Friday, 14 May 2021

I hate beach as a rule but this was best holiday ever

FIVE-AND-A-HALF HOURS, my foot. With the queues around Stonehenge stretching further than the human eye could see, it took us a whopping eight-and-a-half hours to get to Coverack on the southernmost tip of Cornwall.

And, as predicted, it was pouring with rain. But not good, cold, let’s-sit-by-this-roaring-fire-in-our-chunky-Norwegian-knits-with-steaming-mugs-of-hot-chocolate kind of rain. No, this was are-we-sitting-in-some-weird-kind-of-Swedish-sauna kind of bad, humid summer rain.

But once we found the gorgeous old Victorian house and trudged our way up to our basic, but perfectly adequate, top floor room with a view, we were just about ready to drop.

And though I felt like a bit of a fraud staying in a youth hostel (it would have been more apt if I was in, say, a retirement home), it was with some vim that we wandered down to the communal kitchen and met some of the other single parents and their kids who had signed up for this beach holiday in Poldark country.

They were all lovely without exception and the kids made friends instantly, bonding over the giant, plastic Connect 4 game and billiards table.

I, on the other hand, proceeded to bore the pants off any adult unlucky enough to be stuck in that kitchen with me, droning on about the delicious virtues of roasted cauliflower and the merits of Michael Moseley’s eight-week blood sugar diet. No wonder they hot-footed it outside for a sneaky ciggie and an XL glass of Prosecco. Or five.

The next day, the weather was stupefyingly gorgeous and the kids were desperate to go to Kynance Cove and hit the surf with everyone else.

Obviously, I “forgot” to pack my bathing suit and thought I was safe, slightly smug sans swimmers — until we got there.

The kids were off their faces with excitement at the thought of getting into the water and body surfing and I couldn’t let them go in on their own while I snoozed on the sand (my preferred activity).

So, in an unprecedented and never-to-be-repeated move, I scrambled over the rocks all the way up to the café on the cliff, bought a wetsuit (size 16 was the biggest they had, even though I thought that was a little optimistic) and spent the next hour in a sweaty, salty-aired frenzy, trying to get the bloody thing on in the tiniest toilet cubicle in Christendom.

It was worth it just to see the looks of pure joy on my kids’ faces (ignoring the looks of pure horror on everyone else’s) as I waddled into the waves, though, because after the fourth time I was washing-machined to within an inch of my life and dumped most unceremoniously on the shore, the Eleventeen-Year-Old daughter could contain herself no more.

“This is brilliant, Mummy!” she spluttered, valiantly trying to stop laughing. “Thank you so much for bringing us here — you’re the best!”

Briefly, I wondered whether my beloved narky, sarky girl had been swept out to sea only to be replaced by some jubilant lookey likey, but I double-checked and it was her — just the deliriously happy version.

Fast forward five days and we’re stuck on the A303 for what feels like a million years. So we sing Green Grow The Rushes, O, scoff Kit-Kats and call Philip from WalKeys, who’d been looking after Cookie.

Turns out, Cookie’s had the time of his life, too, and is safe, well and waiting for us at home.

When we eventually got home, nine hours after we left lovely Cornwall, The Week Junior, a news magazine for kids, was sitting on the doormat, its plastic wrapper only partially chewed by an exhausted but contented Cookie.

We tumbled into bed and my daughter read the magazine to us, my son snuggling up to me, softly snoring within seconds.

“And archaeologists have found a 100-year-old fruitcake in the Antarctic. Hey! I didn’t know you’d got lost in the Antarctic!” she sniggered, delighted at this, the latest shining example of her rapier wit.

“Thank you and good night,” I murmured, drifting off into The Deep Sleep of The Knackered, warm in the glow of sunburn and the knowledge that this year’s Mother of the Year Award must surely be mine.

But that’s another story…

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