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Published: July 18th 2008
A fierce wind. Stony beach. Seaweed. It could only be the Great British Seaside.
Last week, on a complete whim (well, it was decidedly hot and humid when we set off), we loaded up the car with buckets and spades and drove down to the South Coast - to a place called Climping, just up the road from that infamous British seaside resort Bognor Regis. My Dad had been reminiscing about our childhood trips to this particular beach - yet, try as I might, I could not recall these seaside sojourns. Wondering why I’d blanked outings to Climping from my memory, I agreed that it was time to introduce The Toddler to the delights of the English Riviera.
So off we went - my Dad, excited about retracing a once-familiar route (and ready to take on the sat-nav should it deviate from said route); my Mum, who, wisely, had packed a thermos and coats (she obviously did remember our trips to the beach); The Toddler, happy to be going for a ride; and me, picturing Punch and Judy shows, pony rides, slot machines, sticks of rock and beach huts (OK, I’ve been out of the country for a while,
so you start to get nostalgic about the British seaside).
My suspicions were raised as we turned onto a tiny country road leading down to the sea. Surely this wasn’t the way to the seaside mecca I was imagining? Then the sat-nav announced that we’d arrived (‘Thank God you’re there, I can shut up now’ is how Eddie Izzard, the voice on our Tom-Tom, puts it). Dad confirmed that we had, indeed, reached our destination - a car park in the middle of nowhere. ‘Is this it?’ I enquired, realising that, yes, the run-down public loos and mobile snack kiosk were the main attractions. A lady came running out of the kiosk to tell us we had to ‘pay & display’, prompting me to wonder whether Climping should be renamed Clamping. But we got our money’s worth from the parking as, for a while, it looked like the car park would be as far as we’d get. The Toddler took one look at the beach and yelled, ‘Go back, back NOW’, leaving us with little choice but to set up camp right by the car (just as well, really, as the car acted as a pretty good wind shield).
After being plied with biscuits and juice, The Toddler’s mood improved to the extent that he let us carry him onto the beach, over the shingle, down a stony dip and onto the sand nearer the sea. And I have to say, we really did have fun in the sun. Well, actually, it was pretty chilly, but as long as you kept moving, it was ok and we had a great time re-enacting some of our favourite beach traditions (Dad wasn’t too keen on being buried in sand - but was crazy enough to take a quick dip in the sea. I steered well clear, remembering that British seawater brings me out in a rash). All in all, our day trip was a success and certainly good training for Dubai. Though, before that, maybe we should revisit Bognor Regis - and if we’re really lucky, we might even get to see the event Bognor is famous for - the Birdman contest, where dozens of nutters in fancy dress descend on the pier strapped to various kinds of kit to see who can fly the furthest, before plunging into the chilly waters. See - you can’t beat the British seaside! Toddler taming
The other day, while trying to stop The Toddler running onto the track at a local miniature steam railway, a man called over to me, ‘My dog’s better trained than that!’ I’m beginning to think he’s right. For much of the day, The Toddler inhabits a magical, fantasy world, where his cars take trips to the toy store to load up with boxes (!) of toys and his trains make their way to the airport, but there are times when I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of this parenting thing. Diaper changes require major negotiations, brushing teeth is a battle, getting him dressed is a feat in itself, bedtime is a closely-fought contest ... you get the picture!
At a huge children’s farm/adventure playground yesterday, I lost him. Weary from clambering up equipment to rescue him, I took a bit too long to get the stroller and by the time I’d got my act together, he’d gone - totally vanished. I’m used to him pegging it away from me, but this time there were numerous play areas, cattle barns, tunnels, hidey holes where he could have been - none of which I fancied exploring
in my pregnant state. I wondered what to do - start asking if anyone had seen a little boy (of which there were many)? Call the good friend I’d come with on her mobile? (it had seemed like a good idea to meet at this farm and was loads of fun, but with all the boys running off in different directions, we probably would have done better catching up on the telephone!) Tell a member of staff about my carelessness? (too embarrassing I decided - there were loads of mums there keeping track of three or more kids perfectly well). I tried the obvious - calling Max’s name - in vain of course. After what seemed like the longest time, but was probably no more than five minutes, I located The Toddler, at the very top of a large ‘Snakes & Ladders’ structure. He was watching me, and on realising he’d been rumbled, giggled, ‘Max, hiding’. Now, if The Toddler was a pet dog, he would at least have answered his name - but, you know what, I wouldn’t have him any other way! Bumps and bruises
Three months to go. I’m fed up with people looking surprised that my due date isn’t next week, or even worse, asking if I’m sure it’s not twins. I feel huge, uncomfortable and am counting the weeks down now. Attempts are being made to prepare The Toddler for the arrival of his little brother (yes, another boy!!!) - plus, because The Toddler is being particularly boisterous at the moment, I’m trying to avoid direct hits on Ghengis’s temporary home. When asked, ‘What’s in mummy’s tummy?’, The Toddler would reply, ‘Toast’, but he’s getting it now - then started thinking there was a baby in his tummy. People tell me the next three months will fly by and I hope they’re right! I’ll keep blogging in the meantime ... and at least we’ve got 12 more weeks to think of another M name. Given that my husband and I are still quibbling over The Toddler’s name (he prefers Maxwell, I like Max), it’ll take us this long to come up with somthing!
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