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 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.

Thursday September 11th 2014 - A quick trip to Hemsby and a very strange coincidence

I woke that morning hoping that I could follow my previous day's climb up Happisburgh church tower with a repeat visit to Ranworth church tower, but although on the coast the sun was shining and the sky was blue and clear just a mile or so inland it was covered by hundreds of white clouds with very few breaks in them, and which stretched as far as the eye could see. As Ranworth is several miles inland this didn't bode well for photographing views from the top of the church tower, so I decided to stay reasonably local for once.

I'd found out that there was a car boot sale up at Hemsby village and as I'd never been to that one before I decided to have a look round there first then drive to the road leading down to Hemsby beach and spend a while browsing round the shops. The boot sale was bigger than I expected and as usual I was on a quest for mouse ornaments for my collection but in spite of the large amount of stalls I didn't find a single one. I did however find a bag which I thought would be very useful; made in Holland it seemed to be a type of sports bag and was almost circular in shape but straight along one side. I had no idea what a bag of that shape would originally be used for but it looked almost new, was the right shade of blue to match my tent and camping accessories and would be ideal for storing the hook-up extension cable I bought while on Anglesey in June; it was only £1 so I handed over my money and walked away from the stall feeling quite pleased that I'd found it.

It was when I got back to the van and examined the bag in more detail that I came across the very strange coincidence. Tucked right down at the bottom of one of the inside pockets was an obviously long-forgotten small bundle of half a dozen folded till receipts from a shop in Yarmouth and dated about three years ago; nothing unusual in that, people sometimes do accidentally leave things in bags they donate to charity or boot sales, but written on the top of each receipt by someone completely unknown to me was a name - Eunice. I had to look twice for my brain to register what I was seeing - it's not exactly a common name so how strange was that?? At a car boot sale I'd never been to before, which I'd only found out about when driving back from Martham riverbank, from a stall whose owner I'd never previously seen or met, not only had I found a useful bag in the right colour for camping but it could have previously belonged to someone with the same name as me. I don't normally give much thought to fate and destiny but somehow it seemed I was destined to find that bag so I felt even more pleased that I'd bought it. 

From the car boot sale I drove down to Hemsby beach road and with just an hour on the car park ticket I went for a wander down one side of the road and back up the other. Most of the shops were exactly the same as they've always been, selling the same sort of gifts and toys as most seaside places, so I only actually went in a couple of them and even then I didn't buy anything. I did do one thing I've been meaning to do for ages though - with not too many people about I did manage to get some photos of the road itself with its many colourful arcade signs and pavement shop displays.

With no purchases other than the bag I got from the car boot sale I drove back to the camp site and spent the rest of the day mooching about on the beach with the dogs and relaxing outside the tent in the sunshine. A breeze had blown up during the afternoon and by the evening it had turned into quite a strong wind so before I settled in for the night I went round the tent and checked all the pegs and guy lines; I had every confidence in the tent itself and my own pitching abilities but it was better to be safe than sorry - I love my tent and I didn't want anything to happen to it during the night.

As I lay in bed later on I thought back to my car boot sale purchase; I would have loved to know who the other Eunice was and what she had used the bag for, if indeed it was actually hers. Sometimes it seems that fate really does work in mysterious ways, and I suppose you could say that the bag almost literally had my name written on it.

Wednesday September 10th 2014 - Happisburgh & Hickling

After the previous dull day the morning arrived with sunshine and an almost cloudless blue sky which was perfect for photography, especially as the one thing I really wanted to do could only be done on a Wednesday. After a leisurely breakfast and some time spent on the beach with the dogs I had a quick tidy up round the tent then set off northwards to Happisburgh and my goal - a climb to the top of the church tower. I'd previously twice missed out on doing this; the first time because I didn't know the tower was open to the public when I went to look round the church and it had closed twenty minutes before I got there, and the second time because I'd gone on the wrong day. Hopefully it would now be third time lucky.

When I did finally get to the church I found I had a half hour wait before the tower opened so I passed the time by wandering round the village and snapping a few photos. One of my quests while in Norfolk, and which will probably take me several years to complete, is to find and photograph the village signs of all the places I go through or to; the Happisburgh one was easy to find as it was on the corner of the lane leading to the church.

The church tower climb was managed by two very friendly church wardens with walkie-talkies, one at the top and the other at the bottom, and presumably for safety reasons they would radio through to let each other know when someone was going up or down. The first part of the climb was a steep and narrow 95-step spiral stone staircase with the second part being a just-as-steep steel spiral of 38 steps; it was definitely a test of heart and lung capacity, but when I finally reached the top the views were certainly worth the climb.

Across the fields immediately to the north was the little coastal village of Walcott, with Mundesley and the RAF 'golf ball' radar station at Trimingham in the far distance. Down below and looking south was the village pub, the cliff top caravan park and the lighthouse, while to the west level fields separated by trees and hedges and with farm buildings dotted here and there stretched as far as the eye could see. Information told me that on a clear day it's possible to see 30 churches, 2 lighthouses, 7 water towers, 5 corn mills, 5 drainage mills, 3 wind farms, Trimingham 'golf ball', Bacton Gas Terminal, Sea Palling reefs and the spire of Norwich Cathedral just over sixteen miles away - now that is certainly some view.

The warden was quite happy to point out some of the various places and tell me a bit about them, then when I was ready to go back down the tower he let the other warden know I was on my way and I started my descent. At the bottom of the steel staircase was a short narrow platform leading into the bell chamber which housed the huge cast iron bells, so I stopped to snap a couple of shots before continuing my slow descent down to ground level.

Back at the van I released the dogs, gave them a drink then went for a walk along the cliff top by the car park before finally stopping at the nearby tea room for coffee and cake; dogs were allowed in the garden so at least I didn't have to put them straight back in the van. Then with my thirst quenched and hunger pangs satisfied I went on to my next stop, FAITH animal sanctuary at Hickling, though as I passed through the small village of Ingham I pulled up briefly to photograph the village sign.

After calling at FAITH my next stop was to be a visit to Ranworth church tower to retake in the sunshine the photos I took on a cloudy day last year, but it was quite a distance from Hickling to Ranworth and by the time I'd finished looking round the sanctuary I felt it was too late in the afternoon to make the drive worthwhile - the church tower may well have been closed by the time I got there - so instead I drove into Hickling village itself and spent an hour wandering round the staithe, where I added a couple of dozen very colourful photos to my collection.

By the time I'd finished my walkabout it was gone 5pm - time to call it a day and head back to the camp site while there was still some sunshine left. Back at the tent I put the dogs on their line outside while I made a brew and something to eat, then when the sun finally dipped below the trees at the back of the site I brought them back in and settled down to watch a couple of hours of tv and read my book until it was time for bed.