After getting up at 4.30am a grey morning at 6.15 saw me leaving home for Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, for a weekend's camping at the annual steam rally. The journey was trouble free on fairly quiet roads and I arrived at the camping fields a few minutes after 8am; after booking in with the stewards I drove up the field and over to my preferred quiet spot in the far corner of the next field, and after taking the dogs for a brief walk round I set about putting up the tent.
It didn't take long to get things organized as I didn't have much this time; with no power on site I would be sleeping in the van so I could use the overhead light for reading, and the tent would be used just to wash and dress in comfort and make a brew. The bed was already made up in the van and once the tent was up I only needed to add my kitchen stand, chair and small storage unit and the set-up was complete. While I'd been sorting things out the sky had been clearing gradually and it wasn't long before the sun started coming through; according to the stewards there'd been a horrendous downpour the previous evening so hopefully the sun was a sign of a good weekend.
Once everything was organised it was time for breakfast, and though I could have made my own I decided to go over to the show ground and get something from there. I also needed to fill my water container, and as the nearest tap was quite a distance from the tent and the water container was heavy when full I took the easy way out - I drove down to the camp site entrance, parked up just inside and went across to the show ground for breakfast, then filled up the water container afterwards and drove back to the tent. An hour's chill out followed, then I went back over to the show ground for a look round the stalls; weather-wise the day was getting better by the minute and the sunshine really showed up the bright colours of the fairground rides.
The afternoon was spent wandering round the camping fields and chatting to various UKCS members who were there; some I was meeting for the first time, others I'd met several times before including John, another solo camper who I meet up with when I'm down in Norfolk. Then it was back across to the show ground to get a couple of freshly made sandwiches for tea from one of the stalls, and returning to the tent it was time to see if my temporary 'fridge' had done its job - with no power to use my proper fridge I'd filled an office waste paper bin with cold water and left my carton of milk and cans of Coke half submerged in it. At last year's show the weather had been so hot that even my long-life milk had turned to cream cheese on the second day, however it wasn't as hot this time and the cans and milk carton had stayed reasonably cool so that would do for me.
With the sandwiches, brew, and a piece of cake well and truly demolished I put the dogs in the van and drove the mile and a half to see Ken and Shelagh, a couple I'd met on holiday in Italy ten years ago and who I've always kept in touch with. I didn't get to see them last year as they were away when I called so it was nice to sit down for an hour or so and have a good chat. When I finally made my way back to the camping fields I parked just inside the entrance and went over to the show ground to see what entertainment was on in the marquee; it was a group singing songs which were bordering on the rock/heavy metal-type stuff and definitely not to my taste so I returned to the van and drove back to the tent.
It was still quite light and far too early for bed but there was nothing much else to do so I took the dogs for a last walk round the top of the field, settled them in their bed in the back of the van then climbed up into my own. At least with the overhead light I was able to read my book and I got through several long chapters before the day's early start caught up with me and I settled down to sleep, hoping that the following day would bring more good weather.
- 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