As the ferry arrived in Ardrossan, it started to pour - a brief drenching rain from one of the uncountable squalls coming off the Atlantic. The ride to the campsite was 2 or 3 kilometers. We had seen it online before we left and it looked like the bike path passed right by. there was very nice bicycle path along the coast through town. the tide was way out revealing long sandy beaches and ancient looking jetties, moles, and some bizarre stone sea/land structures with no discernible purpose. outside of town, we started to follow the rail line and the bike path turned to complete shit. we started to see police on foot, in cars, and (a first in the uk) a police helicopter. the rain stopped and a late evening sun poked through the clouds.
The bike path was now between the sea and a heavily fenced train track. Never expect things to be simple. When we started seeing caravans and RVs they were on the other side of the tracks. At least we had located a campsite. It was nearing 9pm. Still quite light out, but time to set up the tent.
There was one crossing to the "campsite". A staircase and pedestrian way over the tracks. We decided to press on in hopes of another option. The break came as we entered town and a street brought us across. We tried tobacktrack butfound ourselves in an empty golf course. Back into "town".
I tried to flag down a police officer, but got only a stony look that made me laugh - the look was meant to be a fuck off, but I had seen one too many of those from LA's finest to be sussed. we split up, trying to penetrate the campsite via rubbish filled alleys and unpromising side streets. I finally found someone to ask for directions. a mildly retarded gentleman and his minders told us to head back to the abandonned golf course, skirt the edge on the dirt road, and look for a whole in the fence. they also told us that there was a madman with a gun on the loose which explained the police helicopter.
The info we got sent us back through the golf course. Sure enough, after mud puddles and a ride down a grassy slope we had arrived.
it was promising, in a European caravan campsite kind of way. lots of permanent and semi-permanent caravans along side mobile RVs with grassy areas all around. a central registration building with what looked like a bar, restaurant, and game room inside. I stepped inside and Ramona stayed with the bicycles. chaos. humid smelly chaos inside, with cheeky youths playing arcade games, hooligans drinking beers and swearing, and older over weight patrons staring at a television in the bar or glued to gambling machines. it was packed. at the bar I inquired about camping and after being directed to a young lady who promptly ditched me, i headed back outside. there two security guards converged on Ramona and I to inform us that all the pitches had been taken.
I tried to explain that all we needed was a little bit of grass, which we saw around us. But no, that would not be possible. We asked about other campsites and they said we should head north of Ardrossan to a place along the beach where lots of people were always camped. "For free!" Boy did that sound bad. But with little choice we headed back out. They directed us to go via the road, and we found the nice beachside path again. About half an hour later we were out of town at a picnic area just outside of town, having passed the ferry terminal and gone over 5 miles in the wrong direction, with little choice. Camping near a road? I guess so.
We set up quickly, tucked all our gear under the tent fly, and locked the bikes lying down, between the tent and the beach. I was not looking forward to sleeping. this was a pull off for a busy road. Ramona did not believe it, but i swear that a man with a prostitute pulled in right after us and parked at the far end of the area. I slept with one eye open and was jolted into full wakefulness several times by car headlights settling on the tent. at one point two very drunk men got out of their car and started arguing unintelligibly while banging on something (their car, the trash can?) over and over again. your pissed Scotsman or englishman is still an unknown quantity for me. often there is the smell of dangerous, mindless, violence barely contained about them. after about 30 minutes they left and the rest of the night passed quietly.
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