Tag Archives: children

Three Life Lessons From a Cornish Beach

Beach Scene with Kites

1. Kites
2. Sand
3. Waves

1. Kites
Stumble upon any Cornish beach and you are bound to see a kite or two flying high in the sky. The Atlantic breeze coming off the sea is so strong that even inexperienced kite flyers have no trouble in keeping their tethered objects aloft, at least for a little while.

Higher and higher they go, until they compete for air-space with the gulls and the crows and for a short while they are a fascinating delight to the eyes.
Then for anyone other than the kite flyer, there comes a point when we want to focus on something else. The silken spectacle has ceased to be a draw, and although pretty, after a period of time, our attention wanders elsewhere.


I watched a man with a wonderful kite. He controlled it with two strings. The inanimate object danced into life in his dexterous hands, and made beautiful patterns in the sky as it rode the current. Then quite suddenly, it swooped dangerously low; I thought it was sure to crash until the Kite Flyer deftly brought it back up on another gust of air, back up and up the coloured silk climbed higher than ever, before plummeting again and then lifting once more.

I observed the people around the kite flyer. They all stood transfixed, watching the thrilling display.

The thing is, when things are always perfect, they don’t stay all that interesting. The excitement is all about keeping things alive. That is what we all need to do. And as with kites, life takes constant monitoring and effort. That Kite Flyer may well have been experienced and therefore would have found it easier than a novice, but he must have started sometime. And, however good he is, even if he is brilliant, the kite won’t fly, unless he stands there and makes it.

2. Sand.
You get all kinds of aggregate on Cornish beaches. Certain beaches boast their own unique sort of sand, unlike any other, anywhere else. Some beaches are pebble, some are shingle and some are sand. Of course, some are all three.

Last week I took my son for a walk along a stretch of beach, before the café opened for our breakfast treat. We calculated that we could walk for twenty minutes one way and then twenty back to arrive in perfect time. The sun was climbing high in the sky and we watched a trio of ladies in boiled-egg swimming caps and sensible swimming costumes wade into the sea. Further along was a man practicing yoga on a bamboo mat. A little way on, a sweet couple clearly in love, dared each other into the refreshing water.

“It’s so lovely!” I said to my son. “Let’s leave our shoes at the café and walk along barefoot!” Now my little one’s middle name is Caution. Well, it’s not actually. It’s Winston. But you know what I mean. He said he didn’t want to because the stones looked quite sharp. (He’s far more sensible than me). “Oh, yes, I see what you mean, but we can pick our way over those bits and get to the shoreline where the sand is as smooth as velvet!”

Off we went, mother striding forth like Bear Grylls and son, reluctantly sloping behind. When we got through the powdered sand to the place where the shingles began, it started to feel like a particularly painful version of reflexology by way of acupuncture.

It delighted my boy. You see, we all like a challenge! He grinned and yelped (sometimes, with joy) as we screeched (ok, that was just me) across the sharp stones. Please note, no blood was drawn from either of us…

We giggled as we dared each other on, just to get along the patch of shingle to where the sand began. Oh wow! I cannot describe how blissful the feeling was, when we put our sensitive little soles onto the cool silky sand, and wandered back up the beach, this time, along the shoreline. “Ahhhhh…”

We arrived back at the café, ordered and ate breakfast, admiring the view and talking of this and that. When it was time to leave, we put our socks and trainers back on and again experienced another surge of sensory pleasure. “Oh!” We both declared; “The cushioned soles!”

How funny: that thought hadn’t crossed my mind when I laced up my Nikes at 6am that morning. You see, everything is a matter of perception. Take something away, and then you will appreciate it all the more when you get it back.

All savvy surfers check where the best waves are to be found along the coast in Cornwall. They also balance that with how busy the section of sea is likely to be, if it’s hazardously rocky, and what the riptide is doing. I just concern myself with accessibility and whether or not there is a good café, and/or free parking. Some days, it’s the North shore, others, it’s down to the Lizard and our favourite, Poldhu Cove.

For serious swimmers, they want just the opposite. They are looking for millpond flat sea, ideally with little or no white-water.

Those who take care of little ones want beaches they can see from one side to the other clearly, with sweet little waves to paddle in.

Adventurous kids want rock pools and caves to investigate, so they don’t particularly care what’s going on with the waves.

Don’t even get me started with the paddle-boarders and the sailors…

And there you have it. The same fabulous ocean surrounds us, but it means different things to different people. What is perfect for you is a complete turn-off to someone else. You may have to travel the coast in order to please the people around you, but in the process, please don’t forget to also find time to please yourself. x

What Do Kids Know About Politics?

Over a particularly juicy red grapefruit I had the good fortune to share with my son for breakfast this morning, it seems that post election, young Nicholas is truly disgruntled. “After all,” he said, “I was promised things that simply have not been delivered.”

I looked up from my newspaper and asked him what was making him quite so cross. I mean, I know breakfast was a fairly modest affair, but there was no need to take it out on the toast he was now bludgeoning with enough butter to induce instant cardiac arrest. “They just haven’t given us what we wanted!”

Intrigued by my juvenile malcontent, but slightly worried I lacked the political nouse to get into a debate before reading the latest copy of The Week, I took another sip of coffee and asked him what, in particular, was he most angered about. Nicholas fixed his enormous baby blues on me, with all the sincerity of a young man feeling wronged and let down. I encouraged him to share his thoughts with me, surprised, but yet proud his interest in current affairs didn’t revolve around the Kardashians.

“Well,” said Nicholas, “We were promised a tree-house but there is no sign of one, and water fights, but they still haven’t happened, and smoothies instead of those milk-shakes at the tuck-shop! I would never have voted for this school council if I thought they couldn’t deliver!”

I wiped the Nutella from his sun-kissed cheeks and attempted to soothe him by suggesting water-fights would never get head-teacher approval and they’d have to raise funds for a tree-house, although smoothies may well be the way to go…

Relieved I didn’t have to get into a difficult political debate, unprepared and before I had fully digested my muesli, the car arrived to take Nicholas to school. (He has two or three drivers who take him to school and back because we live in the sticks.)

“Hurry up” I said, as I located his shoes, behind the sofa, naturally. “Come on darling, you don’t want to delay the man.” I watched Nicholas wriggle on his rucksack and plonk on his baseball-cap, feeling huge relief that this little man of innocence didn’t have to concern himself with anything more worrying than what was on offer at the school tuck-shop. There’s time enough for him to worry about the EU Referendum and what sort of cuts are to be made to public services.

“Actually,” he said thoughtfully, “I really don’t mind making that driver wait a bit.”
“But you really shouldn’t,” I gently admonished. A wry smile flashed across his face. “It’s alright mummy. After all, he voted UKIP.” And with that, he planted a soggy wet kiss on my face and ran out the door.