Monday, 4 April 2016


Now, I am writing this post from a privileged position; I lived with sand for the best part of eight years.  A beach ten minutes away and two small children meant that sand was pretty much everywhere, all the time.  We had (naively) chosen a broadly in vogue style of floor tile when renovating our kitchen which in actual fact took on all the qualities of an ice-skating rink when sandy.    For years I was consciously trying to ensure that neither myself nor my children slipped and hit our head on the Aga.

In recent times though, having moved away from the coast, I have forgotten the perils of sand.  While staycationing, we recently spent the day at our nearest beach.  I quickly remembered how much I loved, properly loved, the coast.  The air is so clean and fresh, the sea breeze bracing (especially in March) and the inducement of well-being inevitable.  This is fantastic and our smaller children not having been brought up by the seaside and used to holidaying at Center Parcs, were wildly happy digging holes and flying kites.  It was even suggested that we might forfeit our Center Parcs summer break for a seaside holiday.

This is not to say the experience wasn't without issue however.  Firstly we had trouble with sand in the eyes.  The first time we visited the beach we left home in beautiful sunshine but arrived at the beach forty five minutes later in a hail storm.  We ate our packed lunch in the car while we waited for it to pass.  The weather did return to a more normal state and the wind did subside, but given that we were staring from a gale I would definitely describe the conditions as breezy.  The sand swirled and whirled and settled happily in our eyes.  This did cause a fair amount to distress to the little ones as we tried to teach them to dig with their back to the breeze rather than looking into it. I was totally unprepared - I had totally forgotten - how sand has a remarkable quality of being able to stick to you and stay stuck for a significant number of hours.  On the way home in the car I managed to rub sand into my eyes and was still attempting to properly clear it our at bedtime.  

Secondly, given the strength of the breeze, I had not remembered that sand gets everywhere and into everything.  We had taken a couple of bags with us containing buckets, spades, drinks, wet wipes, that kind of thing (although in fairness there is nothing less useful than a wet wipe on a beach) and the aforementioned swirling, whirling breeze swirled and whirled the sand straight into the bag.  Even my rucksack, which I thought was closed the entire time, filled impressively with sand.  On returning home and emptying out the bags it turned out that we had in fact brought half the beach home.  We learned pretty quickly that Amtico flooring, while not as good as terracotta tiles, does still have ice-rink like qualities when combined with sand.

Thirdly, and closely related to point number two, not only did the sand fill our bags, it also somehow managed to fill our wellies, particularly the children's.  Having bundled them back into them car the wellies were pulled off only to literally fill the car with sand too.  Given that I drive the 'family car', fitted with car seats various, the chances of the sand ever been hoovered up are fairly remote.  The children enquire every time we go to the car as to when we can go to the beach next.

Finally, having had two sets of children some ten years apart I had forgotten the desperate need children have for wet sand.  On the beach we went to the tide went out for what seemed like a hundred miles.  Playing on the water's edge was clearly not an option as the conditions became colder and more windy the closer we got.  This resulted in us setting up camp near the sand dunes where there was at least some shelter from the wind when the right spot was found.  But.  The children 'needed' water for their various sand constructions.  I walked the three miles to the water's edge a number of times with different combinations of children.  The first couple of times this was really enjoyable; the bracing, life affirming wind, the children stopping to explore every shell, stick and ridge.  But after a couple of times it wore a bit thin.

What was the outcome of all of this?  The next day the children we asking when we could go to the beach again and four days later there we were, a little more experienced, back doing it all over again.  It seems my time of living with sand is not as over as I had once thought.

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