The Youngest of the Darling Daughters is surely an Indomitable Spirit.
We sit on the beach at Littlehampton, the wind howling around us, and rain threatening to fall from
increasingly grey skies. "I think it's getting a bit better," claims the Indomitable Spirit. We all huddle behind the wind break and wonder why, after wall to wall sunshine for days on end, we have chosen this particularly unpromising date for our annual Family
I am proud of us, I tell them. This is the way it was on countless holidays in their childhood (and my own) where a few drops of rain and a bit of a breeze would not stop us taking up our usual
place on whatever beach we were holidaying near. Only a regular downpour would keep us off the sand. This is what jumpers and sweat-shirts were invented for. Someone reminds me that I forgot to bring anything warm and / or waterproof with me, which means I
have had to borrow a coat from the Darling Daughter in Law. One could say I was not very well prepared, compared with previous years.
In my defence, the Darling Daughters have been advising me to take a more
relaxed approach to the Family Seaside Day 2014, in recognition of the fact that I have had a tiring - though wonderful - visit from the two eldest of the Little Welsh Boys. The Middle of the Darling Daughters collects me in her car to drive me to our customary
venue while My Boy packs up the picnic lunch. Once on the beach, I am installed in a fold-up chair while everyone busies themselves around me setting up our beach camp. I get the impression they all think I will be better out of the way.
Come lunchtime, however, and a few cracks appear in the Relaxed Approach. Firstly, I have managed not to bring a flask of coffee. Nobody quite believes this, given my addiction to The Bean. Then somebody asks for a chicken
goujon. There are no chicken goujons. But they are a tradition! somebody exclaims. Everyone looks at me accusingly. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters surveys the skies and says she is quite, quite sure that the skies are brightening up, just a bit. As
if at a given signal, drops of rain descend upon us. "Only a sprinkle," we agree. Those with hoods on their sweat shirts pull them on and look upon the rest of us pityingly.
To keep warm, a game of cricket
is embarked upon. Our Jack, who as a young'un was always demanding that somebody play ball with him, is magnanimous in paying back the compliment to the delight of all the small fry. My Little Sister and My Boy start work on a sandcastle (there is nothing
like building a sandcastle to keep you warm) complete with a surrounding village. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters consults the weather on her phone and reports that we should be seeing some sunshine at around 4 p.m. "It's already looking much, much better,"
she tells anyone who is prepared to listen. We gaze skywards to see if we can spot a ray of sunshine or a bit of blue sky.
The Son in Law is in the sea. He has been joined by the more intrepid of the Younger
Set. I tell his wife that we are lucky to have him out there keeping an eye on the youngsters but she points out that he cannot in any way be considered a Responsible Adult. I think this is a little harsh until I watch him cavorting in the waves and conclude
that his Other Half may have a point.
At a little before 4 p.m. the Youngest of the Darling Daughters points triumphantly heavenwards. The sun is breaking through. Hurrah! We all congratulate ourselves on
our staying power which has now been rewarded. We move back up the beach for the second time to be out of reach of the incoming tide though this means our new base, being pebbly, can't accommodate the windbreak. And, while much sunnier, the wind is also making
itself felt. Some of us repair to the Arcade to sample the slot machines but my three girls and I, plus the babies, Morgan and Faris, stay on the beach. Watching the two little Sand Boys play (sort of) together is the most enjoyable part of the day. Faris
tips a bucket of sea water over himself and chortles with delight, rolling over in the sand till he is covered. He hurls a few stones only to be told, sternly and repeatedly, by his cousin: "Don't throw!" Amazingly our Champion Hurler appears to be paying
rather more attention to two year old Morgan than to either of his parents or his Nanni, for that matter. Maybe it was Morgan's wagging finger accompanying his strict admonishment which impressed him?
off our day with the traditional chippy supper on the beach. Morgan creeps onto my lap and shares my meal. Then it's time to pack up the cars, to exchange hugs and kisses, to agree that it has been a fabulous day, despite the elements.
"I said it would brighten up," the Youngest of the Darling Daughters points out, complacently.
An Indomitable Spirit. That's my girl!