How Many Beaches in One Day?

I felt pretty yuck yesterday (11 July) – my Mum would have been 64, and it suddenly really upset me. I guess that’s the thing with grief: you think you’ve learned to live with it, and it suddenly kicks you up the arse. Anyway, I could either have mooched around feeling sorry for myself all that grey day, or I could gather up the minxes and get out to the beach in the bracing wind. What do you think I did..?

I asked the minxes what they fancied doing that day: CBeebies or how about the beach? They each bounced up and down in glee and asked if they could have boiled eggs in their picnic (Note: normal kids would have asked about buckets and spades, sandcastles, etc.) So: eggs hard-boiled, cartons of juice packed, sandwiches made, little pots of raspberries, cherries and baby tomatoes compiled, a ton of tissues (Midi’s sporting green bogeys) and nappies packed, and we were off.

Yeah, it’s tricky with 3 little minxes and just me to keep them out of mischief. I’m often asked how I cope. I reply that I don’t. The reality is that I employ strict discipline and very low expectations. And take a car if we have to go further than a mile. Well, the weather threatened to turn to ‘downpour’; a car offers an impromptu picnic and nappy-change spot; it can also cart the Sherpa-load of food and clothes changes you generally need.

We hit the middle of Cummingston beaches, the one that’s normally really interesting for beach-combing. Last time we were there we found enough good green sea glass to make 2 necklaces, and even a bit of red sea glass and a little cowrie shell. Yesterday? Nothing. Unless you count the red plastic diesel container. And the hundredweight of limpet shells that Maxi attempted to collect, probably for her latest beach sculpture. Hmph. Even she agreed it wasn’t a great day for beach-combing, so we ate half the picnic and wandered to the next beach (oooo, all of a few metres) and checked out the rock-pools. Nope, no sea anemones or starfish today. So we toddled a few more metres along to the next beach, a clean, sheltered, sandy cove. Maxi built some castles that looked suspiciously like the mountain sculptures from ‘Close Encounters fo the 3rd Kind’, Midi scampered around the sandstone slabs checking out the relative traction of her bare feet versus her wellies (that’s my girl!) and Mini licked the baby barnacles that made the rock face look like Moon rock. I got the hint that she wanted the rest of her lunch…

We watched a huge group of people from an Outdoor Centre set up 2 top-ropes over on Cummingston stacks. Bless, with all their orange helmets they looked like baked beans on toast! Watching the nesting seagulls catch food for their hatchlings reminded us not to go near the natural arches or caves. After an hour or so, we moved camp all of 2 minutes walk to the swing-park, where the minxes really enjoyed themselves. Midi especially clambered up and down the mini climbing wall, and tried to teach Mini how to place her feet and do it. Obviously I had to stay spotting for Mini, so Midi took some pictures because Maxi was busy dangling upside down on a rope somewhere. With Midi’s sudden speech development, and new climbing and photography skills, she’s becoming quite the accomplished little 4 year old!

Alas, we had to get home to take Foster-Cat to the vet. I was aware that his Real Owners had let his vaccinations slip for lots of reasons, but I wanted the vet to check him over anyway. He’s about 13 years old, seems to be quite active, still, and is hungry all the time. He’s a big cat, but is it fat? Am I feeding him too much or too little? I also have a firm belief that he understands English: he’ll sit on the doorstep mat and look disdainfully at me when I open the door to let him in, not moving until I say, “No, no, after you, Your Majesty”. Also, ever since I mentioned the word v-e-t, he’s suddenly started peeing against the minxes’ tent, my tent, the sofa, the kitchen cabinets… Maybe he’s getting his own back on me, because when I talk to him I affect a fake old man voice, like Grandad Tumble on CBeebies. Oh man, you don’t think he can read, do you?!

Anyway, he miaowed pitifully in his cat basket, but was good as gold at the vet, relishing all the strokes and attention. The vaccination was trouble-free, I got good advice, he’s a fit, healthy cat, and… he needs his broken tooth out. Ouch. And ouch in my wallet, too, but I can’t have him in constant toothache, can I? Poor old boy – it’s been broken off for a while. But the vet assures me he’ll be fine under anaesthetic. Hope so.

Whilst at the vet’s, the minxes were super-hyped up. Mini had only had 10 minutes nap, so her eyes were spinning and whirling, and she was on a different planetary system to the rest of us mortals. Maxi was very interested in everything going on around her, with lots of new, exciting posters to read and comprehend, so was totally oblivious to her family and cat. Midi was a little star: I’d warned them all beforehand that I’d have my hands full with a heavy cat and 3 tired little girls, so Maxi was in charge of Midi, Midi was in charge of Mini, and Mini was in charge of Foster Cat. Midi decided that she’d actually be in charge of everyone because they just weren’t up to it, so tried to responsibly hold her sisters’ hands in the carpark, whilst holding on to me, the cat basket, and open all the doors for us. She just didn’t get that she couldn’t do everything at once (awwwwww) so caused many a snarl-up. She tried so hard! It left me wondering where my Naughtiest Little Minx had gone. Not too far below the surface I think. I hope… 😉

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