“Let’s go for a picnic tomorrow - it's supposed to be dry this weekend. We can go down to Rascarrel beach. It’ll do us all good to get some fresh air, and it’s been a while since we last saw the sea.”
“It’s a bit grim out. I know it’s not actually raining, but the air is damp and there’s a cold wind.”
“Isn’t the sun is supposed to make an appearance this afternoon?”
“It varies depending on which weather forecast I look at. According to one, it might not show its face until just before it sets. Let’s do the picnic thing tomorrow.”
“Once we are out it will be fine. We just have to overcome the yearning, aching desire to stay in the house and forget that we feel tired and irritable and ignore the fact it’s dull grey and cold outside.”
This is actually taken as an article of faith and I have a seriously hard time believing it. Judging by the faces staring back at me, certainly no one else does.
Maggie makes a pot of soup. This is transferred to the flasks while bread rolls, rice crackers, oatcakes, a couple of pieces of fruit and a few chocolate biscuits are placed in a plastic tub.
There is fuss when it comes to finding coats, boots and last minute visits to the bathroom.
There are arguments about who sits where in the car.
There are moans about headphones on mp3 players not working; about bumps in the road; about being squashed when going round corners.
When we turn off down the last stretch of dirt track, off a narrow country lane, and the bottom of the car makes a loud scraping noise as I bounce in and out of a huge pothole, I am ready to just turn around and head home, defeated. But we are only now 200 yards from the car park so we might as well carry on.
Since the land owner controversially booted off all the owners of an array of beach huts a few years ago, the path to the beach gets more overgrown each year. It won’t be long before it’s impassable. Briars, gorse and untended trees snag rucksacks and coats and pierce thinner clothing. Youngest daughter and wife have to be helped through some of the trickier sections of the journey.
And then, finally, we clamber down the last section to the pebble beach and the sea opens out before us. Stones of various sizes are picked up and thrown into the sea with satisfying splashes.
Maggie and I work our way to the far end, clamber over some rocks around the corner and find the favourite spot where we can sit fairly comfortably and stare at the sea. The younger ones arrive just as we finish pouring soup into plastic cups.
Maggie always makes wonderful soup, but sitting in thick coats with scarves and woolly hats in temperatures of 4C degrees, with the salty air in our nostrils, it tastes heavenly.
Fed and (briefly) rested Holly and Meg go exploring while Rogan, with the unbelievable metabolism of a 15 year old boy is now leaping over rocks, practicing parkour manoeuvres, coat and hoodie discarded. And it’s only a matter of time before I get the camera out to try and capture some sense of what he’s up to.
An hour later heading home, cold, tired but in much higher spirits, instead of complaints from the back of the car, laughter now dominates.
Once back, I go for a rest while Rogan lights the fire and they all settle down with a hot chocolate.
It was worth all the hassle after all.