After less than four hours sleep the night before, a bright morning at 6.30am saw me leaving home for ten days camping at my usual site in California, Norfolk. With little traffic on the roads the first part of the journey went well and after successfully negotiating the many twists and turns of the A628 Woodhead Pass I made my first dog-and-brew stop at the picnic area on the A616. A mug of instant cappuccino and a cereal bar for me and a couple of circuits of the grass for the dogs refreshed all three of us and we continued the drive to our breakfast stop, the Cheerio Cafe on the A17 near Sleaford.
As I pulled into the cafe car park the first thing I noticed was that the porch had gone from the front of the building, and when I got inside I found that since my stop there twelve months ago the place had been extended at one side and the whole area now contained new tables, seating and decor, making it look a bit less like a basic truck stop and more like a family cafe. The food seemed to be the same though, lots of it for very reasonable prices, but presumably in keeping with the more 'up market' look of the place the 'no tea - no pee' notice had been taken off the door leading to the toilets. What a disappointment - that notice has amused me for many years and the cafe won't be the same without it.
After a mug of coffee and a couple of thick slices of hot buttered toast I took the dogs for a quick walk along the edge of the field behind the car park then set off again on the third leg of the journey. All went well for a while and I was making good time until I had the misfortune to get stuck behind a car doing just 35mph along the 50mph road, and with no chance of overtaking I had to stay behind for many miles, as did the long line of traffic behind me. Now while I have no wish to be stereotypical, 99% of slow drivers I've encountered so far have all been elderly, and intuition told me that this one was probably male, over the age of seventy, with grey hair, flat cap and glasses - and sure enough, when I finally did get the chance to overtake, a quick glance told me that I was right. Obviously I didn't know where he was going but at that speed he would have taken a long time to get there.
The rest of the journey passed without incident and with no more stops I finally arrived at the camp site well after mid-day and a good half hour later than I intended. The office was closed for lunch so I went over to the house to book in and the site owner told me to pitch wherever I wanted then pay him later on - that would do for me. There was one difference to this holiday though - a while previously some thieving toe-rag had broken into my garage and stolen the drive-away awning, so unable to get a suitable replacement I was using the tent and instead of a pitch on the touring section I would be on the camping field. Not that I minded as I like the camping field and the tv reception is better too, but being on the cliff top it can often be very windy. And that was exactly how it was - when I drove round there it was blowing an absolute hooley.
Deciding on pitch 47 - I've camped on that one in previous years so I know it's a good pitch - I parked the van and made a start on setting up my home for the next ten days. I'd just got the tent poles through their sleeves and was debating how to get the tent upright in the horrendous wind when my camping friend John arrived; my portable fridge had recently given up the ghost so he'd offered to lend me his unused electric coolbox until I got a new one and he'd driven the twenty or so miles from home to drop it off for me. He couldn't have arrived at a better time either, he helped me to get the tent up and pegged down then I quickly put up the kitchen unit, connected the ehu cable and finally put the kettle on for a brew - anything else could wait until later. After an hour or so's chat John finally left to go back home and I finished organising the inside of the tent then went over to reception to pay my site fees. A quick dog walk round the site was followed by a drive down to Asda for some supplies then back at the tent I erected my tall tv aerial, lashing it firmly to a concrete fence post behind my pitch.
The rest of the day and evening were spent relaxing and watching a bit of tv; the wind had eventually started to die down and by the time I was ready for taking the dogs for their bedtime walk there was hardly a breeze. In spite of the wind it had been a lovely sunny day and as I settled down in my bed a while later I just hoped that the sunshine would continue for the rest of my holiday.
- 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