The forecast promising fine weather, it was time for a day on the beach. We chose Barry Island because of its short walking distance from the railway station to the sands, and met my sister on the train at Cardiff. It was a 25 minute ride, quite long enough for an excited toddler like Thomas, who wants to climb the chair backs and explore the aisles all the time. As soon as we were off the train though, he fell asleep in the sunshine.
Barry Island is a very traditional British seaside resort on the Welsh side of the Severn estuary, complete with merry-go-rounds, bucket and spade shops and a first class fish and chip shop; tea can be bought there, although Mel's Aunty Kathy used to bring her own teapot with cups and saucers for the brew, when his family used to come here on Bank Holidays, down from the Rhymney Valley in the 1960s. There's plenty of sand for crowds of families, especially when the tide is out, rocks to sit on at the end of the beach, rockpools with hermit crabs and a ramp up to the "showers"––cold water water taps in the wall––for the times when you're covered in sticky sand. The damp sand does stick to your skin, but is of a perfect consistency for sandcastle building and the digging of holes. Emma, thoroughly enjoying her little break from work, built an Olympic Stadium and the boys played with their spades, buckets and a ball. We went in the water too, no waves, but it moved about alarmingly, as far as Thomas was concerned. My mother tripped over a rock she hadn't spotted and gashed her leg. No permanent harm done, but she had to have 1st aid. I built a small inuksuk; my sister wandered around in the rockpools.
|From the grassy headland:|
Whitmore Bay, with Steepholme Island in the distance
(Chris was in Fremont, California at the time, at meetings with designers of robots that do knee surgery, advising them on the safety critical aspects of their software.)
For lunch wie had fish 'n' chips with the apostrophes in the right place. Barry Island is an alcohol free zone, a good idea! At the end of the day we took a short walk on the grassy headland––lovely to have one's bare feet on the turf––and Alexander, looking west, shouted, "Oh look, there's another beach!" without a human soul on its wide sands. Wonderful. We came back past the bouncy slide (5 minutes allowed) and he played on that though almost too tired from the hours of running about. Thomas, drifting off to sleep then waking up again, was overawed by the great quantity of rubber ducks in the hook-a-duck game.
And so back to Cardiff.