Green Day


The last day of the summer holidays! Already? Can’t be! Well sadly it was. As usual a dear friend and I journeyed out of county to a glorious West Sussex beach, accompanied by Star II and chum and mermaid daughter of friend and her chum who came equipped with a ‘pop up’ tent.

We have always been blessed with the weather and that day was no exception, with storm clouds parting to reveal blue and gold the shallow sea sparkled. For once I had remembered the mallet so we set about staking out our territory with the use of windbreaks and then it was the first ever erection of my new beach tent. The young had no problem with their tent, aptly named it simply popped up and they weighted it down with stones. My chum and I however had just about managed to get the new shelter from its bag but it looked like no tent we had ever seen. Much like an inside out umbrella it had a steel skeleton on the outside with various clips but it was very low to the ground, we’re talking limbo. Perhaps it was excitement or the heat but it took my chum, (who is a Doctor, I might tell you), and I a significant amount of time to work out that the frame extended….ah right. So after that it was plain sailing and the tent was up and secured- base camp established!

The chum of Star II was unimpressed with camp and stretched out on a towel just alongside. As Star II retreated into the tent with some custard creams the girls were heard tittering and peeping unable to believe they had the most popular boy all to themselves. For his part he looked as cool as a cucumber all he required was a Gitaine, perhaps not since Brexit, a cocktail, (and a few more years) and the girls would swoon.

Star II couldn’t be doing with it all, emerging from the tent brandishing a spade he simply said,
“Do you want to dig a hole?”
Coolness quickly evaporated, ‘Yeah ok then’, leaving the girls thinking they may go for someone in Yr. 10. So having brushed their hair again they strolled nonchalantly along the shore, hole digging being SO unsophisticated!

My dear chum and I relaxed in the sun sipping beach café latte reminiscing about the previous years on that beach, and others in France, and just how quickly the sands of time had run through our metaphorical timer. In a blink of an eye the currant offspring would not want to come on this annual trip,
‘What with YOU! No thanks!”.

We made a pact that we would continue to come each year as long as our knees allowed us. But were we down hearted? No, not when there was barbecuing to be done. The offspring would need hearty fodder, with all that sea air and sand…

…Oh yes, sand! The wind had picked up and changed direction with the in-coming tide and wind breaks were no longer inclined to do their duty. Once the barbie eventually caught alight, after a slight technical hitch when we forgot to remove the cardboard tray from the bottom, the sausages were soon sizzling. Yet no matter how we tried contorting our bodies this way and that to block the Sahara type sands the snags ended up just a tiny bit…gritty, and no amount of ketchup in a finger roll could disguise it.

Cool chum was cajoled into trying one but declared he had his own picnic. Clearly he’d been on one of our beach excursions before, even Star II gave up on what I told him was valuable fibre and disappeared back into the tent with some Pringles.

The increasing wind emptied the beach of all but the most hardy and then our time was up too. We cleared base camp, the usual soggy apparel and rubbish into plastic bags. The new beach tent was easily folded into its bag but not before it revealed a petrified hot dog with a single bite taken from it. Sea gulls gathered and then hurriedly retreated, too much for even them. The boys had wandered off towards ice creams, the girls were singing and dancing to the latest chart noise. All we had to do was to pop the pop up tent back into its small circular bag- simple.

And so the sands of time slipped by – now physics has never been my specialist subject and I’ll happily confess to being a sarnie short of a picnic, (or even a hot dog short of a barbie in this instance), so I was somewhat reliant on my chum.

But I quickly realized that biology was more her thing as she grappled with the uncontrollable pop up circular sea serpent.
More time passed as we thoroughly calculated exactly how fit ten feet of tent into two foot of bag, the answer was simple…with no instructions we couldn’t. Exasperated we laid heavy things upon it in the back of the car for fear of it popping up at an inopportune moment, while assuring the owner that her mum would be ok about it…or we would buy another.

We will miss our children and their various friends, but we’ll travel lighter to the beach in our dotage, M&S food, two deck chairs, elasticated waistbands and open toe sandals.

Stuff that!! How depressing – turn the sand timer up the other way – I’m off to by a purple pop up tent and a paddleboard.

Sandra Pagan.