Reading a post on Anabel’s blog just recently I found it so interesting that I decided I could do a similar post of my own. Some of you reading this will know from reading my camping blog that one of the places I return to regularly is Anglesey – and here’s why.
Back when I was a child I never got the chance to go camping. Many of my friends went with their families, or with their other friends and families, or with the Brownies and Guides or even the school; I would have loved the adventure but whenever I asked my parents if I could go the answer was always the same – “No!” No explanation, just an outright “No!” So the nearest I ever got to camping on a warm sunny day was an old sheet thrown over the back yard washing line, pulled out at an angle and held down with a few bricks, and a piece of old carpet or a cushion to sit on. Sometimes my mum would come out with a plateful of sandwiches and a cold drink for me – I would read whatever book I had at the time and pretend that I was camping.
Family holidays with my parents back then were always taken at a hotel in a seaside resort somewhere in the UK. I well remember the “Where shall we go this year?” discussions, and following a plethora of holiday brochures arriving by post mum and dad would spend hours going through them and making a list of possible places to go to. Finally a decision would be made, a hotel booked and my mum would tell me “”We’re going to **** this year”. I remember as a child going to Eastbourne, Llandudno, London, Great Yarmouth and the Isle of Man among other places, then in my early teens it was the Isle of Wight, Torquay, Folkestone and Scarborough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all those holidays, especially when, at the age of 12, I was given my own proper colour camera with all the lenses and filters, meaning I could take my own photos of all the places we went to – but for some reason we never went to Anglesey, and all through those years I still never went camping.
Fast forward into adulthood, through two long-term relationships and the birth of my now-adult son, and back in 1994 I met my last partner, Peter. Previous to us getting together he’d camped at a particular site on Anglesey several times while on fishing trips with his brother and he’d told me about it more than once. Then in 1997 it happened that my birthday in early June fell on a Saturday – with the whole weekend available and the weather being warm and sunny I wanted to do something different and suggested that he take me to the place on Anglesey that he’d so often told me about. We had no real camping gear, not even a tent, so we packed his hatchback car so we could sleep in it, added a few basics plus the two dogs, Skippy and Sandy, and off we went. I’ll never forget Peter’s words to me as we were driving along the A55 coast road “I hope to God you like it ‘cos I’m telling you now there’s sod all there!” – and there wasn’t. The camp site was very basic, just a few fields with a couple of rough toilet blocks and the odd fresh water pipe here and there – well you can’t expect much for £1 per night can you?
And so began one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The site was on a slope and as we drove along the top to pick a nice spot the view of the bay opened out in front of me and it was just “Wow!” Our cooking facilities were very basic and sleeping arrangements in a car with two dogs were cramped, but for two nights we managed and I loved it. We only had the opportunity to go to a couple of places on the island but it was enough for me to know that I wanted to see more – we returned to Anglesey a couple of weeks later after buying a two-man tent and some proper accessories, and my love of camping and my love of the island began. Even though we had a 2-week holiday in Italy every year we always went back to Anglesey at some point during the summer, and since that first time there’s only been two years when I haven’t been there – once when our planned long weekend was cancelled due to bad weather and again in 2009 when Peter and I went our separate ways and I couldn’t drive. Other than that I’ve been to Anglesey at least once each year and yes, the camp site is far better now than it was the first time I went!
I have to admit that there was a time a couple of years ago when I felt that I’d been to Anglesey so many times that there was nothing left for me to see, and as beautiful as the island is I should consider having a change. That was until I read Ruth’s coastal walking blog, and found out that she had been on Anglesey at the same time as me that year, although she was two days ahead of me – and through her blog I realised that there are still many places on the island that I haven’t yet seen or been to. And so my love affair with Anglesey will continue for some time yet – whether it’s the sentimentality of it being the first place I camped with someone I loved, or the beauty of the island’s countryside, fabulous beaches and wonderful places, something keeps calling me back. And as long as that something keeps calling then I’m quite happy to go.