A Day at the Beach in Ireland

It got hot enough and sunny enough on Tuesday to go to the beach.
THE BEACH.
IN IRELAND.
YES.
YOU READ CORRECTLY.
THE BEACH.
There was a little bit of drama in the morning, as my eldest girl decided she didn’t want to go to the beach, even though she ALWAYS wants to go to the beach (she wanted to go in February), which was all very confusing, but her parents convinced her… well, told her, that she was going.
I took note from my last outing with the girls, and I overpacked with regards to nappies, baby wipes, sunscreen, food, towels, swimmers, cardigans, blankets, hats, toys and drinks. Even then I still probably underpacked. You never know what a child may need or request on a day out. Best to just take everything you happen to spy as you are packing the bags. Don’t ever ask, ‘Oh, but will I really need a comparative history of communist states in the 1960s and a broken toaster for a jaunt down to the beach with a 3-year-old?’ Just take them. The children will find a use for them. They will especially find a use for them if you don’t bring them with you.
The beach we went to was Inchydoney Beach, just outside of Clonakilty, which is a ‘blue flag’ beach, meaning it is especially clean and well-looked after. The morning we were there, land movers were hurriedly scooping up a whole pile of green algae off the ‘pristine sands’, which occurs from farm pollution going into the water system and out onto the beach. There’s even a surf school at Inchydoney, which made me feel very at home, though when I got on to the beach and saw the size of the ‘waves’ I thought it might be more than a little bit of wishful thinking. Still, most of the group were children, so maybe the waves were just the right size.
I had been informed before we left the house by my eldest charge that she would not be swimming. Her younger sister, however, is impossible to keep out of the water. I wasn’t worried, though, I assumed that as soon as she saw us in our swimmers, the eldest would want to join in.
When we got to Inchydoney, the eldest girl asked where we were putting our towels down. I said, ‘wherever you like,’ which, was, of course, a mistake. She straightaway chose a spot right near the stairs, about 200 – 300m away from the water. To begin with, this was not a problem. The eldest said she wanted to sun-bathe, and the youngest likes to do everything the eldest does, at least for a little while, so she said she would sunbathe as well. Me, deprived of the Aussie sun for far too many months, and suddenly realising I have a deep and passionate love for the sun (which I never realised when I was in Australia), was quite happy to forget all anti-cancer ads I had ever heard and do the same thing. I was amazed that both of them, lay down, quietly, for more than 30 minutes without jumping on me, complaining they were bored or getting into a fight. The peace was not to last, of course. The youngest, decided she wanted to go swimming. I helped her get into her bathers. But I then faced the problem that I absolutely could not let the youngest go in the water alone, and the eldest was absolutely not going to let me leave her alone all the way up on the dry sand. She eventually agreed to come with us to the water. But, hanging on the sidelines as people splash about in the water is not much fun, so she returned to the blankets. In the water, with my back to the blankets, it seemed she was hugely vulnerable to being snatched off the beach by some passing paedophile (they are just always passing, you know), so I dragged her sister, wailing and kicking back to the blankets and attempted to negotiate the moving of the blankets closer to the water. The elder girl would have none of it. The sand near the water was hard and not nice to lie on. Eventually, I convinced her there were dry patches of sand further down the beach and she reluctantly followed. She still insisted on pointedly laying 3 or 4 towels down over the top of her blanket before she agreed to lie down. It was like the bloody princess and the pea.
I went back to the water with the youngest, but, of course, even though we were closer to her, the eldest was very unhappy that she wasn’t the focus of attention. She came over to me and told me she wanted to go home because she was bored. So, I offered to take her for a walk all the way down the beach, because this way, her sister could walk through the water, and she could walk on the dry sand. It was a very neat compromise. Until they started picking up the smelly, sandy seaweed and hurling it into my face. And, then they started forgoing the seaweed and just scooping up the grey, smelly sand and hurling that at me. The eldest girl in particular was infuriating as she was fully dressed and so every time someone went to throw seaweed at her, she would run away screeching and wailing and getting into a temper, as if it were the most horrendous, torturous thing that anyone had ever done to her. When we put down the seaweed, she would then pick up a great big glob of the stuff and hurl it at us. Not a particularly fun or fair game.
Eventually, the eldest girl agreed to go in the water, but then, for some reason, her younger sister decided she was terrified of the water and refused to go in. By about 3pm, I had had enough of attempting to be in two places at once, and packed everyone up and left. When I got home, I realised I truly had had an Irish day at the beach – I was completely and utterly roasted, just like the Irish tourists you see at Bondi Beach who are so sun-starved they just take all their clothes and lie in the sun for the rest of their holiday, or until they’ve gotten sun-stroke. I haven’t been able to sleep comfortably for the last few nights, the sunburn still hurts that much. Very bad of me.

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