As a family, we are known for our dogged determination in the Face of All Odds. It takes a great deal to defeat us, despite the most difficult of circumstances. If we make a plan, we carry it out, come hell or high water.
Water being a particularly significant word, so remember it as you read on. Other, more sensible but definitely less dogged families would have called the whole thing off (in the words of that song we sing at our Singing for Pleasure choir sessions.)
For weeks, nay months even, it has been a Red Letter Day in our calendars. The annual Family Beach Day, that is. Best of all, every one of our Foursome could come, together
with our Tremendous Ten grandchildren. Add in a couple of very welcome Nathans - the boyfriends of granddaughters Katie and Eleanor (why have one Nathan when you could have two?) - and we would be 21 in number.
The annual Family Beach Day always consists of a picnic on the beach, swimming for the sea-lovers (led by Uncle Dunk’em Dave), the construction of Sandcastles, trips on the Littlehampton Boat Train, an excursion to the
Lions Den Park for the littl’uns, possibly a game of Crazy Golf or the purchase of a few tickets to ride in Harbour Park. Plus lots of chatter, family reminiscences, sibling banter and general fun. It was, however, sadly apparent, from Friday on, that
it was going to be, if not hell, then at least high water on Sunday. In short, we were due for a Family Drenching.
The sensible thing would have been to cancel
and, if possible, rearrange - though we knew that would be tricky. We are, however, doggedly determined and the opportunity to be all together was just too important to pass up. With one eye on a weather forecast which kept getting worse, rather than better,
Our Boy (who was staying with us for a couple of days with his family) had the foresight to book tables at the Harvester pub on Littlehampton seafront. They were perfectly happy to accommodate us, he reported back, which only goes to show that they didn’t
know what was about to hit them.
My own particular brand of dogged determination showed itself in my intent to find a way for Mr B to join us. I couldn’t
bear the thought of him missing out on being in the midst of his entire family. I did have a back-up plan - my dear friend Eleanor (not to be confused with my granddaughter of the same name) was willing to call in to make Mr B lunch and keep him company should
I be unable to arrange transport. In hindsight that might have been far less stressful for him - but I remained sure in my usual Dogged Manner (presumably the whole family has inherited their doggedness from me?) that I was doing the right thing.
I didn’t know until after 10 a.m. that a wheelchair accessible taxi would be winging our way. I was ecstatic but - there would be a similarly equipped taxi to bring
us home, wouldn’t there? I asked, and was reassured to hear that there definitely, absolutely definitely, would.
Well, we met up in the restaurant and it
was every bit as crazy as we might have expected. The staff were amazingly unfazed by the sheer size and general lack of organisation displayed by our party who took ages to meet and greet each other, agree on the arrangement of tables and place our orders.
When the fella who took our orders read them out aloud to us, we all lifted our hands and shouted “check!” when our order was mentioned - and gave him a round of applause at the end. He bowed, somewhat bashfully, I felt.
On the wall at one end of our restaurant space, a most apt saying: “Gather round and enjoy!” So we did - and it was quite, quite, mad but a very, well, enjoyable gathering.
Okay, so it all became a little fraught later on when the taxi company said they couldn’t send a cab to convey Mr B and his wheelchair home. That wasn’t in the
plan at all. There were a lot of heated ‘phone calls in which the Middle of the Darling Daughters and her brother took it in turns to threaten the dire consequences of leaving their parents (that’s Mr B and I) effectively stranded.
All you really want to know, I’m sure, is that all was well that ended well. We ordered a gloriously sticky pudding for Mr B to keep him from getting too stressed while
we awaited our return transport. My nerves were, to be fair, a little frayed but, dogged as ever, I was determined to look on the bright side.
I told my lovely, disbelieving, family, “we will look back and laugh about this...”
“Well, possibly,” you could almost see them all thinking
- but they were, of course, far too kind (and too dogged) to say...