On Sunday it was my turn for a lie-in. And while Tom was getting it in the neck from Betty downstairs because he had offered her the wrong spoon to eat her porridge with, I was enjoying a peaceful Chocolate Orange breakfast in bed, and trying to decide on a plan for the day.
Half an hour later, Betty was armed with her bucket and spade, Tom with his book, and I with my four beach bags, and we optimistically headed for the seaside. I insisted that we cheerfully sing ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ all the way there, whilst the rain thrashed down, and Betty threw raisins at the back of my head, laughed, and then got upset because I wouldn’t pick them up and give them back to her.
After a two-hour journey, we arrived starving and grumpy. We sought out some fish and chips, and being intent on doing the traditional British thing, I insisted we eat them on the beach. We huddled together behind the beach wall to shelter from the wind and rain and tried to eat them as quickly as possible, while being assaulted by seagulls. Betty excitedly squealed ‘BIR BIR BIR,’ whenever one swooped, whilst I completely freaked out and screamed: ‘They’re going to get us.’ I have a serious seagull phobia.
Meanwhile, Tom was hurriedly trying to eat his huge haddock which I had already given him a hard time about spending our last five quid on – there were no cash-points around and I had wanted to buy Betty something, anything, from the tacky beach shop. All the while I was trying to take photos of us all eating our chips together. I had a go at Tom for pulling an ugly face in every single photo. “I’m trying to eat my bloody haddock,” he hollered back, and with that he ordered me and Betty down to the sea so that he could finish his fish in peace.
It was Betty’s first proper paddle in the sea. I rolled her little dungarees up, put her down onto the sand and off she charged into the water. I was so caught up with taking photos of her that I wasn’t being very attentive and before I knew it she had decided to sit down, but seemingly not bothered by the freezing cold temperature, she was having a wonderful time splashing around. She then got up, and with her giant water-bomb of a nappy causing no apparent hindrance, she started running through the water, giggling and squealing. It was a truly magical scene – just like in the films.
Then Tom rocked up and I tried to get him to take photos of Betty and me holding hands and skipping through the waves, but he seemed more interested in taking photos of a jellyfish. So I grabbed the camera, balanced it on a rock, put it on self-timer and then chased Betty across the beach, hoping that we would be in the shot when the camera went off. Tom was half out of shot in the background, slightly embarrassed, prodding the jellyfish with a stick. I retrieved the camera to have a look at the photo and although both Betty and I were in the shot I was dismayed to see a fat haggard-looking dollop (me) running in a very ungainly manner. These days I am genuinely shocked when I look at photos of myself. I seem to be suffering from a serious case of delusion.
After an hour of these beach frolics, I felt that it was only fair that Betty be relieved from her wet clothes and the three gallons of sea water she was carrying around in her nappy, and so we headed back to the car to sort her out. I was pretty annoyed with myself to find that in the four large beach bags that I had brought with us, I hadn’t put in a sensible spare change of clothes for Betty, or a spare nappy – only a pretty little summer dress, optimistically packed. But I remembered Betty’s nappy bag, which is normally wedged under the passenger seat and hasn’t seen the light of day for at least six months as Betty only ever poos in the comfort of her own home.
I found the bag and the only clothing I could find within was a t-shirt which had something intensely annoying like ‘Princess in training’ emblazoned across it, a pair of dodgy tan-coloured leggings and a badly knitted homemade cardigan, all of which had been shoved into this bag because I never thought we’d ever need to use them, and were now at least two sizes too small.
After cramming Betty into every item of clothing we could possibly find, including the dress, and squeezing her 20 month old bottom into a fusty size two nappy, we were ready to hit the windy cold streets of the bleak Welsh seaside town. As we walked along, with Betty in her pushchair, seemingly in fancy dress, loudly humming the theme tune to ‘In The Night Garden’ and waving a multi-coloured windmill that I had managed to buy for her from a £1 shop, Tom coolly remarked that he felt as if he was part of a carnival display.
Less than fifteen minutes later, we were back in the car and heading for home.