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

Saturday June 1st 2013 - A change of plan and visitors

I woke that morning to bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds and sunshine, just the right weather for my planned boat trip across the loch to the village of Balmaha to get some photos. However, the weather gods must have decided they weren't going to play ball and by the time I'd breakfasted, walked the dogs and got ready for my trip those fluffy white clouds had become one big mass of grey and the sun was nowhere to be seen. I waited for well over an hour to give it chance to clear up - I could always get the next boat - but there was no sign of the sun coming back so I abandoned my plans and decided instead to drive the eight miles down to the small town of Balloch to find a petrol station and have a general look round.

Having previously looked at Balloch on Google Earth I knew where I was going so headed for Loch Lomond Shores, a shopping and leisure complex at the end of the loch and just outside the town. The car park there was free with no time limit and as I had no interest in any of the (probably) expensive shops I took the dogs and spent some time exploring. A footpath and a road ran behind the shopping complex to a pier where the old steamship Maid of the Loch was moored and various information boards told me that this was an ongoing restoration project being carried out by various volunteers. At the end of the pier I got chatting to a young guy working on the ship and he gave me lots of good information about the Loch Lomond area; he even told me what a true Sassenach is, and it isn't what most people think it is!

Across from the pier a large tree-lined area of shingle sloped down to the water's edge where several colourful kayaks and rowing boats were pulled up and a couple of kiosks sold ice cream and drinks. Walking through the trees I came to a very pleasant area where the river merged into the loch. Boats were moored along the far side and there were several small shingle beaches with picnic tables dotted here and there; in sunny weather it would be a lovely place to linger for a while. Although the sky was showing signs of brightening up there was still a lot of cloud around so with just a few shots taken and with no point staying any longer I made my way back to the van and went in search of a petrol station, then with the tank topped up I set off back to the camp site.

Back at the tent I made a brew and settled down to read some of my book and eventually, a couple of hours later, the sun finally stopped playing hide and seek and the blue sky reappeared. By then it was too late to go to Balmaha so I took a walk down the road to the next little village about a mile or so along. I'd driven along there the previous day on my way to the site and had briefly noticed lots of boats and water so there must be a chance of getting a few photos. The village, if you could call it that, consisted of nothing more than a handful of cottages facing a secluded part of the loch but it was a lovely little spot and I spent well over half an hour wandering about and snapping away with the camera.

Back at the tent yet again I just had time to make another brew and something to eat before my visitors arrived. They were a couple of campers who I 'knew' from the internet forums and who lived up in that area, and I'd suggested meeting up for a chat while I was at Luss; we had never met before, having only corresponded briefly by email prior to the weekend, and although I knew he was very tall I wasn't prepared for the man-mountain who arrived at the tent door with his wife and two fluffy little white dogs. Now although I'd sent him a text earlier in the day suggesting that he bring a couple of chairs as I only had one it seemed he hadn't got the message prior to setting out, so with a distinct lack of seating he used my chair, his wife sat on the bed and I perched on the loo, disguised as a seat by the use of a blue throw. They were a very friendly couple and we spent a good hour chatting about all sorts of things before it was time for them to leave, although I did suggest they might like to leave the smallest dog behind as he was my favourite.

It was after they'd gone that I came across 'the problem' - sitting down in my chair to read my book something didn't feel quite right, and when I got up again the front of one arm moved forward at an angle. Inspecting the frame I could see that the whole thing was bent at one side - the man-mountain must have put his weight on it as he got up and the frame had twisted. Luckily I'm not that heavy so the chair would still take my weight and could still be used, but the now-moveable arm was really annoying so it looked like I would have to invest in a new chair at the earliest opportunity. It could have been worse though - the chair could have collapsed completely and tipped me unceremoniously onto the floor. When I thought about it the vision set me off in a fit of giggles and I was still smiling at the thought when I finally went to bed.

Friday May 31st 2013 - Summer holiday part 1 - From home to Loch Lomond

A gloriously sunny morning saw me leaving home at 7am on the first leg of my marathon journey to Arisaig in the Highlands of Scotland. My first two nights were to be spent at Luss on the western shores of Loch Lomond, and though I'd originally planned on leaving at 5am a check on AA Routeplanner told me that it wouldn't take as long to get there as I first thought so a 7am start was more than fine.

My first en route stop was a brief one on the M6 two hours into the journey, with a second stop at Annandale Water on the A74M. Never having been there before I was expecting the place to be just the usual type of motorway service area so I was pleasantly surprised to find a very attractive looking lake with a pathway all round and a large grassy picnic area on one side. I'd begun to feel tired before I stopped so I intended having a quick five minute power nap but a walk round the lake with the dogs refreshed me enough to continue the journey with no more stops and I arrived at the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Luss exactly five hours after leaving home.

Now I've been a C & CC member for many years though I've very rarely used any of their big sites, and when I came to check in at this one I was reminded of one reason why I don't - wardens who put problems where there aren't any and who seem to want to over-complicate the very simplest of matters. So the conversation went like this -

"You've booked a pitch for a tent, is that a motorhome?"
"No, it's a people carrier" (Why are you asking me that?)
"It's got curtains, can you sleep in it?"
"Only if I turn the seats into a bed but I'm not doing that" (That's why I booked for a tent)
"Has it got cooking facilities and an on-board toilet?"
"No, it's a people carrier" (I've already told you that)
"Well if it's a motorhome we can't accept you as we'll be over our permitted number"
"Like I said, it's a people carrier and I have a tent" (How many more times do I have to tell you?!)

Eventually he seemed satisfied that the van isn't a motorhome, though by this time I was beginning to lose the will to live and if I hadn't already paid a hefty deposit I would have driven off and gone in search of somewhere else to stay, but resisting the urge to either slap the warden's face or throw something at his head I paid the balance of the site fee, got back in the van and followed him slowly to my allocated pitch. Once he'd told me where everything was and disappeared back to reception I took stock of my surroundings; I was at the far end of the site and apart from the grass being a bit bare in places it was a good pitch - just ten yards from the loch and separated from the water by a line of well-spaced trees and a small shingle beach. That would do nicely, at least the warden had got something right!

With the tent up and everything sorted out inside I made a brew and spent an hour or so chilling out before clipping the leads on the dogs and setting out to explore the site and the nearby village. The site itself was very attractive, backed by a tree-covered hill and with well spaced pitches, wooden steps set at intervals leading down to the shingle beaches and great views across to the far side of the loch. If it hadn't been for the constant traffic noise from the very busy main road running past the site it would have been in an absolutely perfect location.

The village itself was only a five minute walk from the site entrance and the first thing I came to was a large car park with a little shop and a burger bar on one corner; a path from the car park took me past a row of cottages with pretty gardens to the narrow street leading down to the lochside where there was a pier, a smaller jetty and a long sand-and-shingle beach at each side. With a handful of photos taken I made my way up by the nearby church, past another row of cottages with a tiny stream running down the side of the street, and came full circle back to the car park.

By this time the long day was beginning to take its toll so I made my way back to the camp site - any further photos could wait until the following day. With a brew and a sandwich made the rest of the day and evening were spent relaxing in the tent; with no signal on the tv I watched a dvd for a while then as the daylight eventually started to fade I took the dogs for a short walk round the site, settled them in their bed and finally got into my own. I did make a start on reading a new book but I didn't get even halfway through the first chapter before sleep overtook me for the rest of the night.