A very English day out

“… but, mum, it is raining”

“… and?  Two weeks ago we wrote in the diary that we were going to the beach today and, therefore we are.  Get up”

And so it came to pass that we found ourselves off out for the day to Southsea (not Southend as I suggested on Twitter).   When I say “we” I mean the Webb family (plus Miss W’s boyfriend) and our lot.

We started the day with a full English, including home laid eggs from the Webbs, and discussed, at length, the greyness of the day.   “As long as we stay to the left of Bournemouth we will be fine” said Mr W.   “er, is that looking down on it from here, or up on it as you would do if watching it on the TV?”  enquired Mrs W.     Good, a row, and we haven’t even left the house.    Shaping up to be an excellent day.

Mrs W and I tweeted our trip down the A3 “oohhh turn on Radio 2 now Wogan is interviewing KT Tunstall” /  “its raining now”  /  “there was a sign there for “Meet the Marines” lets ditch the men and go”.   And since the weather was so awful there was no traffic and we found a parking space right beside the pier within an hour of leaving home.

First stop the Amusement Arcade.  What is it that makes grown adults suddenly decide they have to have the plastic tat masquerading as a valuable piece of jewellery in the “shove 10p” machine”?

Miss W, E,  and I were like things possessed.    At one point I returned from the “give me your money and I will change it for you and helpfully I am next to the cash machine (just £1.75 a withdrawal — go on you are holiday) machine to find a random child looking at my 10p machine.  (my English teacher just fainted reading that sentence).   He was about 10, I am 41 and I am ashamed to say I body swerved him out of the way.   In my head I was shouting “NO… those teetering 10ps are mine.  All mine.  Back off kid”.

I couldn’t leave it until the lump of 10ps fell out.   YES, after an hour and half I had done it.   £1.20 had fallen out.  What a result!!  What a noise they all made.    I had put £16.50 in but that was irrelevant.  I had won.   And better than that.   E had won a “gold” yes “gold” necklace and bracelet.   Then lo and behold, Miss W then did the same!!!   The latter swiftly removing her Tiffany necklace to replace it with her winnings.    The green line that it had created at 2pm seems to have come free.

J thrashed me on the rally driving (I have a car, why do I need to try and thrash a 15 year old in a Subaru on a seat that tilts slightly?) .   Totally thrashed me.   I was in an automatic, he was managing to change gear.   And I wiped out 23 spectators.   Not one of my proudest moments.   And it cost me £2.   So we did it three times just to be sure.   And, yes, he beat me every time.

What is it with these places?   Why do we feel compelled to behave the way we do in front of machines we know we can’t beat?   We all know about the “feel the cuddly toy” machine… you know the one:

The one with the lovely plush looking cuddly toy that has a brick hidden inside it so there is no hope of the grabber picking it up.  Instead tantalisingly stroking its upheld limb.   £3 we wasted on that machine.   I am an intelligent woman with a credit card.  Why didn’t I just buy a cuddly toy?

And talk about competitive.  The boys played air hockey for nothing but honour.  Nothing.  They didnt even stake the first pint on it yet couldnt let go

Thankfully we realised we were all hungry so decided to head outside and look for some chips.

Still raining.

First of all though we had better walk to the end of the pier, kidding ourselves that if we took a few photos we could prove we had been to the beach.  Mr W decided to use the camera trickery on his iPhone to do a 360 degree photo of our beautiful grey surroundings.   Note distinct lack of photos of me anywhere?  I hate having my picture taken.  Yet I decided I had to be in that shot four times.  Running round under him as he took the picture in a circle.  At one point causing my own children to raise an eyebrow and tell me off huffily for being so childish.

Grown men were fishing at the end of the pier.  Nothing strange in that.  But the bait they were using was Californian squid.   Read that sentence again.

Now hang on a minute.   This doesn’t strike me as being very sensible, for a number of reasons.   First of all, what the hell do fish off the coast of Southsea know about Californian squid that means they will see it and think “umm that looks yummy” and want to eat it?   Secondly, it was raining.  These men all looked very intelligent, but cold.   Why on earth didn’t they just deep fry the squid, sit in front of the Eastenders omnibus at home, and eat them in the warm?  They could cut out the middle man and do themselves a favour.

Mr B hurried me away before I asked this very question and got into a heated debate about it being the sport of catching them blah blah.  Whatever.  They are more bonkers than we are if you ask me.

Then something else happened that always seems to when you present grown men with a beach full of stones and some water.  They skim stones.   Now I have never been able to skim a stone.  Don’t ask me why, probably because I think its stupid, but hey.

Trying to see who could get the most skims.   Mr W took it all very seriously, scouring the beach for the perfect stone.  Even limbering up before his next throw.  He only managed five though.  Again, Mr B thrashed him with an eight.

And people go in the water!  Hello…. it is raining, are you not wet enough already?  It would appear not.   “Sea.  Must take off shoes and get feet wet.  Must roll up trousers”  Nutters. All of you.

Chips.  Yes, somebody mentioned chips.

Did we eat in a restaurant?  No.  We are English.  It is the seaside.  It is June.  We will sit on the beach with our chips.   Oh yes we will.   And so some of us did.

We sat on the wall eating our chips.  In the rain.  Yes. In. The. Rain.   Why?  Because we said we would.

Some of us who shall remain nameless (mostly the Webbs) insisted on sitting in their car.   Lightweights.

Are we mad?  Yep, I think we are.   But a promise is a promise in this country and you don’t let a bit of weather get in the way of a fun day out.

Remember that next time you say “we were going to barbecue today, think we will have curry instead”.

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