Thursday, 17 December 2009

Never too cold for a picnic

With thanks to Dotty Mummy for inspiring me to re-publish this post, which first appeared on The Weston and Somerset Mercury website last week. You can read Dotty Mummy's own reasons for eating al fresco on the Only Footprints website.

Here's that post:

December Picnic on the Beach

Yes, you did read right. You see, finally, the rain stopped: I would dance about it but that might be interpreted as a prompt for more. Instead, I pick My Girl up from Funny Bunnies, armed with fruit, drink and a woolly hat. The lack of cloud cover has welcomed the frostiness in and there is more than a nip in the air but at least it’s dry.

She jumps up from her chair and runs into my arms as I appear at the pre-school door: “Where we going today, Mummy?”

“We’re going to the beach. For a picnic.”

“Hooray!” Smiling excitedly, she tells her pre-school teacher. “We go to the beach.”

“Have you got your bucket and space?” her teacher asks. Er, no, I forgot about that and, anyway, I’m not sure I want to be sitting around, inactive, for too long after the food has gone. Not today.

“Have we got sandwiches, Mummy?”

We haven’t got sandwiches so we stop off at Astill’s in West Street to buy a warm sausage bap. I ask whether the sausages are local and the woman serving informs me that the pigs belong to the owner of the bakery, in Lympsham. You don’t get much more local than that.

The sea front is a building site and the part reconstruction of the old Grand Pier seems so out of place in our beautiful bay but at least you can still see all of Brean Down through it. The promenade is looking good and feels safe now the sea defences separate the pedestrians from the busy road.

We go onto the sand and almost straight away sit on the new wall to enjoy our plump sausages while they’re still warm. Lovely. I stare at the Channel, at Brean and Knightstone Island: we really should venture down here more often. I get out my camera.

“Mummy, are you taking photos of the picnic?” Yes, of the picnic, of My Beautiful Girl, of the vista, of footprints.

My ulterior motive for picnicking on the beach in full winter is to get some shots of any footprints left on the beach by other people. It’s for a new website I’m working on, which is dedicated to open spaces in the UK and tried and tested picnic spots such as this. Because so few Westonians are brave/fool enough to stroll on the beach on such a freezing cold day, my options are limited so I stamp in the sand and make some prints of my own.

“Can I do that, Mummy?” My Girl runs along the wall and slides on a slimy moss-and-seaweed mixture and I’m impressed that she has landed on her bottom, legs in the air, while managing to cling onto her bap. She cries but is fine, a little damp and shocked but not hurt enough to neglect her food. She sits on my lap, transferring watery sand from her coat to mine: she’s taken her gloves off to eat and her hands are scarlet. A woman with a dog goes past and I snap evidence of this with my camera, pointing it at the floor.

“Come on, Lestie, let’s finish the berries later.” I cover her exposed fingers with her mittens, pack my bag and we chase each other along the sand, where we can’t slip but we can warm up a little. A workman opens the barrier for us at the Knightstone entrance and, once My Girl has overcome her mistrust of the noisy digger, we speed down the ramp to Marine Lake. Her gloves are off again.

“Mummy, look, I throw seaweed into the sea. You do it too.” I wince as I take off my own gloves to grab the wet seaweed. She thinks this is brilliant so we throw some more into the water, counting as we go. I think she’s trying to reaching the seagulls bobbing on the Lake.

“Mummy, I’m cold.” We dry her hands and pop the gloves back on. I emit a grunting sound as I mount my heavy daughter, clad in at least four layers of clothes, onto my shoulders. We say goodbye to the beach, the footprints, the seaweed and the building work and head up to Nanny and Grandad’s for a well-deserved hot chocolate.


  1. Great idea! I love eating outside no matter what the season, as long as I can stay warm somehow.

  2. How wonderful. I felt I was with you then, reading your story.
    Why do we hide indoors when it is cold or raining. I have enjoyed some lovely walks in the rain, there always seems so few people about too.