Last week we enjoyed a family week in Cherry, our wobble wagon, down in the rolling countryside and beautiful beaches of Devon.
I had a few aims for the holiday. No screens for me. No playstation for the kids. Family fun time. A day at the sea side. Proper Devon cream tea. And lobster – fresh from the sea. My holiday must.
Things didn’t quite turn out as planned. For the first 4 days we had torrential rain, 45mph wind and spent a lot of time pegging down the awning and staring at the ceiling through the night listening to the wind howl and feeling the caravan rock.
We did manage to get the dogs down to the beach during a slight easing of the weather – just long enough for them to run about and the kids to get soaked, turn blue and risk hypothermia. Being responsible parents, we rushed them back to the campsite for a hot shower, only to find that the shower was more of a downpipe that trickled lukewarm water from a great height, so by the time it reached the kids it was more of a sprinkle.
We didn’t find any lobster, despite searching 3 seaside villages. Our cream tea took place in the wobble wagon on the last day, since we ran out of time before hand. And we did get a day at the seaside, but it didn’t quite go to plan.
Mr G and I are not real fans of the seaside. We don’t like being covered in itchy sand, or the freezing, dirty sea in England, always too cold and rough to swim in, where we are always at risk of a piece of seaweed or someones rubbish rubbing past our body.
But we have this nagging little voice in our heads (mine sounds suspiciously like my in-laws) that says all children should experience a seaside holiday and be able to build sandcastles.
So we planned our day. The sun shone. We packed swimming costumes and towels, filled water bottles and sorted snacks. We stopped at a shop on the way and purchased a picnic blanket, buckets and spades. We even threw in flags for our turrets.
And off we went, to the vast, award winning yellow sands of Woolacoombe Bay.
Along with thousands of other people.
We had barely got settled when we lost my son in the crowds. He went off to get water and couldn’t find his way back. While it was obviously frightening for us as parents, my daughter was terrified. Poor Sackgirl was left cuddling a puppy, crying her eyes out, surrounded by vast numbers of strangers, only one of whom came over to check on her (and what’s with that, fellow parents!?)
He was found and returned, and after we all had a long cuddle and a little shake, we concentrated on having fun at the seaside.
We built our sandcastle – but having a OCD mother who needs everyone to follow her instructions and do it properly, and a builder father who requires the walls to be structurally sound and the turrets to be level may have taken some of the spontaneity out of it for the kids. They did turn their backs on us and concentrated on their hole in the end.
So we buried them instead.
Then we all agreed that our ‘day at the seaside’ had been long enough, after just a few hours, so we packed up, staggered back up the beach lumbered with bags of wet clothes and covered in sticky, itchy sand, until we could find a cold shower to rinse every off.
So – to my thankfuls.
1. Thank you to the lady who saw my son wandering the beach and took him to the lifeguard. Without you our half hour of panic could have been much, much longer.
2. Thank you to the lady who stopped to talk to my daughter as she sat, puppy in lap, worrying that her brother was lost forever and her parents were never coming back to her.
3. Thank you to the RNLI for not laughing at me as I dribbled and wibbled, and for calming letting my little boy use your binoculars while you looked for his careless parents.
4. After years of watching Carry On films as a child, I have pre-conceived and proper notions of how a true British camping holiday and seaside visit should progress. Luckily – because there were times during my holiday when I felt I should be looking for the film crew.
5. Despite the ups and downs, we did enjoy 7 lovely days together as a family, and every second of that is precious.
6. So Sackgirl wanted to paint some pottery, and Mr G didn’t, so the kids and I went and started painting our money boxes. And then Mr G turned up – just as we were finishing, and got interested, and decided he did want to play. So then we all had to wait while he started from scratch. And, boy, did he take it seriously.
7. Thankfully I did get my all important seaside rock. I love rock!
8. And Mr G did get some down time lounging about, which made him happy.
9. Oh – and we went to Ilfracoombe for the day, where we saw this – a HUGE statue of a lady, and on one side she’s normal and on the other – well – just look. It’s by a famous artist who has generously donated it to the town for 20 years, which is bringing in tourists for them. So they are grateful.
And thankfully – I don’t live there!
10. But lastly, thank you to my wonderful mum, who has now got my kids for a week, leaving me 5 whole days of child free silence to get on with guilt free work.