Take me to the beach…
Seacliff Beach, East Lothian
My mum often likes to tell the story of my first foreign holiday: an event which happened when I was roughly the same age Max is now, and which I prepared for by rushing to add my wellies and raincoat to the open suitcase. “For the beach,” I explained, stating the obvious.
I was three years old, and had spent all of my summers in Scotland. It had not occurred to me that beaches could be warm places, or the sea anything other than outright hostile, and so it has been for Max. We’ve visited plenty of Scottish beaches since he was born, and he’s loved them all, but the one and only time I attempted to dip his tiny toes in the water (also at Seacliff Beach, as it happens), he cried like… well, like a baby, basically… and when I told him we were going to Blackness a couple of weeks ago, the first thing he said was “Yay!” and the second thing was, “We won’t have to go into the sea, though, will we?”
We would not have to go into the sea, I assured him: because the sea was cold and we were not insane – which we would have to be, to attempt to enter the sea in Scotland, even at the height of summer. (Yes, I know cold water swimming is all the rage now, but I will not try it and you can’t make me. I mean, it sometimes takes me 30 minutes to get into a heated swimming pool when I’m on holiday. I will only get into the bath if there’s a decent chance that the hot water will rip my skin off. Do I LOOK like I’d enjoy cold water swimming?)
(That would be a hard ‘no’, just in case you were wondering…)
When we decided to go to our favourite beach – which is Seacliff Beach, in East Lothian, for anyone just joining us – last weekend, then, I almost didn’t bother to bring Max’s swimsuit. I knew he wouldn’t want to wear it, after all, so it would just be one more thing for me to lug around all day, and, like I say, I’m not insane. For some reason, though, I decided to throw it into my bag at the last minute, even though I knew Terry would roll his eyes when he saw it, and, and it turns out my instincts were right for once, because just look at this:
The sea, people. My child is in the ACTUAL sea. My child who has thus far rejected almost all of my attempts at water-based “fun”, and who spent a spirited few weeks earlier this year steadfastly refusing to have a bath, because he was scared he’d fall down the plughole. And now here he was, getting his shorts so wet that when I suggested changing into the swimsuit, he not only agreed to it, but instantly ran back into the water in it, where he proceeded to spend a full hour running around, and having the time of his life, basically.
And, OK, he he stayed close to the shore, and I don’t think he even got so much as his belly button wet, but even so: this is the boy who politely declined to use the paddling pool we bought him last summer, on the grounds that it would get his swimsuit wet, and he wouldn’t like that. This is HUGE, people. HUGE.
In the space of one short afternoon, then, Max went from a child who had never set foot in the ocean, to a child who cried when he had to get out of it. I almost cried myself, to be honest: it was just such a treat to see him enjoying himself so much, and, OK, it did mean that I once again left Seacliff Beach with the stated intention of selling our house immediately, so we can move closer to the beach, but I’ve been saying that my entire life now, so no change there.
Of course, our visit to Seacliff happened on what the weather forecast informed us would be the last day of sunshine we’re likely to have for a while now, and while the promised thunderstorms haven’t been quite as bad as we’d been led to believe they were going to be, it did give the day a bit of a ‘Don Henley singing The Boys of Summer‘ feeling to it.
Still, I’m very glad we got to have our beach day before the weather broke. I know it’s become somewhat fashionable to sneer at people who are missing their holidays right now – or, God forbid, even booking some – but while I can’t see myself being willing to get on a plane until things are more settled, Covid-wise, I can totally understand why some people are willing to take the risk. As someone who pretty much lives for her holidays, I’m going to put my hands up and admit that I’ve been very much missing the opportunity to travel for the last two years, so the fact that the weather decided to be kind to us this month has been an unexpected treat, which has at least allowed us to get just a little bit of that holiday feeling, even if it is only for a few hours.
If the weather Gods would kindly allow us just a tint bit more of it, though, that would be amazing: I have a little boy over here who would very much like to go back to the beach sometime soon…