Ah, a day at the beach. Building sand castles, eating ice cream, frolicking in the sea. Yes, it all seems like such a good idea before you set-off, but the reality of taking a small child to the beach is quite different from the idealistic picture painted above. It’s more like: putting your back out within five minutes of arriving in an attempt to drag a buggy laden with the entire contents of your house against the grain of the sand (if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying this it’s even harder than it sounds). Sand everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE. Once you douse your little sun-catcher in copious amounts of factor 50 they immediately becomes a sand magnet with every tiny grain covering every inch of their body including their hands which means they consume more sand in five minutes than a week’s worth of food. At least that’s lunch taken care of. It doesn’t stop there. The sand keeps on coming…when you return home and execute your first nappy change post-beach fun you will be amazed at not only the quantity of sand that comes pouring out but how you find yourself cleaning multi-coloured grains from places you never thought you should or would have to. No point in even asking the question – how did it get there?
So, upon arrival you search for a spot to make the likely total of 45 mins of beach fun count. As you drag the kitchen sink along with the buggy you catch the faces of the scantily clad beautiful-childless people clearly saying ‘don’t even think about setting up camp within a meter of me’. You mistakenly pick a spot close to the elderly couple in the hope they will find the endless noise your little cherub emits adorable. Either that or their unfortunate hearing impairment works in your favour on this particular occasion. Beware of this strategy – it can go one of two ways. The couple are so interested in you and your offspring that they don’t stop talking the entire time you are there regaling you with stories of their own children from a time long ago. Or, the complete opposite can take place and they are so disillusioned with life that they resent your very being let alone the fact you are inches away from them taunting them with youth and all the possibilities of life that lie ahead. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for your beach fun and so once again the excursion faces time limitations.
Well, now you have set-up camp (regardless of how the temporary neighbours feel) you crack on with those sand castles. Bucket and spade in hand your little one wanders off in search of seashells and other beach delights, but instead returns with a bucket full of cigarette butts, broken glass and to top it off some used plasters. Ah, the refuse of a city beach all within the confines of your child’s bucket. As you fight him for the used plaster – of course he wants this particular new-found treasure to accompany his hearty meal of sand – the elderly couple decide it is time to move on. Wow, we have managed to evict an elderly couple from their beach spot – believe me this is not a good feeling.
Determined for our beach fun not to be a complete wash out, excuse the pun, we move to the water. Swimming in the sea – it’s always a winner. As we prepare for a dip in the infinite blue waters that lie ahead we quickly realise one of us must stay behind to keep guard of all the valuables we stupidly have brought along with us which have no use whatsoever on this particular outing apart from luring undesirables to our spot (the only people who want to be near us today). Still recovering from the elderly eviction we decide to throw caution to the wind on this occasion and put our trust in man-kind and take a family dip in the water whilst watching our possessions from afar. This adds a level of stress to the aforementioned ‘frolicking in the sea’ activity which again cuts the beach fun time short.
By now we must have made a grand total of half an hour on the beach. Let us ignore the fact that the preparation to come to the beach probably took a total of three times of this pleasure-filled 30 minutes. A safety announcement commences over the beach tannoy kindly warning us that the peak sun hours are upon us and to ensure any children are well hydrated and creamed and for the young and the elderly to take caution. Ah, this makes me think perhaps we have done a public service by making the elderly couple feel the need to leave – they really should be at home resting according to the authorities. I take this opportunity to check my watch – 37 minutes of beach fun, not that anyone is counting. At this point, we think it is best to listen to the people in the know and take our little one home for his own safety and well-being. Of course, we would love to stay to discover some more hidden treasures that are buried in the sand for Lucas to discover, but the tannoy voice has spoken and we decide to call time on beach fun for today.