Tag Archives: summer holidays

Beach blues


OK, so here’s the thing – and I know this is controversial and may sound weird since I spend all of my holidays out here in the Med, but I hate the whole sunbathing-on-sandy-beaches thing.  I do, I really do.  Beaches should be so fabulous, but they are so stressful.

For starters, there’s the stripping off thing.  This tummy of mine was never designed for a bikini, or for public scrutiny.  When it’s out in the fresh air, I spend lots of time looking at it, thinking that one day it might be different, but somehow that day has never arrived.  Believe me, it’s a lifelong disappointment.  Even when I was a kid in those seventies bikinis with the plastic ring bits, I’ve never looked that good in a two piece.  Three hefty pregnancies haven’t helped, either.

Anyway, so caught up have I been in pool and shutter painting, that when the kids begged loudly enough to be taken to the seaside, I realized to my horror that I wasn’t even remotely beach ready  – if you get my tufty drift.  Fortunately, Denise had a spare half hour.

Denise runs a beauty clinic in posh Portals which is an air-conditioned paradise for the buffed, botoxed, bronzed brigade.  As I stood on the thick carpet in reception, I took one look in the mirror at my unkempt bushy eyebrows and almost screeched out loud.

But you can’t screech in Denise’s.   The whole place is wall-to-wall soft peachy fluffiness.  Peach towelling beds and peach walls and there’s piped pan-pipes playing loud enough to drown out the scraping of feet and the ripping of wax and plucking and all the other peachy bits that goes on behind each peach curtain.  Considering the levels of pain that goes on, the place is as peaceful as a church.

I guess I set a new low for them, because when I lay on the bed the thin, beautiful Spanish girl took my foot in her hand and looked at it as if it were a dead thing washed up on shore.

But, boy she was good.  Half an hour later, I was more-or-less bikini ready.  (Before you ask, I’m  not quite old enough to declare myself a swim suit person.  That’s really throwing in the towel and I’m too vain for that.  That would be like telling the kids I’m forty!).  

So soon I’m on the beach, breathing in, doing that leaning down with your elbows behind you thing that they talk about in Grazia, making all sorts of vows to myself about when my sit-up regime will start.

And everything would have been fine, if I could’ve assumed that position, except that wasn’t possible.  Because the second big disadvantage of any beach trip is my kids.

Don’t get me wrong – I love them.  I love that they love the beach,  but from the second we arrive, it’s carnage.  Clothes are flung everywhere as they wrestle into bikinis (in which they all look amazing, I might add) as I trot around after them squirting sun-cream and muttering about hats and sunglasses and armbands as they slip out of my grasp into the water. 

Within seconds they’re back with a barrage of questions: Can I have my flippers/goggles/bucket/spade/towel?  Can I have an ice-cream/ drink/fishing net?  Can we get a banana boat ride/slide-pedalo/sun-lounger? Will you look after my crab/shells/OMG what is that?

I settle each demand and think about how I might open my book, but guess what?  The towel-draggers are hungry and they want the picnic I’ve bought in the cool box.  And thus begins the hell of making sandwiches.  Thus called because I turn into a witch and everything I produce is full of sand.

But that’s not the worst bit of my summer beach experience.  Oh no.  Being hot and sweaty and covered in sticky melon juice is nothing compared to the private ego bashing that the beach trip involves.  Because everywhere you look, people are reading books and I can’t help but pathetically hope that one of them is reading my book.

Emlyn keeps reminding me that my book isn’t even officially until next week, so it’s unlikely that I’ll see the airport edition anywhere, but I can’t help scanning each book cover and marvelling at what the public at large are reading and battling with chronic writer’s insecurity.  My spouse watches me nervously.  He knows from experience the consequences of accosting readers on the beach.

I guess I haven’t recovered yet from my J R Hartley moment at Gatwick when I asked for my book and the kind lady in Smiths waved me to the back of the shop, saying that the pile at the front had gone.  A blessing at least, but seeing Forbidden Pleasures alone on the shelf surrounded by so many other books, made me experience the kind of crowd claustrophobia I last experienced trying to get out of the O2 arena. 

It’s my baby and it’s special. I rescued it and sidled up to a girl who already had several books she was dithering between.  ‘Get this,’ I urged her, thrusting my book at her.  I went on to explain the roller-coaster plot and how it would be perfect for the beach.  How I’d written it just for people like her. ‘But I’m on holiday with my boyfriend,’ she said sceptically, ‘I doubt I’ll get much time to read. I just want something that makes me look good.’ 

As the saying goes, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

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A Little Bit of Escapism…

Why does everything pile up at this time of year?  The end of term is nearly upon us and I’m inundated with stuff to do – like sort out the leaving card for The Middle One’s teacher, attend the end of year Mum’s nights out, as well as the school fairs, plays, tea parties and sports days – the list goes on.  And it’s all happening along with the sudden cram-it-all-in-before-the-summer socializing. Oh, and Wimbledon.


Thank God, the football is over.  Yes, yes, despite my profound sense of ennui, I did succumb to watching the England games – quietly singing ‘I was right, I was right, I was right,’ to the same tune as everyone else chanting, ‘In-ger-land, In-ger-land, In-ger-land’.   (I really do hope they’ve left our extra syllable in South Africa.)

Those over-paid, under performing, pathetically pampered players should be ashamed of themselves.  Wouldn’t it be fun if we still had the old-fashioned stocks as punishment? I’d love to throw a few rotten tomatoes at that lot.  Fabio Cappello – take that mouldy cabbage.  Ha!

I’m clearly not alone in feeling like this.

On the Monday school run, I saw a white van man screech to a halt beside a skip.  He got out, ripped his white flags off the top and dumped them ceremoniously amongst the mattresses and fridges.  Then he spat on top of them.

Didn’t I say the world cup would be bad for the country’s morale?  As I said: I was right.

But I’ve got more important things to worry about.  Namely, that I’ve asked the neighbours to house-sit whilst we’re on holiday, which would be fine, except that I’ve started to look at my house from their point of view. And the painful truth that has been lurking in the back of my mind can no longer be avoided.  It’s a tip.

But that’s not because I don’t tidy up.  Oh no.  I spend vast quantities of each day tidying up.  I’m the Duracell bunny of tidying up. I don’t think I’ve ever once been up or down the stairs in my house without armfuls of stuff to be redistributed.

Yet despite my thin veneer of cleanliness and my ability to make my house look just about presentable for an hour or so, just look closer and you’ll see that every single cupboard and drawer is bursting with stuff.  Stuff, stuff, stuff.  It’s Everywhere.   Today was the day that the creeping tide of The Stuff had to be stopped.

But before long I was huffing and puffing and wondering why I can’t be even slightly OCD?  I’ve got some friends who are REALLY REALLY OCD (RROCD). But not me.  I’m rubbish at this tidying and ordering lark. It’s bad enough coping with the never-ending laundry for a family of five, but opening the play room door seriously makes me lose the will to live.

Anyway, today I was under siege from the toppling tower of toddler debris whilst having an imaginary fantasy about calling the white van man and cheering him up by paying him a fortune to take everything to that skip, when a delightful email pinged up from my publishers.  A timely reminder that life isn’t all about cleaning and sorting out the domestic debris.

You see, publication time is approaching.  FORBIDDEN PLEASURES will be hitting the supermarkets and all good bookshops near you on 5th August.  Check out the new swanky cover above and tell your mates that their summer read is nearly here.

Thrillingly, there were some early reader previews from Chicklitreviews.com  – which I’ve posted into the reviews section of this blog.

It was just the motivational boost I needed.  I hoofed everything back into the playroom and rammed the cupboard shut, before scampering back to my  study.

So where was I…?

Ah yes.  That sultry night in Rio and the gorgeous  Argentinian stud with the mysterious brunette in a backless dress and stolen emerald necklace…

I felt better in an instant.   You see!  A little bit of escapism is just what a girl needs.

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