We went to the beach recently. The sun was shining, Spring was in the air, my husband has a newly found fondness for the great outdoors, so off we went with toddler and dog in tow. There are a couple of beaches within an hour or so of our home in Cardiff (Barry Island doesn’t count) but we opted for Ogmore-by-the-Sea, a popular pebble and sand covered shoreline near Bridgend. It’s very pretty, but there’s nothing really there apart from the sea so you need to focus your efforts on planning around that. Beach, estuary, sea, it.
In fairness we did seem to get off to a good start, apart from needing to stop halfway there for the toilet. My 3 year old promptly demanded to pee standing up, which he’s getting pretty good at, but he ended up peeing all over his hand, my hand, and most of his clothes. I had to hold him up under the hand drier to get most of the moisture out before he’d let us leave. When we got to the beach the weather still looked beautiful, but the coastal breeze had made the temperature drop dramatically. It was freezing. Toddler was fine in his puffy coat and I was just about OK wrapping my layers around me to make up for the fact I can’t do my coat up anymore due to big baby bump. But my husband had forgotten his coat. Neither of us wanted to risk the wrath of a small child who has just got to the beach only to be told they are leaving, so my husband swallowed his anger, sucked up some courage and we headed merrily down to the shore. Via the toilet again.
Ten minutes later we were actually on the beach! For the first time in over a year! The dog celebrated this joyous moment by doing a poo on the sand. So I spent another ten minutes retracing our steps to find a bin for it, and then another ten going back down the rocks again to find my family. There they were, the two of them happily chasing each other in the waves, laughing as they ran back into the sea and then out again. This joy was also short lived. It quickly turned out that my wellies, and my husband’s, have holes in them. Then a wave came in, our son ran onto the beach to escape it, and then kept going until he reached a rock pool where he kept going until he was suddenly waist deep in ice cold water and screaming with fear and discomfort. Cue much amusement from other parents (and us to be honest) whilst we fished him out, retracted the dog from galloping through the waves and headed back to the car for his spare clothes, which I’d luckily had the foresight to pack. Warmed up and dried off, he was in a much happier mood, but flatly refused to return to the beach, ‘I want to go home!’ We’d driven for over an hour for a fifteen minute beach visit, and now had to drive the hour back with a stinking, wet, sandy hound and petulant child in the car.
So we decided to go for greasy fish and chips in the next town along, just so the outing wasn’t a total waste of time. It turned out there was a Celtic festival in Porthcawl when we got there, which seemed to consist of some Irish dancing outside a hotel and men in kilts playing bagpipes along the promenade. Obviously they decided to come and do this right by our car, just as our son fell asleep whilst my husband collected the food – which turned out to be the best fish and chips we’d ever had. I’d had the window open to alleviate the stench of damp dog, but quickly had to shut it so the caterwauling didn’t wake our tempestuous toddler too soon. It didn’t and we were safe to quickly enjoy our food on a bench overlooking the sea by ourselves before a traffic warden waved us along, and our son came to from his sleep and inhaled his sausage and chips.
Obviously he refused to go to the toilet before we left Porthcawl, and then started to announce that he needed a poo as soon as we were on the open road and away from the town. We found a petrol station with the most cramped and filthy staff toilet I’ve ever seen (and I’ve traveled through Australasia) where he squeezed out a wee but nothing more, before once again declaring that he needed a poo when we got going again. It was a relief for all of us, in more ways than one, when we got home.
My son has refused to try going back to the beach since. If he ever changes his mind I will be packing the following:
- Coats for everyone
- A spare change of clothes for adults
- Four spare sets of clothes for child
- Wellies that don’t leak
- A blanket
- An anti-hypothermia blanket
- Lots of food and drink
I will not be packing the dog.