It seemed like a treat which could not possibly go wrong. “Choose your own picnic!” I cheerfully exhorted my three (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys, leading them into the sandwich aisle at Marks & Spencer’s.
The Darling Daughter in Law commented - sensibly - that this was a very expensive way of providing a picnic but I do enjoy treating grandchildren to a Choose Your Own. I’ve
done it over the years with all the oldest of the Tremendous Ten - on occasions it was Choose Your Own Dinner, or Choose Your Own Lunch or, as on Saturday, Choose Your Own Picnic. I excused my extravagance by pointing out that (i) we hadn’t stopped to
prepare any sandwiches at home before we headed beachwards; (ii) even if we had, it would have taken ages and delayed our trip out; (iii) Marks and Spencer’s in Worthing is right on the sea-front so we could choose our sandwiches and accompaniments (crisps?
cookies? cocktail sausages?) and be on the beach with our picnic before you could say “sandwiches”. A fourth reason, of course, was that this way every single person would get exactly the lunch they wanted.
For some inexplicable reason, it didn’t turn out that way. Two of the boys decided they didn’t like the sandwiches they had so carefully chosen for themselves and their father, My Boy,
who had been away buying an 18th birthday present for his niece while we were wandering about the Sandwich Aisle, couldn’t understand why he had been bought a Club Sandwich which everyone knows (he said) contains cheese which he doesn’t like.
My trouble is that my knowledge of All Things Sandwich Related is restricted to egg mayonnaise (occasionally with watercress as an added excitement) or tuna and cucumber.
I had no idea of the contents of a Club Sandwich which sounded very, well, chummy if you know what I mean.
It was, however, lovely sitting out in a seafront shelter
looking out over a sparkly sea and eating our picnic. We chose the shelter for our picnic on the grounds that nobody was confident (least of all me) that I would be able to get on my feet again, once I had lowered myself onto the shingle beach. It turned out
to be a Perfect Place for a Picnic, having the advantage of being more comfortable, more sheltered and somehow cosier than the actual beach would have been. I now understand why so many people choose to picnic in a seafront shelter. I will be doing it again,
I think. We did have to share our shelter bench with three other people who, understandably, felt they had a right to stay, having been there before us. Seafront Shelters are so very inclusive, don’t you know.
The next item on our agenda for a Fun Afternoon at the Seaside was to try out the new cycles on the Prom. You have heard, I am sure, of bicycles made for two (I am singing that old, sweet song in my head as I write) - but
have you ever seen a cycle made for four? Or, in our case, for six? They were, I told my boys, a new attraction for this summer and I had been longing to try out a cycle for myself but lacked a few more pedallers to join me. This might well become another
of our Seaside Traditions, I ventured to suggest.
The Six Person Cycle had four sets of pedals and it was quickly decreed that Sam and James - the two oldest boys
- should take the back set each with me sandwiched in the middle between them. Their parents would each take the front set of pedals and charge of the two steering wheels - only one of which had an actual steering function and brake. Young Morgan was lifted
into the Best Seat in the House at the very front of the cycle where he was allocated the task of warning any strollers along the Prom of our presence by pretending to sound a horn or a bell.
The fella hiring out the cycles told us we had time to cycle all the way to the park on the beach and back - though we gained the impression he didn’t think we would make it. It made us all the more determined to prove
it could be done - though it was rather harder than we thought it would be. I did take a (very short) turn pedalling but quickly gave it up. We arrived back at the start with mixed views on whether this should be a new Seaside Tradition. The young’uns
gave it their seal of approval. Their parents seemed to be of the “Done that! Never again!” frame of mind.
How I love a Seaside Day with the grandchildren!
I travelled back on the bus to check on Mr B, aka Grandad, of course, leaving the boys in the amusement arcade spending the two pence pieces left over from their last visit and carefully stored for them on their bedroom windowsill until this weekend. Ahead
of us, a family meal around the table, followed by watching a Star Wars Film where my family would be appalled to realise that my knowledge of Luke Skywalker, Princess Lea, Chewbacca and all is as limited as my Knowledge of the Sandwich.
I will just have to keep on pedalling...