GUEST POST: When the beach is a bitch

I remember when going to the beach used to be blissful. A book, some baby oil and a Calipo before going home with that slightly tingly burnt feeling, salt in your hair and some impressive tan lines. Now it is guilt-riddled (skin cancer) and logistically CHALLENGING (children). Not to mention bloody hot. Was it always that hot at the beach or have I become intolerant?

It’s almost summer and you know what that means: sand.  I had my first beach swim of the season yesterday and my house and car are now full of it. Damn stuff. Also, as I stood knee-deep in the water trying to summon the courage to plunge under a wave (hello to the MM reader who said g’day me at this point and I’m sorry if I looked startled), I realised I can put it off no longer: it’s time to get a new swimsuit. I’m thinking a one piece. Coverage. For shizzle.

The Sharpest Pencil has this to say about summer and the beach…

Going to the beach with the family….. be prepared

According to those in the know – everyone who knows that seasons are cyclical – it will soon be summer. Unfortunately this means that I will need to take my family to the beach, not a small ask given that I have actually did this last summer and have only recently recovered from the experience. Not only will I have to take the husband and child with me but there is no getting over the fact that I will have to take my lily white legs as well.

In a desperate bid to ensure that my legs do not act as neon white beacons and attract more attention to my family, I have become very familiar with fake tan. Spray tan is the answer to the perfect glow because not only does it give you that rich, golden hue but it is sprayed on through an air brush so delivers that perfect, well, air brushed look.

But, even if I had this perfect tan that made me look like Elle McPherson (such is the magic of spray tan) I would still resist going to the beach because, as I mentioned before, I have a husband and child.

We often have good intentions to spend the day at the beach, we usually get around 20 minutes of actual sand and sea time.

Preparation for our trip to the beach starts early in the morning as I dreamily rub lemon juice onto my legs in the hope of reducing the fake tan streaks. At this point, with the smell of fresh lemon wafting through the air, I am often conned into believing this time will be different. It is not.

My legs, which at this point have large round patches of missing tan rather than the more subtle streaks, take me off to try and get Mr 8 ready for the beach. Ideally I would like him to eat breakfast before we leave. Ideally he would like to sit in front of the TV all day. I coax him into eating a nutella sandwich but make the hideous mistake of telling him to get dressed before he eats. As I leave to try and squeeze my body into a marquee that was sold to me as a swimsuit I notice that he has mistaken his swimming top for a serviette.

With marquee wrapped around my weary body I insist to Mr 8 that the nutella streaks on his body and his swimsuit are not the same as the “pattern” on my body. (Fake tan does not fool 8 year olds). I attempt to find him a different top to wear. An hour later I emerge from the laundry where I have found a replacement swimming top. Unfortunately it is the one that was scrunched up into a ball at the bottom of his bag that he uses for swimming lessons (or at least he used for swimming lessons 3 weeks ago) and has not been washed or rinsed. It reeks of chlorine and is slightly mouldy but I insist that it is very fashionable and that smell is in built “boy perfume”.

I spend another hour collecting balls, frisbees, bats and all the paraphernalia that must accompany us to the beach. We are not the kind of family that learns from experience and we still truly believe that we will have time to play with this equipment.

As husband finally awakens and comes out of the shower freshly washed and preened, he lazily enquires as to what food I have made to take with us. I glare at him very angrily but it does not faze him. He is yawning and stretching and envisaging the sandwiches that I have not made.

After rummaging through the cupboard and the fridge for the contents of what will constitute a relatively edible meal I throw the food into the picnic bag. I glance unwittingly at the bottom of the picnic bag and decide to take an enviro bag instead. Should be more hygienic. I patch the bits of the enviro bag that the dog has bitten with insulation tape (rendering the bag an environmental disaster) and throw the food in. At this point my son has just sat down with his father to play a round of grand prix racing on the x-box and I have to wait.

Eventually we are ready to leave. The beach is a ten minute drive from our home. The parking we find is an hour’s walk from the car. We spend 20 minutes arguing over the parking and another 20 minutes foraging for money for the meter.

As we approach the beach Mr 8 realises his ball is in the car. I run back to get it while husband checks out good spots to sit on the beach. As I get back I see Mr 8 crying, he has left his boogie board at home. I tell him to use his dad as a board.

We get on to the beach, we roll out the towels and immediately my husband declares his hunger. I show him the contents of the patchy enviro-bag and both he and Mr 8 break out in a harmonised YUGGGH. I should admit at this point that I hate the beach, I hate the hot sand and I long for the comfort of carpeting. It is at this point that my husband and son LEAVE ME ON THE BEACH ALONE and head off to the local cafe to find something to eat.

When they return happily sated Mr 8 complains that he is too hot, I kindly suggest a swim. He tells me he hates the sea and wants to play x-box. I am actually relieved, I am exhausted from this whole beach caper and don’t want to watch over him in the sea, in fact home is calling to me and even the sound of the x-box has a harmonious ring. My husband however convinces Mr 8 that the sea is fun and “cool” and he should swim. I glare at my husband once more. We eventually decide we will all swim together, hubby can watch Mr 8, Mr 8 can watch me and I can watch the life guards.

As we get to the water’s edge the life guards (that I have not even had a chance to ogle) announce rough conditions and requests that all swimmers should vacate the water.

You know – none of this happens in a spray tan cubicle? They don’t even allow husbands and children in with you.

Happy summer. I won’t see you at the beach.



You can follow The Sharpest Pencil on Twitter here or check out her poignant blog about her premature baby son here. I highly recommend both.

Are you a beach person? A summer person? Survival tips ANYONE????

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