Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea… have I gone a bit too ‘tally ho and hip hip hooray’ British for you? sorry about that.
I’m still reminiscing about our Welsh jaunt to see Granny Purple Hair, which featured a seaside trip just about every single day. I rediscovered my inner beach goddess. The dormant childhood memories of seaside holidays exploring rock pools, making sandcastles and chasing the waves all came flooding back, to be re-lived with Mole and Hedgehog.
During the week we visited six beaches along the Ceredigion coastline: Mwnt, Poppit Sands, Aberporth, Tresaith, Penbryn and Llangrannog. They are all awesome.
Mole especially was in her element, changing into her swimsuit and then disappearing in a cloud of sand, scurrying off to the sea to stand in the shallows holding my hand and jumping the waves with a squeal of delight. She attempted more and more ambitious quests, much to my pride. Like scaling a rock the size of a small hill, creeping up its muscle covered surface like an acrobat, before perching her bottom on the top and declaring “I did it Mummy”. This obliged me to climb up the said rock with her, at a safe distance, positioned to catch her if she catapulted backwards, but would not invite protests of “No go away Mummy, don’t TOUCH me”.
Another big hit were caves, and holes. We found a great bear cave on Penbryn beach, that was suitably deep, dark and spooky, followed by a hole the size of a small crater dug in the sand from a previous family, saving us all the labour and occupying Mole and Hedgehog, where they proceeded the play the “Jump in and get Hedgehog to rescue me” game, which lasted for 2 hours. There followed a cream tea at the Plwmp Tart café up the hill, where Mole wangled herself the second ice cream of the day by declaring to Mr M&H that “Mummy said yes”.
Hedgehog took about a day to warm up to her new surroundings, at first clinging to us like a limpet, burying her head in my neck and refusing to put her feet on the sand. This involved a lot of carrying Hedgehog for hours on end.
Because of this, and also the discovery that buggy wheels and sand do not mix, we quickly learned three rules for happy beaching: keep a baby sling with us at all times, park as close to the beach as possible, and pack as light as possible.
The walking to and from car to beach could be painful at times, especially because most Welsh beaches are at the bottom of a cliff with 300 steps, and the car parks are invariably at the top of the cliff. Llangrannog beach had a park and ride minibus service, dropping us at the sand, so this beach gets four gold stars for that reason alone.
Over the week our beach bag slowly grew with a few additions as we got settled into our new beach life. I’ve now worked out the essentials for the beach with Mole and Hedgehog, (for the toddler years anyway):
A massive canvas bag (the basket hessian type ones are stylish but an Ikea bag will do the same job)
Swimsuits and wet suites for everyone
A picnic with lots of drinks, sandwiches and cake (supplied by Granny Purple Hair)
A straw beach mat
Buckets and spades
Ball and bats
Sunscreen, sunhats and sun glasses (even for Wales)
Plastic bag for wet and dirty stuff
Inflatable ball and boat. Pros: They are a good novelty item, especially the boat which Hedgehog liked to sit in. If they go anywhere near the sea in it the boat is a bit useless, filling with water and tipping hedgehog out, so it generally got pulled along the sand instead. Cons: They involve blowing up each and every time, which is a ball-ache, and they have a playtime shelf life of about 5 minutes, before being abandoned and blown away, generally being chased down the beach by Mr M&H who then has to anchor it next to our other gear with a heavy stone, where it sits for the rest of the afternoon before being deflated.
A body board. Pros: Mole loved it and liked to lay on it in the shallows, although she’s still a bit young to actually surf with it. Cons: Bulky to carry with all the other gear, and tends to get blown away or suddenly flip up and smack you in the face. Handy to rest your head on when laying down for a snooze though.
Items we can definitely do without:
Those canvas windbreaks with wooden poles. They are heavy to carry, need a mallet to hammer into the sand to be effective, and I got whacked on the head by one of the poles. Case closed.
Ditto those wind break tents sold in all the seaside shops. More stuff to carry, and if it was that cold and windy we wouldn’t be on the beach in the first place.
So there you have it, we have the beaches nailed, yeah baby.
There only remains to say that for a change I wrote this piece in bed with a bouncy Mole and Hedgehog climbing all over me. The idea was that they would nap peacefully next to me, but after 5 minutes of fidgeting under the duvet, they decided the window ledge was much more interesting, and decided to do kamikaze dives off this onto the bed. I’ve been interrupted 10 times, twice for messy toilet related emergencies. They have now gone quiet in another part of the house somewhere, which never bodes well.
Nope, writing requires a room of one’s own, with a lock on the door.
Now we’re off to the dentist to try and figure out how to get Hedgehog to stop sucking her thumb before her teeth go crooked, which at the age of two and a quarter she is still as attached to as ever.
Wish me luck.