When we gathered back at our house for fish and chips at the end of yet another Family Beach Day (a tradition dating back so very many years) we all agreed that we were feeling as if we had had a day in the sun. We were
all, to a person (both small and tall, young and not-so-young) rosy-cheeked and sun-kissed.
Yes, I must admit that it was a Windy Miller day and My Boy and the
Darling Daughter in Law couldn’t quite believe that nobody had thought to bring a windbreak along to Littlehampton beach. Before our very eyes, they unfolded their famous tent and set it up on the beach where it would provide a cosy retreat for assorted
littl’uns over the course of the afternoon. Lilia, aka Contrary Lil and the younger of the Twins by one important minute, suddenly became extremely sociable, cuddling up to her uncle and auntie with great affection. I’m sure this wasn’t completely
due to the fact that they were sitting in the tent, out of the wind...
Our 2019 Beach Day attracted an excellent turnout of twenty including all four of my grown-up
children, one Son-in-Law (Dunk-em Dave), the aforementioned Darling Daughter in Law, nine of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren (we missed you, Katie!), one boyfriend, one niece, two great-nephews - plus, of course, me, myself and I. Sadly I was unable to book
a wheelchair assisted taxi to convey Mr B to and from the beach - but he was appeased more than a little by the fact that there was Test Match cricket on TV and that he would see us all on our return home.
Excitement knew no bounds among the younger set - the three (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys and the Rascally Trio. The cousins don’t get together as much as they would like but there was an immediate and delightful Cousinly
Camaraderie. Sam, Eldest of the Welsh Boys, took his role of looking after the littl’uns extremely seriously, never once straying off on his own teenage business, while Faris the Rascal, accustomed to being the only boy among the Trio, loved being “one
of the gang” with his male cousins.
In my early morning discussions with Young Morgan, he had pointed out (fairly reasonably, I must admit) that I would
probably spend most of Family Beach Day sitting and talking. I was slightly stung by the criticism, fair as it might be (sitting and talking is, after all, one of the Great Pleasures of Family Beach Day) so when it came to taking a trip along the prom (prom,
prom) to the Lions Den playground, I was quick to volunteer to be one of the accompanying adults. Hopefully my grandson didn’t notice that I spent most of the time sitting on a convenient bench with his mother, catching up on all the family news from
her end and mine.
Dunk’em Dave took to the water but was unable to persuade anybody else to join him, not even Hazel Bagel, his water-baby of a daughter
- so there was no actual dunking going on. He did, however, manage to hug all the unsuspecting late comers on arrival, ensuring that they ended up a trifle soggy. It’s part of his charm.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters impressed by actually making her picnic lunch for herself and the Trio on the beach, balancing a container of tuna on her cool-box thus giving the appearance of a make-shift sandwich
shop. With the emphasis on “sand” you understand.
Eleanor, fourth oldest of the Tremendous Ten, had completely forgotten her twin beach chair but made
up for it by handing round delicious chocolate brownies to the assembled gathering. She also made us laugh by recounting lessons from her holiday work for a care agency on how to gently support an Aged Person to walk. No, it wasn’t the actual lessons
that made us laugh, but the fact that she demonstrated on me...
Lovely Debbie, my niece, turned up with her boys in tow, despite heavy traffic and a poorly daughter
at home. As one of the founder members of Family Beach Day she never misses it if she can possibly help it.
For Zac, The Boyfriend, it was his first Family
Beach Day. Aware that meeting our family at full strength for the first time can be a trifle daunting for anybody, however confident, I enquired of him, solicitously, how he was finding the experience. He assured me that he was enjoying himself and that he
totally “got it.”
You have to be there, I suppose, to understand. It’s a day. On a beach. With family.
There’s nothing quite like it.