The Easter hols have been very busy ones for all at Shoogly Towers. Like many families, the first pale rays of sun signal the first ‘proper’ trip of the year to the beach.
You know, the first trip of the season when it’s actually vaguely warm enough to venture on to the sands sans scarf, gloves, woolly hat, fleece jacket, old skiing jacket, wellies/welly socks and Balaclava.
The cousins drove up from Englandshire en masse, a trip akin to Jason’s voyage on The Argo, their offsprings’ little faces pressed to the car windows to fully absorb the strange sights and sounds of this mythical land.
After almost three days of driving and having to live off blaeberries and Scotch pies which they scavenged en route, they arrived, weary but bearing the golden fleece. Well, three bags of cast-off clothes for the Shoogly nippers and a grimy – but functional – outgrown Baby Annabelle in a swing cot for the Young Mistress.
Over several glasses of an undistinguished Vin de Pays, my cousin and I decided that as we still bore the mental scars of so-called ‘beach holidays’ on the North East coast of England, that we should sally forth the next day and inflict this torture – disguised as a Family Day Out – on our own offspring, just as our parents had done before us, and to us.
We would go the full nine yards – ham rolls to attract as much sand as possible, no windbreak, one towel per three children, insufficient spare clothing, scratchy woollen rugs to sit on, no warming hot drinks and a coolbox of food that most children baulk at eating on special days out – fruit.
We then had a fit of conscience and packed the shorty wetsuits, our one concession to possible juvenile hypothermia.
Our heads full of images of catalogue children skipping gaily along golden sands, we set off in bright sunshine for Coldingham Bay.
The oooohs and aaaahs from our rellies soon quieted, as their teeth began to chatter. It is only April, after all, and there was a very strong, cool wind blowing right across the bay.
The beach was quieter than I had seen it in a very, very long time, and the folk who were there were almost invisible, hunkered down behind their windbreaks.
My cousin and I smiled a knowing smile at each other. We had to suffer all those days spent on shingle beaches, with mums rubbing vigorously between our toes to remove the sand whilst we screamed. Sand-filled, gritty sandwiches. Wind whipping the sand into our eyes until we thought we had gone blind. Each frozen finger or toe that made us yelp as the circulation eventually returned to it.
Now it was their turn.
The kids spent the whole day alternately running into the surf and then immediately back up the beach to fight over the insufficient towels, moan about how cold it was and beg to go home.
And my cousin and I smiled another knowing smile at each other, safe in the knowledge that we had successfully upheld a cherished – if sadistic – family tradition.