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

Tuesday August 27th 2013 - The last morning

After the recent beautifully sunny weather I woke that morning to a grey and overcast sky. I didn't mind too much though as I was going home later; as long as it didn't decide to rain before I took the tent down I could live with a bit of grey on my final morning. After a very leisurely breakfast I made a start on packing up and all went well for a while then disaster struck - I dropped the washing up bowl which was about a third full, the water making a lovely puddle right in the middle of the tent. Fortunately it was clean water but there was too much of it to mop up with my towel so I had to go in search of a mop and bucket; luckily the site owners know me quite well and were willing to lend me the mop and bucket from their own kitchen. With the puddle cleared up I returned the equipment to the house and carried on putting things away, and by the time everything was in the van the groundsheet was completely dry and I could take the tent down and pack it back in its bag. 

After a look round the pitch for any forgotten tent pegs and with time to spare I locked the van and took the dogs for a walk up the lane to the old castle. This time I was determined to try and get in there rather than just walk round the outside of it and after a bit of perseverence and a lot of fighting through various bushes and other overgrown vegetation I managed to find a small gap between two railings and I was just able to squeeze through. Success! I was actually in the inner grounds of the castle! I spent quite some time wandering round and although I couldn't get into any of the actual buildings as they were all well and truly boarded up, I was able to walk along the path which ran between the various buildings and down to the drive and the main courtyard. With several shots taken I finally made my way back the way I had gone and returned to Manorafon to collect the van.

Of course Sod's Law decreed that as I drove away from the site the sun came out and the sky fairly rapidly turned blue. It was too late for me to go back to the castle and retake the shots I'd just got but as I drove homewards I made a mental note that now I've found a way into the inner grounds I'll have another look round there next time I stay at Manorafon and the sun is shining. That's definitely a mission for the future!

Monday August 26th 2013 - Walking the walls at Conwy

Another gloriously sunny day arrived and after a chill out morning I loaded the dogs into the van and set off for Conwy. During my Easter visit there I'd discovered that it was possible to walk along the old town walls though at the time I hadn't gone very far, however this time it was my mission to walk the whole way round. 

Driving down to Conwy didn't take long but finding somewhere to park when I got there was a total nightmare - the whole place was heaving with holidaymakers and every available parking space was occupied. I was on my fourth circuit round the one-way system and rapidly losing the will to live when I decided to make one last attempt at finding somewhere in a small car park where I'd previously tried, and this time I was lucky; as I drove through the entrance another car came out of a corner space nearby so I pulled in quickly while I had the chance, and with a ticket for three hours stuck in the windscreen I set off to explore. The starting point of my walk was only a couple of hundred yards down the road and once I'd negotiated the steps up to the top of the wall I took a couple of shots from the very end before starting the long uphill trek.

The walkway along the top of the wall got steeper as I went along, with some parts of it, especially round some of the watchtowers, being really narrow with only just about enough room for two people to pass each other; the views over the roof tops to the estuary were worth the effort though. When I reached the last watchtower on that side I found it had a flight of steep and very narrow stone steps leading up to the top; with nowhere to leave the dogs while I went up alone I wasn't sure whether or not to attempt the climb, but my curiosity and sense of adventure - or maybe recklessness - got the better of me and I decided to go up and take the dogs with me. Going up with the dogs in front wasn't that bad and the view from the top over to the seaward side of the estuary was good though a little hazy, but coming back down was a different matter and I gripped the handrail tightly to make sure we all got to the bottom with our lives and bodies still intact.

The second and third sides of the wall were much more on the level and I went as far as I could before a flight of steps took me down to the street below; various buildings and the railway station meant that one section of the wall had disappeared completely so to complete the walk I would have to rejoin it further along. The next part of the wall led right to the castle but it was only a short section so I decided to do that bit another time, opting instead to have a look down the path which led behind the castle. There was nothing much down there except a pleasant grassy area where a couple of families and several teenagers relaxed in the sunshine so I went back to the road and made my way round towards the quayside and the nearby gardens.

The quayside itself was extremely busy with lots of activity both on and off the water, and if I'd had any thoughts at all of maybe visiting the smallest house they were quickly abandoned when I saw the length of the queue for it. By that time I was more than ready for a brew so I found a cafe with an enclosed courtyard garden where dogs were welcome and ordered coffee and carrot cake, both of which were very nice. From there I made my way down to the water's edge at the far end of the quayside and close to the starting point of my wall walk, where I took my last couple of photos before heading back to the car park for the van and returning to Manorafon.

Back at the site I connected the tent canopy to the van and spent the rest of the time relaxing until sunset, then as the daylight faded I fed the dogs and took them for their last walk of the day. Another early bedtime followed and though I started reading some more of my book the dose of sea air I'd had that day made sure I didn't read much before I drifted off into my last sleep at Manorafon.

Sunday August 25th 2013 - A couple of hours at Bodnant Garden

It was another lovely sunny and very warm day with hardly a cloud in the sky, and after a very relaxing morning I decided to make use of my National Trust membership and take myself off to Bodnant Garden. On my last visit there, only twelve months previously, my photo taking had been blighted by a very cloudy sky so I was looking forward to getting some much brighter shots this time. With the dogs' water supply topped up and the pair of them safely ensconced in the back of the van I disconnected the tent canopy, zipped everything up and set off.

It seemed that Bodnant Garden on a sunny bank holiday was a very popular place as when I got there I found that all the main areas of the car park were full and every shady spot was occupied, however I drove up to the overflow field and managed to find a place by the same conifer hedge as on my previous visit, and just as last time I reversed part way into the hedge itself so the dogs were in totally cool shade. It was a shame I couldn't take them in the gardens with me but with the windows open a snatch and their fan on for good measure I knew they would be okay in their temporary shelter. The gardens themselves were every bit as attractive in the sunshine as I thought they would be, with good views from the terraces over the surrounding hills, and I got loads of photos - I'll let some of those speak for themselves.

When I'd seen all I wanted to see I made my way back to the car park, moved the van out of the trees and released the dogs, then with a drink of water for them and a can of Coke for myself I took them for a walk round the field before driving back to the camp site. The rest of the day was spent relaxing outside the tent with Sophie and Sugar lying in their bed out on the grass, then as the daylight faded I took them for their last walk of the day and made myself a brew then we all settled down in the van for a very early night, with fingers and paws crossed that the following day would be just as good.

Saturday August 24th 2013 - Another break at Manorafon

A sunny morning at 7.30am saw me setting off to Manorafon Farm for the bank holiday weekend and my second break there this year. The journey was easy and trouble-free and I arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule, though I didn't pull straight into the site. Having only swallowed half a mug of coffee before leaving home I was ready for something to eat so I drove down to the beach, parked up, and went into one of the promenade cafes for some breakfast. This was followed by a dog walk along the beach before I finally drove round to the site and booked in. 

Having booked for a non-ehu pitch (all the ehu pitches were fully allocated when I made my booking) I was given the choice of the first pitch on the right near the gate or a pitch in the centre section of the site - the centre ones were on a slight slope so I opted for the one near the gate, which was nice and level, and with the dogs still in the van and out of my way I proceeded to set up camp. Having no power supply I'd decided to sleep in the van so I could use the overhead light for reading, and use the tent as a drive-away awning just for washing, dressing, making a brew and relaxing, so the bed was already made up and I didn't have a lot to do. With everything sorted I pegged Sophie and Sugar out on their line, made a brew, then spent some time relaxing in the sunshine; the area of grass between the tent, the hedge and the gate wasn't really big enough for anyone else to put a tent there, unless it was a very small tent, so it was almost like having my own little garden.

After a good chill out session, and not wanting to waste any of the sunshine, I decided to drive the four miles to Asda in the next town for some supplies then take a look round the nearby river estuary. I'd only noticed the place briefly on my previous stay at Manorafon and being in a line of constantly flowing traffic en route to somewhere else I'd been unable to stop at the time - boats and water mean photos to me so I was sure it would be worth exploring.

The shopping trip round Asda was just as boring as any shopping trip is, enlivened only by the aggravation of not being able to find a darned thing as I was in an unfamiliar store, and once I'd negotiated the one-way system round the very busy car park and finally got back onto the road I headed the further half mile to the river. A modern bridge carried the main road over the river itself and just at the far side was a large area of spare land set aside for parking so I pulled in there, clipped the leads on the dogs, and set off to see what I could take photos of.  The river split into two just under the bridge and the tide was out, leaving a sandbank in the middle where a mixture of fishing and leisure boats were beached. There was a dock area on the left and a raised bridge which, when lowered, would connect it to the road and the nearby town.

With a handful of shots taken I made my way back to the van and drove back to Manorafon. The late afternoon and evening were spent relaxing with my latest book then as the last of the daylight disappeared I took the dogs for their final walk of the day. It was much earlier than the time I would normally go to bed but with no way of watching tv there was nothing else to do so I settled Sophie and Sugar in the back of the van, zipped up the mesh door of the tent and climbed into my own bed to read a few more chapters of my book until I was ready for sleep. 

Having had an extremely busy few weeks this short break was intended to be more relaxing than usual so I had no definite plans for the following day, but if the weather was as good as it had been I would certainly be out and about somewhere with the camera, though it would be to one place only rather than two or three; where I went would be decided the following morning.