On the final day of our visit with my parents on the coast, the sun arrived. After looking out of the kitchen window at breakfast time with my youngest daughter, she plaintively wondered what we might be doing today.
“I suppose you want to go to the beach?”
We had warned the children that we might not make it to any beaches, given the pandemic causing havoc around the country - but decided “what the hell”, and left on foot mid-morning for the small bay a couple of miles below my parents house.
We were lucky. Throughout the better part of the day we had a small patch of the beach to ourselves, socially distant from those around us, and enjoyed all the trappings of a visit to the beach - complete with sand everywhere, the smell of seaweed, and going for a swim in the ocean.
Yes, I went for a swim in the ocean. Twice. I blame my daughter. I swear she has ice water in her veins. My bits and pieces still haven’t forgiven me for diving head-long into the surf in a moment of utter madness. I burst from the water a few yards further on swearing profusely - entertaining a fellow swimmer enormously.
Later in the day, after filling up on Cornish pasties, cloudy lemonade, and an hour reading a good book (Snow Crash), the inevitable happened. The tide turned, and began to compress the families on the beach towards each other.
An hour or so previously a pretty Mum with her little boy had set up camp alongside us on the beach - I noticed her bright yellow bikini as she made her way down to the water for her five minutes of madness before doing much the same as me - settling down with a book, and the sunshine for some peace and quiet while her little boy became the sand-castle king of the south coast.
Suddenly an enormous family arrived from around us - or an enormous collection of families - it was hard to tell. They set up between ourselves and the yellow bikini lady. Within minutes it became impossible to read - the peace and quiet gone, and my attention stolen by their shouted face-to-face conversations. After putting my book down and rubbing my face I glanced sideways, and met the gaze of yellow bikini lady. She shot me a sideways grin, rolled her eyes, shook her head, and rolled away from the family from hell.
We began packing our things minutes later.
This evening my parents ordered takeaway food from a Chinese restaurant in a nearby village. We have not eaten chinese food for YEARS (due to two of our daughters being gluten-free), and it was GLORIOUS. Who knew you could miss seaweed, spring rolls, and Singapore noodles quite so much ?
We are now slumped at various places around the house, nursing our food comas, and wondering about packing the bags for the journey in the morning. One more sleep, then five hours in the car ahead. Lots of memories made though. Happy memories filled with rain filled walks, swimming in the sea, coast walks, hot chocolate, ice creams, and all manner of silly stories told by grandparents - just the way they should be.