Young Tala - who, based on our visit last week to Brighton’s Sea Life Centre and yesterday's trip to Littlehampton, could possibly have a stellar career as a marine biologist - takes me rock-pooling.
You are probably thinking that, as Tala is but two and a half years old while I have reached A Great Age, I have this the wrong way round but, no, not at all. We have barely deposited
our baggage on the beach and set up our camp for the day when my little granddaughter takes my hand and leads me, determinedly, seaward. It's low tide, so the sea must seem miles away to Young Tala who has, in any case, diverted to the rock pools. She picks
her way sure-footedly across the slippery, sea-weed covered rocks like the marine equivalent of a mountain goat while I follow in her wake, gingerly picking my way, fingers crossed I don't trip up and getting my new trainers so wet that they may never recover.
I show Tala the tiny fish darting here, there and everywhere. She crouches down, cups her hands and tries to catch them, shrieking with delight as they escape her clutches.
“More fish!” she demands, moving on to the next pool, pulling me after her. I am wondering whether, should I fall flat on my face in the sea-weed, anyone would come to my rescue? Our beach camp looks a long, long way away as I gaze backwards. Tala
loves the sea-weed waving at her from the water “it's a garden in the sea,” I tell her. My only disappointment is that we don't manage to spot a crab or two - though possibly, crabs being sensible creatures (even though they insist on walking sideways)
they spot us first. It's only the lure of an egg sandwich, apple juice and a squeezy yoghurt which finally entices my companion away from the rock pools and back to the safety of the sand.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters, her Trio and I have been joined on this latest Holiday Day by the Delightfully Unflappable Maxine and her two gorgeous boys. She has heard a lot about what she terms our “famous” Family
Beach Days so I am a little concerned that she will be disappointed and wonder what on earth we are on about. We don't, after all, do much more than sit on a beach, enjoy a picnic, chat, build sand castles, possibly paddle, take a ride on the famous Littlehampton
Along the beach, I can hear announcements heralding the start of the Annual Sandcastle Competition. If my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys were with
us, we would doubtless have joined in but I think our five littlun’s (the two oldest four years old, the youngest - Baby George - just a year) need a few more years and sandcastling experience under their belts. But, hey, it's an annual competition.
Their Day Will Come. Incidentally, someone asks, will the Truly Gorgeous George still be referred to as “Baby George” when he's a teenager? Lilia attends to him, lovingly, delighted not to be the youngest in the Seaside Party for once.
Faris and friend Oliver (they were born just a week apart) discover a kind of tap which disgorges water when a button is pressed. I assume it's there for the purposes of
feet washing but apparently, according to a couple of slightly older boys, it's safe to drink. They'd asked the lifeguard, they assure me, so it must be true. Despite the fact that the sea is now coming in fast, they are filling up bucket after bucket from
the water tap and carrying it back to the spot where they are building Hogwarts. Oliver, Faris and Tala (who has arrived to join the fun) haven’t the faintest idea who, what or where Hogwarts is - but they adopt the role of Associated Water Carriers
with enormous energy and enthusiasm. My Friend of the Environment Conscience does prick me - but they are having such fun, I don't feel able to spoil the game.
thought we might take a walk along the prom (prom, prom) to the Lion’s Den play park - but the children are so happy, here on the beach and so are we - so we stay on, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine and each other's company.
The Boat Train has been wending its way along the prom all day - we decide we can't finish our Seaside Day without a trip on the train and an ice-cream. Baby George sits on my lap
and I tell him all about being “a waver.” He studies me, with due seriousness, and concentrates on the passing scenery.
Back home, the littl'uns
enjoy pizza in the garden and Mr B enjoys the two hot doughnuts (naughty but nice) which the Middle of the Darling Daughters has brought home for him. It's the least he deserves for being happy just because I am happy, having a Seaside Day Out away from Caring
Maxine says she has really enjoyed herself and would love to join us again on another Beach Day. I'm not sure we can claim any credit for her favourable
The seaside has worked its magic. It does it every time.