A family day out at the British seaside, after watching too many wildlife documentaries!
“Sharks! I’m not going in the water, because I don’t want to be eaten by sharks!” My daughter was 5 years old and there was nothing I could do to coax her into having a paddle in the sea. This might be understandable somewhere like Australia, in the wake of a newsworthy attack on an unsuspecting bather, but this was Porthcawl! The resort was experiencing a rare heatwave and the tide was out, so like most beaches on the Severn Estuary, we had a lengthy walk to reach the sea. I charged straight into the water for some welcome relief from the incessant heat, but my daughter just stood by the water’s edge, determined to avoid the Great Whites that prowl the Welsh coast.
We’d left my parents what seemed like 3 miles up the beach, obliviously relaxing in their deck chairs, guarding the sandcastle that we had built. F wanted me to collect some sea water for the moat. My attempts to convince her that it would sink in the sand as soon as we poured it out were futile. So I walked half way across the Sahara with a bucket of water in the searing heat, back to the castle. I poured it into the moat, and my father burst out laughing as the water sank. F had a great solution though – go back to the sea and fetch some more water! I had a better idea. I went up to a kiosk and came back with 4 ice creams. This proved to be a very popular decision, and delayed further demands from my daughter for excessive exhilaration in the sizzling temperatures of the Welsh summer.
Once the ice creams had been finished, it was time for French cricket. This was quite energetic for a hot day, but at least it didn’t involve futile expeditions to the sea and back. Nobody could hit the ball anywhere near that far. In fact I was able to eliminate running from the sport altogether, which is more than I can say for F, who deliberately got herself out a couple of times so she could run like a lunatic after the ball. What’s that saying again about mad dogs and Welsh girls?
By midday, the sun was getting too much for us. We packed up, carried our beach gear back to the car and got inside to a temperature that was probably warm enough to fry an egg. Oh the joys of the Welsh seaside! At least we’d escaped the sharks!
Porthcawl is a traditional seaside resort with a funfair. It has 2 beaches and a long seafront. As well as families, it is popular with surfers.
On the South Wales coast of the UK.
There is a frequent bus service from both Cardiff and Bridgend. The nearest train station is Bridgend (7 miles). The nearest airport is Cardiff (22 miles), although Bridgend can also be reached from London Heathrow and London Gatwick by bus.
The above article first appeared in Local Link June 2015, Cardiff edition