Year-round sunshine does not translate to pleasant weather 52 weeks of the year. Summer is coming, so we’re getting as much beaching in as we can, while it’s still cool enough, and that raises the prospect of more picnic disappointment. We’ve seen organised and competent picnickers serve up a steady flow of sandwiches, pastries, cold cuts and fresh fruit from a neatly packed hamper not much larger than a beach ball. Why is it then, that our own efforts manage to have sand inside unpeeled bananas, a trash bag full of half-eaten packets of stale biscuits and yoghurts we can’t eat because we forgot the spoons?
Every beach scene needs a few toned, bronzed and athletic superhumans idly skimming a Frisbee between them and effortlessly, but also acrobatically, catching it every time. Should a gust of wind blow one your way, resist the urge to toss it back. While they make it look easy, you’ll arc it away from them and as well as sending it further from them than it already is, you’ll invariably hit a small child in the face.
While childless couples and single sunseekers are happy to luxuriate on the beach doing a lot of not very much, things are very different for families. Within half an hour of arriving, you can see parents already exhausted by two sandcastle competitions, a game of beach cricket, a shell-collecting expedition and a trip to back to the snack kiosk to replace a dropped ice-cream. All this before Dad pulls a muscle trying to blow up inflatable beach toys.
Please be careful and slather on the sunblock. This Time Outer once fell asleep on an Abu Dhabi beach and ended up looking redder than a half-cooked lobster. No trip to a crowded beach is complete without a ten-minute session to visibly wince at the most extreme scorching. Don’t, whatever you do, be on the red list.
6 Burnt feet
A frequent beachside accomplice of the scorched red sunbather is the hopping lunatic. They forgot to bring flip-flops to the beach, but are confident they can make it to the sea if they are quick enough. Little do they know, however, that sand which has been baking in direct sunlight for several hours is actually hotter than that very sun itself. You can spot them halfway between the pile where they left shoes and the cooler (just) sea, figuring out if they should turn back or push on. It doesn’t matter, as they took two layers of skin off in the first step and are now dancing on the spot.
With some practise and a little natural elegance, anybody of any age and body shape can look good on a stand-up paddleboard, water ski or paragliding. Nobody, on the other hand, looks good on their first go. If you can put up with an entire beach full of people chuckling every time you go head-over-heels into the water, then you will soon improve.
A less practical piece of furniture has never been invented. Save yourself the trouble and sit on a tea towel stretched between two precariously balanced metal rods.
Blobby lumps of wobbling flesh – not just a Time Outer after a few too many restaurant reviews, but also the many jellyfish that float up to the Abu Dhabi coast. The stings are not serious, but will leave an unsightly blemish if you brush up against the wrong type.
We thought preening, pouting and posturing was bad enough in Abu Dhabi’s nightclubs, but that is nothing compared to what we see on the city’s beaches. Last year we watched with slack-jawed fascination as a selfie-taker snapped pictures of themselves on a stand-up paddleboard for 15 minutes in front of Emirates Palace. It was only slipping and falling in the water that stopped them from taking what must have been the 832nd identical photo.
On the beach, everybody is on holiday, but if you see somebody braving a beat of sun, sea and sand when the temperature is set to scorch mode, there is a good chance that person is a tourist. Go easy on them, they may not have seen sunlight for several months before coming to the UAE.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He wears factor 50 but wants a tan.