An experience from my childhood…
I walked along the path next to the beach with my father. My mother and grandfather were walking up ahead. I held a newspaper come full of chips smothered in salt and vinegar. I had a grin like a Cheshire cat on my face and I looked back at my two sisters walking behind and gave them a smug look. I could see the jealousy on their faces and how much they wanted what I had.
“Serves them right!” I thought to myself, “How dare they laugh at me when I had been through such a terrible ordeal!”
It was a bright, sunny day in the middle of July and my family and I were visiting my grandfather who lived in a little seaside town. We decided to go for a picnic at the beach.
My sister’s and I laid out our beach towels on the golden sand whilst our parents and my grandfather battled to set out the brightly coloured, stripy deckchairs. It amused me to watch this as there seemed to be no end of trouble to get them up. We all ended up in fits of giggles. My mother set out the wind breaker and insisted that we all coated our exposed body parts in a thick layer of suncream which we hated as it left us looking as white as sheets and we ended up getting sand stuck all over us. My long, blonde hair blew in the breeze and promptly stuck to my face!
My mother and father went off to buy some food from the market stalls which lined the walkway alongside the beach whilst my sister’s and I ran down towards the sea to paddle and wash the sand and the stickiness of the cream from our hands. I wished I had remembered to wear my flip-flops as it was rather like walking on hot coals. I paddled in the water and watched the little waves crash over my feet and wash the sand away. I could smell the freshness of the sea air and could taste the saltiness in my mouth.
I often felt that I was in a magical world when by the sea and my imagination would run away with me. I looked down the beach and watched the other children playing. Along the back of the beach was a long row of arches as far as the eye could see and I daydreamed about bringing the boy I had a crush on here so that we could practise kissing hidden out of view. I was brought back to reality with a jolt by the sound of my father shouting my name and my sister slapping my arm as she ran past. The food was ready.
I walked quickly back up the beach stopping to pause momentarily to remove the seaweed that had become entangled between my toes. As I moved further away from the sea the sand got hotter and hotter and I pretended I was jumping from rock to rock through a river of lava. My head was filled with thoughts of newspaper cones filled with chips smothered in salt and vinegar – I could almost smell them. My stomach rumbled like the rolling waves with anticipation. You could imagine my disappointment when I returned to a brown paper bag full of sandwiches! My grandad was already half way through his and had at some point tied a hanky to his head which was knotted at the four corners. He looked at me and gave me a smirk, raising his eyebrows. He was always trying to make me laugh.
I looked inside the brown paper bag and gave a sniff and politely enquired what kind of sandwiches they were. My mother insisted that they were chicken and that I should just eat them. I took a small bite, but it did not taste like chicken, it all seemed a little fishy to me and as I looked around at my family I noticed the silly grins on their faces and my two sisters were both sniggering to themselves.
“They smell fishy to me,” I stated with annoyance.
My mother continued to insist that it was chicken and that the fishy smell was from the food which my father and her were eating. I stared at my parents Who were stabbing at polystyrene cups with cocktail sticks apparently eating something called whelks and cockles. I did not enquire any further as they made my stomach roll for another reason. I took another piece of sandwich from the paper bag and all of a sudden a seagull swooped down and snatched it from my hand, flapping its wings in my face as it went. I was so frightened that the paper bag of sandwiches was thrown up into the air and they all tumbled out into the sand. Several seagulls were now surrounding my sandwiches like moths to a flame, helping themselves. I screamed and flapped around whilst my sisters shook with laughter shouting out that seagulls must like crab sandwiches better than I did. I still have a phobia of birds to this day!