Parenting, profundities and humour

Beach Snob — July 26, 2020

Beach Snob

No sand…

So here we are in sunny Norfolk. I am being a bit kind here as yesterday evening it was anything but sunny as we sat in our caravan listening to the thunder and the rain pounding on the roof and thanking our lucky stars that we weren’t still in a tent.

Tomorrow, the day before our departure, and hence the day of the great awning dismantling (a virgin procedure at that) torrential rain and 40mph winds are forecast. This has thrown our plans into some disarray. It could be worse, though, we could be in Spain. No really we could be, had we not decided to cancel in April and forfeit the deposit. That is the best grand I ever spent. We would have flown yesterday just before Tui pulled out again and the 14 day quarantine period was reintroduced.


Anyway we have decided to ignore the great awning dilemma and have a beach day.

We have had 2 beach days on the holiday so far.

Before I describe those I must take a moment to introduce my husband. It is pertinent here as one of the things you need to understand about my husband is that he is a beach snob.

To my mind the perfect beach day involves sand, sea, tea, icecream for the kids, a fish and chip shop, a lavatory and usually some amusements. I won’t be frequenting amusements currently as I cannot comprehend how it is remotely possible to make them covid secure. My kids missed 4 months of school due to children being considered so covid unsecure and so I resent the fact that a small unventilated room full of shared machines and dirty coins (I used to work in a bank and I learnt there that a frightening amount of coins test positive for cocaine; a virus should have a field day) with staff who usually never venture out of their booths except to dispense one lollipop for 1,569,436 tickets are allowed to open first.

Usually in the UK to achieve such delights one needs to venture to a seaside resort. Like Cromer. I really like Cromer. When I get bored of the beach (usually after I have been required to play around 8 different ball games and been shamed and laughed at thoroughly for not being able to catch/ throw/ hit a ball by my obscenely sporty offspring) I can have a wander round the shops selling shell ornaments, jigsaw and enormous sweets in the shape of dummies. Even with a face mask this is still appealing to miss another round of French cricket.

This holiday my husband had other ideas. He has an aversion to well facilitied resorts. He finds them beneath him. He is a beach snob.

Unluckily for us the Times published a guide to Britain’s best beaches this week and 2 were local to us.

To be fair the first beach day was  not designed to be a French cricket and chips affair. My husband decided we should walk from Cley on Sea to Blakeney point to see the seals. He advised me this was 4 miles.

We arrived at Cley and set off. Like the majority of beaches round here it is made up of shingle carefully sorted by the sea into size grades based on the difficulty of wading through them. We schlepped for what felt like a couple of days until we reached the halfway house. Which was a quarter of the way…. my husband informed me that the walk back was also 4 miles but inland so easier on the knees.

We finally reached the dunes which are actually a step up walking difficulty wise and ate our lunch. It was at this point that my husband read the second part of the walk and discovered that we had to schlepp back along the beach after all. I lost my sense of humour.

Anyway the dunes were full of amazing dune plants which I had some fun identifying with my plant ID app. And we then walked on some boardwalk (utter bliss) and then on some more dry sand (grr) and finally we reached the National Trust ranger who was banned from sharing his scope so we couldn’t see any of the seals or the 3000 nesting birds except as dots in the distance. He was a font of knowledge though and it was lovely to hear all the birds.

The 4 mile trudge back wasn’t so great. At one point Eldest and Youngest began a Disney singalong to pass the time. That was a low point.

Anyway the day was one of those that you look back on with hindsight and think you enjoyed. Which to be fair in parts I did. I would probably have enjoyed those parts by driving to Blakeney. But there you go.

Anyway our next beach day was going to be a full french cricket and wetsuit affair. We loaded the car with everything required for such a day including no less than 6 sorts of ball and set off to travel the 12 miles to Holkam beach listed as number 2 in the aforementioned Times survey. As is the way in Norfolk those 12 miles took 45 minutes and several near misses with range rovers.

It would appear that there are an awful lot of Times readers currently in Norfolk. I probably could have guessed that from the number of times a range rover has nearly crashed into us head on by driving far too fast down the single track lanes. The car park was rammed. The queue to pay stretching out in a socially distanced conga to somewhere near our campsite.

What the Times had failed to mention about this 2 mile long secluded beach was that it is at least a 30 minute schlepp across dry sand and/ or marsh full of sea lavender (the clue is in the name) and wet dogs off their leads that shouldn’t be) to the sand and then a further 15 min schlepp to the sea. Sea and sand proximity is not good.

And there are no facilities at all. No tea, no shops, no lav. Anyway we made the most of it and I played beach tennis and French cricket and was laughed at as is tradition and 3 of the idiots made the extra 15 minute schlepp to go in the sea and then we all schlepped 30 minutes back (this time through a pine wood which was a little easier). And then we travelled the 45 minutes back to the camp site and the luxury of a wee.

Today is forecast to be lovely. Yet again husband decided we should have a beach day. On a beach that has made the top 10 of Britain’s best beaches in the Times. Overstrand.

This time we drove through Cromer to get here. So close and yet so far. We arrived at the car park where some people were sitting in deck chairs next to their cars. I mocked them. It is such a British thing to do. To drive to a seaside and sit in the car park. Wierd.

Any way this car park had lavs. We used them, loaded up and started to trek down the slope. When I say loaded up imagine every shoulder and hand of 5 people occupied with carrying burdens of various shapes and sizes.

On our route down we saw a cafe. My spirits lifted. Tea and lavs ticked off the list was a win.

It became apparent that there is one massive downside of Overstrand beach. There is literally no beach at high tide. None. High tide was precisely the time we arrived. We are all now sat on the prom/ sea wall waiting for the beach to appear. We are not alone. This may explain the deck chairs in the car park.

There is sand in Cromer.

The prom is nice
Omni, nom, nom, nom  — August 18, 2016

Omni, nom, nom, nom 

I honestly do not know what I am going to do with myself tonight. My husband and I have spent the last five or so evenings glued to our television set. Watching people hurtle around the track at the velodrome in Rio.

It is totally addictive viewing. A series of incredibly complicated race formats which all seem to have numerous heats and finals and incomprehensible rules.

Hugely fit men and women bursting their lungs cycling space age looking bikes that seem to defy gravity. Commentators talking about the power they generate as if they are each an electricity sub station rather than human beings.

Last evening I watched an 100 lap race where every 10th lap provided a sprint for points and more were available for lapping  the field.  Tactical doesn’t really cover it. And this was the last event of 6 in a kind of ‘hexathlon’ for cyclists. The Omnium. Our girl won gold. For the second time this week. Her and her fiance have 10 gold medals between them from various Olympic games. Wow.

The whole thing amazes me as does our team’s ability. Team GB are kings and queens of the track.  All ten members of this group of super humans has won a medal in Rio. 12 in all, 5 gold. It is truly mind blowing.

After the vastly enjoyable experience of living through a home games 4 years ago I didn’t think Rio would come close. We were lucky enough to get tickets in London. The event we watched, the 3m spring board women’s qualifying round, was almost incidental. The real thrill was just being at the Olympic Park.

The place was beautiful. Architecturally stunning stadia set off with amazing landscaping and planting.  Plenty of stuff for the kids to have a go at. Great shopping (gold Wenlocks all round for us). Wonderfully polite and enthusiastic volunteers. Mounted police allowing photos. Easy and efficient transport, the Javelin train was a highlight. Flags. Patriotism. And an atmosphere that I am unlikely to experience again in my lifetime.

We had the good fortune to be there on Super Saturday. We watched numerous gold medals being won, upon the water and on the track, on the giant screens set up in the park. We sang the national anthem repeatedly with thousands of others. The whole experience was deeply moving and awe inspiring.

We had to leave eventually. The kids were quite little (8, 6 and 5) and they wilted as adrenaline drained. It had started to go dark. We heard about Mo Farah’s 10k Gold on the train home.Everyone was sharing their stories of the proceedings, caught up in the atmosphere.

It remains one of the best days of my life. All the doubters and nay sayers were proved wrong. The Games and our team were a stupendous success.My children still talk about this once in a lifetime experience which we were so fortunate to be able to be a part of.

So Rio had a lot to live up to. I wasn’t expecting to be as bothered. We were away when it started but kept up to date with it on Portuguese TV and on the Internet.  We didn’t miss diving golds or gymnastic bronzes. Since we got back we have been glued to the screen as, yet again, GB athletes break records. And amaze.

We have been roaring at gymnasts, holding our breath during dives, watching spellbound as trampolinists flip and twist, trying to comprehend the fitness or rowers, gawping open mouthed at runners, jumpers, sailors, canoists, shooters, golfers and tennis and rugby players

In a world starved of good news it seems a welcome distraction. And these people are such fantastic role models for my children. Universally humble. Often shocked at their own success but proving that it is hours and hours of hard graft that produce results.

Some may argue that it is a waste of money, both state and charity funds, when the world is going to hell in a hand cart. But I disagree. These people deserve our support to put Britain back on the map of Olympic sport which frankly we have been absent from for far too long.

After London we jokingly said we should try to go over to Rio in person, so caught up were we in Olympic fever. We were only half joking.

Instead, after watching and loving it on TV, we already have vague plans to try to go to Tokyo in four years. The GB sporting steam roller shows no signs of slowing down and it would be great to be a part of that again. If we can pull it off I will pack a lot of Union Jacks.

And my pride.

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