And that's when I decided on a change of plan; my cobbled-together single bed in the van had been so comfortable that I didn't see the point of dragging everything out of there and setting it all up in the tent when I could just sleep in the van for another two nights, plus although the days were very warm the nights were very cool and with no form of heating it would be warmer for the three of us to stay in the van. So I decided not to bother putting the bedrooms in the tent, instead I just furnished it with my table, chair, stove and loo and would use it as somewhere to wash, dress and make a brew.

With the tent sorted out I took the dogs for a quick walk round the top end of the field then made a brew and took it back to bed to read for a while; breakfast would come from one of the catering stalls over on the show ground and as they wouldn't open until about 8am I had quite some time to kill. It was 8.15 when I finally wandered over for something to eat, heading for a catering van I'd been to in previous years and which I knew did a very good bacon and egg roll, however the owner was still in the process of setting up and wasn't ready for customers so I went to another van further along the row. Now although the coffee was reasonably good I couldn't say the same for the bacon and egg roll - it wasn't particularly nice at all and I wished afterwards that I'd waited for the other place to open.

With breakfast over I went for a wander round the stalls while the showground was still quiet before the general public started arriving; a few were still in the process of being set up but most were open and on only the second one I looked at I found something which I just had to buy. It seems to be the current 'thing' these days for various items to bear the slogan 'Keep calm and......carry on/drink tea/relax' or whatever, and these were four posters very appropriate to me - 'Keep calm and walk the dog' 'Keep calm and go camping' 'Keep calm and love your campervan' and the one which really made me smile....

How much more appropriate could that possibly be?! So I did a deal on the four, which were relatively cheap anyway, handed over my cash, and walked away from the stall with a big smile on my face. Back over on the camping field I got chatting to one of the nutters group members who was camping there with her daughter for the first time and I spent quite a while with them before making my way back to my own tent. When I got there I found that a note had been left by another couple of campers who I met up with during the winter months down in Lincolnshire, they were having a get-together that evening with another couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary and had invited me to join them. I thought that was very nice and very unexpected so I looked forward to it.

After spending some time sitting in the shade with my book - the sun was extremely warm and getting hotter by the minute - I decided that rather than go back over to the showground I would explore a bit of the local area, so with the dogs' water container topped up I set off for the canal at Shardlow, a couple of miles down the road. Following the relevant signs I found a free car park close to the canal and set off along the nearby path where Sophie and Sugar could run off the lead. After a couple of hundred yards the path emerged by the canal, where I could go right or left, and seeing a sign for 'One Horse Bridge', which sounded quite intriguing, I chose right.

There were several boats moored in a line along the opposite bank and when I got further along I found there was a big private marina with many more boats moored up in various sections, and up ahead an arched bridge spanned the canal. I assumed this was 'One Horse Bridge' but when I got to it I found that it was wide enough for more than one horse so maybe that wasn't the right bridge. Further on still was another private marina with yet more boats moored up and a very pleasant area along the bank where boat owners could sit - and it was there that Sugar went for a very unexpected dip.

With Sophie running ahead of me and Sugar trotting behind I walked along enjoying the sunshine and the views, then SPLASH! - I turned round and Sugar was nowhere to be seen, she was somewhere in the water. I wasn't sure whether she'd fallen in or jumped in, and although she could swim for England the canal sides were almost vertical and there was no way she would have got out on her own. I couldn't even see her as the grass growing along the bank at the water's edge was over a foot tall, but a couple sitting by their boat across the other side pointed to where she was; she was swimming parallel to the bank so I ran ahead until I found a gap in the grass then kneeling down I waited for her to swim up to me, grabbed her collar and hauled her out. Fortunately she was none the worse for her unexpected dip, in fact she probably found it quite refreshing, but I kept a close eye on her after that.

A few hundred yards further on I came to a lock and although I could have kept walking I made that my turn round point. A couple with a little dog were sitting on a bench near the lock gate and while the three dogs made friends and played together I chatted for some time before heading back the way I'd come. Sugar was almost dry by the time I got back to the van and after a quick drink I set off back to the camping field. Another wander round the showground followed, during which I bought a book and a couple of sandwiches for my tea, then I spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out and finishing the book I'd brought from home.

The get-together invite had said 6pm and it wasn't long after that when I made my way across the field to the caravan where it was taking place. A small group of six were sitting round a large outdoor table and after I'd been introduced to those I didn't know various umbrellas were found so we each had a bit of shade from the still-hot sun and a plate of home made cakes was handed round. It was great sitting there chatting and laughing with such a friendly bunch of people but eventually it was time for the little get-together to end. As the daylight started to fade I decided go back over to the showground to see what entertainment was happening in the beer tent but as I didn't fancy the long trek back across the camping fields in the dark I drove down and parked near the entrance gate. The entertainment turned out to be a group, a very loud one at that and not really my cup of tea so I just wandered round the fairground and took a few night time shots before making my way back to the van and driving back across the fields to the tent.

I didn't need to take the dogs for a bedtime walk as they'd just been walking round the showground with me so I made a quick brew, settled them in their bed in the back of the van then climbed up into mine and closed the door on the world for the rest of the night. Apart from the not-so-nice breakfast that morning I'd had a good day and spent some time in the company of some nice people, and with the promise of more sunny weather to come I was looking forward to whatever the following day would bring.

Friday July 5th 2013 - Off to Elvaston Castle

A sunny evening at 7.30pm saw me setting off for the Elvaston Castle steam rally and a long weekend's camping. The van was still packed from my last weekend away so I'd only needed to rearrange a few things the day before and add a few last minute items; I'd been working till 7pm so a quick dash home to change out of my work clothes, feed the cats and collect the dogs and I was on my way. The drive down to Elvaston was very pleasant in the evening sunshine, I made good time and arrived just less than two hours later.

After I'd booked in with the stewards and collected my wristband and passes I drove up the main field, through the gap in the hedge and over towards the top end of the next field where I knew it would be nice and quiet. There was still some daylight left but it was fading and I knew I wouldn't be able to get the tent up and pegged down before it went dark, however I was prepared for that. Having made up a single bed in the van I could sleep in there for the night then put the tent up the following morning; all I needed to do just then was put up the small table, fish out the suitcase stove and make a brew - I'd even filled my water container at home so I wouldn't have to be searching round the field for a tap.

My small table is one of those with folding legs which have screw-in extensions and when I set it down on the ground it fell over; thinking that the ground must be very uneven just there I moved the table a few feet away but it fell over again, then I realised - I hadn't screwed one of the legs in! Time for bed I thought - I'd had a busy day and I was obviously getting tired. With the table finally standing up properly I took the dogs for a quick walk along the top of the field, settled them in the back of the van then made a mug of cappuccino and finally climbed up into my own bed. With the van's overhead light on I read a magazine while I drank my coffee then settled down for the rest of the night. The weather forecast had said it was to be very warm and sunny for the next few days so if that was right then I was looking forward to having a very good weekend.

Saturday June 15th to Monday June 17th 2013 - A weekend to remember....

For all the wrong reasons!

I arrived at Lady Heyes site at Frodsham on the Saturday morning to join the nutters group for their Christmas meet; now I don't know whether I'd missed something with not being there the day before, or if things had changed drastically from what was originally planned, but given that it was supposed to be 'Christmas' the meet itself was nothing like I'd expected it to be and there was nothing Christmassy about it. My afternoon was spent wandering round the various shops on the site and an hour or so in the evening was spent in one member's caravan chatting to a couple of other nutters while the rest of the nutters gathered elsewhere, although I did notice that one or two of them had Christmas hats on.

Sunday morning was spent chatting to various other campers as they were packing up to leave and in the afternoon I drove ten minutes down the road to Delamere forest, supposedly to walk the dogs round the lake which was there, but the path didn't follow the lakeside and for most of the way round I couldn't even see the water for all the trees. My evening, which was the most enjoyable bit of the whole weekend, was spent chatting to a couple who had arrived while I was out. I spent a while chatting to them again on Monday morning then I packed up the tent and my belongings, left the site at noon at was back home by 1pm.

Thinking back over the weekend I wished I hadn't bothered going; it was by far the most disappointing and boring camping weekend I've ever had, and as for the site itself, there's no way I would ever go back there again. My reasons why? - you can find most of them here -


Monday June 10th 2013 - Homeward bound

I woke early that morning looking forward to my trip to Balmaha but guess what? - the weather gods had decided to ruin my final plans and replace the lovely sunshine of the last week-and-a-bit with a blanket of grey cloud and a mist over the loch. Hoping that it might soon clear up I took the dogs for a walk, sorted out some breakfast then started on the packing up process but as time went on it became obvious that the sun wouldn't be making an appearance any time soon. With everything packed away in the van for the second time in less than twenty four hours, and with my Balmaha trip abandoned, I took the dogs for a walk into the village and back before finally setting out on the second leg of my journey home.

The cloud lasted until I was several miles south of Glasgow then the sky started brightening up, and by the time I'd reached the turn-off for Moffat the sun was out; that was just typical! Maybe I should have stuck to my original plan and stayed at the Moffat site as intended; that way I would have seen another different place and probably got some more photos, but there was no point regretting what I had or hadn't done - Moffat wasn't going to disappear so I could always go there another time. By the time I'd reached Annandale Water I was ready for a brew and a snack so I pulled in, parked up, and rather than buy something in the cafe I dragged the suitcase stove out from the back of the van and made my own brew and a sandwich. A dog walk round the lake followed then I went to have a quick look round the shop, where I got an unexpected bargain - a new blue camping chair for only £8.99! After I'd straightened the frame of my original one it had lasted all week without collapsing and would probably still be usable for some time to come, but it would be handy to have a new one just in case and I wasn't going to pass up a bargain like that!

Back on the road again I headed south at a steady pace, then as I left Scotland behind and came back into England I had another spur-of-the-moment change of plan - my camping friends Colin and Joan lived not far from the motorway on the outskirts of Carlisle so I would pay them a surprise visit. It was a bit of a mad idea as I had no way of knowing if they would be in - it was a weekday and they could be at work - but it was worth a try. I had to get there first though - I'd never been to their house before so I was relying on what I remembered from having looked it up on Google Earth several months previously. Fortunately I remembered which A road I needed when I came off the motorway and as I drove along there were several things which looked familiar; when I saw the Morrisons supermarket I knew I was getting close and just a couple of minutes later I was turning into their avenue. It was a good sign when I saw their car parked on the drive and as I approached the front door I heard voices coming from round the side of the house - they were both in, and needless to say were very surprised to see me. Joan got me a drink and we spent a very pleasant hour or so sitting chatting while the dogs played in the back garden; it was good to see them but all too soon it was time for me to leave and continue my journey south.

It was early evening by the time I finally arrived home and after taking the essentials out of the van I was glad to be able to relax for a while. As I downloaded my photos onto the pc I thought back over the last ten days; I'd been to some nice places, met some friendly people, had some brilliant weather and got loads of good photos, but best of all was Invercaimbe - it must be one of the most beautiful locations in the UK and I'd well and truly fallen in love with it. It really was a very peaceful and special place, and as I'd driven away from there for the last time I felt like I'd left a little bit of my heart behind. So who knows, maybe next year I'll return - in fact as I write this I'm already making plans!

Sunday June 9th 2013 - Goodbye to Invercaimbe

I woke early that morning to yet more blue sky and sunshine and the realisation that my holiday was coming to an end - as soon as I'd had breakfast I had to pack up and set off on the first leg of my long journey back home. First though was a walk on the beach with the dogs, and although I'd taken heaven knows how many photos down there during the course of the week it was such a beautiful place that I just couldn't resist taking a few more.

The tide was well in and the water lapped the sand in barely discernable ripples; in front of me the islands were tinged with pink from the sun and looked slightly blurred from the remains of an early morning sea mist, and over to my left a small dinghy slipped silently through the water, leaving barely a ripple in its wake. All around me birds were singing, lambs were bleating in the fields behind me, and from somewhere across the estuary came the distinctive sound of the cuckoo. This place was absolute heaven and I just wished that time could stand still and I would never have to leave.

Back at the tent I put Sophie and Sugar on their line out on the grass then set about making coffee and toast, which I lingered over while looking at the view. Unfortunately though I couldn't keep putting off the inevitable so reluctantly I cleared the breakfast things away and started on the packing up process, though this was hampered somewhat by various other campers who stopped to chat as they were passing. Eventually everything was in the van except the dogs, and judging by the look on Sophie's face they didn't want to go home any more than I did. Once I'd put them in the van though they settled down in their bed, and after taking a final few shots of the site in general from the small hillock behind my pitch I said a silent goodbye to Invercaimbe and drove along the track for the last time.

When I reached Fort William I stopped off at Morrisons to top the tank up again - a completely full tank would be more than enough to get me all the way home - then I settled in for the drive down to the C & CC site at Moffat, which would be my stopping-off place for the night. I managed to get all the way through Glen Coe and past the Green Welly without stopping for photos and when I finally did make a stop it was at Tarbet near the top end of Loch Lomond. There was a car park just off the main road through the village and from there a large and very pleasant area of well mown grass sloped down to the lochside where the Loch Lomond cruise boats took visitors out on the loch. I wandered round for about half an hour before putting the dogs back in the van and setting off once more.

It was when I was almost at Luss that I suddenly had a spur-of-the-moment and totally mad idea - it's surprising how quickly the human brain can process several different thoughts in the space of a couple of seconds - and swinging the van off the road I turned into the entrance of the C & CC site I'd stayed at the previous weekend. With the weather being so good I thought that if I could transfer my one-night booking from the Moffat site to Luss - providing there was a pitch available of course - I could do the boat trip across to Balmaha the following day before continuing on the second leg of my journey; also it was still a long way to Moffat and I didn't really feel like driving much further. So with fingers crossed that I wouldn't be quizzed again about the van being a motorhome I parked up and went across to reception, and I have to say that this time the warden was very helpful. He phoned the Moffat site, transferred my booking, and led me to an available pitch; it was on the same part of the site as before, and though it wasn't by the lochside it wasn't too far away.

By the time I'd put the tent up I was really beginning to feel tired; for the sake of just one night there was no point in setting it up completely so I left out the second bedroom and the larder unit and instead of making the bed up properly I just put the two self-inflating mats and the mattress on the floor - sleeping at ground level wouldn't matter for once. With all that done, and realising that I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast, I made a brew and a sandwich and spent a couple of hours relaxing and reading my book before taking the dogs for their last walk of the day. It wasn't late but if I wanted to be on the 10am boat the following morning I needed to get packed up again early, and with a long drive ahead of me after the boat trip I didn't want to be tired so it made sense for once to have an early night.