Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Hottest day of the year thus far and Mags had the bright idea of a picnic at the beach.
“Why is that such an alien concept to you Alice? It’s what people do. It’s the summer”.
“But it’s so bloody hot”, I complained, icky sweat trickling between my generous bosoms as, bent over, I studied the darker recesses of the kitchen cupboard to see what I could rustle together for a picnic. There wasn’t much in.
“Share ours” said Mags.
“That wouldn’t be fair”, I replied, frustrated on unearthing several packets of half eaten posh crisps at the back of the cupboard which were now as damp as a British barbeque.
“We could have a barbecue this evening when we get back”, added Mags as though reading my mind.
“Oh okay. You win. I’ve found a couple of packets of out of date Quavers. I can make some marmite sarnies and I’ve an apple”.
“See you on Kingsand beach then in half an hour” and she hung up.
Hubby once again declined the invitation of spending time in familial pursuits.
“What’s the matter with you?” I asked him, narked, “Is it the fact that now two of your children have gone beyond bucket and spade age you are so ‘over’ going to the beach? Been there, bought the t-shirt?”
“Alice, don’t be ridiculous. I was going to do some gardening actually”. I looked at him accusingly, a copy of the Times on the garden table along with a fresh pot of coffee.
“Seriously”, he offered, aware that I obviously didn’t believe that as soon as I’d driven away he’d be out there with the Flymo and Weedol, “There is a lot of cutting back and potting up to do. Go and enjoy yourself and I’ll make a coleslaw for this evening.”
That clinched it for me. Hubby knows how much I detest making coleslaw. Life is too short for all that shredding.
So, somewhat reluctantly I bundled the youngest children into the car along with the buckets, the spades, the sunblock, the spare set of clothes, the towels and the rather meagre picnic. It’s only a ten minute drive but by the time we arrived the 8 year old was fidgeting in the front seat. I parked the car.
“I don’t feel very well”, she said, before quickly opening her door and vomiting spectacularly onto the pavement. Passers by rushed past with wrinkled up noses. Tutting.
“It’s very hot”, said my little girl. I gave her a bottle of water and plonked her sun hat on.
“Hopefully you’ll feel better once you are by the sea”. She looked as unconvinced as I felt. We found Mags reclining on a beautiful, ethnic, Fair Trade, throw.
“Yoo-hoo”, she waved, sitting up, her still pert boobs barely covered by two triangles of gold bikini.
“God Mags”, I said, throwing myself, not particularly gracefully onto her blanket. It was a long way down, “You haven’t got much on”.
“I know”, she giggled, “I couldn’t resist this little number. A fiver. Ebay”.
I took my skirt and t-shirt off to reveal an old cossie that had seen better days.
“I think you’d better put your skirt back on”, said my eight year old handing it to me, “I think you may have forgotten to shave”. I looked down and was shocked by my hirsuteness. Jeeze when had that happened? I’d only recently been for a Fake Bake; I know for sure that I’d addressed my bikini area then.
“A lot can happen in a fortnight”, laughed Mags, “Drag my sarong around your bum”.
I wrapped a few metres of cotton around my waist and sat down. Immediately the Red-Head wanted to go to the loo. I clambered up again.
“Are you ok now”, I asked the eight year old, “I’m just taking your sister to the loo. Do you need to go too?” She shook her head. I left her next to Mags, a little lacklustre but chatting away.
Ten minutes later we got back and once again I parked myself on the beach. The eight year old had gone to join Mag’s children in the rock-pools. That was a good sign.
“But I want to go too”, whined the Red-Head, “It’s not fair”. Bloody hell. Mags shrugged her shoulders, “See you later”, she said.
Once more I heaved myself off the shingle and picked my way across the rocks, the sun beating down on my shoulders. I realised that in plastering the girls skin in sun-block, I’d forgotten to apply it to my own. I’d pay for this later.
Finally I caught up with the rest of the gang. My daughter ran over to me, jigging up and down.
“I do need to go to the loo after all”, she said, a pained expression on her face. Bloody hell.
“Let’s go then”. Of course, I couldn’t leave the others on their own and so amid much bellyaching and whingeing, I dragged them back to the beach and deposited them with Mags. To cut a seemingly very long day short, my butt hardly made contact with the sand all afternoon, although my sandwich did which is just as well as Marmite couldn’t really compete with Mags’s picnic. Tupperware after Tupperware was opened to reveal bruschetta with Parma ham and mozzarella, a Greek salad, strips of pitta bread and homemade houmous. Juicy strawberries and pineapple followed. I felt most inadequate. My kids looked at their Quavers forlornly.
“Can we go home soon?” asked the 8 year old. We made it in time for her to be sick again. In the kitchen.
I still had a barbecue to host. And the coleslaw was in the fridge. I had no alternative. I set the coals alight although an hour later there was little distinction between the skin on the chicken and the skin on my shoulders. Both had first degree burns. We put mayonnaise on one and calamine on the other.

1 comment:

DL said...

Hi AB,

Brilliant post! I’ve got to say, I can relate directly to just about everything you’ve said here – arguably even the generous bosoms and the bikini line problem. ;-)

For me, the success of an ideal day on the beach would be measured in pages turned of a paperback. However, for the last two decades, progress would more easily be counted in words than pages.

And a picnic out of our larder, in its current state, would be every bit as meagre.

Hope the sore shoulders are on the mend. Keep putting the mayo on!

Best wishes,
D. x