This post was written by Bev, who was awarded First Place in our Parents’ Writing Competition 2020.
Several years ago, to celebrate turning 40 and trying to convince ourselves that we were still as fun as ever, my best friend and I wedged ourselves into wetsuits and took to the shallows of the beautiful Caswell Bay for a surfing lesson. During this lesson, I was told by the instructor that watching me try to manage the surfboard was like watching someone wrestling a tiger. I took that as a compliment (as there was no mention that I was losing the wrestling match) and spent the rest of the day happily floating around on the board.
We have two children aged 3 and 2. When I start telling this story, we get as far as the tiger then I become the coolest Mama in the living room and the rest of the story drifts away on a proverbial surfboard.
Therefore, to relive this experience and introduce the family to this particular part of the coast, it has been agreed that our first day trip when normality returns will be back to the bay in the Gower Peninsula, and here’s the plan:
We’ll wake up early, naturally the car will have been packed up the night before to ensure minimal time for tantrums while the toddlers decide what they deem necessary for a beach trip, only then to be told they are not bringing the standing lamp and/or next door’s cat.
The hour plus drive to get there will be filled with announcements about various bodily functions that are imminently required, approximately 20 singalongs of The Lava Song and 4 traffic reports which will seem like heaven in comparison, regardless of what disruption they advise of.
We’ll park up in the car park opposite the beach entrance (because we are obviously early enough arriving to avoid the crowds and the subsequent diversion to the overflow carpark), and quickly pop to the public conveniences, even though half of those present will furiously deny that they need to do so.
Taking in the beautiful, glistening foam and the excited flapping of the flags marking out the lifeguard patch, we’ll hoist the newly purchased beach tent, picnic bag and bodyboard bag down the concrete ramp, probably making it half way down before one, if not both, of the children notice the onsite café and kiosk and realise they have missed the opportunity to see how many times they can say ice-cream at varying volumes in a one minute period. Promising to stock up on frozen treats later in the day, we’ll find the best spot on the sands that we can, the grownups present standing hand on hips and breathing in the sea air, bracing themselves to ‘pop-up’ the aforementioned tent, and hoping it won’t result in being that family that everyone feels for, but who provide much hilarity, as the wind catches the tent and rolls it down the beach, only stopping when grasping fingers are within inches of it before making another bid for freedom.
Watching the body boarders and surfers already in the water, we’ll get everyone covered in suncream and zipped up into wetsuits, then run as elegantly as possible carrying a body board to the sea. ‘Lets hit the waves!’ I’ll shout. ‘Hid-a-ways!’ the 2 year old will repeat with glee, and squeal when his feet slap into the shallows. There will be more squealing from the 3 year old when salty water stings her eyes for the first time, but it’s soon forgotten as the gentle waves bob us all up and down. After a while there will be a reminder that no ice-cream has yet been consumed, and further reassurance will be needed that refreshments will be provided soon.
The rest of the day will be filled with splashing around on the bodyboards or just kicking in the shallows, visits back and fore to the beach café, lazing in the tent and chasing a beachball every which way over the sands. As the day draws to a close, we’ll saunter back across the sands, with windswept knotty hair, and drive home with footwells full of sandy shells and pink toes. There will be overtired, grumpy little people in the back of the car, fighting the urge to drift into dreams of ‘hid-a-aways’, wrestling tigers and vanilla flavoured stickiness.
And, I hope this is exactly how the day will pan out because, right now, it sounds perfect.