Sunday, 31 August 2008

Beach boys

Our annual Anglesey trip is over for another year. This year featured the worst weather I can remember there – two sunny afternoons in six days - yet we were on the beach every day. Well, what else do you do when the house party includes eight small cousins, seven of whom are under the age of five?


The cousin ‘zoo’ as I came to think of it, started around 6am, when the first of the children would invariably be up, pattering around the echoey corridors of the huge, rambling Victorian mansion (it belongs to some of the Doctor’s wealthier relations, and he has been there almost every summer since he was a tiny child himself). Often, it would be one of the Littleboys – one morning, Littleboy 1 escaped from our bedroom at ten to six and dashed downstairs. After much half-asleep searching, I discovered him hiding in the kitchen whereupon he refused to go back upstairs until he was given breakfast. If by some miracle the Littleboys slept in, it would be another cousin, bellowing his tiny lungs out in the early hours. But whoever it was, the whole house would soon be resounding to the noise of children running, shouting and playing (plus the odd ‘thump…waa’ as someone fell over).


After several hours of everyone sitting around and wondering if the weather would clear up, we would pile all the kids into the back of a four wheel drive truck (one of the highlights of their day) and drive the mile or so down the rough track, lined by blackberry hedges, past fields of sheep and cows to the beach.


Each child then grabbed as many buckets and spades as they could find and happily stripped off (despite the inclement weather), while the adults sat on the stones in fleeces and jeans.

Most fascinating was how each child occupied him or herself in a different way on the beach – whether collecting seawater in buckets, throwing sticks for the dog, climbing rocks, making castles, digging holes or eating seaweed. As someone remarked, it was a bit like an illustration from a Richard Scarry book, with a child everywhere you looked performing their own little activity.


And they seem to known instinctively what to do: Littleboy 2, having never really been to a beach except as a baby, picked up a spade and started digging away as if that was what he did every day.


Eventually all were piled, sandy, salty and shivering, back into the truck and taken up to the house for supper, bath and bed. This activity took several hours, and usually involved lots more mayhem, with excited little figures in pyjamas bombing around the house well past their normal bedtime.


Adult supper became later and later, taking place at nearly 10pm on the penultimate night, with the eldest cousin, scared by the house (not unreasonably, as bats have been known to roam the corridors and there are few electric lights) put to sleep on chairs by the fire as we ate.


Conclusions: kids don’t give a monkey’s about the weather, as long as there are plenty of children around and a beach to entertain them. And they don’t need TV – not one of them asked for it during our stay in a Beebies-free household. It might have been a dismal August bank holiday, but not for them – and I hope that in their just-forming memories the last few days will be a blissfully happy time steeped in sunshine, sand and water.

7 comments:

Nota Bene said...

You had two afternoons of sun????? Jealous :-)

Millennium Housewife said...

Any more summers like this and we're emigrating, either that or I'm sending mine to yours for the summer MH

valley girl said...

Hi NB - guess you had a wet time camping then? If we had any sun at all, it's all down to the famed Anglesey micro climate. You can be sunning yourself on the beach looking over at the rainclouds over Snowdonia.....

Agreed MH - although probably, when we go to the US next summer, it will turn out to be a beautiful English summer here.

The Dotterel said...

You're right about kids and the weather. We've just been to Brid for the week (why? my parents live there!) and Sally was in the sea (the North Sea) on three of the five days we were there. Mind you, I joined her yesterday - in thick fog!

Potty Mummy said...

Sounds lovely - just the sort of thing British summer holidays are made of...

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Ooh, room for 4 more next year?
Sounds pretty perfect to me!

valley girl said...

Dottorel, I confess, I went for a dip too - but only when the sun was out.

PM, it was - a very British experience. Can't imagine it happening on the Continent somehow.

CTTF, if only it were my house, I would start taking bookings and ask all my cyber-friends to come along with their kids in tow....