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 August 13th 2016 - Part 2 - Gwrych Castle and a harbour

Arriving at Manorafon camp site I parked in the arrivals area, went to reception to book in with Jules then Will showed me which pitch I was on - it was a hedgerow pitch, the third one in from the entrance gate and very spacious. That would do nicely, so with the van parked up I set about putting the tent up. As I was only there for two nights and the pitch didn't have a hook-up point I was sleeping in the van then I could use the overhead light for reading, so I was really only using the tent as somewhere to wash and dress in private and make a brew; with not as much stuff to put in it as I would usually have it only took forty minutes to put it up, peg it down and put in what I needed then I was ready to go up to the castle.

The entrance fee for adults was £5 and the guided tours were free - I'd missed the two o'clock one so I got a ticket for the next one and browsed the various stalls while I waited. The tour was conducted by the Trust's founder and it was very interesting learning about history of the castle and what the different parts were once used for, though there were so many people in the group that I couldn't get any decent photos, so once the tour was over and everyone had dispersed I went all the way round again on my own.

It was nice to be able to wander freely round the extensive inner grounds and although the upper parts were still out of bounds I was able to get plenty of good photos. It was gone 4pm when I realised that apart from the coffee at Eileen's I'd had nothing to eat or drink since my very early breakfast and I was hungry, so although I could have got something in the way of fast food from one of the stalls in the castle courtyard I decided to go back to the camp site for the van then drive down to the beach and get a proper meal at the Pantri Bach cafe.

Throughout the afternoon the sky had been mostly grey but as time went on the clouds started to disperse and big patches of blue appeared; by the time I'd had my meal and left the cafe the sun had finally come out of hiding so not wanting to go back to the tent too early I decided to head towards Rhyl and take a few photos round by the harbour. Parking up near the Marine Lake I crossed the road and was pleased to see that the tide was in; twenty minutes with the camera got me a dozen decent shots then I returned to the van and made my way back to Manorafon.

Back on my pitch I drove the van as close to the front of the tent as I could get it - any closer and I would have caught the poles with my wing mirror and probably have brought the whole lot crashing down - then spent a couple of hours reading before taking Sophie and Poppie up the lane for their last walk of the day. It was a very early bedtime for all three of us then, but it had been a long day and we'd done a lot of walking so it was nice to finally snuggle into our beds in the van for the rest of the night.

Saturday August 13th 2016 - Part 1 - An ancient castle, a derelict ship, and meeting a blogging friend

A sunny morning at 7.30am saw me leaving home for a weekend at Manorafon Farm camp site in Abergele. Gwrych Castle, just up the lane from the camp site, was in the very slow process of being restored and the Trust involved were holding an open weekend for visitors to look round and see the work done so far; as I'd unofficially explored the ruin three years ago before any restoration work started (I'd sneaked in through a gap in the security fencing) I couldn't pass up the opportunity of seeing it properly, and it was a great excuse to have a camping weekend at Manorafon.

My usual route to Abergele would have taken me straight down the A55 but my pitch at Manorafon wouldn't be available until 1pm, and as I've been following a very interesting coastal walking blog I decided to use part of the morning to look for some of the recently mentioned places just off the A548 coast road. My first stop was at Flint Castle, situated on a grassy mound between the edge of the small town and the River Dee estuary; constructed in the late 13th century it was the first of a series of castles built during King Edward 1's campaign to conquer Wales, though most of it was demolished in the mid 17th century.

There was no entrance fee to the castle and even though it wasn't yet 9am the gates were already open; it was also dog friendly so I was able to wander round quite freely with Sophie and Poppie. Unfortunately the sun decided to play hide and seek just then and dark grey clouds loomed ominously over the estuary, but by waiting for breaks in the cloud I managed to get several good shots of various parts of the castle.

The next stop on my agenda was to be Greenfield Dock, a tidal creek with a handful of small fishing boats, but finding it proved to be impossible. It wasn't shown on the map book, and though I expected to see a sign somewhere along the main road saying 'Greenfield Dock' I drove right through Greenfield village without seeing anything. I was almost tempted to turn round and go back, and maybe ask someone if necessary, but I still had somewhere else to go so finding Greenfield Dock would have to wait until another day.

My third quest was to find the old Duke of Lancaster ship, lying abandoned and derelict on the estuary at Llanerch-y-Mor. Originally a passenger ship sailing to and from Ireland it was taken out of service in 1979 and beached at Llanerch-y-Mor to start a new life as a 'fun ship', but many legal wranglings over the years led to its eventual closure and it has stood abandoned and unloved ever since. As I approached Llanerch-y-Mor village I could see the top of the ship ahead and to my right and a bit further along I came to a large car park set back off the road; the ship had to be fairly close to there so I pulled in and found I was in luck - going through a gate in the corner of the car park, under the railway bridge and following the path took me straight to it.

Much of the outside of the ship was covered in rust, though an attempt had been made at sometime to brighten it up with specially commissioned spray painted 'artwork' though to be honest I thought the pictures were horrible and the whole thing just looked a mess. Unfortunately various metal fences, locked steel gates and copious amounts of barbed wire threaded over and through the nearby hedges stopped me from getting as close as I wanted to so I had to be content with taking my photos from the path. 

To see the other side of the ship I had to go right back along the path to the main road, cross a bridge then down along the path on the far side of the stream. In the sunshine, and with not as much graffiti on that side, the ship did look marginally better - with the rust cleaned off and a decent paint job it could have looked quite smart. Taking the last of my photos I left the ship to rust in peace and returned to the van - it was 10.15am by then and I'd arranged to meet my blogging friend Eileen no later than eleven o' clock. We were meeting for the first time and I didn't want to be late so the fourth place I'd intended going to would have to wait.

It was a few minutes before eleven when I pulled up outside Eileen's house; she came out to greet me then took me indoors to introduce me to her husband Martyn and adorable little dog Annie. I'd been pre-warned that Annie likes to mug people by sniffing out whatever food or treats they may have in their pockets or bags so I'd gone prepared with a dog chew in each pocket but rather disappointingly I didn't get mugged, though I still gave Annie the chews.

It had previously been suggested that it might be nice to take all three dogs for a walk in the park not far from Manorafon so after coffee and a chat we set off in convoy to Abergele. I'd driven past that particular park many times on previous stays at Manorafon but this was the first time I'd actually been in there; with lots of open space the dogs were able to run and explore off the lead and we walked a full circuit of the park before returning to the car park. It was 1pm by then and just the right time for me to book in at the camp site so I said goodbye to Eileen, Martyn and Annie and set off on the short drive to Manorafon, ready for the next part of my day.