Sunday, August 08, 2010

I envy the people who stay late at the beach

On holiday in Brittany we end each day with a post-prandial walk on the beach. No matter how late we leave it there will be some family group still down there, making sand castles, playing volleyball, swimming or doing something else that most people stopped doing at the end of the afternoon.

Ever since I can remember I've envied the people who were still on the beach long after the rest of us had made whatever concession we needed to make to getting ready for dinner. I can remember looking out of the window of hotel dining rooms and seeing a handful of kids still out there playing, the whole beach to themselves. How did they do that? How could their parents be so relaxed?

I've concluded it's an attitude of mind. The people who are still on the beach at nine o'clock aren't worried, like most of us, about making their leisure fit the dictates of a clock. They're not terrified that Junior will never go to sleep if he doesn't get fed by a certain time. They're not haunted by the fear that they will arrive at the restaurant too early or too late. They're not suffering the agonies of the rest of us by trying to make everything perfect. They're built for holidays in a way that most of us, sadly, aren't.


  1. The closest I ever managed was this: I spent two weeks of every summer of my childhood in Cornwall. We'd spend the whole day on the beach, building palatial sandcastles and eventually make our way back up to the house - which was, and is, just a little clamber up the cliffs. We'd have tea in the kitchen and then my Dad would call us into the sitting room, where we could look down on the beach and watch the tide demolish our lovingly constructed sandcastle.

    Not really the same thing, I suppose. But your blog evoked the evening light on the sand and I got all nostalgic.

  2. Yesterday, at half past 3, I left the beach as the tide was coming in, scooped up what I could carry back to the car, left the rest of the family at an adventure playground, and joined a sizeable portion of the holidaying public of Cornwall in the Sainsbury's branch in Bude to scrape a few things together for dinner, breakfast and whatever.

    Oh to be better organised and more relaxed.

    I can only guess that the people still frolicking on the beach have servants at their manor house toiling over a hog roast with all the trimmings.

  3. As a fellow envious non-late-stayer (despite living very close to a beach that regularly features in top 10 listings) do you think it would be possible to train oneself to stay late, perhaps adding 15 minutes each time? Or would that defeat the purpose?