I am not very good at going to the beach. I seem to lack the necessary skills to make a success of it and it becomes more of a chore than it should be.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it, but I don’t seem to be getting the same out of the experience as others, who I see spending an entire day, armed with beach cricket sets and a packed picnic.
We are lucky enough to live a 40 minute drive from a seaside resort so going to the beach is something that could be a regular occurrence for us as a family, however the following reasons might make you understand why it is not!
I think many a parent can get on board with this one. It is very hard to relax on a beach when you have a small child. You are constantly running a gauntlet of loosing sight of them as they run around, keeping them occupied when the sandcastle building only lasts ten minutes, being pestered for a lolly, new bucket and spade, a go on a bouncy castle, and being prepared to take them to the toilet. (For those with very young children also add ‘checking that they are not eating the sand’.)
It seems to me that there is no time to relax on a beach with a child until they hit about 14 years of age, by which time they probably do not want to join you on the beach anyway. So you could go without them but I suspect the tension then would be raised by you having left them at home and you wondering if they have thrown a house party during the afternoon or burnt the house down cooking a pizza.
This old chestnut. I do like people, as individuals, but in groups something seems to go wrong. I have quite literally lost track of; the number of parents I have heard screaming at their children for getting sandy, or people having a full on domestic dispute about paying for a sausage roll, or a young group hanging out and using the word “fuck” as an adjective. The problem with a beach is that is an open space where all the types of people in the world come together, with their opposing views on how to behave in public; and very few of them seem to care what impact they have on anyone around them.
I know I am far from perfect but I go out of my way to make sure I don’t bother people around me and I try to avoid being a pain in the arse. I would like a bit of consideration in return but apparently it is not to be and in fact only today on the beach I had the joy of being joined, near the bouncy castles, by another beach user who thought it wholly acceptable to light up a spliff whist walking through the children’s play area. My only saving grace is that my inquisitive daughter has no sense of smell so I did not get any challenging questions about the strange aroma.
This is a totally pointless exercise for me. I have extremely pale skin. I burn, peel and am white underneath. I also have zero tolerance for being hot and because of my burny skin I have to wear heavy weave clothing, when out in the sunshine, which leads to sweat and a short temper. I try to combat this is drinking lots of cool liquids, and eating ice-lollies but this either adds to the number of toilet trips or the amount of sweat I produce.
Another issue with sunbathing is that if I could engage in this activity fully, and strip to minimal clothing to catch some rays, my blubbery bum and hips would cause someone to identify me as a recently beached whale and try to roll me back into the sea. It is really not worth the risk of attracting a bunch of wildlife lovers, with buckets of water, wanting to keep me moist, until the heavy lifting gear arrives.
This always seems like such a good idea when we set off to the beach. I think to myself that we will build the best sandcastle ever. That I will take time to form raised areas, build a moat and protecting wall, and that there will be shells to adorn the exterior to make it beautiful.
However, within minutes of starting I begin to realise that the sand gets everywhere and is really irritating on my skin, there is no comfortable position for digging, and that it is much harder work that I remembered. On top of that there is inevitably a sand sculpture display nearby which has works of such amazement and wonder that I lose my mojo before I have begun and I settle for a few small round ‘castles’ in a row. These end up getting trampled by the child of one of those ‘other people’ on the beach who I mentioned earlier. (Promptly followed by a shout of “Oh sorry about that luv. Get back here [insert name I have never heard before] you little shit.” from a parent who is about 50 meters away drinking a can of Strongbow Dark Fruit and had no idea where their precious child had gone to.)
But is it really all that bad?
I do enjoy building the few little mounds of sand that I manage, and Charlotte loves the efforts to make a sand village, and enjoys a valuable lesson on the futility of sandart. She loves chasing the waves (if the tide is in) and she does so love the prawns from the little seafood shack, and just spending time with us away from a TV or Computer screen. And another thing, is anyone really having a better time than us anyway? Maybe my beach skill levels are as good as anyone else’s and we are all just trying to make the best of something that we are told is a great, fun activity, but actually is a little bit uncomfortable, a lot out of the norm for most of us, and something that, in this country at least, we only get to enjoy on quite rare occasions.
So with a stiff upper lip and a sense of determination I have already promised Charlotte another trip soon, and this time we are aiming to be there when the tide is in and I will have to get my lily white legs out and go for a paddle and just hope the glare reflecting off them does not cause anyone to go blind. But then maybe I should not worry about that as it will be someone else’s problem and not mine.