Blast from the Past

Included as part of The Oliver’s Madhouse’s lovely:

I relived a bit of my childhood on Monday as my family and I drove to the beach in a hot car on a sunny Bank Holiday.  The sights and smells were so familiar that I could easily cast my mind back thirty years, imagining squabbling with my brother as we waited impatiently in a long tail-back containing like-minded people trying to make the most of the weather before the rain set in again.

Because however much things have changed in the three decades since I was my children’s age, technology, fashions, cartoons, a trip to the beach is one of those timeless events that is like a tatty, soft old blanket; it makes you feel safe, happy and its smell takes you to a good place (unless the dog’s weed on it of course).

True to tradition, we parked MILES away from where we needed to be and yes, I admit it, I did keep telling the kids it was ‘just around the corner’ as they repeatedly asked, ‘Are we nearly there yet?’

Once on the beach, we rolled up trouser legs (in hindsight, after they’d already started getting wet), dug shells out of the soggy sand and splashed around in the little pools (the tide was out…way, WAY out), with sand squelching messily between our toes.

Within five minutes our toddler fell over and got soaked to the skin, inflating his nappy to monstrous proportions and making him walk like someone with really severe piles, but for once I’d had the forethought to bring a spare change of clothes so all was right with the world.

Of course it wouldn’t have been a typical family outing if there wasn’t some kind of minor catastrophe, so yes, we were the Dobber family that walked across the middle of the beach.  You know the bit that the sea has made particularly bog-like?  We had plenty of time to notice that everyone else was avoiding this section as we put our hands under the kids’ armpits and stood heaving them from the quicksand-like substance, trying not to lose a shoe as we sunk deeper and deeper…

A few minutes later, back to safety and slightly sweaty and out of breath, oh, how we laughed!  Well, the kids did anyway.

Then for the next twenty minutes we threw balls for the dog until we lost all three when they became covered with sand and therefore camouflaged and invisible to the naked eye.  Thoroughly filthy and wet, we all tramped back to the car, weighed down with soggy sand and clothing, a nappy that was hanging like a cow’s particularly full udder and copious bags of shells.

I reminisced as the kids hopped about on one leg and we poured water over their feet to rinse off the worst of the sand and then pulled fresh clothes onto still-damp, slightly gritty bodies behind towels so that their modesty could be protected.

The boot of the car rapidly turned into a man-made beach as we dumped bags full of shells and unusual stones and then bundled up wet stuff in a carrier bag, just like mum used to.

Once suitably attired we walked down the seafront, with the boys climbing on…well, anything remotely climbable and were relieved to see the ice-cream van, having been asked about it at least a thousand times on the way there.

As we strolled back to the car, some of us eating our ice-cream and some of us smearing it all over our faces and clothes (my husband just LOVES his ice-cream) I only managed to eat a fraction of mine before I had to donate it to our eldest who’d obviously dropped his on the floor.  He was trying to multi-task, walking and eating at the same time which is NOT an easy endeavour with the co-ordination of a gnat.

Once back at the car we had a quick clean up with baby wipes…and here-in the difference lies; regular readers of this blog know I don’t like to speak of this.  My mum is aware of how she’s scarred me and the counselling’s helped a little but what would she have used in lieu of baby wipes?  A tissue and some spit.  UNFORGIVABLE.

Anyway…we piled back in, tired, smelling of the sea air…and squabbling once more.  This didn’t stop until we found a chippy on the way home and ate hot, salty chips out of the wrappers with little wooden forks and drank cold pop straight from the can.

Perfect 🙂

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