Britain is basking in the hottest summer for years. Heavy weekend traffic winds to the coast and an early start gets ahead of the queues, where a day out at the beach beckons. Gulls squawk as they wait for the picnics to commence, swooping down on scraps of discarded bread from mum’s bacon butties, prepared as dawn rose and sleepy kids were lifted out of their warm beds.
Wales. The destination for childhood holidays and now a regular pilgrimage as an adult, with family in tow. Colour dots the long beach as stones are pounded on wooden poles into windbreaks braced like soldiers against sudden gusts. Blobs of canvas spring up and with grandparents installed in tepee like structures, children race to the shore, buckets in hand.
The beach café is buzzing. Staff in fraying aprons speed around the kitchen delivering plate after plate to hungry diners. Sausage, fish, scampi, chicken – fried food piled high, moments away from being drenched in vinegar, salt and sauce smeared in dark pulsating veins over fleshy mounds of fat, tasty chips. An ice cream van appears, a tuneful arrival summoning bathers and beach walkers to crisp cornets, dripping with frozen vanilla and milk chocolate Flakes. Give the dog a cone! A sign on the van announces, Frozzie Doggie for the Coolest Canine!
The sun is hot as the tide races in. A quad bike hurtles noisily over the estuary, the modern-day lifeguard warning families to head back to the safety of the shore. A woman, large and perspiring begins to shout. A man, silent and sullen leads a dog away from her squabbling and wanders across bumpy pebbles, gaining distance from the bickering he’s heard a thousand times before. She buys an ice cream, the melting mass eaten in silence as she glares out to sea.
A ball thwacks against a bat as a cricket game starts up. Children laugh and scream, egging each other on under the glare of the delicious summer sun. Adults light a barbeque, sausages sizzle and smoke trails through the heat haze as burgers in soft soggy buns are handed out.
Beaches of Britain. No finer place on a sunny day.