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The True Story of a Day at the Beach


Gullane Beach, East Lothian, Scotland


could just let these photos stand alone, telling the happy tale of a sunny day at the beach: a day on which no-one almost stood on a crab, no -one got locked out of their car, and absolutely no-one got peed on by a Bichon Frise. Or by a seagull.

The thing is, though, everyone’s always saying how much they hate it when bloggers try to paint a perfect picture of their lives, carefully omitting anything that might make them look less-than-flawless, even although those are the things that actually make them interesting. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers, but let me first of all say that we DID have a lovely, sunny day at beautiful Gullane beach, on the picturesque East Coast of Scotland. It was probably the hottest day of the year so far, and the beach is one of those ones which The Famous Five would have a perfectly ripping adventure on, probably uncovering an international smuggling ring in the process. It was a great day, really.

It was also a day which started (and, indeed, ended) with Terry and I locked out of our car.

There we were, all sun-screened-up and ready to embark on a beachy adventure. And there was the car, all LOCKED up, and stubbornly refusing to respond to the key fob, which is one of those ones you point in the general direction of the car, thus unlocking the doors. I sometimes try to use the remote from the camera to do this, but it’s better if you use the key fob. Or it normally is, anyway: this time the key was just as much use as the remote control would be, so assuming that the battery had died in the fob, Terry headed back into the house to get my key… which also failed to work. Ah.

There was obviously something a little more complicated than a dead key fob to be dealt with here (Is the word “fob” starting to look really weird to anyone else at this point, or is it just me?), but there wasn’t much we could do about it right at that second, and, well, we still really wanted to go to the beach, so I called my parents (who were joining us on our excursion anyway),  they came and picked us up, and soon we were on our way.

Well, we got to the beach without incident, and I immediately raised the Crab Terror Alert to Defcon 1 (Context: my crippling fear of crustaceans), mincing over the sand , all goggle-eyed, ready to run for it at the first sight of a raised pincer. There were no crabs in the immediate vicinity, however, so I relaxed my guard, and set about enjoying myself. And I DID enjoy myself: the weather, as I said, was beautiful, as were the surroundings. We had a lovely picnic, a paddle in the sea, a walk along the sand – all good, clean, non-crab-related fun.

After a couple of hours of this, the tide had gone out, leaving a vast expanse of sun-dappled sand, and I’d lowered my Crab Guard enough to consent to join my mum on a walk down to the sea. “Don’t you worry about crabs,” my mum said confidently, striding out across the beach. “I’m on the case! I have my eyes peeled for them! I won’t let you get within a mile of one! If I see so much as the suggestion of a crab, I’ll… ”

“MUM!” I shrieked, “You’re about to step on one!”

And yup, she was. She actually had her foot poised above one of the creepy little freaks, ready to descend on its outstretched claws. Which is LITERALLY my worst nightmare.

At this point, my mind basically broke. My mum tried to lead me away from The Scene, but her Crab Radar (honed through many years of having to deal with me and my phobia) was apparently malfunctioning that day, because she led me right towards another one. So I did what any un-reasonable person would do at this point: I cut and run. And ran RIGHT TOWARDS EVEN MORE OF THEM. Aaaaaarggh!

Seriously, it was like being stuck in one of my own nightmares. Once I’d seen one of them, they were suddenly everywhere: so many, in fact, that I genuinely thought I must be hallucinating. I mean, my brain convinces me there’s a crab in my BED on a regular basis: it would make sense for it to convince me I could ALSO see crabs on the beach, wouldn’t it? The crabs were all very small, and very, very dead, but this means nothing to me, because, you know, it’s a phobia: it’s not really supposed to be rational.

“THEY’VE GOT US SURROUNDED!” I screamed in horror. “They’re everywhere! EVERYWHERE!”

“They really are!” agreed my mum, who, by the way, will never be trusted to lead me through the Crab Fields ever again. “I’ve never seen so many of them!”

“Go!” I told her. “Save yourself! There’s no hope for me, but you can still make it! And if you do, send Terry back – he can carry me over the sand to safety!”

Once glance up the beach, however, to where Terry and my dad were sitting laughing at us, and snapping pictures of my distress, told me that I was really on my own here. Somehow I made it up the beach, clutching my mum’s arm and emitting a low, wailing sound the whole time. Then, obviously, I felt really, REALLY stupid, because SERIOUSLY AMBER. GET A FREAKING GRIP.

(You’re probably wondering why I go to the beach when I’m THAT scared of crabs. It’s a reasonable question, and I wish I had a reasonable answer for you, but … I don’t. The fact is, I like the beach, so I normally just try to put the phobia to the back of my mind, and rely on helpful companions to keep me out of harm’s way. Most of the time, I’m completely fine: it’s actually quite rare for me to catch sight of The Enemy – the beaches in Florida, where we normally go, don’t really seem to attract them as much as the beaches here – so as I’ve said before, most of the time, kabourophobia – for such is its name – is a pretty good phobia to have. If you MUST have a phobia, obviously. I still don’t recommend it, though.)

Anyway! Putting The Incident behind me, brave soldier that I am, I settled back down to enjoy the rest of the day. One of the reasons we’d chosen Gullane beach as our destination that day was the fact that it’s a dog-friendly beach. Rubin hasn’t been able to join us on our recent adventures, but there were almost more dogs than there were humans on the beach that day (Also more crabs, but we don’t talk about that…), so he was in his element. Or… not.

Rubin doesn’t normally show much interest in other dogs: probably because I don’t think he’s ever realised he IS one. Every so often, however, he will meet a dog he becomes inexplicably OBSESSED with, and today was to be one of those days. The subject of Rubin’s intense interest was one “Bailey”: a handsome chap, who was busily engaged in digging a hole right through to Australia. Rubin was FASCINATED by Bailey: he seriously could not take his eyes off him. Most of the time he just sat there, staring in silent adoration, wishing with all his heart that Bailey would look up and notice him, a bit like the school geek watching the captain of the football team and wishing he was him. Other times, he’d suddenly make a break for it and run over to Bailey’s camp, from which he would have to be bodily removed:

Terry and Rubin. And Bailey.



Finally, Rubin’s prayers were answered: at last, Bailey noticed he was alive, and came bounding over… at which point it was Rubin’s turn to lose his mind. THIS IS WHY THE COOL KIDS DON’T LET HIM SIT WITH THEM.

As Bailey approached, Rubin started freaking out in excitement. Then he did what I’ve since discovered is a not-uncommon (albeit a deeply unpleasant) thing for dogs at the beach to do: he decided he needed to mark his territory by raising his leg against the nearest thing he could find. Which just so happened to be Terry.



Luckily for Terry, two things saved him here: his own quick reaction, and the fact that Rubin had been “marking his territory” all day by that point. The tank, as it were, was empty. The fact that he’d even TRIED, however, was so astonishing that we all stood there staring at him speechlessly for a few seconds, and it was at that point that the seagull entered the frame, and crapped all over my dad. Yes, he was LITERALLY crapped on from a great height. GAH.

It was… a real mess. Those seagulls, they manage to eat a lot, hey? It managed to quite comprehensively cover my poor dad’s shorts, and as I sat there, trying not to gag as he attempted to remove the mess, and feeling a little bit smug to have escaped this direct hit… THAT’S when Rubin decided to pee on ME.


Again, the tank was empty, and, like Terry, I was lucky enough to see what was about to happen, so no harm was done, but, well, let’s just say we weren’t exactly happy that Rubin would suddenly decide to break bad like this. Why did he do it? Well, I know some of you are probably going to want to tell me there is something seriously wrong with him, but I’m happy to report that he hasn’t done this before or since (he was also at the vet this week for his checkup, and given a clean bill of health), so we reckon it was probably a territorial thing, and that he should go to his room and have a good, long think about what he’s done.

We, meanwhile, decided it was probably time for us to leave the beach. One of us had been crapped on. Two of us had been (almost) peed on. The Other One had narrowly avoided Death by Crab. “We should go, yeah?” we all said. So we did. (And again, I need to point out that these strange happenings didn’t spoil our day at all: they DID kind of spoil my dad’s shorts, obviously, but we’d had a lovely day, so we were happy…)

Our adventures were not over yet, though, for as we pulled into our street, covered in sand and… well, you know… we heard the wail of a car alarm coming from somewhere in the vicinity of our house.

“That’s not our alarm,” Terry said confidently. “Ours doesn’t sound like that.” Phew!

Yeah, it was totally our car alarm. It had somehow figured out how to make a sound we’d never heard before. Oh, and it was still impenetrable, due to that whole “key fobs aren’t working” deal. GAAAAH.

What do you do when your car alarm is going like the clappers, but your key doesn’t work? What WE did was panic, mostly.

What do you do when your car alarm is going like the clappers, but your key doesn’t work? What WE did was panic, mostly.

My mum and I stood around, staring at each other and saying, “Should we do something? What should we do?”

Terry went to the cupboard under the stairs, and started unloading every single tool he’d managed to hide there.

I called the AA (The automobile one. Not the Other One.), who told me they’d be happy to help… but only if the car was at least 20 yards from the house.

“Could we push it for 20 yards?”  I asked Terry, doubtfully. “Yeah,” he replied. “And then the AA would come and give us a lift back to the house, brainiac.” So that was out.

My mum and I stood and looked at each other some more.

Terry got more tools out of his cupboard.

And during all of this, my dad calmly went and got a wire coat-hanger, and used it to break into the car.

“Do you know how to hot-wire it, too?” I asked, staring at him incredulously.

“Don’t ask,” he said, grimly. “It’s better that you don’t know.”

And so the day was saved. The car, on the other hand, not so much: it turned out there was… something… wrong with the… something. It took a couple of days, but it’s all fixed now, so all’s well that ends well.

And despite everything? It really was a GREAT day.

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  • Derek Hemple
    July 23, 2014

    Nice pics Amber, I hope you have enjoyed well.

  • Rosanna
    July 23, 2014

    I love how you write Amber, I know it’s not nice to laugh at your crab-related misfortunes but I’m just thankful I’m reading this in the privacy of my house and not out in public because I just spent 5 minutes snickering away to myself!
    Sounds like a nice day even with all the mishaps!

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Oh, feel free to laugh – I’m just happy people made it to the end of that mammoth post!

  • Amber_
    July 23, 2014

    I admit, I am amused by your stories, but I would never make fun of you for a phobia. My best friend has one about grey aliens. It can be so difficult!

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      It really can! I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone laugh in a cruel way, but I know quite a few people are (understandably) bemused by it, and just think it’s silly and that they can somehow talk me out of it… (I’m guessing those people don’t have any actual phobias (as opposed to just stuff they don’t really like) of their own, because I think anyone who has a *real* phobia about something would understand, even if they don’t share that particular fear!) My big fear is always that one of those people will one day think it’d be hilarious to put one near me or something, thinking I’ll just squeal a bit and then laugh it off, whereas I would actually jump out of a moving car if I thought there was a crab in it!

  • iasmin
    July 23, 2014

    This was such a lovely post hahaha! I did not laugh at you for your phobia, I have one for grasshoppers. And I guess I’d probably feel that way about crabs too – to be honest, I don’t even like stepping barefoot on sand that much – so I know exactly how it feels when people laugh and refuse to help -.- And the phobia is almost the same thing as having a magnet for it, don’t you think? Everytime there is a grasshopper around, it has to be around me. Eh.

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Grasshoppers are pretty creepy – I can totally see why you’d hate them! Quite a few people have told me that even although they’re not *phobic* about crabs, they do find them fairly creepy: I think anything with lots of legs, and claws that look like they could hurt you is probably best avoided!

  • Maria
    July 23, 2014

    This was so funny Amber!! I’m also really liking the outfit remix photos!

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Thanks, Maria – I’ll try to keep including them!

  • Myra Boyle
    July 23, 2014

    Love this dress

  • Sarah
    July 23, 2014

    Hi Amber, such a funny blog! Sounds like you had a great day despite the mishaps. The beach looks fabulous as does your dress. Xx

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Despite it all, it was a fun day – here’s hoping we get a few more of them this summer, although maybe without all the crabs and peeing 🙂

  • Ghalia
    July 23, 2014

    This is a brilliant post!

    I’ve been a long time reader of all of your blogs for a few years now. Forever Amber was always my favourite, because of all the stories you used to tell! The way you write, it’s always made me laugh. I love it!

    I must admit, I felt a little bit sad when I sensed that the direction of this blog was changing a little; the focus moved more to style shots & fashion, than on your day-to-day life musings. I am not complaining, because at the end of the day it’s your blog & I can take it or leave it! I’ve never left, but have always secretly hoped you would do more “journal-y” stuff, in that delightfully funny style of writing of yours.

    I guess what I am trying to say is this post is reminiscent of the stories you used to tell a lot more often in the past, & as soon as I was done, I thought “that’s classic Amber”! Which, I admit, is more than a little strange as I don’t even know you but…… I am now rambling, so I’ll stop.

    I loved the story. You made me giggle all the way. So thank you for the laughs!

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Thanks for the feedback, Ghalia! I have actually been trying to include more of the “journal” style stuff lately… it actually wasn’t a conscious decision to stop doing it, it was really just a matter of running out of things to write about! As much as I love working from home, it doesn’t exactly provide a lot of material for blog posts, so it’s definitely not the case that stuff like this is happening all the time and I’m just not writing about it – it’s just that my life is really boring most days, so it was a case of find something else to write about (the fashion stuff), or just have very occasional updates. I’ve been trying to mix things up a little more, though, so comments like this are really helpful – it’s always good to know what kind of posts people actually want to see 🙂

  • Mana
    July 23, 2014

    I fully understand about the crabs. I have one of snakes, and large bodies of water, and heights, and needles, and the dark. And well I’m a mess really, but I’ve managed to make it through life without having to be medicated so far so I’m good.
    Howl has tried to mark us as his territory before and when we asked the vet about it he said that there was most likely another dog that he felt threatened by around, or it could be that he was especially proud of owning us and didn’t want the other dog to take us.
    Fashion and Happy Things

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Ah, that’s interesting! As I said, he hasn’t done it before or since, and we definitely thought it probably had something to do with him being surrounded by so many dogs – he’s not used to that, and couldn’t quite believe his eyes when he saw them all!

  • Diane
    July 23, 2014

    Love your story! If the day had gone too smoothly, it wouldn’t have been as memorable as this one. It certainly left you with something to look back and smile about 🙂

    • Amber
      July 23, 2014

      Very true – these are the kind of days you always remember!

  • Erin
    July 23, 2014

    This made me laugh very hard, out loud, in my cubicle at work. Thanks for making me look quite mad. (seriously though, I needed that laugh, so thank you!)

    • Amber
      July 24, 2014

      The potential to make people look mad at work is the best bit of my job ;D

  • Wild Tea Party
    July 24, 2014

    Thank you for the laugh on a stressful day. I am terrified of lobsters, if it makes you feel any better? I can’t sit in a restaurant that has them in the tank, waiting to be eaten. Absolutely petrified.

    • Amber
      July 24, 2014

      Oh, me too… I put lobsters in the same category as crabs: you don’t see them hanging around beaches etc, so crabs are my main fear, but I’d have exactly the same reaction to a lobster – they’re just so creepy and evil looking! (That said, though, as much as I hate them, when I see those tanks where you’re supposed to pick the one you want to have boiled alive for you, it makes me want to cry. I’m a real mess of a person, basically!)

  • Dana
    July 24, 2014

    Very nice images. Thank you for sharing 🙂


  • Suzanne
    July 24, 2014

    Wow you managed to fit a whole lot of drama into one day at the beach! LOL One thing is for sure…it wasn’t boring!

    PS I am also unreasonably terrified of crabs. I think it is because of the shifty way they walk.


  • char
    July 24, 2014

    I love the way you manage to look like the most perfect person ever and yet always have a story to prove that you are actually just normal and have the same kind of normal everyday stuff to deal with as everyone else. Phew.
    Love your dress and hat and I’m glad that nobody actually stood on any crabs.

  • Lola
    July 24, 2014

    So funny! I love Gullane but have started to go to Yellowcraig more often with the pooch- seems to be a bit quiter and you can walk thorough the woods before you get to the beach, lots of fun! 🙂

  • Tracey
    July 24, 2014

    Crab field. Haven’t laughed so much in ages! 🙂

  • Milly
    July 25, 2014

    Your posts always brighten my day up, Amber. I may have laughed out loud at this one. I really love your writing!

  • Ashlea
    July 25, 2014

    Oh Amber! This post = hilarious perfection. Thank you for making my Friday. haha

  • Erika
    July 29, 2014

    I love the journal-y posts! It was these that got my attention years back when I first stumbled across your blog. Your fashion is just an added bonus, and such a wonderful fashion sense you have. I am one of your longtime fans regardless of what you end up writing about. Forever Amber just happens to be my favorite blog. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your day with us all. The beach looks beautiful. I never realized that beaches are generally not dog friendly until this last vacation we took down to Florida. I bet Rubin was a happy dog for sure.

  • Ruth
    July 30, 2014

    Great post Amber, your description of the crab invasion was very funny but I totally sympathise. I just to be really scared of crabs as a child (still am really) and we always went on holiday to places where they were rife! My fear sadly kept me away from some beautiful beaches and at the pool most of the time.

  • Ruth
    July 30, 2014

    Ps. Seagull excrement can be quite heinous, I was once hit in the face by a huge poo and it smelt of rotten fish!

  • Selina
    January 7, 2015

    I really don’t think I laughed quite as much as I did for a week until I read this.
    Simply hilarious