The best beach barbecue ever

I have fond memories of being on holiday with friends. We would go to the beach and as everyone else went home for their evening meal, Alan would light a barbecue. It was warm, sunny and quiet after the fun and games of the day. Time to open a few beers as we waited for the charcoal to be the right temperature for cooking. Time to enjoy the special glow of the early evening and and the specialness of the occasion.

We’ve had beach barbecues at our little seaside getaway before, but not a planned birthday celebration. I invited the family, shopped for the food and ordered the meat from the village butcher.

After a morning swim, we were ready for the beach. There was a lot to take: picnic blankets, chairs, the barbecue, not forgetting charcoal, matches and a bucket to carry water to put the fire out. I packed the shopping trolley with food and drink.

Last year the grandkids and I had found the perfect barbecue site. Set back from the sea, but far enough away from the road to be hidden by the trees: an open space that was regularly used for fires. The day was warm and sunny. We stowed the food under the shade of the trees.


We lit the barbecue. In the time it took to walk back into the village to collect the meat, the fire was ready for cooking. And it was a sumptuous feast: burgers and sausages, onions, sweetcorn and asparagus – and we did remember the tomato ketchup for those who like it.


Son appeared on his bike. He had taken a train to Maidstone and cycled the rest of the way!


As the embers died, we toasted marshmallows, the way every good barbecue should end. Full of food, we lazed in the sun and watched the children play. Later, it was time for son to cycle back. Reluctantly we put out the fire, packed up and made our way back up the hill. It had been the best beach barbecue ever.



Half way through the year already!

It’s all been quiet at our little seaside getaway this year. We had to wait for ages for the builder to be free to make some major alterations to our ┬áchalet. Now we have two bedrooms upstairs and a new toilet.

The work was promised for before the new season, so we half unpacked the chalet at Easter and enjoyed the holiday. We left the polythene bags on the mattresses and slipped and slid in our sleep!

Granny packed everything up again. This time the builder came and did the work. Granny crept one evening after the work was finished. It was perfect. She didn’t dare say out loud that it was perfect, in case she found something that wasn’t. But it was.

The new double bedroom at the back of the chalet had hardly changed. Now it was possible to put up a mirror and cost hooks.


At the front of the chalet is a brand new twin bed room. This will be the girls’ room and the boys will have the bunk bed room downstairs.



But you should see the toilet floor! Granny found an off cut in the carpet shop that was just right: Paul Smith stripes. Son in law has a fondness for all things Paul Smith. When the family saw the floor, the immediately made the connection.

Logistics and fireworks

It was grandson’s tenth birthday. How better to celebrate it than with a family party culminating with fireworks on the beach?

He sent out his party invitations well in advance, using his newly acquired PowerPoint skills. Twelve people were able to come. How do you get twelve people in four cars to our little seaside getaway? Sounds easy. But it wasn’t.

Car one set off when after school clubs had finished with granny, grandson and granddaughter. We were starving by the time we were nearly there and stopped off at MacDonalds for something to eat before arriving at out little seaside getaway in the dark. We were surprised to see there was hardly anyone in the car park, but half term was really over, and everyone had gone home. Four had arrived safely.

Car two had mummy and middle grandson in. They went to grandad’s and were surprised to see granny’s friend Darren and his motor bike were visiting grandad and gramca. Darren and grandad were talking about a new foodbank. You can read about it here. here

Mummy dropped middle grandson off to spend the night with grandad and gramca. They would take him to a school friend’s party and bring him to his brother’s party the next day, in car four. Mummy continued to our little seaside getaway and arrived at bedtime. Then there were five.

Car three, driven by daddy, collected nanny, uncle and cousin the following day. After a slap up breakfast, they set off for the party. About fifteen miles from their destination, they heard a Big Bang. They stopped the car and got out. The exhaust had well and truly blown. They limped to join the rest of us. Now there were nine.

The breakdown people were called. The best they could offer was a tow back to nanny’s which took daddy home, the following day. (Grandad and gramca left in car four after the fireworks. Granny took uncle, nanny and cousin home in car one, after the party; while mummy took the remaining children home in car two the next day.)

We had lunch. It was cold and wet outside, so we huddled inside and played games while we waited for car four to join us. Just before tea, it stopped raining and we were joined by grandad, gramca and middle grandson. Now we were twelve and the party could really begin.

Grandson opened his presents and we had tea. Our new dining room meant that there was plenty of room for everyone.

By now it was dark and we set out for the fireworks, organised by the local sea scouts with help from local volunteers. The first thing we noticed that it was nothing like the big displays we were used to in London. They had sold 400 tickets, we were told, and maybe less than 1,000 people on a beach is not exactly crowded. We queued up for hot drinks and hot dogs,included in the price of the tickets. It didn’t take long to get to the front of the queue. Everyone gathered round the blazing bonfire.

It was time. Time for the bangs, whizzes, flashes, screams and soaring lights we had been eagerly anticipating all day. They didn’t disappoint. We oohed and aahed with the best of them. The bangs reverberated off the cliffs as only fireworks can.

And then it was all over. People started to make for home. The volunteers began to clear up and put the rubbish on the fire – including a big box that whooshed, and banged and whizzed and fizzed in all directions! A fitting end to a long anticipated evening. Thanks to the 12th Deal & Kingsdown Sea Scouts for a wonderful display.

Living the dream #2


Remember the opening scene of Swallows and Amazons?

Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in zig zags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for part of the summer holidays. He ran until he nearly reached the hedge by the footpath, then turned and ran until he nearly reached the hedge on the other side of the field. Then he turned and crossed the field again. Each crossing of the field brought him nearer to the farm.”



It was to be the start of an unsupervised adventure, for Father said: “BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN”.

Isn’t that what every parent wants to give their child? The freedom to run and play with the minimum of supervision. Many adults have fond memories of “we went out after breakfast and didn’t come home until we were hungry”. They admit they weren’t always perfectly behaved and even got into some scrapes; but they had something that our children don’t get easily today – freedom to play safely and unsupervised.


That’s what the holiday park where our little seaside getaway is gives the children who go there. Younger children can “run wild”, form gangs and make dens, while older children can experience life in the village and explore the beach and its environs. If they choose to, they too can live the dream.



We all do it. Sit on the swing. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards; stick your legs out, bring them back in, stick your legs out, bring them back in; lean forwards, lean back, lean forwards, lean back.

Take kids to the park. Inevitably, “Granny will you push me?” Increasingly, I’ve been aware that one day they will be able to swing themselves. As they get older, the baby swings get too small and are only suitable for favoured soft toys. So I’ve made pushing kids on swings a priority.

At our little seaside getaway, the playground is next door, but one. The kids run out to play and you have five minutes peace to accomplish some complicated task. Running feet. “Granny, will you push me?”

I’m so glad I dropped everything to comply or made swing dates. I’m so glad we had “one last swing, before you go home”. Because now the youngest two have learnt to swing themselves.

The trials of recycling

There’s no recycling collection from our little seaside getaway. Allegedly, the council won’t sent a lorry up the hill to collect it. Ridiculous, because many visitors to the site come from Europe and are well used to sorting their rubbish for recycling and the trip would be worthwhile. Even we feel guilty when we put our recycling in the in a black bag for disposal.

So Granny found an empty bin. She went on line to find the nearest recycling points and what they would take. We happily put our recycling in the bin and carried it out to the car when it was time to go to a supermarket.

Remembering the very visible recycling points at home, we drove round the car park, looking for the recycling point. We couldn’t find it. We asked in store. Even the staff weren’t sure where it was! “It’s by the exit,” we were told. We still couldn’t see it. We asked at the garage (by the exit). “It’s by the entrance, near MacDonalds,” they said. Eventually, we found it, looking unloved and barely used. No wonder.

There were big bins for the different types of glass, we only had a jam jar. There were bins for drinks cans and food cans, we only had an empty baked bean can. There was a bin for different types of batteries, we had two AAA batteries, hardly a great contribution. We had some paper which we put in another bin. We had lots of card and plastic bottles, no bin.

So we put it back in the car. We tried another, bigger supermarket on the way home. We found the recycling bins easily. They looked even more unloved and there were fewer of them and we’ve still got our plastic bottles and card. Anyone want it?

You can’ teach an old dog …

Earlier in the year, grandson leant how to dive. Granny had never learnt to dive and grandson thought it was time to teach her.

He showed her how to sit on the edge of the side, duck her head and put her arms over her head. He told her to push off into the water and go forward at the same time.

Granny had trouble sitting on the side. Her knees don’t work as well as they did. She ducked her head, put her arms over her head and pushed off. She went into the water. She went forward. Voila! She dived!

Grandson was pleased. But he told her to kick her feet next time so she went further. She tried again. It felt like diving. She went even further!

Granny had learnt a new trick.