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 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.