An early morning at 5.45am saw me leaving home for my first trip this year to Anglesey. I'd left the van packed up from my Easter weekend so I only had to add the coolbox and food, personal items and the dogs and I was ready for off. With very little traffic on the roads the journey was easy and the weather, although dull, was fine - that was until I was going along the A55 coast road opposite Anglesey, when I ran into fine rain, and looking across the Menai straits I could see that the island was shrouded in dark grey heavy rain clouds. Not what I really wanted, but I was too close to my destination to turn round and go back home so I just hoped it wouldn't stay like that all weekend.
I got to the site just after 8am expecting not to see anyone in reception but the warden's partner was there so I booked in, exchanged my 12-month barrier pass from last year for a new one, and drove through to find myself a pitch in my usual small field, but when I got there I was both surprised and disappointed to find that almost the whole field had been taken over by seasonal caravans which were all using the hook-up points. It looked like I would have to find somewhere else to pitch, but a quick walk round showed that I was in luck - there was just one hook-up point available towards the bottom end of the field. The ground was slightly sloping but it would do so I drove the van over, selected the flattest bit for the tent and put the footprint groundsheet down.
It was while I was threading the poles through the sleeves on the tent that what had previously been a light breeze turned into a strong wind which did its best to scupper my chances of getting the thing upright. At one point I felt like I was fighting a losing battle - every time I stood the tent up at one end the other end blew back down in spite of the temporary guy line holding it. Patience was wearing thin and I almost gave up but I persevered and finally, in spite of sustaining three split pole sections, I got the tent up and pegged down securely at all points; I just hoped that the combination of the wind and the three split pole sections didn't mean the thing would collapse later on. Throughout all this it was raining steadily and after I'd been to and from the van several times in the process of transferring my stuff into the tent I looked like more than the proverbial drowned rat. My thick jacket was soaked through, as was my zip top and t-shirt, my jeans, underwear, trainers and socks, and my once-curly hair was a lank wet mess plastered to my head - I was, quite literally, soaked to the skin, which wasn't a pretty sight.
With my bed made up and everything else set out in the tent I released the dogs from the back of the van and as I couldn't really get any wetter than I already was I took them for a walk round the site. By this time it was getting towards noon and as I'd had no breakfast other than a quick brew before I left home I was feeling more than a little peckish, so back at the tent I changed into some dry clothes, dried my hair, made a mug of coffee and some sandwiches and settled in for a few hours of drying out all my wet stuff in front of the heater.
It was late afternoon by the time the rain finally stopped so I decided to take the dogs for a walk to the village and back, but with the grass being so wet I needed to put my wellies on - and it was while I was getting them from the back of the van (which only took a few seconds) that Poppie decided to squeeze out through a gap in the outer door of the tent and run off up the field. As much as I called her she wouldn't come back so I grabbed the lead and went after her but she just kept running - into the next field, through the hedge, along the path to the main part of the site, through another hedge; and so it went on. Every so often she would stop and look at me, then just as I thought she was going to come back she would run off again. This was getting me nowhere so I decided to go back to the tent in the hope that she would follow and she did, but she only came so far; I even put some food in her bowl and showed it to her to tempt her but she just looked and ran off again - if she could have put two fingers up at me I'm sure she would have done.
In desperation I put some food in Sophie's bowl and put both bowls out on the grass in front of the tent and bingo! - when Poppie saw Sophie eating her supper she abandoned her game and came back, and while she had her head in her own bowl I clipped her lead on. She'd been leading me a merry dance for almost half an hour and I wasn't risking her doing it again. Needless to say I wasn't very happy with her, and after having walked round a big part of the site more than once in my efforts to catch her my planned walk to the village was abandoned. But it was a lesson learned - where Sophie and Sugar would stay put even with the tent door open obviously Poppie won't, so I must remember to make sure that both the inner and outer doors are fully zipped up if I need to get something from the van in future.
After that little unwanted adventure I spent the evening watching a bit of tv and reading some of my book, then when the long day began to take its toll I took the dogs for a quick last walk of the day and retreated to my bed for the night. It was still windy but the tent was holding up and the rain was managing to stay away so hopefully we would get through to the morning with no disasters and the following day would be a good one.
- 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