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

Tuesday May 30th 2017 - A grey going home day

I woke with the dawn chorus again that morning and it was so lovely to listen to that I decided to record it. With my camera on the table I set it to 'video' and left it running for just over five minutes; there was barely any daylight so it couldn't actually film anything other than the dark front wall of the tent but it picked up the bird song beautifully. 

As I was awake so early I decided to make a start on packing a few things away in the van to save time later, then once it was proper daylight I took the dogs for a walk down the lane and back. It was yet another grey morning and looking at the clouds in the distance I could see there wasn't much hope of seeing any sunshine before I went home, although it was still very warm. After an early breakfast and a couple of hours chill out I started packing everything away properly and by 11.30 I only had the tent to take down. I'd just got it rolled up and in the van when the first drops of rain appeared, although it didn't amount to much and I was able to take Sophie and Poppie for another walk before I left the site.

Rather than go through Llangollen and up the A483 to the A55, which would be my usual route homewards, I decided for once to go up the A494 which would eventually cross the A55 and take me via Queensferry direct to the M56. It was a route I hadn't travelled before and at one point the road climbed steeply upwards and round a sharp bend; there was a great view over the valley and hills to my right and had it been a sunny day I could have got a really good photo but it was too grey to be bothered finding somewhere to stop. 

The different way of going home, although more interesting than my usual route, seemed somehow to take longer but in actual fact it took the same length of time and I was back home at 2.15pm. It was earlier than I would normally get back but in the grey weather I'd had no reason to stop off anywhere en route; of course Sod's Law decreed that as I'd got further north the day had become brighter and by the time I'd got back home the sun was shining. Sometimes I feel as though I just can't win with the weather gods but hopefully next time I go to that part of North Wales they might decide to be kind to me - come hell or high water I'm determined to get that special 'blue sky' shot at Chirk Castle in the not-too-distant future.

Monday May 29th 2017 - Part 2 - Llangollen and canal

Reaching Llangollen I headed straight for the main car park, thinking that as the weather was so awful the place may not be as busy as it usually is on a bank holiday Monday but how wrong I was; although the coach bays at the end of the car park were completely empty every other space was taken and there was no sign of anyone leaving. The small car park near the riverside was full too, so as I was in no mood for driving round and round until I found somewhere I went up towards Plas Newydd house and parked at the roadside near there. It meant taking a five-minute walk down the hill back into town but the rain had finally stopped by then so it was no big deal. 

The only reason I'd gone to Llangollen at all was to treat myself to a meal at the Deeside Cafe which had been recommended to me. It didn't seem to be a particularly big place and it was quite busy but I must have just gone at the right time as I was lucky enough to be shown to a table straight away. I ordered the home-made steak pie with mash and peas and I have to say that it must be just about the best steak pie I've ever had. With big chunks of tender steak and plenty of gravy in an individual pot topped by a light puff pastry crust it was such a generous plateful that I couldn't quite eat it all. 

Back outside the cafe I noticed a crowd of people standing along the nearby bridge and looking over the wall; they were watching several brave, insane, adventurous people white water rafting down the channel of fast-flowing water on one side of the river. With a couple of shots taken I had a quick look round the shops then having previously promised the dogs a decent walk I made my way back to the van.

Heading back towards Chirk I eventually turned off the main A5 onto the B5434 which would take me across the River Dee to the Trevor basin at the far end of the Pontcysyllte aquaduct, but not far down the road I turned off at a nice little canal-side spot where I could park right beside the water. A little way along the lane a footbridge and a lift bridge spanned the canal; a narrowboat was approaching from the far side so I watched while one of the people on board jumped off and raised the lift bridge to allow the boat through, then when it was lowered again I crossed to the other side of the canal and walked along in the direction of Chirk.

In spite of the grey weather it was a pleasant walk along the tree-shaded footpath and I stopped for a few minutes to watch a young guy landing a fish he'd just caught near the back of his boat. It looked big enough to make a meal for one but I was glad to see that he put it back once he'd unhooked it. 

Just behind where the boats were moored was a high stone wall with several arches at ground level, some of which were bricked up, and a sign on the wall informed me that this was 'The Old Limekilns, Froncysyllte'. The six large lime kilns were built into the escarpment alongside the canal in the early 1800s and were supplied by stone quarried from an isolated limestone outcrop above Froncysyllte village. The original boat dock below was used to unload the coal which worked the kilns and the lime produced was used for both agricultural and industrial purposes.

Eventually I turned and retraced my steps, continuing along that side of the canal towards the Pontcysyllte aquaduct. Just by the lift bridge was a wooden fence and gate across the path, and a notice on the fence amused me enough to take a photo of it. I don't know who thought that one up but it was a nice reminder to people to watch out for the many ducks which in habited that corner of the canal.

A bit further on was a modern sculpture by artist Anthony Lysycia, commemorating the local limestone industry of the past; although the inscriptions were rather weather-worn it was just possible to make out the words 'Chirk Castle Limestone Company' at the top and 'Canada Bill' under the depicted figure. Information has proved difficult to find but one source suggests that Canada Bill was a local man who worked for the limestone company and had a Canadian wife.

I walked as far as the aquaduct then turned and headed back the other way. This time I crossed the canal via the footbridge as the lift bridge had been raised, so while I was up there I got a shot of a couple of boats coming through. Those were to be the last ones of the day as time was getting on, and with the dark grey cloud in the distance there was every possibility that it might rain again soon.

As I put the dogs in the van the car parked in front of me pulled away, which meant that I didn't have to do a lot of manoeuvring to get out of my own space. The lane is too narrow to turn round - unless you want to risk ending up in the water - so you have to reverse to the end, and as I watched the other guy backing up I noticed four ducks wandering right behind his car and in danger of being squashed. He obviously hadn't seen them so I yelled "STOP!! THERE ARE DUCKS RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!" Fortunately he heard me and stopped, and I went along to shoo them out of harm's way - squashed duck was the last thing I wanted to see.

After that little event the drive back along the A5 to the camp site was straightforward and the three of us were soon settled in the tent for the evening. I may not have got the 'blue sky' photos I really wanted but most of the ones at Chirk Castle came out okay, and with a good meal and a decent dog walk it had been quite a good afternoon out in spite of the grey weather.