City to County: James and family hit the beaches
James and family have been immersing themselves in the simple joys of days at the seaside
My long, hot summer started back in May when I visited Cornwall for a family wedding. The bride and groom were almost forgiven for causing me a 16-hour round trip when I witnessed my son discovering the joys of the beach for the first time.
He’d been pushed along a chilly, windswept boardwalk in a buggy in the past, but he’d never enjoyed an authentic, sunny seaside experience. At first he was a little unnerved by the absence of the terra firma he’d become accustomed to. While still clinging to the legs of his mum, a few seconds later he was tentatively sticking a toe back into the new, unstable surface.
And once he’d finally mastered manoeuvring himself around the golden sand he decided he wanted to see how it tasted. But within an hour he was filling up a bucket with a spade (hastily purchased from a seafront stall by an under-prepared father) and making a beeline towards the sea for a paddle whenever we dropped our guard for a moment.
After seeing the pleasure a couple of hours spent on a beach (and a £1.99 bucket and spade) brought our son, my wife and I were rather ashamed it had taken an eight-hour trip to the other side of the country to do it. Especially when our county boasts over 90 miles of coastline on our doorstep – and probably a few more when the tide’s out.
I have friends in other areas of the UK who, due to their proximity to the coast, never visit an English beach, only hitting the sand when abroad on holiday. But as Norfolkians we had no excuse. On our return home we promised our little boy a few more trips to the seaside. And we kept it.
So I’ve spent this summer back on the beaches I used to visit as a child. Like my parents back then, we’ve packed up the car with blankets, beach games and snacks – or sometimes just the bucket and spade – and headed towards the shore.
We’ve built sandcastles, buried ourselves, paddled in the sea and generally had a lovely time. I even gave up trying to suppress the eight-year-old me who just wanted to dig an enormous hole (before responsibly filling it in again).
You see, I was once told that if you dig deep enough you can reach Australia…or at least enjoy the thrill of hitting water.
And, bar the cost of an ice cream at the end of it, it’s one of Norfolk’s free days out, a bonus when you’ve made it your mission to visit as many of our county’s expansive stretches of sand as possible. I’ve rediscovered I really do like to be beside the seaside.
ABOVE:Sea and sand – what more do you need?