Despite my oft-mentioned aversion to sand, no family vacation is complete without a visit to the beach. When staying with my in-laws in Wiltshire, our beach of choice was always Alum Chine. Bournemouth, Dorset, is famed for its coastline and it has many splendid beaches to choose from. Our preference for Alum Chine is because of the proximity of the car park and beach – most welcome when carting equipment for so many people – the fact it has well-maintained public lavatories, the fact it is a family friendly beach and is manned by lifeguards.
My kids wasted no time at all galloping down the beach and into the surf. They leaped over waves, ran into shore away from waves, jumped into the water and swam and would then emerge – like soggy swamp creatures – to warm up and roll around on the sand. Them getting absolutely coated in sand, including their faces, sets every nerve in my body on edge but I try not to freak out about it so as to not pass on my sand phobia to them. It is, however, not therapeutic to watch your children look like sand sculptures while they munch food. Bleugh!
Munching food is part of the seaside activity because British people (does it happen elsewhere too?) have this compulsion to back a tasty repast for any trip to the beach. It might be as simple as sandwiches or it might be fish and chips – especially if its a typically chilly British seaside day – or it might be a regional variation like cockles or eels but no matter what is on offer it is a real trial for me to be able to partake of even the smallest morsel lest some sand find its way into my mouth. The feeling of particles of sand rolling around in my mouth, gritting themselves against my teeth, is one of my biggest reasons for loathing sand. Our meal of the day happened to be breakfast and, since I don’t usually eat breakfast anyway, that meant I was happy with just a chunk of blueberry bread which I wolfed down before it became contaminated.
After more frolicking in the waves, burying each other in the sand and transforming themselves into sand sculptures of mermaids complete with shell boobies and then burying their youngest brother in the sand all the way up to his head, the boys were ready to leave the beach just before the sun reached its highest and before our parking tickets expired. Vacation beach day mission complete.