My only regret about living in the shires is the distance to the seaside. I am, thankfully, one of the lucky ones, having been brought up in Hastings and marrying a girl from a coastal village in Cornwall. No matter how many weeks pass, I am content in the knowledge that I will soon be coast bound and will enjoy the feeling of sand underfoot and the cool breeze through my bald patch.

The downsides of a trip to the coast include the tourists, or, if travelling to Cornwall, ‘Emmets’ (of which I am one) as well as the parking. A seemingly relaxing time starts badly as you realise you do not have the required change due to them putting the charges up yet again in your absence. The pesky phone number/app contraption they claim makes payment ‘quick and easy’ are as user friendly as an episode of Only Connect. Half an hour later, just as the payment is looking like a winner, you spot the enforcement officer lurking, lose internet connection and have to run back to the car as you’ve forgotten the registration plate again.

Once on the beach, you immediately mark your territory: the true pros fence off an area with windbreaks, towels, surfboards and the kitchen sink. The poor, weathered looking dad has to carry it all in between fag breaks to save a berating from his wife, who sits in 90 degree heat resplendent in a cardigan and a Halfords tartan picnic towel. Just when dad looks on the verge of a coronary, he is tasked with trip number 43 to the car to collect Grandma. Watching him attempt to hoist a 20-stone woman in a wheelchair across sand and shingle is a sight to behold and, much as your kindness gene wills you to, there’s no chance of you offering to help as you defend your own patch of beach with gusto.

The sandwiches come out and at that precise second a little brat comes sprinting over your towel, flicking sand all over the chicken and bacon wrap. Just as you get the last grain off, 15 minutes later, the little love does the same thing on a run back out to sea.

Something is always forgotten, be it the sun cream, the phone charger or one of the two buckets, and again dad goes back to the car as he attempts to avert his eyes from the topless lady sitting near the beach entrance walkway. As you don’t look, her musclebound husband is glaring aggressively at anyone who dares peek at the missus, proving that steroids and exposure to prolonged periods in direct sunshine are not good bed fellows.

Eventually the kids get bored of arguing and go off and play. It’s not long before one tries to converse with you from half a mile away by manically waving a pink blow up flamingo. Believing they are in mortal danger from an unseen foe, you sprint out, Hasselhoff style, twisting your ankle on a hole the little brat randomly dug on the beach. Eventually you hobble over, fearing the worst, before your daughter asks something like 'Why is water wet?'

The mercy dash then turns into an ice cream run as the bairns have deemed it time. After traipsing back to the wife, now dozing on the towel, you locate some cash and breathe in as you queue among throngs of bare chested chaps and pay £4.50 for a Solero that costs £1.50 for three in the local Sainsbury’s. Now back to base, the wife still sleeps and the kids, now the best part of a mile away, seem to be poking some dead sea creature with a stick. After a quarter of an hour, the lollies are melting and you decide to save the £20 investment and polish off all four. It is at the precise moment you finish the last bite that the wife wakes up and the kids miraculously appear behind you, like something off the Shining, asking where the lollies are? Cue some abuse as they label you greedy guts before insisting you to go to the car to get some more money, before queuing once again for another three lollies.

Despite all this, it still remains a revelation: walking barefoot, feeling the sun on your body and having that five minutes' rest before you get jumped on by a sodden kid or hit in the face by a rampant Frisbee. It leaves you feeling surprisingly relaxed, despite the fallout from that day at the beach sometimes lasting a lifetime:

After a trip with my brother-in-law last year, I overheard him telling my wife that I am as hairy as an orangutan. I have since converted to manscaping and am now ready to show off my new hair free physique to any unfortunate Emmets who happen to cross my path this summer in the coves and inlets around Porthcurno.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher