Just as in June circumstances beyond my control decided to wreck my recently planned 10-day holiday away so instead of going to Norfolk as I normally do at this time of year, a change of destination and departure day saw me heading off on Thursday morning last week for another few days on Anglesey. I stopped off en route to visit my blogging friend Eileen and just as I was leaving there it started to rain – and that set the tone for the next couple of days. It was still raining when I finally reached the camp site, it was windy too, and with no chance of putting the tent up I spent the rest of that day and all the following day living in the van. It did turn out really nice later on Friday afternoon though so I took advantage of it and took the dogs down on the beach, and with not many people around it was vastly different to when I’d been there in June.
I woke early on Saturday morning and found that the wind had gone, there wasn’t even the whisper of a breeze, so I took advantage of it and got the tent up while the going was good – I was really only using it to store most of my stuff as I’d already decided to continue sleeping in the van. The day was really grey and cloudy but after spending most of the previous two days cooped up in the van I was still determined to go out somewhere, and after having the van cleaned as part of a charity car wash at the local fire station I went over to Llanberis on the mainland to explore round an old castle which I’d found out about in June. The only part of it still standing was the tower and it was possible to climb the steps inside it but being extremely steep and narrow they are definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia or vertigo.
Also while in Llanberis I looked round a lovely old church and the Snowdon Mountain Railway station – and with the high prices charged for a ride to the top of the mountain I certainly won’t bother going up there. On the way back from Llanberis I called to see my cousin Dave in Llanrug then with the weather improving I stopped off at Port Dinorwic, where I was lucky enough to see a heron ‘posing’ on the end of a seaweed-covered breakwater.
Sunday started off cloudy but came nicer as the morning went on and by lunch time it was lovely so I took myself off to explore a part of Parys mountain I hadn’t previously seen. From there I went to Llanbadrig church, which I’d missed while on my quest to find Porth Wen brick works in June and where I learned some interesting history, and my final stop – via a cheeseburger from Pete’s Burger Bar at Penrhos – was Soldier’s Point and the marina at Holyhead.
Monday was just like the previous day, starting off cloudy but coming nicer as the morning went on, and this time I went to explore a corner of the island I’ve never really been to – a stretch of the coast towards the south side of the island alongside part of the Menai Strait. From there I went to the outskirts of Newborough to find the Giant’s Stepping Stones then into Newborough itself and through the forest to Llanddwyn Island – by then the weather was getting better and better and the views across to Snowdonia and the Llyn peninsula were beautifully clear. There was a BBC film crew making a documentary about life on the island at the beginning of the last century and though I couldn’t go near the old cottages I was able to wander round the rest of the island and I got some beautiful photos.
Tuesday was coming home day and the morning was partly sunny/partly cloudy and also very windy – taking the tent down wasn’t too much of a hassle but I had to fight with the groundsheet before I finally bundled it up and got it into the van. I left the site at 10.45 am, much earlier than I would normally leave but with it being so windy there was no point staying any longer, however over on the mainland the weather got better and it turned into a gloriously sunny day so I stopped off for an hour or so in Conwy. As a long-time follower of the Quest tv programme Salvage Hunters, just for curiosity I went to look in Drew Pritchard’s shop, and though there were a couple of things I liked most of the items were grossly overpriced and horrible – it beats me why anyone would want some of the things that were on display.
On the way from Conwy I called to see Eileen again but unfortunately missed her this time as she was out somewhere, so I continued homeward and arrived back at 3.30pm – and since then I’ve really known that the holiday was over. Less than a couple of hours after getting home I had a call from the PA at my evening job, she had mistakenly thought I was back at work that day so wondered why I hadn’t turned up. At my morning job yesterday no-one had done anything in my absence so I had lots to catch up on, then later on I went out to the animal hospital to collect Aphra’s ashes for my friend Janet, though she’s asked me to keep them until she feels more able to deal with things.
We also have workmen in the empty house next door, yesterday they were rewiring the whole place and the drilling and banging were horrendous – Michael is currently working 12-hour night shifts but couldn’t get any proper rest because of the noise, and it was so loud at one point that we couldn’t hear each other speaking even though we were only three feet away from each other. After the previous few days peace and quiet on a relatively empty camp site that sort of noise is the last thing I want to hear – fortunately they seem to have been fairly quiet today but any more noise like yesterday will have me wishing I could go straight back to Anglesey!
*Larger versions of these photos and more will eventually be part of a full update on my camping blog, including some interesting history and facts about a few places I’ve seen while away – now all I have to do is get round to writing everything up!
On Tuesday evening this week I arrived back home after a short almost-six-days holiday on Anglesey. I’d actually booked seven days off work and with two weekends I should have had eleven days starting on the first Saturday of the month, but circumstances beyond my control kept me at home for the first few days. I finally set off for Anglesey late last Thursday morning, with the recent good weather staying with me all the way from home, and once at the site, which was very quiet, I was able to set up camp in near enough the same place as last year. Having had no opportunity to open out and dry my new tent, which had been packed away very damp at Easter, I was dreading what I might find so I’d packed my spare green one ‘just in case’ and set up the van to sleep in but I needn’t have worried – although quite a bit of moisture had got trapped between the plastic windows and the blinds the rest of the tent was fine and surprisingly there wasn’t a mark on it anywhere. After a quick wipe over the moisture on the windows soon disappeared in the hot sunshine and the tent served me well over the next few days.
Day 2 arrived sunny and warm again so I decided to have my ‘big day out’ off the island and set off late morning for Llanberis, just over 18 miles away on the mainland. Ages ago a cafe in Llanberis had been recommended to me as a good place to get a meal so I decided to try it and I wasn’t disappointed – I opted for a cheese and onion toastie and it came absolutely oozing with filling and with a salad garnish, and Sophie and Poppie even got a treat of a sausage each. Unfortunately not long afterwards the sky clouded over and the sun played a good game of hide-and-seek but it didn’t spoil the afternoon too much and I still walked right along the lake side to the slate museum and back. When I got back to Anglesey I found the sun and blue sky were just as bright as when I left so with hindsight maybe I should have stayed on the island.
Day 3 was another hot and sunny one and after starting off at the car boot sale just outside the village I made a return visit to Portobello beach in Dulas Bay, which I first went to last year. This time though I went when the tide was going out and almost at its lowest so there was no danger of getting cut off on the riverside like I did before. From the beach I drove into Llangefni and parked up at Asda then took the dogs for a walk through The Dingle nature reserve and up to Cefni reservoir and back, and it was when I was approaching Asda from the entrance to The Dingle that I noticed an old windmill with a strange top, on a rocky outcrop above and just beyond the store. Of all the times I’ve been to Llangefni I’ve never noticed that before so I just had to find it and photograph it.
Day 4 started off at the big car boot sale on the Anglesey show ground then from there I went over to Rhosneigr in search of Sausage Castle. Not actually a castle but a large house with castellated walls – real name Surf Point Villa – it was built next to the beach in the early 1900s by Charles Palethorpe, a member of the famous pork butchery family, and soon became known as Sausage Castle. A short walk along the beach soon found it and from there I continued along the sand to where the Afon Crigyll flowed out across the beach.
From Rhosneigr I drove up to Penrhos Coastal Park and enjoyed a coffee and cheeseburger from Pete’s Burger Bar overlooking Beddmanarch Bay, then went to Breakwater Country Park on the far side of Holyhead. After a walk round the lake I tackled the steep path up Holyhead Mountain but only went up far enough to get a couple of photos overlooking the park and the rest of Holyhead; it was getting on for 6pm by then so time to make my way back to the camp site.
Day 5 was hot and sunny once again and this time I was on a quest to find and photograph the old abandoned brickworks at Porth Wen, a place I’d been told was very difficult to find and get to, so difficult in fact that many of the locals didn’t even know how to get there. I was put on the right track by a lovely old gentleman I got talking to while wandering round Cemaes harbour but it still proved to be quite a long and challenging walk along part of the Anglesey Coastal Path, with a couple of rather hairy places where the path was within inches of a very steep and unprotected drop down the cliff into the sea. I found the place eventually though and also had the added bonus on the way there of unexpectedly finding the old Llanlleiana Porcelain Works.
Day 6 was going home day but it was still hot and sunny so I decided to prolong the day as much as I could. I took my time packing everything away and left the site just before 1pm, but as is my usual custom I took the dogs for a final walk along the beach; it was so nice down there that I decided to stay a while longer and as it was lunch time I made myself a couple of sandwiches from some chicken I had in the cool box and got a takeaway coffee from the nearby kiosk, then sat in the van and had a leisurely lunch with a great view of the beach.
It was getting on for 3pm before I finally managed to tear myself away and set off for home, though I did make three more stops on my way along the coast. The first was at Llanfairfechan, a lovely little place I hadn’t been to for several years, and the second was at Penmaenmawr, smaller than Llanfairfechan and maybe not quite as pretty but still very pleasant. My third and final stop further up the coast was an impromptu visit to my blogging friend Eileen, and we spent a very nice couple of hours having a good natter over a mug of coffee. It was nearly 7.30pm when I finally set off on the last leg of my journey and after a very quick stop at Chester services, where I briefly saw a squirrel near the van, I arrived home at 9.15pm.
Admittedly the holiday hadn’t been near enough as long as I’d originally intended but I’d made the most of the few days I did have and packed as much into each day as I could so I hadn’t missed out on too much. At least I’d found out that the tent was okay after its Easter collapse and subsequent soaking, I’d found and photographed a couple of out-of-the-way places, the weather had been great all the way through and I’d gained a near-enough Mediterranean tan just by walking about and exploring so I can’t complain too much. Now all I have to do is update my camping blog with more details and photos from the last few days – that should keep me occupied for a while!
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.
I’m linking this post to Cathy’s blog, where her most recent call to a place is to the Four Corners area of the USA, and which, through Anabel’s blog, has inspired me to write this – follow the link for some great photos and to find out more.
On Tuesday I arrived back home from my 4-day break in North Wales and to say I wasn’t a happy bunny is an understatement. This has been the third Easter in a row that my break has been blighted by rotten weather, curtailing any planned trips out and ruining the possibility of taking a certain few special photos I wanted to get – add to that the mother of all disasters which happened on Monday and my current frame of mind is that I wouldn’t care if there was never another Easter ever again!
Admittedly the weekend started well enough last Friday morning when I left home in the sunshine; it did cloud over a bit while I was en route but by the time I’d reached the camp site the sun was out again and things were looking very promising. My new tent proved to be exceptionally easy to put up and I found there was more space in the living area than in my previous tent, though I’d decided before I left home that I would actually sleep in the van – which, as it later turned out, was something I was eternally thankful for. The rain started that evening – I’d taken the dogs for their final walk just before it went dark and the first drops appeared as I got back to the van. From then on it was heavy and prolonged showers on and off all night, though at least it would test the new tent for its waterproof-ness.
It was still raining on Saturday morning and by early afternoon I’d had enough of being marooned in the van so I decided to drive into Llangollen for a look round the shops – those shops which I’ve looked round heaven knows how many times before and which never seem to change, but at least it was something to do. Fortunately the rain eased off and it did stay fine for a while so even though it was a very grey day I did manage to snatch a few photos, and I even discovered a nice little church with some lovely stained glass windows.
I’d not been back at the camp site for long when the rain started again, lasting through the evening and well into the night, but when I woke on Sunday morning it was to a cloudless blue sky and sunshine – perfect for going back to Chirk Castle later on and getting the blue sky garden photo I wanted. As I was preparing to leave the site I noticed some little bluetits flitting about and landing in a nearby tree so I grabbed the camera to try and get a couple of shots of them – they were very quick though and I missed most of them but one stayed still just long enough for me to catch it, although it’s not exactly a brilliant shot.
Now while it may have been lovely and sunny when I left the site at 10am it wasn’t like that a few miles further east; driving along the A5 it started to cloud over and by the time I got to Chirk the sun was only coming through in fits and starts. Not what I really wanted but I was there so I decided to make the best of it; I didn’t bother going in the castle itself as I was only in there last year and nothing will have changed since then so I concentrated on the gardens but I must admit to being very disappointed. There was very little colour anywhere this time, the flower border nearest the castle contained nothing but a few tulips, most of the lawned areas had been roped off because the grass was so wet, and the mass of white daffodils which had featured in my lovely photo last year were no more than clumps of green leaves. Fortunately I did see a bit of blue sky and sunshine through the breaks in the cloud so I managed to get a few shots but still didn’t get the one I really wanted.
From Chirk I headed back to Llangollen; driving along the A5 I’d noticed snow from a previous occasion lying on top of the highest hills so thought a visit to Horseshoe Pass might get some good snowy shots but once I got up there I found there was only one hillside with a light dusting of snow on it. By then the clouds had rolled in good style and the day had turned very grey but the views were still quite clear so I did at least manage to get a few reasonable shots. My original intention had been to stop off at Valle Crucis Abbey on my way back into Llangollen but the day had turned so grey I didn’t bother and just drove back to Corwen instead.
Never having explored Corwen properly – it’s only a small place so there’s not really that much of it to explore – I decided to stop for a while and in my wanderings I discovered a waterfall I didn’t know existed and also got a great shot of the lovely little Wesleyan chapel on the main road. Next on the itinerary was Rhug chapel just off the A494 but I found when I got there that it’s only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so I did a quick about turn and headed back to the camp site for the rest of the day.
It was sometime during the night that I half woke up and heard the sound of light rain on the van roof – well that was nothing new, it had been raining for most of the weekend, but I didn’t realise then the disaster which was about to happen. I’d pitched my tent on the nearside of the van and on the next pitch, at the other side of the tent, was a 4-berth touring caravan; when I woke on Monday morning and looked across the van I could see the side of that caravan through a gap in the van curtains. That was strange, I hadn’t been able to see the caravan before because my tent was between it and me – except it wasn’t. What I’d thought was light rain during the night must have been the beginning of a snow shower which had landed on the tent and frozen, with the weight making the tent collapse. Two of the three poles had snapped and the end where I would have been sleeping, if I’d been in there, was completely flattened – thank goodness the dogs and I had been in the van otherwise the tent would have come down on top of the three of us.
The worst of it was, most of my belongings were in there under that lot, and it was only the height of the tall larder unit which was stopping the other end from falling down completely. I had to get everything out somehow so I set to clearing all the snow and ice and pulling the poles out, and once they were out of the way I managed to unzip the back door and crawl inside, then item by item I dragged everything out and packed it in the van. And while I was doing all this it was raining steadily so by the time I’d finished there was water inside the tent as well as on it and I was literally soaked through to the skin. There was nothing I could do with the tent just then so I left it where it was while I got changed, had a brew and got warmed up, then a while later a guy from a caravan further down the site came to help me with it and between us we managed to lift it up, get the water out of it and carry it over to the back fence where it was draped along to hopefully dry out if it stopped raining.
In spite of the bad start and the constant rain I was determined not to waste the rest of the day sitting in the van on my pitch so I decided to drive into Bala, and that’s when the second disaster struck – the van wouldn’t start. I’d unthinkingly left the ignition on the evening before and the battery was flatter than flat, so once again it was Paul from the caravan further down who came to my rescue, jump-starting the van with his own trusty Toyota Rav 4. Eventually I got to Bala though it was still raining, so leaving the dogs in the van I went to get some provisions from the Spar shop and had a quick walk along the top end of the lake before heading back to the camp site.
The ‘B’ road back to the site took me through some lovely countryside with great views worth several photos, however the only place I stopped was in a lay-by close to where the road went over a narrow bridge. The normally narrow stream running under the bridge had swollen with all the rain and there was quite a torrent of water running down the gulley and out at the other side of the road – well worth a photo or two before I continued back to the site.
It was later that evening that Paul came and asked me if I fancied a brew and a chat back at his caravan so I went down and spent several hours in good company, just the thing I needed to round off what had been a very difficult and trying day in more ways than one. In fact I enjoyed myself so much that it was 3am before I went back to my own van.
If I’d been hoping that the tent would dry out before I had to pack it away my hopes were dashed on Tuesday morning – after a fine night for once it was raining again so I had to accept that this thing was being packed away wet. I’d got some wheelie bin-sized liners the previous day so Paul came up to help me and between us we got the tent off the fence, folded up and into a bag, with the wet groundsheet going into another bag – and Sod’s Law decreed that once everything was packed away the rain stopped, the sky cleared and the sun came blazing through, and it stayed like that for the whole of my drive back home. At the moment I feel too tired, fed up and disillusioned to even contemplate any future Easter camping holidays but who knows? In twelve months time I could have quite a different outlook – it remains to be seen.
**Full details of the weekend with more photos can be found on my other blog, starting here.
After months of searching both on the internet and in various camping stores I’ve finally ordered a new tent in readiness for my forthcoming Easter break. Finding a tent exactly the same as my old one has proved impossible so I’ve gone for the next best thing; it’s a Kampa Burnham 4 in blue (my preferred colour) and although brand new it’s theoretically three years old as that model came out in 2015 – it’s since been discontinued but it’s the only one I could find which matched my criteria and is similar to my previous tent.
The most important ‘must haves’ for me were a good head height, a bedroom at each side and a fully integrated groundsheet, and although my searches have found several of the right style they’ve all been lacking in one of the most important points, usually the integrated groundsheet. After my very wet experience last September with the tent given to me by a friend, and which doesn’t have an integrated groundsheet, I would never now consider camping in a tent without one, but although I’ve been able to find tents 6-berth or larger with integrated groundsheets it seems that, with the exception of the Kampa Burnham, smaller tents of that style don’t have them.
So the Kampa Burnham has been ordered and all being well should arrive sometime next week. I got a good deal on it too – the price on the store’s website had already been reduced by £50 but I found a voucher code giving £15 off orders over £150 so that brought the price down below my budget. And with free delivery thrown in I really feel like I’m on a winner here.
With panorama windows (with blinds), interior storage pockets and a wet weather canopy it has a couple of ‘extras’ which my previous tent didn’t have so I’m really looking forward to trying it out – and I just hope I get to love it as much as I loved my old one.
As we come to the end of 2017 I thought I would look back on some of the events in my life over the last year. The first few days of January were very cold and frosty but with clear blue sky and sunshine it was great dog walking weather. My New Year walk was taken along a section of the Bolton to Bury canal which I hadn’t been along for about fifteen years, and it was during this walk that I had the lovely surprise of seeing a beautiful Mandarin duck swimming around in a clear section of water.
It was towards the end of the month that Michael finally called time on a very bad 10-year marriage and came back home; initially I expected him to stay only for a few days like he’d done on many previous occasions but this time he stuck to his guns and he’s been here ever since – and I have to say that although I like living alone it’s been good to have his company.
Early February saw me taking the dogs for a walk along a section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, a walk which turned out to be much longer in distance and time than I remembered it to be. Needless to say, the dogs and I were glad of a rest when we finally got back home! In the middle of the month my bedroom tv finally died a death after eight years of faithful service and it was replaced by a pink model of the same make but a bit larger, then towards the end of the month Storm Doris arrived and caused a fair bit of havoc, though locally the day afterwards was beautifully calm and sunny and I got some nice photos while out on a dog walk.
Locally March turned out to be quite a rainy month so there wasn’t much opportunity for any decent dog walking, but a couple of dry sunny days in the middle of the month gave me the chance to walk up to the top of Winter Hill which, although only three miles from home, is somewhere I hadn’t been for many years. There’s a lot of local history attached to the place and it was good to find and photograph various points of interest. Mother’s Day at the end of the month brought me an unofficial ‘present’ of two packets of hot dog rolls, two packets of teacakes and a packet of sandwich rolls courtesy of Michael’s daft sense of humour, although he did give me some proper presents as well, and as it turned out to be a nice day we drove out to the coast for a meal and walk along the beach.
The first Sunday in April saw me having a major clear out in Michael’s room to make way for all his clothes and other possessions which had been dumped in my garden one evening, and during the proceedings I managed to get my large gym-spec treadmill wedged in the bedroom doorway with one of its legs part way up the wall, though I freed it eventually and found a new home for it on the landing. The following weekend turned out to be glorious so I did a two-part walk, going up Winter Hill for the second time in three weeks then driving round to Rivington and walking up to the top of Rivington Pike on the far side of the moor – the path wasn’t the easiest and the climb was steep but it was worth it for the views when I finally got there.
The Easter holiday was spent camping at the lovely quiet and peaceful little site of Felin Uchaf near Corwen in North Wales, and apart from my first full day which was reasonably sunny the weather was mainly cloudy and grey though it didn’t stop me from getting out and about. On a visit to Bala lake I encountered the most difficult stile I’ve ever had to climb over, at Chirk Castle I came across the prettiest garden view I’ve ever seen, and on the way to a llama trek I got shouted at by the most verbally aggressive and awful woman I’ve ever met – not an experience I would want to reapeat.
In May my scheduled camping trip on the first bank holiday was reluctantly cancelled as I felt it was too soon after Easter; that was the weekend we heard scratching noises behind the wardrobe in Michael’s room and thought we had an unwanted rodent living there but it turned out to be the neighbours scraping wallpaper off the wall in the adjacent room next door. Weather-wise it was a bit mixed but the sunny days were lovely and I went on several good local walks with the dogs; it was on one of these walks that Sophie went for an unexpected swim when she fell into a stream. Sticking with the ‘animals’ theme it was while I was at work one morning that I found the tiniest little baby frog behind the kitchen bin; it was scooped up to safety and released in the nearby woodland, hopefully to find some friends and live a nice life.
The bank holiday at the end of the month saw me camping again at Felin Uchaf but after several previous days of glorious hot sunshine and blue skies the weather let me down and became very grey and wet, though on a second visit to Chirk Castle I did manage to get some reasonable shots of the many colourful rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom.
June was the month in which I undertook to ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ and raise money for Cancer Research by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps every day for the whole month in memory of Michael’s dad who passed away six months previously. With plenty of sunny days and lots of dog walking I exceeded the target every day and at the end of the month I’d done 336,151 steps and walked a total of 66.5 miles. A hot sunny day in the middle of the month saw me going for a longer-than-expected walk round a local reservoir and a couple of days later Sophie went to the vet’s for an operation to remove a small non-cancerous lump from her front right leg. Less than a week later Michael had an accident and broke his left ankle quite badly, ending up with a late night visit to the local hospital.
The first weekend in July was spent camping in glorious weather at Elvaston Castle Steam Rally; it was also the weekend when I gained the first tear in my much-loved tent. Just over a week later, on the first day of my Anglesey holiday, the tent finally died a death when it gained a much larger and probably irreparable tear across the roof, though I’d already got a back-up plan in place so it didn’t really spoil the holiday. Weather-wise the days were mixed but there was more sun and blue sky than anything else so I got some good photos on my travels both on and off the island. This was also the holiday when I got cut off by the tide while looking for and photographing an out-of-the-way beach, though fortunately the situation wasn’t too serious and I was able to wade the short distance back to dry land.
August was very much hit-and-miss weather-wise with not many sunny days so I didn’t do any really good long dog walks. With Michael being unable to work because of his broken ankle he was spending a lot of time in Ireland and one day in the middle of the month saw me almost losing my patience and the will to live because of a glitch in Ryanair’s online check-in procedure and the apparent incapability of one of their customer services staff to sort out the problem. The weather improved for the August bank holiday and Michael and I spent a great weekend camping at Manorafon; on the way there we met up with my blogging friend Eileen and her little dog Annie, then over the course of the weekend we visited Gwrych Castle not far from the camp site, Talacre beach and Barkby beach, and Anglesey.
September started with the mother of all disasters when a shelf fell out of a kitchen cupboard while I was cleaning at the boss’s house and several items of crockery got broken; it was a complete accident though and luckily the boss was very understanding about it. My camping holiday in Norfolk was full of mishaps and disasters right from the start and it turned out to be the wettest holiday I’ve ever had there – I only had three really nice days out of the ten and one of those was the day I came home. It was so bad that at one point I was really considering giving up and coming back early, though I did manage to get some nice photos on the days when the sun came out.
A grey start to October saw me attending the autumn Open Day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, then a couple of weeks later Michael and I spent a gloriously sunny afternoon at Southport, a place I hadn’t been to for several years, and where a meal in the lovely old fashioned Westminster Tea rooms made me feel like I’d stepped back into the 1920s. That month also saw me joining Postcrossing and to date I’ve sent 24 postcards and received 24; it’s a great hobby and I’ve had some lovely cards from different people in different parts of the world.
A sunny Sunday in early November was a great opportunity for a dog walk along part of the local canal and the last day of the month saw me flying over to Ireland for a memorial mass for Michael’s dad and uncle Jimmy on December 2nd. November was also the month when Michael brought me the wrong bread from Asda, not once but twice!
My five days in Ireland at the beginning of this month were very enjoyable and with some good weather I was able to explore a couple of different places and get some good photos. A couple of weeks ago, after looking to make a complaint at the local hospital, Michael finally got an appointment to see a specialist about his still very damaged ankle. At the moment he’s still a touch off colour with the bug he’s had for the last week but he’s getting better slowly and tonight we are driving up to the moorland road not far from here, where we can see all over the town and for miles beyond so we can watch all the fireworks going off in various places.
So there you have it, a round-up of my year, although to be honest this post has turned out to be a lot longer than it was intended to be – I hope I haven’t bored anyone! All that remains now is for me to thank everyone for visiting this blog over the last twelve months and wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year – I hope 2018 is a good year for everyone.
I finally arrived home yesterday evening from my ten days in California, Norfolk, and I have to say that of the 35 years I’ve been holidaying in that area – 20 of them camping at the same site – this is the first time I’ve ever truly felt like giving up and coming home early. In fact if I could have got a refund on my pitch fee I would have been back within three days, however I stayed, and now I am back I’m wondering if it was really worth all the hassle as it’s been a holiday fraught with disasters and problems from start to finish.
Day 1, and just over an hour into the journey from home I stopped at a roadside truck stop and got a takeaway coffee, but I only managed to drink a mouthful of it before I accidentally knocked the rest of it all over the floor of the van between the two front seats – and that one minor mishap seemed to set the tone for the rest of the holiday. Arriving at the camp site I found that the pitch fees had increased substantially since last year and are now beyond my personal budget; finding somewhere cheaper at such short notice would have been almost impossible without internet access so I paid up – well I suppose someone has to pay for the demolition of the toilet block and the brand new statics and tarmac road which have appeared since last year. Finally on my pitch on the camping field I found that it was too windy to put the tent up so I spent the rest of the day and the evening in the van.
Day 2, and with more wind and on/off rain showers it was a morning spent in the van, though the afternoon was sunny and by 7pm the wind had dropped so I finally managed to put the tent up and get everything set out inside it, although I was actually sleeping in the van.
Day 3 arrived gloriously sunny and I planned a good day out to get some photos, but when it came to actually leaving my pitch I found I wasn’t going anywhere – after a short drive to the local late shop the previous afternoon I’d unthinkingly left the ignition on and the battery was flatter than flat. A quick call to the AA soon sorted that though and less than an hour later a very nice man arrived and soon got the van going again, and I went on to have what was probably the best day of the whole holiday.
Day 4 was nothing short of diabolical. The wind had come back during the night, worse than it had been previously, coupled with several prolonged heavy downpours, and when I unzipped the tent door that morning I was greeted by a scene of total devastation. Everything in there had been up-ended by the wind and was scattered all over, and one of the bedrooms had a huge puddle in the middle of the floor though fortunately the bag with my clothes and personal stuff hadn’t been affected. With dark grey skies, on/off rain and high wind it was another day spent in the van, although during the afternoon I did attempt to walk to the local shop but didn’t get far before I got caught in another downpour and got soaked to the skin.
Day 5 was another day of on/off heavy downpours though it did come reasonably nice for a while during the late afternoon so after a shopping trip to Asda I drove the few miles to Gorleston and took the dogs for a good walk along the promenade and gardens.
Day 6 started out beautifully and I had a lovely morning walk up to Hemsby along the cliff top and back along the beach. I’d planned to visit a large garden that afternoon and actually drove out to it but by the time I got there the sky had clouded over and the rain hammered down again, so that put paid to that idea and I drove back to the site and spent another afternoon in the van.
Day 7 brought yet more rain so my garden visit was put on hold once again and I went into town to do some shopping instead, though it did make an attempt at brightening up during the afternoon. That evening I went to visit some friends who live a mile or so from the site, however I’d forgotten that I’d left the half full kettle on the floor in the middle of the van and as I went round a corner it up-ended, though fortunately most of the water went down onto the side step rather than onto the carpet.
Day 8 turned out to be beautiful all day and I finally managed to do the garden visit, though I’d initially thought I wouldn’t be going anywhere unless I walked. Several lengthy bouts of heavy overnight rain, added to what had fallen over the previous few days, had softened the ground so much that when I tried to reverse off my pitch the back wheels got stuck in the mud and I couldn’t get out; luckily the site owner’s son had a 4 x 4 and a big chain so he dragged the van off for me. The garden visit was followed by a drive down to Redwings Horse Sanctuary to see my adopted pony Cauli then the day was finished off with visits to my friends Ady and Jane.
Day 9 was grey and showery in the morning though it did brighten up at lunch time and the afternoon turned out to be fairly pleasant, though not really sunny enough for long enough to go anywhere proper so I paid a second visit to my friends Eileen and Ron – it was Eileen’s birthday, and although she’s now lost much of her sight I still took a card for her.
Day 10 arrived gloriously sunny after several bouts of heavy rain overnight – it was also going home day so I abandoned the morning dog walk in favour of getting everything packed away and the tent taken down while it was nice. Packing up the van was no problem but I had a lot of mopping up to do before I could sort out the tent. On my shopping trip into town I’d got a cheap mop and bucket from Asda, knowing I would have some mopping up to do, but I didn’t realise just how much. It took ages, and I had several inches of water in that bucket by the time I’d finished.
After a good dog walk along the beach I finally left the site at 12.30pm though my problems still weren’t over; twice I hit queues of very slow moving traffic, the first lot caused by a broken down farm vehicle meaning two lanes were going into one, though there didn’t seem to be any reason for the second lot. Those delays meant that by the time I was heading west the sun was getting low and in my eyes and unfortunately I missed the correct exit off a roundabout, meaning I was heading for somewhere I didn’t want to be so I had to find somewhere to turn round and go back. I got it right eventually though and finally arrived home at 7.45pm.
So there you have it, a potted account of my holiday – or maybe I should say nightmare? Whatever it was, I certainly don’t want another one like it, in fact I feel like I now need a holiday to get over the holiday. I suppose there was one good thing about it though – with all that rain stopping me from getting out and about like I wanted to I had plenty of time for relaxing, and I didn’t spend much money either. Now that’s a bonus!
** A full account of the holiday, with photos, can be found starting here for anyone who wants to read it 🙂