Are you having a good start to your summer? Have you dipped your toes in the Baltic yet?
In Britain there are 10,000 miles of coastline and nobody lives more than two hours away from it. So every summer, come rain or shine, we Brits pile ourselves and our clobber into our cars and head for the seaside. As a Brit living in Poland for several years, I thought you might enjoy my Part 1 reflections on the differences.
En route: the ‘bottle of pop’
In the old days the route was carefully planned for days with the help of an Atlas. These days we all just use a Sat Nav. Either way, in both countries, Dads still get their hair off in the holiday traffic jams and Mums still pack a picnic. In the UK this car feast often includes a ‘bottle of pop’ or an array of hard boiled sweets (Peardrops, Humbugs, Sherbert Lemons etc). They are packed to relieve children’s boredom during the middle phase of the journey but the kids always start asking for them after the first mile, along with the repeated question, ‘are we nearly there yet?’! Sadly, it doesn’t tend to relieve their boredom, but does tend to end up with them puking by the side of the road.
The beach: ‘sandcastles’
While you Poles sensibly sit protected in a basket while your kids go looking for Baltic amber, in the UK the whole family is needed to erect their ‘windbreak’ which then usually blows away every few minutes.
British kids then immediately start building sandcastles with their buckets and spades. British sand is the best in the world for building sand castles because it comes in every possible stage of wetness, thanks to the British weather. A casual stroll around any beach will take in labyrinthine moats, complicated irrigation systems linking rock pools, castles decorated with flags, pebbles, shells and lolly sticks. If a parent falls asleep, they are built upon and so become part of the ‘living sculpture’.
Brits love nature: ‘crabbing’
It is during their seaside holiday that Brits renew their ties with nature. Parents gleefully cast off their footwear, squidge sand between their toes, paddle, flirt with the icy water, debate the chance of rain, and take sly wees in a cove. Meanwhile, children around the UK bait their lines with bits of bacon taken from dad’s breakfast and dangle them over every pier from Lands End to Lindisfarne; Bangor to Barrow-in-Furness. Crab after crab gets pulled out and ends up in the sandcastle bucket. When the bucket is full, the crabs are tipped back out into the sea. In contrast, Poles wait for winter and dig a hole in the ice!
The end of a perfect day: ‘fish n chips’
After all the fun, the munchies start to set in! Whilst in Poland an evening barbeque would be preferred, in contrast Brits join the back of a long queue to the fish ‘n chip shop. Two hours later we finally sit on a bench looking out to sea, eating the heavy ‘fast food’ meal, fighting off the seagulls, and reflecting on how the British seaside is truly the best in the world!
What have your British seaside adventures involved? Which nation do you think is quirkiest when by the seaside?
Clobber: personal possessions
Get their hair off: lose your temper
Bottle of pop: a fizzy drink for example, lemonade or coke
Puking: being sick, vomiting
A stroll: a leisurely short walk
Seagull: a type of large white sea bird, the thief of the seaside, always trying to steal fish and chips
Quirkiest: most unusual or most different