Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy!
5 Things to do on a British Beach
I love going on holiday in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling too and I miss France terribly at the moment, but while the kids are small logistics mean that we’re holidaying in the British Isles. When I was a kid I had the luxury of being taken all over Cornwall and Wales by my parents who showed me what a marvellous country we have in terms of summer vacation spots. Yes, it’s rubbish when it rains and yes, the downside to a temperate climate is that it does sometimes rain but when it doesn’t and the sun shines, British beaches are glorious. So, here are my fave favourite things to do on British beaches. I’m trying to make this applicable to everywhere and so for that reason I’m leaving off region specific things like fossil hunting on the jurassic coast (you can add that to my list as a note in the margin should you so wish.)
1. Build a Sandcastle or Sandboat or Fort
There’s something about the fine, malleable, yet firm nature of British sand that make it just perfect for building stuff. That might be a sandcastle in the traditional vein (extra points for moats, hand shaped walls and flags as long as they leave the beach with you), or it might be a speedboat from which to have dashing adventures or a fort, from which one can repel the enemy. It doesn’t matter. The professional knows that sandcastles should be made from the sand between the dusty sand at the top of the beach where the tide fears to tread (too fine won’t stay where you want) and the wet sand at the bottom near the sea (often very shelly) so that the castle holds correct shape for the longest time. Bonus points are gained by using beach driftwood and shells for decoration.
2. Go Rock Pooling
With the exception of the Adder, British wildlife is largely harmless. Even Adders generally prefer sun bathing to biting people but I digress, Adders are not found on beaches. Back on point, there aren’t any nasties on British beaches for the most part so rock pooling is safe and quite a lot of fun. It’s also simple, the method is as follows.
– Go find a rock pool (British beaches have loads)
– Look in the rock pool for interesting stuff
On first glance you probably won’t see much but a sustained and quiet observation will reveal all kinds of fun stuff like little crabs, anemones, see through shrimp and even tiny fish. A word of warning, don’t attempt to trap them in your bucket, it usually means every other creature will swim off and it will, doubtless, ruin your unhappy victim’s day.
3. Have a Mr Whippy
In these years of gourmet ice cream and beautifully coloured gelato it’s very easy to forget that the best ice cream of all isn’t ice cream at all, it’s Mr Whippy. Now, it may be just milk with bubbles blown through it but the resulting confection is manna from heaven to the overcooked beach visitor. It comes in the best kind of packaging you can get (a cone that can be eaten) and there’s normally a Mr Whippy van close to most beaches (they grow in the dunes and leave once attaining adulthood and developing their chimes.)
Proper Whippy etiquette does allow for a flake, nuts or potentially strawberry sauce, double cones are vulgar and should be avoided.
4. Fly your Kite
Ok, you can fly your kite anywhere there’s wind and sky but normally that involves going somewhere which has both and making some kind of special trip, and who has time for that? But at the beach, well, there’s wind, there’s sky and there’s simply no good reason not to fly a kite. They’re an essential part of any beach bag contents and all round good entertainment.
5. Have a Surf
Once you’ve done all of the above and a suitable time after #3 has concluded it’s time to get into the water and have a surf. Surfers from other nations will scoff at the mercurial nature of the English ocean but let me tell you, when you catch a wave in the UK you know you earned it. Again, bodyboards can be bought cheaply from beach shops and the only rule is that you don’t leave it at the beach when you go home. If it comes with a leash make sure that’s tied to your arm or leg. If you’re new, stay between the red and yellow flags. If the beach is not flagged then avoid any curiously still looking stretches of water (these are dangerous rip tides).
Whether you’re a grommet on your first outing or someone who’s been surfing for years, be happy, be considerate to others and be grateful that you’re in our beautiful English ocean.