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 July 1st 2017 - A weekend at Elvaston Castle

The ridiculously early time of 5.15am saw me setting off for a weekend's camping at the Elvaston Castle steam rally in Derbyshire, and after a nice easy drive I arrived at the camping fields just after 7am. The stewards were already up and about so I booked in and collected my weekend passes then drove over to my favourite quiet spot at the far end of the far field, found a nice level section of ground and set about putting up the tent.

Everything went well until I was about to put the last pole in, then it happened. I'd just got the tent standing up nicely on three poles when a breeze came out of nowhere and pushed it over, so to stop it from collapsing completely I grabbed the bottom corner and pulled it back up. Now I've done that before and never had any problems but this time was different; as I pulled there was a loud tearing sound and a big ninety degree rip appeared in the side wall - it was about 12 inches across and a good 18 inches down. Disaster!

Now although I've only had the tent for just over four years it's obviously been long enough for the material to degrade in the weather over that time and it had become brittle in places, hence the rip. There was no point crying about it though; although I was actually sleeping in the van I still needed the tent for somewhere to wash and dress in comfort and make a brew, so I put the fourth pole in, pegged it down all round then got out my roll of insulating tape to try and mend the tear. With the side wall being on a slope and the tape only being narrow it wasn't easy, especially as I really needed to be both inside and outside at the same time, but I managed it after a fashion and keeping my fingers crossed that it would hold for the weekend I set off to get some breakfast over on the show ground.

There was a new catering wagon not far from the entrance and it had proper solid wooden tables/bench seats outside so at least there was somewhere decent to anchor the dogs to while I got served. Breakfast came in the form of a cheeseburger and coffee; the coffee was actually quite good and the cheeseburger so large and filling that I couldn't eat it all so Sophie and Poppie got the last bit between them. A walk round the stalls followed, although I didn't buy anything, then I made my way back to van to chill out for a while.

Passing the stewards' tent I got chatting to one of them and when I mentioned the tear in my tent he said he would come and have a look at it for me. He brought with him a roll of Gorilla tape and stuck some on both sides over the tape I'd put on, and though it wasn't the most elegant repair it would probably last reasonably well and would hopefully keep the tent weather-proof.

After a couple of hours relaxing with my book I went back over to the show ground to watch the camel racing. There were four camels all dressed up with brightly coloured blankets, tassels and pompoms, and with their riders in 'Arabian' costumes; the races went from one side of the main arena to the other and back again several times but there was a lot of messing about by the camels and their riders between races so I found the whole thing a bit boring. It was fun for kids though as they all had to shout for number three as it was always last.

A performance by the dancing diggers followed, though I didn't get any photos of them this time as I've taken loads in previous years. After another look round the stalls I went back to get the van and drove to the supermarket in the nearby village to get some batteries for my lamp, then the rest of the afternoon and evening were spent in the company of various camping friends, ending with a very pleasant couple of hours chat with John from Norwich who I often meet up with while camping down in Norfolk. 

The daylight was fading by the time I made my way back to the tent, and though I could have gone back to the show ground for the evening entertainment I decided against it. It had been a long day, and even though it was much earlier than I would usually go to bed it was time to settle down for the night - and I didn't read much of my book before I was well and truly in the land of nod.


  1. A great time had by all I'm sure Tigermouse. great pictures to compliament the read.


    1. Thanks Yvonne, it was a good weekend all round :)

  2. Time to treat yourself to a new tent then. I hope it won't break the bank having no idea how much a tent costs. It was good of the steward to help you repair the tear enough to serve you well for the weekend.

    I think I would have enjoyed the camel racing they look very colourful in their outfits, that's camels and riders. You have to cheer on the underdog or should that be undercamel in this case :)

  3. I'm hoping the tent repair will last a while Eileen. I've spent all week looking online and in a couple of camping shops for another tent but can't find what I want. My budget is £200 and ideally I'd like one the same as the current one, which cost less than that, but they aren't made now even though it's only four years since I got that one. The fashion now seems to be the 'airbeam' type of tent where inflatable beams replace the poles but these are way beyond my budget and I don't like the layout of them anyway.

    I'm due to go to Anglesey in the next couple of days (should have gone today but that's another story) and I know there's a camping shop on the main road beyond Caernarfon so I'll have a look there. Hopefully the repair to the current tent will last long enough for me to find an in-budget replacement I really like and which suits my needs.

  4. Sorry about your tear, not funny at all, although as I was reading about your attempted repair the words "Gorilla tape' were going through my head. It is wonderful stuff and a large roll lives permanently in my 'just in case' box when we caravan.

    At Kielder this Spring my roll of tape and a couple of spare 'cheap ^ nasty' tent pegs which had come with something saved the week for a friend who used them to mend a broken awning pole. BTW, Gorilla Tape is much cheaper via Amazon than on mostg High Streets ...

    Good luck with a replacement, awnings are not cheap and I'm afraid we are airbeam fans.

  5. PS. - have you tried https://www.norwichcamping.co.uk
    We bought an awning online from them, at the time it was less than half price, delivery was quick and it was really well packaged.

  6. Thanks for the tip about the the Gorilla tape Jayne, I don't know how much it is to buy from shops but I'll have a look on Amazon when I get back from Anglesey.

    I've just had a look at Norwich camping and they only have one tent which comes close to what I'm looking for, but it doesn't have a fully sewn-in groundsheet which is an absolute must. Shame really as it's well below budget.

  7. Oh no. A ripped tent is the last thing you need. Hope the repair holds.

  8. Unfortunately I didn't get chance to see if the repair would hold. I've just had a holiday on Anglesey and when I was pegging out the tent on my first day it sustained another tear - a much bigger one this time - right across the roof. Luckily I had a back-up plan so it didn't spoil the holiday but I definitely need to get a new tent now :(


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