10 The sun cream chase
With two active little boys on my hands, I like to apply sun cream before we get to the beach. That way, they can run off and play in the sand as soon as we arrive, without their mother hot on their tails with a bottle of sun cream. But they enjoy the chase as much at home, of course, which means I spend at least ten minutes running after them, usually squirting more SPF on the sofa and TV screen than I do on my children.
9 Remembering everything
Before the days of kids, I didn’t have to remember to throw much in my bag for beach days. A bottle of water, a magazine, and a towel just about covered it. These days, however, we need at least an hour to prepare, pack and get ready to leave – and when we finally make it out of the door, we are loaded with four bulging bags, beach umbrellas, buckets and spades, and a child under each arm.
8 Sandy space invaders
We need to get to the beach early to find the perfect spot – but of course that rarely happens. So instead, we find ourselves squeezed between an older couple on the left (hoping for some peace and quiet) and a large, noisy family on the right (with children eyeing up our buckets and spades). Both sets of people glare at us as we’re unpacking – as, let’s face it, no one likes their space invaded on the beach – and with everything we’re carrying, it’s a fair bit of space we need.
7 Tidal troubles
So after we’ve unpacked everything, laid out our beach towels and sat down in the sunshine, we start to relax as the boys play happily around us in the sand. Until we notice that the water is suddenly closer than when we first arrived, that is. The husband decides we should sit and watch the water for a while, so we stay still – until a ginormous wave soaks our feet and half our towels, prompting us to jump up in a mad panic and move everything back a good few metres. Still, at least it provides comedic value for those further up the beach.
6 Sandy snacks
My boys generally request snacks every five to 10 minutes throughout the day (and sometimes throughout the night by mumbling in their sleep). The beach is no exception, so I pack pots of fruit, rice cakes and raisins to keep them fuelled. Inevitably, however, the smallest child falls over 2.5 seconds after I hand them to him – so he has a mouthful of sand for his snack (and he doesn’t seem to care).
5 Treasure hunting
There are lots of lovely things to find on the beach to decorate a sandcastle – pastel pink shells, smooth sea-washed rocks, and strands of spiky seaweed, for example. My boys, however, manage to find such treats as empty crisp packets, old drink cans, and cigarette butts. Such
4 Ice cream tantrums
Living close to the beach poses a problem. As whilst the tourists alongside us pop up the beach regularly and come back clutching ice-cream treats, my boys don’t understand why they can’t have the same treat every time we visit. And they show their disgust by performing excellent tantrums in the eye-line of the holidaymaker trying to enjoy their vanilla cone. Not the view they were hoping for during their holiday, admittedly.
3 Packing up
If getting ready for the beach is difficult, leaving again is even harder. After all, we have the same load of belongings – and this time, it’s covered in sand. The joy.
2 The wash off
Before we leave, though, there is one important job – getting the majority of the sand off the children before we head home. Easier said than done, of course. We start the process by dunking them in the sea and telling them to walk very slowly up to the beach to the car park. They appear to listen and they walk very slowly. Good boys, we think. Until they fall head first into the sand a few yards from the car park. Every single time.
1 The sandpit
Once home, we try our best to get the children into the bath without covering the entire apartment in sand, but inevitably a small beach forms underneath them as they escape, stamp, shake and strip. And for days afterwards, we get sand stuck to our feet as we walk through the apartment. “Sand everywhere!” the husband moans, as he discovers a sandpit in the bottom of one of his shoes a few days later. By the following weekend, however, everyone has forgotten. “Fancy the beach?”