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

Wednesday December 31st 2014 - To all my blog readers

Wishing you beautiful moments, treasured memories, and all the blessings a heart can know in 2015

A very Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday December 18th 2014 - Sleep tight little friend

It's with many tears and a heavy heart that I write this - my lovely little Sugar finally gave up her 3-month fight against kidney failure and passed away peacefully early this morning.

I noticed that she seemed to be off colour soon after getting back from my ten days at California in September, and she was also drinking far more water than normal - and what goes in must come out, so she was going out into the garden more than usual. A check up at the vet's pointed to a possible urinary tract infection so she was given a 2-week course of tablets to see if things improved. They did seem to help at first but then the water drinking and subsequent weeing increased to the point where she was frequently wetting her bed. A second visit to the vet's and a scan of her reproductive organs showed nothing so she was booked in for a full scan - which revealed that one of her kidneys had packed up completely and the other was finding it hard to compensate. Only a major operation would do any good, but at the age of sixteen-and-a-half there was no way I would put her through it so the only alternative was to keep her on the tablets which helped and care for her until the inevitable end.

At first she wasn't too bad, still enjoying walks in the fields near home, but those walks quickly became shorter and slower to the point where finally she could only manage a couple of circuits round the garden. Then she lost her appetite for her normal food so since last Friday I've been hand feeding her little and often with whatever she would eat, supplemented by formula milk, though she eventually started to refuse that. Although the thought of losing her was hard to contemplate I knew I couldn't let her suffer so I rang the vet and was assured that she would be in no pain, so it would be okay to just make her comfortable and let her drift off in her own way.

On Tuesday I took her to the beach for the last time, carrying her from the car park down onto the sand. She took half a dozen slow steps on her own then I wrapped her in her fleece blanket and sat in the dunes with her in my lap - and it broke my heart knowing she would soon leave me. Yesterday I got a miniature fibre optic Christmas tree and put it near her bed where she could see it - I'd so hoped that she would still be here for Christmas but I knew it wasn't to be. Then last night I gave her a bath, put her in a clean fleece hoodie to keep her warm and tucked her up in her bed - I checked on her a couple of times during the night and she was sleeping but when I got up this morning she'd drifted peacefully away.

Although I've known for a while that the end would come sooner rather than later it's no easier to bear and I've been in bits for most of the day. I know I still have Sophie and Poppie but Sugar has given me love, laughter and companionship for almost sixteen years and now she's gone there's an empty space in the room and a Sugar-sized hole in my heart.

Sleep tight my little friend, I'll miss you always  xx

Sunday December 14th 2014 - Office Christmas parties are a total pain

Last Friday one of the places where I work held the staff Christmas party. In previous years the party has usually been in the form of a meal and drinks at a local restaurant but this time, to save on expenses, it was a buffet and DIY entertainment held in the large reception area of the offices. While I was at work that morning I happened to see the main organiser starting the initial preparations and he assured me that any mess would be cleared away afterwards ready for me to do my work on Monday morning - fair enough, I thought.

Now given that the weather here isn't very good just now and it's far too wet to take the dogs for a decent walk, today I decided to go to work instead of leaving it until tomorrow morning. However, any thoughts of being able to do my normal job were quickly abandoned when I arrived - far from any party mess being cleared away it had all been left, and the reception area and main office looked like a bomb had hit them. Several partitions and various items of furniture had been moved, chairs had been brought out from other rooms and there were cans, bottles, wine boxes, used plastic tumblers, mugs, left over food, spillages on desks and table tops, bits of paper and overflowing waste paper baskets everywhere, plus cake crumbs and crisps trodden into the carpet for good measure.

It looked like it would take an army to clear all that lot up, but armed with a roll of refuse bags, various sprays, cleaning cloths and the vacuum cleaner I started at one end and worked my way methodically to the other, relocating all the desks, chairs and partitions into their normal places as I went along, and eventually the rooms looked like there had never been a party. Added to all that was the work I would normally do and by the time I'd finally finished it had taken me a good three hours - now I wonder if the staff will appreciate my efforts when they find the place spick and span tomorrow?

So if you're reading this and about to attend an office party held at the place you work, please spare a thought for the person who has to clear up all the mess afterwards!

Wednesday December 10th 2014 - Evicting an unwanted house guest

A couple of weeks ago, while sitting here at my pc one evening, I heard a faint rustling sound from deep in the corner behind the computer unit. It was so faint that I wasn't really sure if it was real or if I'd imagined it, but even though all three dogs were downstairs I had the vague feeling that I wasn't alone in the room. However, I didn't hear the noise again so I put it out of my mind, but a few evenings later as I entered the room there was a distinct scuffling sound and the very real impression that something had darted across the floor and disappeared into the corner; it seemed that somehow I may have gained an uninvited house guest - a mouse.

Just before going to bed that night I left half a dozen small squares of bread and marmalade on a plate on the floor. I didn't know if mice like bread and marmalade but I figured that if there was a mouse in residence it might be grateful for a late night snack, and if the bread disappeared at least it would prove that I was neither imagining things nor losing my marbles - and sure enough, when I checked the following morning all but one of the pieces had disappeared. 

Now as much as I like mice, and having one in residence didn't particularly bother me, it wasn't an ideal situation - where there's one there could be twenty one so the mouse had to go, and the sooner the better. But I also had to find out where it had got in, and as it seemed to be frequenting the corner behind the computer unit that was the obvious place to start; not an easy task though in view of everything which had to be moved so it would have to wait until the weekend when I had plenty of time. So Sunday morning saw me moving all the books and various boxes of computer accessories, paper, envelopes, laminating sheets, files and plastic pockets from the shelves in the unit, disconnecting and moving two computers, two printers, two monitors and a scanner, and finally moving the unit well away from the wall. It took quite a while but eventually I could see where my little visitor was coming and going; right in the corner was a gap between the floorboards and skirting board - not a particularly big gap, but certainly enough for a mouse to get through.

So after a walk down to the local DIY store I returned with a can of expanding foam which I sprayed into the gap to fill it and seal it, then once the foam had hardened I cut off the excess and made a start on putting back the pc unit and all its contents. I wasn't sure if the mouse might still have been hiding somewhere else in the room though; if it was I would need to get a humane trap, but before going to the expense of buying one if I didn't need to I decided to leave some more bread and marmalade down just to be sure. I did that twice and on neither occasion was it touched, so I think the mouse must have evicted itself before I sealed up the hole. There's certainly been no more strange noises or any other evidence of it still being around so I think I can consider that my efforts on Sunday, although time-consuming, have definitely been a success and my uninvited guest has gone for good.


Thursday December 4th 2014 - Keeping things ticking over

As this is first and foremost a camping blog I would normally only write about camping and things connected to it, but as any planned winter outings with the tent have been put on hold - for reasons which will be explained at a later date - I've decided to keep things ticking over during the next few months by writing about other things which happen in my day-to-day life. These could be funny, quirky, sad, serious or downright silly things, but whatever they are they will no doubt end up on here in the coming months. So here it is - the first truly non-camping related post on this blog.

My new little dog Poppie has been with me for five weeks now and has well and truly settled into her new life with me and the other pets, and a couple of weeks ago I found out that she knows her kerb drill when out walking round the local roads. I trained both Sugar and Sophie to 'wait' at the edge of the pavement then cross the road on the command of 'right' when it was clear and I was going to do the same with Poppie, however, on the first occasion that we had to cross a main road she sat nicely without being told and didn't move until I started to cross. I thought at first it may be a fluke but she's done it almost every time since then; she also knows 'off' 'down' 'here' and 'bed' so wherever she's lived previously it's obvious that someone has taken the trouble to train her. 

If she has one fault at all it's that she likes to jump up onto my bed at every opportunity she gets. Now I know many people don't mind having their dog on the bed, and some actively encourage it, but it's something I personally hate - a stern 'off!' from me though is usually enough to make her get down again straight away. Other than that though she's a very sweet and loving little dog and I'm looking forward to having her around for many years to come.

Wednesday November 5th 2014 - A new little camping friend

For several weeks now I've been tentatively exploring the possibility of getting another little dog and my thoughts have veered wildly between ''No, two's enough'' and ''Yes if the right one comes along''. The reason for my thoughts is Sugar. Since the beginning of the year she has slowed down considerably with age and as she turned 16 in July I can't expect her to live for ever. Although she still likes going for walks it now takes more time and the slowing down has been accompanied by a gradual reluctance to play, which for some reason has been more evident since coming back from California in September. Sophie however is still very much a live wire and while off the lead on walks she loves to run round and explore, which she is increasingly doing on her own.

With this in mind, and as I don't want Sophie to end up as an 'only dog' when anything happens to Sugar, I've spent the last few weeks checking out rescue centres and the internet for another little friend. After finding a couple of 'possibles' and a few 'maybes' I came across Poppie, who seemed to satisfy most of my personal criteria, so last Thursday I drove all the way over to Grimsby on the east coast to see her. She's six years old and wasn't quite what I expected, having a very short docked tail which is no more than a bob and slightly longer legs than Sophie and Sugar, but she was a sweet little thing so within half an hour she was in the van and on the way home with me.

For the first few days she seemed very timid and shy but that's only to be expected when everything is so new  for her, however she's getting on fine with Sophie and Sugar and is eager to go out for walks. This morning when I got back from work she actually came to greet me so she's gradually coming out of her shell; I think she has the makings of a great little friend for both me and the other two, and I'm now looking forward to eventually taking her on her first camp.

Tuesday September 16th 2014 - Definitely not a going home day

I woke that morning to a sea mist so thick that I could only just about see the far end of the camping field, but as I walked the dogs along the beach I could tell that somewhere above and beyond that lot the sun was trying to get through so hopefully it would soon clear up. My first job of the day, before I even had breakfast, was to go down to Asda to top up the van with diesel - something I'd wanted to avoid doing on going home day, which was why I'd gone there a couple of days previously only to find the petrol station had just closed. There was a petrol station in Ormesby village about a mile away from the camp site but the price was substantially more than Asda, so a quick trip down to Yarmouth was needed.

Normally I would be gone from the site by about 10am but having taken an extra day off work to use as a travelling day I was in no rush to leave so after getting back from Asda I had a very leisurely breakfast before I even started to think about packing up. The next job was to tidy out the van; I'm not usually an untidy person, especially when I'm camping, but just for once anything and everything that wasn't being used or needed over the last ten days had been thrown in the middle of it and it now resembled a mobile jumble sale. Some serious sorting out was needed, and with that done I put Sophie and Sugar in the back out of the way then turned my attention to actually packing everything away. 

The mist had gradually been lifting during the morning and by the time I finally rolled up the tent and stashed it in the van at 12.30pm the sky was more blue than grey and the sun was shining again. Leaving the van on my pitch I took the dogs for a last walk along the beach; it was still a bit misty in the far distance but with the warm sun and blue sky it still felt like summer and it was hard to believe it was now mid September - and it definitely wasn't a going home day.

By the time I got back to the van I was ready for some lunch - which was as good an excuse as any to make a final visit to Lathams for a last Belgian bun and a coffee, then it was on to Clippesby for a second visit to Eileen and Ron. It would have been so easy to settle in there for the afternoon but I had to get home some time that day so at 3.30pm I said my goodbyes and with hugs all round I left their cottage behind until next year.

Away from the coast there was no sign of any mist at all and in the warm sunshine the drive northwards was very pleasant, though if I was hoping to stop en route at the 'no tea no pee' cafe I was destined to be disappointed as it had closed by the time I got there. I could probably have found somewhere else but having been to Lathams earlier I wasn't exactly starving; the dogs were quite happy in the back of the van so I just carried on driving and with no stops at all I was back home exactly five hours after I'd left Eileen and Ron's cottage.

As I downloaded my photos to the pc later on I thought back over my holiday; I'd had some great weather, the dogs had enjoyed their beach walks, and with the general pace of life being slower than at home I felt like I'd been away for at least a month. And if anyone ever asks me why I like camping at California so much I'll just point them in the direction of the photos on this blog  :)

Monday September 15th 2014 - I finally get to go up Ranworth church tower

The first thing that struck me when I woke that morning was how still everything was; the wind had finally gone, and other than the sound of the waves breaking on the beach down below the camping field there was complete silence. And emerging from the tent for the first dog walk of the day showed me that the disappearing wind had also taken most of the cloud with it and there was miles of almost clear blue sky - it looked like I would make the climb up Ranworth church tower after all.

It was late morning when I finally set out and having planned a circular tour of a few different places my first stop was Potter Heigham. For several years I'd intended taking a photo of the river from the main road bridge but as many times as I'd been to the village I'd somehow never got round to it; well this time I was going to do it. It was too dangerous to take the dogs with me though as the main road had no pavement, just a narrow grass verge, but I was lucky enough to find a spot right under a tree in Lathams car park so I knew they would be okay for the length of time I would be gone. 

With a handful of shots taken looking up river from the bridge I made my way back into the village for a quick wander down the south riverbank, which I'd never been along before. I didn't need to go too far as the most interesting and picturesque part of it was close to the old road bridge; another half a dozen shots and I made my way to the north bank where a modern footbridge spanned the entrance to the marina. As I stood on the bank lining up a shot a hire cruiser approached the moorings and the guy standing on the bow shouted and asked me if I would catch the mooring rope; that's all he wanted me to do but within seconds I'd caught the rope, pulled the boat in against the bank and deftly wound the rope round the mooring post, then I walked along to the stern and did the same again once his mate had thrown me his rope. I don't think either of them expected that, but I didn't spend my holidays in the early 90s messing about on Eileen and Ron's boat without learning a thing or two! I spent about ten minutes chatting to the guys then with another couple of photos taken I made my way back to the van and set off for the next stop on the day's itinerary.

My second port of call was Horning, and though the car park close to the river was full I was lucky enough to discover that there was a free car park at the village hall. It was several hundred yards up the hill from the main part of the village but that didn't matter and it was a pleasant walk back down again. After buying a couple of items from one of the very few shops in the village I had a walk along the riverside and the village green then returned to the van and drove round to the ferry marina. The riverside pub had undergone a few changes since my previous visit a couple of years ago and the garden had been extended, with several picnic benches set out and a childrens playbus and bouncy castle in one corner which all made for some very colourful photos.

My third stop was, at long last, Ranworth church tower. In complete contrast to Happisburgh there were no wardens at this one so I undertook the climb at my own risk, but having been up there last year I knew what to expect. What I didn't expect though was having to open the trap door onto the roof when I got to the top of the second ladder; that was something I didn't have to deal with last year as there was already someone else up there, but this time I was on my own. The door, although not very big, wasn't exactly light in weight, and hanging onto the ladder with one hand it was quite an effort to push it up with my other hand; I managed it though and finally emerged safely onto the roof. Directly in front of me was Malthouse Broad with the River Bure to the right, then even further to the right was Ranworth Broad with Ranworth Staithe right at the far end - and those views across the countryside definitely confirmed my decision to wait until the sky was clear before going up the tower.

When I'd seen all I wanted to see I made my way back down the tower, and closing the trap door behind me was, if anything, more difficult than opening it. I had to pull it partially down with one hand then support it with my head so that it closed as I backed slowly down the ladder; not an easy task but at least I did it without falling from my perch. As I carefully negotiated the spiral stone staircase I stopped briefly to take a photo looking down; it was certainly very steep and narrow, and definitely not for someone with claustrophobic tendencies.

Back on terra firma I returned to the van and took the short drive along the lane to Ranworth Staithe, which I'd been able to see from the top of the tower. There were quite a lot of boats moored up but although the little cafe-cum-information centre was open there wasn't a lot of activity anywhere; it didn't take me long to walk round and with just a few shots taken I drove on to my fourth and final stop, Salhouse Broad.

From the car park just off the lane through Salhouse village it was a very pleasant quarter of a mile walk through woodland down to the water. Now I've been there a few times before and the place has always looked the same but for some reason this time it looked slightly different, though I couldn't think why. Maybe it was because the trees and bushes on the hillside leading down to the water had grown, or perhaps because much of the lower hillside was in shadow rather than the full sun which I've always seen it in previously; it was still an attractive place though and definitely worth a few more photos.

I made that my last stop of the day as the afternoon was getting on and I didn't want to be too late getting back to the tent as my camping friend John was coming down from Norwich to spend a couple of hours with me. He arrived at 6pm and once I'd made a coffee we settled down for a good chat, then an hour or so later we went across to the California Tavern for a meal, finishing the evening with another coffee and more chat back at the tent. 

It was getting late by the time John left so I just took the dogs for their usual walk round the site then settled into bed for my final night. Thinking back over the day I felt that in contrast to the previous day I'd achieved a lot more; I'd got some good photos, I'd moored up a hire cruiser, and I'd climbed Ranworth church tower for the second time - definitely a good day all round.

Sunday September 14th 2014 - An odd and frustrating day

The wind was still blowing when I woke that morning and yet again the best of the clear blue sky and sunshine was right on the coast, with a blanket of broken cloud stretching for miles inland. With only two full days left before I went home, and with the inland cloud showing no sign of disappearing, it looked like I wouldn't be going up Ranworth church tower this holiday and I was almost kicking myself for not having gone on Wednesday after I'd climbed the one at Happisburgh. But life's too short for regrets so after the usual morning dog walk along the beach and a leisurely breakfast I had a quick tidy up round the tent then set off to visit my friends in Beccles and Bungay.

My first port of call, which was on the way to Beccles, was Redwings horse sanctuary. Back in March I'd had a letter from there telling me that Rusty, my adopted horse, had become ill and sadly died; another horse had been suggested for me to adopt but first I wanted to see the others which were available. From the information board in reception I picked out two I was interested in, checked to see which paddocks they were in, then went to find them. It was difficult to choose between Cauli and Muffin but I thought Cauli's story was particularly sad; she had been abandoned in a cauliflower field - hence her name - and was found standing over the dead body of her companion. She also had a severe eye injury which meant her right eye had to be removed, but she had recovered well and looking at her grazing peacefully just a few feet away it was hard to tell that she only had one eye. So the decision was made; I chose Cauli, and went back to reception to sort out the adoption details. With that done I returned to the van, released the dogs and took them for a walk down the long private driveway.

Redwings shared the driveway with a private golf and country club, with the entrances to both establishments close together; I'd never previously taken much notice of the entrance to the golf club grounds but this time I could hardly miss it; it was now more open than it once was, with well-mown grass verges and bright flower beds bordering the driveway - well worth a photo or two even with the cloudy sky. 

My next stop was at a friend's cottage at the far side of Beccles, and as I pulled up outside my first thought was that she'd got a different car as the one on the drive wasn't the one she had last  year. As was my normal custom I let myself in through the side gate and went round to knock on the back door, but the young woman who answered definitely wasn't my friend or any of her relatives - this was a complete stranger. It turned out that my friend had sold up and moved away and this young woman was the cottage's new owner, which obviously explained the different car on the drive. Heaven knows what she thought about me turning up out of the blue and knocking on the back door, but I'd been doing that for twenty years and old habits die hard. 

After apologizing for disturbing her I got back in the van and drove down the lane to where I could park up safely then phoned my friend. I expected that she would probably be at her caravan but it was a fair distance to drive so I wanted to be sure before going over there - and it was a good thing I did phone her as she wasn't there; she was spending some time with her daughter until she found a new house. We chatted for a while, during which she said she'll send me her new address when she has one, then I moved on to my next port of call, Bungay and my friends Jane, Ady, Andy and Sue.

Jane's house was first, and though I knocked several times I got no answer so I drove round to Ady's place - and the first thing that struck me was that he'd got pink and silver glittery curtains at his bedroom window. Now that definitely wasn't Ady's style, and after getting no answer to my knock I spoke to one of his neighbours who told me that he'd moved out a while ago, though she didn't know where he'd moved to. So it was on to Andy and Sue's place, they would be able to tell me where Ady was, but there was no answer from them either - now they were always in on Sundays, even if they didn't know I would be calling, so where were they? This was definitely third time unlucky, so I decided to go back to Jane's to see if she had returned - and this time I saw her next-door neighbour who told me that Jane had gone out to a family meal in a restaurant somewhere, which explained why none of them were home.

So with two friends who'd upped and moved, and three who just weren't in, I wasn't having a very good afternoon, so to make the journey worthwhile I went to the Buttercross Tea Rooms and treated myself to a meal and a coffee before setting off back in the general direction of California. As I approached Yarmouth I decided to stop off at Asda and top up the van with diesel in readiness for my drive home in two days time, but just as I pulled into the petrol station an assistant blocked the entrance to the pumps with cones then went and pulled down the shutters at the pay kiosk - the place had just closed! It was only 3.30pm and the store itself was still open - what the heck was going on?? The petrol station at my local Asda doesn't close until later than that on Sundays so what was so different about this one?

Feeling ever-so-slightly miffed I decided to try and salvage something from the afternoon and go to Caister beach. In all the years I've been holidaying at California I'd never actually been to Caister beach even though it was less than two miles away, so it would be interesting to see what, if anything, was there. And the answer to that was - not a lot. The aptly-named Beach Road, which was more of a lane than a road, ran from the main road through Caister down to the beach itself and at the end, behind a row of cottages, was a large gravel-surfaced car park, a grassy picnic area near the dunes, and the two large modern buildings of Caister lifeboat station. It took me less than ten minutes to look round and take just three shots - it wasn't a particularly interesting place and now I'd seen it I wouldn't ever need to go back again. 

Back at the tent I fed the dogs and put them on their line for a while then when the heat finally went out of the sun the three of us retreated inside and the evening was spent reading and watching a bit of tv. It had been an odd and rather frustrating day in more ways than one and other than choosing another adopted pony I felt as if I hadn't really achieved anything worthwhile; I didn't know what the following day would bring but it was my last full one so whatever I did I would be sure to make the most of it.

Saturday September 13th 2014 - An afternoon walk along the beach

I woke to another windy morning and yet again the best of the blue sky was right on the coast with plenty of cloud inland so I decided to stay local for once. I needed some more food supplies so mid morning saw me taking a shopping trip down to Asda in Yarmouth, then in the afternoon I took the dogs on one of my favourite walks - through the avenues, along the cliff top and through the dunes to Hemsby Gap then back along the beach.

Hemsby Gap and the nearby dunes had been the subject of a recent tv programme which was partly filmed early last December when a huge tidal surge washed away the lifeboat station and caused part of the dunes to collapse, resulting in three chalet-bungalows falling down onto the beach; as I walked along it was difficult to tell just which part of the dunes had collapsed and exactly where the houses had been, and on such a gloriously sunny day it was hard to believe that last winter's storm had done so much damage.

With Sophie and Sugar pottering about at the water's edge and paddling in the lagoon left behind when the tide went out I made my way along the beach back to the camp site. The whole walk from the site and back would normally only take about an hour but Sugar is gradually slowing down with age - she's 16 now - and though she still enjoys playing she doesn't walk as fast, so that one-hour walk actually took two-and-a-half hours. Not that it mattered - on such a lovely afternoon, and with nowhere else to go, time meant absolutely nothing.

Back at the tent I fed the dogs, made myself a brew and something to eat, and spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening reading my book and watching a dvd. Surprisingly it hadn't been as windy down on the beach but by 9pm it was blowing an absolute hooley on the cliff top so I clipped in the storm straps to help stabilize the tent then just before bedtime I went round and checked all the guy lines and pegs. The tent had stood up to high wind before and there was no point worrying about something which probably wouldn't happen so rather than fear the worst I went to bed satisfied that I'd done all I could to keep it safe.

Friday September 12th 2014 - Coltishall, Sheringham & Cromer

Weather-wise Friday was much the same as the previous day, windy with a clear sky right on the coast but with quite a lot of patchy cloud inland, though the sky was still blue behind it. After a leisurely breakfast and dog walk I decided to drive over to Ranworth in the hope that most of the cloud would have cleared by the time I got there and I could do the tower climb, but unfortunately it hadn't so with a quick rethink of my plans I headed in a sort of northerly direction, aiming to eventually end up back on the coast at Sheringham.

The first village I went through after Ranworth was Woodbastwick (the second 'w' is silent) and as I passed the village green I noticed the sign on the opposite side of the road so I stopped there to photograph it and have a brief look round the church. It was a lovely old building, quiet and peaceful and with very colourful stained glass windows which were worth getting a couple of shots of.

My next stop was at Coltishall where I took the dogs for a wander along the riverside green; my previous visit there a couple of years ago had been blighted by cloud so I'd hoped this time would be different but unfortunately it wasn't, though I did manage a handful of shots. The village sign, when I found it, was a very plain wrought iron one in green and white and against a background of leafy tree branches it didn't show up too well so wasn't really worth taking a photo of.

From Coltishall I went via the B roads to North Walsham then took the A roads to Sheringham where I intended to make use of my NT membership and have a look round Sheringham Park, a large estate of 1,000 acres which included woodland, grazing land, parkland and cliff top. It would have been possible to spend several hours in there, and had it been earlier in the season when all the rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom I may very well have done as there would be lots of opportunities to get some lovely photos, however I just stayed on the main path and walked until I could see that Sugar was getting tired then turned and retraced my route back to the car park, stopping at the cafe for coffee and cake on the way.

As I was returning to the van I got chatting to a young woman who was walking her own dog and during our conversation about pets she mentioned that there had been a fire at a dogs home which was actually only about twelve miles from my own home and which I've been to several times in the past in my work with rescue dogs. As I don't watch tv news or read the morning papers I knew nothing about this but I wanted to find out - the young woman said if I went to the library I could use the internet there for free so from Sheringham Park I drove into Sheringham itself, found a convenient town centre Tesco where I could park for free and found the library nearby. I had to make myself a member but that meant I could use the facilities in any Norfolk library, which may very well come in handy in the future.

With my membership number and password sorted I logged onto the internet and found what I wanted - and as I followed several different links it didn't make very good reading. The blaze, which was a deliberate arson attack, had only happened the previous night - it had completely destroyed one wing of the building and as many as sixty dogs had lost their lives. I felt shocked and saddened that someone could do something like that, and my eyes filled with tears as I thought about all those poor innocent dogs trapped in the blaze. But in the face of adversity there was hope and help - a fund raising campaign had been started by a local newspaper and hundreds of people were donating bedding, food, collars and leads etc, offering homes to the dogs which had been rescued from the blaze and help to rebuild and clean the shelter. I was too far away to offer any immediate help but as I walked out of the library I knew that as soon as I got home from my holiday the following week I would be contacting the dogs home to see how I could assist.

Back at the van I put Sophie and Sugar on their leads and to lighten my mood, even though they'd already had a good walk, I took them walkabout along the promenade and through the cliff top gardens, then on my way back to the car park I stopped at the Funky Mackerel Cafe for my second coffee of the afternoon, though this time I didn't have any cake.

My final stop was at Cromer, just a few miles along the coast from Sheringham, but I'd spent so long in Sheringham library that by the time I got there much of the beach and promenade were in the shade - and if I was looking for any colour in the promenade gardens I was destined to be disappointed as there were hardly any flowers to be seen. So with just half an hour on the car park ticket I left the dogs in the van and went for a very quick walk which got me just half a dozen photos.

Leaving Cromer and heading back south I decided to take the coast road which would take me as far as Walcott before heading inland to Stalham. The first village I passed through was Overstrand but as a previous visit had shown me there was absolutely nothing there I only stopped briefly to photograph the sign, then with a final stop to photograph the Mundesley sign I continued the drive back to California with no further interruptions.

After an evening spent with a bit of tv and a bit of my book I took the dogs for their pre-bedtime walk round the site, closed the blind over the front window of the tent, and settled in for the night. It had been a funny old day somehow, and reading the news about the dogs home had really saddened me, but on a lighter note I'd got some good photos while I'd been out, I'd been to somewhere I hadn't visited before, and my tent was holding up well in the continuing wind, so it wasn't all bad.