Another warm and sunny morning arrived, and after the usual dog walk round the top end of the field it was time for an al fresco breakfast. With the sounds of various birds in the nearby hedges and trees and the occasional bleat of a sheep from the next field I would have been quite happy to sit outside the tent and do nothing all morning but unfortunately I had to pack up and go home, so with the dogs on their cables and out of my way I eventually made a start.
Normally the packing up process wouldn't take that long but this time it was hindered by three things. First was a visit from John who came across to say goodbye before he left, second was a visit from Amanda and Gary who were also ready for leaving, and third was the packing up process itself. To make enough space in the middle of the van for Sam to comfortably lie down on the journey home I had to arrange and pack things differently and several times I had to take something out of one place and put it in another to make everything fit. I was fast becoming an expert at 'Camping Tetris', and by the time I'd finally got everything sorted I felt like I should be awarded a combined degree in physics, maths and engineering.
With twenty minutes to go before the official leaving time of noon I still had the tent to take down, and as everyone else had gone by then and the field was completely empty my bright blue house stuck out like a sore thumb, attracting the attention of one of the rally organisers who drove over to see what was going on. He was very nice though, and when I explained the reason for my delay he was quite happy for me to take as long as I needed, which actually wasn't much longer. With the tent finally stashed in the van I only had to put the dogs in but before I did I just couldn't resist snapping a couple of pics - and if ever the expression on a dog's face said 'I've been abandoned and nobody loves me' then Sophie's said it all.
It was 12.20pm when I was finally ready for going; the clear-up crew were already collecting refuse bags from the temporary compounds with their tractor and trailer and as I drove across the field for the final time I mentally awarded myself the dubious honour of being the very last to leave. Just for once though I wasn't going straight home, I was breaking my journey at Stoke-on-Trent and paying a visit to Ann, an old school friend who I hadn't seen for years - something which I'd been meaning to do ever since I learned to drive just over five years ago.
The idea had come to me the previous day while looking at the map book for something; my route home would take me past Stoke and as I was in no rush to get back I would have plenty of time to make a detour. The only problem would be finding Ann's house; although I'd been there before it was twenty one years ago and also by public transport so to drive myself there without directions could prove difficult. However, I'd mentioned it in conversation with Amanda and Gary, and as Gary had one of these new-fangled fancy phones with internet he'd looked up the address and got me some basic directions which I was now following.
My friend's address actually proved easier to find than I first thought though I was taking a chance that she would be in. For all I knew she could be at work, out shopping or indeed absolutely anywhere, however she was in and more than a little surprised to see me, in fact her first words were "Oh! You've finally found me!" She invited me in and I got to meet her two sons who are now 21 and 24 - the youngest was only a couple of months old the last time I was there so it was good to see how they've both grown into young men. It was great to chat with Ann and catch up with various bits of family news but unfortunately she had to go out later so I couldn't stay too long.
The rest of my journey went without problems and I was back home just over an hour after I left Ann's. After a short walk round the block so the dogs could stretch their legs after being in the van I settled in for the evening - and I knew that now I know how relatively easy it is to get to Ann's I won't be leaving it another twenty one years before I call to see her again.
- 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