The Canavan family has just returned from a week in Northumberland. We were there seven days, it rained for six of them.
This led to a little tension as when deciding where to go for our summer holiday, Mrs C had begged to head to the Algarve or ‘somewhere where we’re guaranteed to get good weather’.
I told her it was unnecessary to spend all that money going abroad when we have such wonderful places on our doorstep.
‘And besides, we’re going in August, the weather will be absolutely fine,’ I confidently stated.
Mrs C wasn’t slow to remind me of this remark on day four when we were sat inside our small rented cottage, with the rain lashing against the window, halfway through our 53rd game of Monopoly.
The most depressing moment – though there are many to choose from – came when we woke one morning to find the weather absolutely gorgeous (well, heavily overcast and chilly, but in comparison with the other days it was fantastic).
We hurriedly made a pile of cheese and ham sandwiches and raced up the coast to Bamburgh.
It cost £2.50 to park by the beach so naturally I decided this was too much and decided to push on, while Mrs C complained about my tightness.
About 100 yards later we came across a layby with no parking restrictions.
I pulled in and triumphantly turned to Mrs C with a smile which implied, ‘look, I was right – we can park here for free, aren’t you fortunate to be married to such a smart and cunning individual’, but she was midway through texting. I caught a glimpse of her phone and saw the words, ‘Dave, please save me from this hell-hole of a marriage…’.
We got the two children out of the car and around 17 bags containing blankets, windbreaks, buckets, spades, badminton rackets, towels, swimming trunks, inflatable lilo, and suntan cream (optimistic), and headed in the direction of the sea.
Unfortunately whereas the car park 100 yards back had been right next to the beach, the road must have turned inland after that because it turned out the short stroll to the beach I’d envisaged was a half-mile trek across steep, energy-sapping sand dunes.
It took us 35 minutes to reach the beach, by which point both children were sobbing uncontrollably and Mrs C and I were shattered,and looking like competitors in the final stages of an ironman endurance event.
We threw everything on the sand and, after we’d got our breath back, began to lay the blankets out. Without a word of a lie, it was at this exact moment the heavens opened and a torrential storm last witnessed around the time of Noah began.
Given what we’d gone through to get this far we stayed put, grim determined looks on our faces.
This stance lasted two minutes, at which point Mary, with rain thudding against her sodden head, said, ‘daddy, I’m cold, can we go?’ ‘Don’t be daft, we’ve only just got here,’ I replied with desperate fake jolliness. ‘Come on, let’s build a sandcastle.’
She may be two but she isn’t a fool. ‘No. I’m wet and I want to go,’ she replied, which was hard to argue against. We packed up the gear, picked up the children and, three minutes after arriving on the beach, started the depressing trek back to the car.
Along the way we passed several people. Despite being soaked and miserable as hell, in classic British stiff-upper-lip style we all politely nodded at each other and cheerily said things like, ‘good job I wore shorts’.
Just as, exhausted, we reached the car, the rain stopped as if by magic and the sun began to shine.
Too soaked, demoralised and tired to return to the beach, we got in the car and drove back to our house, where we had another game of Monopoly.
A truly splendid holiday.