The sky looked grey, just the odd patch of blue, breaking through the thick cloud swirling around outside. It was a typical British summers day and I was up bright an early; today I was going to the beach with Nan, Grandad and Aunty Pam; Littlehampton by the sea. Mum was preparing lunch to take with me, putting it neatly into a brightly coloured holdall, along with some bathing trunks and my china giraffe. I used to carry the Wade Whimsie around everywhere, buying a different figurine, every time I went to the Post Office on Highlands Road. I was a collector even then and always felt secure when I had things around me. Finally Mum packed a packed of Discos, some orange cordial and a towel in the bag; zipping it tightly, placing it over my shoulder; it was nearly as big as me, slipping off my arm, hitting the floor. Rather perturbed, I grabbed the handle tightly, dragging the offending item into the hall, throwing it awkwardly by the front door; breathing heavily, I fell forwards onto the top of the bag, my head narrowly missing the floor. Angry, frustrated, I kicked it with my foot; it wasn’t going to get the better of me!
I sat patiently waiting half way up the stairs, swinging my legs back and forth, banging the step below with my heal. A shadow appeared in the glass of the front door, impatiently I ran back down, slipping down the final few rungs; the figure passed by. A shrug of the shoulder, I turned away and walked back in the kitchen, sitting miserably at the kitchen table. Suddenly there was a knock at the door; my head immediately perked up, a large smile across my face. I jumped up from the chair and ran forth, followed by Mum, greeting Nan at the door. ‘Come on, come on, hurry up, lets go!’ she said, standing there with her perfectly coiffured hair, kept precisely in place with a purple silk scarf, tied around her neck. She tightly grasped my hand and we headed to Grandads car!
I sat in the back of the brown Cortina with Aunty Pam, laughing all the way to the beach: Pam tickling me, playing ‘Eye Spy’ and naming the colour of the cars on the road. Half way there the sun finally came out, streaming through the windows; sunglasses on we finally reached the shore.
There were four folded up deckchairs in the boot of the car; Grandad took two, Nan and Pam two more. Grabbing a blanket and a small plastic carrier bag; we set off walking to the water front, finding our spot, in front of the jetty. Nan helped me change into my bathers, put sun cream on my face and shoulders and took a Marathon from her bag; half for me, half for her. Covered in chocolate, head to toe, she walked me down to the sea, splashing water on a hankie, wiping me clean; carrying me back to the safety of the beach.
The sun rose high in the sky, reflecting majestically off the waves licking the coastline. I knelt building a sandcastle, bucket and spade in hand, unwilling to venture into the sea. Nan sat on her orange and yellow chair reading a book; Grandad, earnestly flicking through a newspaper; Aunty Pam on her way back from the Winkle Store on the promenade, a cup of crustaceans for all; swimming in vinegar, the smell of the sea. After a second trip for some ice cream and beer for Grandad, we sat looking out towards the pier; waving at the fisherman hanging over the railings, throwing bread to the seagulls, dive bombing the shore.
As the sun dipped below the horizon and the summer breeze turned cold, wrapped in Nan’s cardigan, I fell asleep, eyes slowly closing, flickering; a deep red sunset in full view. I could hear the voices of children, running along the sand, a speedboat pass quickly by and Pam singing sea shanties in the background, as I happily drifted away, warm and cosy at the end of the day!
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.