We don’t really get much opportunity to visit the seaside with the sprog, it’s kind of one of the consequences of living in a landlocked county. Our town has a canal, but I’ve found that it’s frowned upon to sit with my feet in the water when I’m only wearing Speedos. Plus, dirt and stone make pretty crappy sand castles.
I have some fantastic memories of going to the beach as a kid. A lot of our holidays used to involve being in a caravan close to the seaside at places like Great Yarmouth, Blackpool or Scarborough. Today, I still love going to the beach – there’s something about the smell of salt from the sea, the sound of the 2p machines from the amusements and darting out of the way of incoming seagull crap which fills me with endless happy feelings.
It’s these kind of happy feelings that I want the future Adult L to remember her childhood with. Times have certainly changed since I was a kid, but I’d like to think that there are certain activities which provide the same fun and excitement regardless of the decade you were born. For me, going to the seaside is one of these.
As she approaches her first birthday, Baby L has been to Southend and Brighton, so has technically been to the seaside. However, on neither occasion did she get to experience some of the fundamentals of going to the beach, namely playing on the sand or going into the sea. Brighton doesn’t have any sand as the beach is made up of shingles, whilst we went to Southend in winter when the sprog was only a few months old.
We were therefore pretty excited about spending a bit of time at the beach on our recent short-break to Hampshire – well, that was until we found out that the majority of beaches in the Portsmouth area were also shingles. Still, a fair bit of exploration and endeavour (as well as a helping hand from Google) allowed us to discover a beautiful sandy beach half an hour from Portsmouth at West Wittering.
Armed with a rug, bucket and spade, Baby L’s UV protective swimwear and a childlike enthusiasm, we parked up in the car park and made the short walk to the beach. We were greeted with miles of unspoilt sandy beach, colourful beach huts and plenty of hunky looking fellas squeezing into their wetsuits.
As soon as she hit the beach, Baby L was in her own sandy heaven. The girl just wouldn’t sit still as she shuffled around, grabbing, grasping and occasionally tasting this weird surface beneath her. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before she was covered in sand having decided that it’d be fun to belly flop into it as well as throw it around. Still, the overjoyed look on her face was enough to make me forget about the inevitable sand dunes that would appear in the car once we took her clothes off later.
Prior to heading to the seaside, I had three things which I wanted to do with the sprog at the beach. These weren’t complicated or even particularly revolutionary, but I was looking to share part of my own childhood with Baby L. The three things I wanted to do with her were (1) build a sandcastle, (2) paddle in the sea, and (3) make a sand boat / car for the little one to play in. We managed to do all three, although I’ll admit that I cheated slightly with the latter…
1) Build a Sandcastle
With a £1 bucket and spade in my hand, we found some wet sand so that I could do my thing. Baby L watched on as I put the sand into the bucket with expert precision. It was obvious that this was not my first time. Once filled to the top, I turned the bucket over and gave it the magical DADventurer tap to the sprog’s bewilderment.
I carefully lifted up the bucket and before our very eyes appeared a sandcastle – I don’t want to appear too melodramatic, but I’m pretty sure a calm hush came across the entire beach as my architectural gem was unveiled.
After looking at the sandcastle, then at me, then back at the sandcastle, the little one did what comes naturally to any inquisitive baby. She destroyed it with her cute, but deadly, hands. Still, at least we built a sandcastle together and that was the main goal, even if it was only standing for a few seconds.
Having neither the patience or inclination to build another sandcastle, we continued our walk down to the sea.
2) Paddle In The Sea
With the sun out in force and the mercury touching 25 degrees Celsius, dipping our feet in the sea sounded a welcome proposition. With my white pins peaking out of my shorts and Baby L protected from the sun in her swimwear, we took a giant leap into the unknown.
As a kid, I remember freezing water, white frothy discharge stuff and plenty of rubbish. West Wittering was nothing like this though – the sea was warm(ish) and the water was clear(ish), which meant that I had no issues in throwing my offspring into the vast ocean without considering what injections may be required.
Baby L is already a massive fan of the water, so we expected her to take to the sea quite well. What we didn’t expect though was for her to love it. Whilst holding her in an upright position, she happily giggled and kicked around in the sea, and on leaving the water and putting her down on the sand nearby, she made a beeline back to the sea where she joyfully crawled and splashed.
3) Make a Sand Boat / Car
When I was little, I remember that my Grandma would always make something in the sand for my bro and I when we went to the seaside. This often took the form of a boat or car that we could sit and play in. It really wasn’t a trip to the beach with the grandparents if we didn’t end up with some sandy-shaped form of transport.
I planned to make something like this for Baby L, but on our walk down to the sea, we came across an already made boat. It was fate! Now, I’m not one for reinventing the wheel, so I decided that we’d just steal the boat and pretend that I made it. The sprog would be none the wiser and I was sure that I could live with the guilt arising from my fraudulent claims.
On putting her in the sand boat, Baby L had a bit of a wander and climb, whilst I found that one of the indents was particularly comfortable for my expanding arse. After making the appropriate speed boat sounds and going on an adventure with my imaginary steering wheel, Baby L got a bit bored and we headed off to de-sand and find some food.
That was Baby L’s first time of going to a (sandy) beach – muchos fun, excitement and enjoyment was had, mainly by me. Does your little one(s) enjoy going to the beach? What do you get up to when you go to the seaside as a family?