The art of packing and making friends


Granny has a list in her head of what the grandkids need to bring with them to our little seaside getaway. It goes something like this: waterproof coat, hoody, long sleeve t shirt, short sleeve t shirt, clean pants and socks, pyjamas, wash bag, complete with toothbrush and toothpaste, swimming things, sleeping bag or duvet set, something to cuddle in bed, hairbrush and anything else they especially want.

We quickly found out that there wasn’t a lot of room for luggage in the car. Granny always has so much stuff, like food, to take. So grandkids were limited to a back pack each. Bedding is left at the chalet. But we still manage to leave things behind.

This time, grandson forgot his swimming trunks, hoody and toothbrush. Younger grandson had no jeans. He spent the day shivering in his football strip. Granddaughter forgot her hairbrush, very important if you have long hair, and hoody. She didn’t want to put her warmer clothes on because, she said, they were ugly. So she shivered as well.

But we weren’t completely miserable. After supper, we wrapped up and went down to the beach. We had face time with grandkids’ parents before we set out and grandkids had been challenged to find interesting things. Stones with holes in, a piece of netting with a jelly fish (?) entangled in it and a collection of enough stones to fill a pocket.

On the way back, We noted that there was a site of special scientific interest and we talked about what that meant: that you had to keep to the paths and not damage the plants. Also, we said you can’t play on other people’s beached boats or mess with their chains. Truly the beach is a great playground, but you have to have respect for it as well.

When we arrived, granny waved to a couple sitting outside their chalet. Then she realised it wasn’t who she thought it was. Oops! So she went over and introduced herself to the woman and explained her mistake. But what a good way to make a new friend. Soon she and the woman were chatting away.

The next day, after breakfast, we went down to the village, greeting everyone as we went. After all, this is our village now too. First stop was the post office with its jars of penny sweets. While the grandkids chose their sweets, the grown ups chatted. Saturday sweets definitely should become a new tradition.

Then on to the butchers with its photographs of the farms that supply the meat the shop sells. The butcher was on the phone. His card machine was broken and, to his amazement, it was fixed by remote access. “How did she do that?” he asked, “she was only a young girl!” The wonders of modern technology. We bought freshly baked bread and cheese for lunch and resisted the temptation to buy lots of other goodies as well.

There’s something nice about being part of the local village and not rushing off to the nearest supermarket for supplies. Next time, maybe granny won’t bring so much stuff.

We went back to the chalet to await the arrival of granny’s friends. Two of the grandkids were so cold, they wrapped themselves up in blankets and lay on the sofas. Older grandson made a longbow out of some wood he had found. Granny turned the oven on and baked. While the sausage rolls were cooking, she pushed granddaughter on the swings.

Our friends arrived and we had lunch. Grandkids hadn’t met them before, so it was introductions all round. Everyone was hungry after what had proved to be a long morning. We sat outside in a row on the edge of the veranda like a flock of birds on a telegraph wire, munching away.

After lunch, we went swimming. Friend’s daughter managed to persuade grandson to go swimming in his pyjama shorts. It was worth the embarrassment. Soon they were splashing around having lots of fun. The other grandson and granddaughter both managed new achievements by swimming widths with armbands on.

Not only had granny brought stuff, visiting friends had too. Hungry after swimming, we shared and enjoyed the feast. There was loads to eat. Afterwards, we took spare cake to the chalet next door and even had some over to take home and eat while we watched the final of Britain’s Got Talent.

Next time, make sure you have everything in your bag but don’t bring too much stuff. Look out for opportunities to make new friends. You never know what the outcome might be.

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