Faris the Rascal doesn’t care for ice cream. So while his sisters queue up for Mr Whippy ice creams “with a chocolate stick, please”, his mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters takes him into the
neighbouring gift shop to purchase a suitable toy instead.
The Rascal has had his eye on a particular toy ever since arriving at Littlehampton beach early in the
morning. When I appear around midday with his Grandad (we have been transported in considerable style by my new Best Friend Forever, Mark, in his wheelchair accessible taxi) my youngest grandson is keen to show it to me. I am reluctant to oblige, not because
I don’t enjoy every second of the time I spend with my grandchildren, wherever we may be - but because I am not too good at resisting Pester Power and The Rascal knows it.
We inspect the shelves on which the coveted toy - a small plastic motorbike - stands proud and I have a bit of a brainwave. Why don’t we hide the toy, I suggest, so that nobody else can find and buy it before it’s Ice Cream
Time? I don’t really expect this Cunning Ploy to work but amazingly it does. The Rascal secretes the toy on a low shelf, behind several jars of assorted shells and a tray full of colourful rubber balls - and is happy to leave the shop with me. I reward
him with a ride on the Bananas in Pyjamas car, despite knowing that I won’t be able to rid my head of the irritating theme tune for the rest of the day...
is nothing quite like a Family Beach Day, especially when the sun is shining. This is the first of two FBDs planned for this summer (why have one Family Beach Day when you could have two?) Not everyone can come, for a variety of excellent reasons like being
on holiday, so we are Small in Number but Perfectly Formed. We gather in our usual place, parking Mr B in his wheelchair in a prime position from which he can survey the whole beach as per King Canute while we - like his humble servants - gather around him
on the beach and pass him up sandwiches, cups of coffee and cans of Diet Coke as requested.
The Trio of Rampaging Rascals are in their element. The sand!
The sea! Grandson Jack and I work together to cover their legs with sand, so turning the girls into mermaids. Faris would have been a merman but, looking down at his sand-covered legs, decides he looks more like one of the gingerbread men which were my contribution
to the picnic fare. I think this shows great powers of observation though it is more likely that he just didn’t want to look like a mermaid.
to build a sandcastle, following my time-honoured Modus Operandi of first digging a circular moat - but the Trio are having none of it. Eventually Jack (who has worked with me on many a sandcastle over the course of his twenty years) and I come by silent assent
to the mutual decision to give up the unequal struggle. I do, nevertheless, make a mental note that I need to ensure that the Trio learn the rudiments of sandcastle building before they are too much older, this being - in my book - a major Life Skill.
We may have failed to build a sandcastle, but lo and behold, a giant yellow sandcastle is heading along the Prom toward us, a walking advertisement for
Harbour Park. The Trio are not at all sure about approaching it but I am already haring round to the steps to clamber up onto the prom so that I can be photographed with it. Preferably with a child or two alongside me, so that I won’t look too much like
a Mad Old Bat.
The tide was out when we arrived but after our picnic lunch it starts creeping in. Uncle Dunk’em Dave takes The Rascal off on an excursion
along the beach. No, I gather there was no dunking going on unless it was the dunking of gingerbread men in coffee. We all take a short trip along the Prom to see our five slats on the Longest Bench, the most recently installed of which commemorates our Golden
Wedding anniversary two years ago. “Fifty Golden Years of love and family,” it reads, “SUCH fun!”
I know what you are thinking - we always
seem to do much the same on our Family Beach Days. Don’t we ever get bored and hanker after doing something, well, completely different?
you see, would be missing the whole point of our Family Beach Days. Always the same, always special.
Always SUCH fun!