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.

Making it our own

It’s nearly three months nice we got our little seaside getaway. Granny has spent a lot of time scouring the charity shops and other places for bargains to make the chalet ours. The bathroom is a good example.


The shelf came from a charity shop in Whitstable, the picture from Hilly Fields Summer Faye, the towel rail was found in the street and a new, similar toilet roll holder was added soon after. All a sudden the bathroom has acquired character.

A lot of time has been spent in equipping the kitchen. Poundland and charity shops have been the main source of finds. But visiting friends have brought “housewarming presents” of mugs and plates.


The kitchen had been upgraded a few years previously, but it drove Granny mad. New appliances, a longer worktop and an extra socket meant that the remodelled kitchen is a joy to work in. It’s never tidy, but you get the idea …


Last time Granny left the chalet, having got it ready for guests, she felt that at last everything was as it should be. Well almost. When the family came back, son in law and daughter moved two of the beds upstairs and the resulting empty room is in the process of becoming a dining room leading out onto the new decking, making us very aware of the position of our seaside getaway.

It was the nail what done it

It was a hot Friday in July. We dashed to our seaside getaway after school and arrived 20 minutes before the swimming pool closed. A quick change and we had 15 minutes of splashing about.

On our return to the car, Granny noticed that one of the tyres was flat. That’s a job for the AA then. We unloaded the car, had supper, went for a walk on the beach, watched the first night of the Proms and went to bed.

Everyone was up early and Granny rang the AA before breakfast. They said they’d come in half an hour. Just time to make bacon bagels. Andy from the AA arrived. He put air in the tyre and we all piled into the car. Andy followed us to the garage to make sure that we got there safely. Everyone waved good bye.

The garage was busy. They couldn’t even look at the tyre for an hour! How was a granny going to keep three children entertained for an hour? We walked. Down the hill. We found a beer can on the way and watched its contents trickle down the pavement and over the kerb. We kept walking. Were we never going to get to the park? And there it was. Right by the bus stop, like some one said.

The playground was quite small with something for everyone – balancing, climbing, swinging, dangling. We watched a man doing his keep fit exercises. Grandson led the others through the maze of tennis courts, through the interconnecting gates.

Fortified by snacks from the garage opposite, we climbed the hill again. The beer had all dried up.
Grandson found a pine cone and a long piece of cord. He made a swingy, whirly thing. Granny dropped granddaughter’s hoody and we had to retrace our steps to find it.

When we got back to the garage, the man was patching the hole made by a nail. We had to wait for the glue to dry. We waited, and waited. At last it was all done. Granny was impressed. The garage man wanted her to come back another day so that he could check the effectiveness of the repair.

We got back in the car. We were on our way. No one had cleaned their teeth, made their beds or done their chores! It would soon be lunch time, so we went to the village for sausages and, of course, Saturday sweets.

Granny did go back to the garage. As the man suspected, the patch was not entirely satisfactory as the nail had wiggled around and done some damage, so he changed the tyre. But we did get home safely that day.

He got it free!

Grandson and I went to the DIY store.

“Have you got any off cuts my grandson can have?” I asked.

“What does he want them for?”

“You know, banging together with nails – to make things.”

We went to the wood store. Malcolm was there. He had been cutting up some wood for the Scouts. He went to have a look and came back with five chunky pieces and a big, flat piece.

“Will these do?”

They did. He even put a sticker on, so we didn’t have to pay!

The next day, we went to a house clearance sale. Grandson found a broken, musical cigarette box, made of wood. A bit like this:

The lid opened and trays raised up displaying the cigarettes, if there had been any. He was entranced and wanted to buy it. He asked the man if he could buy it. They had quite a discussion, and the man gave it to him.

Later grandson and his mother did some research on the Internet and found out its possible value. They found out how the musical mechanism works and managed to get it working. It plays a piece of Neapolitan music, Funiculi, Funicula, written to celebrate the opening of a funicular up Mount Vesuvius. The box still needs mending and Grandson says this is going to be the first thing that he fixes and keeps.

And the off cuts? Grandson got the tool box and power tool out, and with a bit of help from his mum, made a side table.