Europe | United Kingdom (UK), Great Britain | England | South Coast and Southern England | Weymouth – Move over, Glastonbury
Castle! Lucy exclaimed excitedly. The train had just pulled out of Waterloo station. All we could see for miles were grey tower blocks.
Soon city gave way to countryside and Lucys words were more accurate: trees! she said, much the same way as any city person who hasnt been out for awhile.
Moon! she said as the train stopped in Southampton. No, Lucy, no moon, its cloudy and its daytime In fact she had spotted a moon painted on the side of a building, small and far away. Ah, to be young and of perfect sight.
Weymouth was our destination for the afternoon. Id forgotten what a great place it is; or maybe I was just seeing this English seaside town through new eyes. Last summer wed been to the English coast and to Barcelona; both too distant memories for a one year old. This was Lucys first real beach. And she LOVED it. She found herself in toddler heaven: an infinite, clean white sandbox. It made the playground back home look like a filthy little pit. Weather was patchy and it was a weekday. We had just the right amount of kids around for Lucy to make friends without Sexton or I being overwhelmed or annoyed.
More! More castle! Lucy said as she flattened yet another of my sand creations. She chased little boys, collected pebbles in her bucket, marvelled at the amusement rides and tried to break into the donkey pen. The seawater itself was a no go for sensitive little feet, but later I sent her back to sit with dad while I braved the icy water. These beaches dont usually warm up until August. Ive swum in colder waters, I reminded myself as I took the plunge. Think Baltic, think Northern Ireland or Wales. Im turning into a wimp.
Sexton got fed up with lugging our little rucksack around and planted himself in a pub while Lucy and I had another go at running along the beach, falling down and getting sand in our hair. Remembering how my mom and grandmother took me to the beach when I was little, I knew I was handing down a great family tradition.
It was finally time to get our bus to Burton Bradstock, home of Lucys little boyfriend, Ollie. I knew the local buses sometimes run early we had to run after one once while camping a few miles outside Weymouth. What I did not anticipate was a queue full of people, and about 4 baby buggies ahead of us. instant panic soon subsided as we got on the bus, and sat down for our very hilly ride along the Jurassic Coast.
One of the most beautiful spots in the UK; this is where Sexton and I got married 5 years ago. We often find ourselves down this way, visiting friends, and, in this case, playing the Tasty Ones reunion gig at a (rather small) festival called Bradstock, which took place the next day.
Lucy and Ollies own band, the Farty Bum Bums, were not yet ready to perform, though Ollie showed expertise on the bass drum already, when he frequently got on stage. The stage was only a patio, so keeping toddlers away from musicians was no easy feat. Especially when their parents were playing. The Tasty Ones consist of both Lucys parents plus Ollies dad; the Avant Gardeners are both of Ollies parents. So we all had tots tugging at electric guitar leads, banging drums, muting strings, and trying to sing along. Or simply boogie-ing in front of their parents.
The micro-festival consisted of about 15 tents camped in the back yard of a summer cottage. A PA was brought in for the bands; there was huge barbeque and unlimited drinks in the form of beer kegs, wine and cava bottles and a cocktail bar. A few folk from moderately successful Indie bands were playing this low-key, free event. An 11-year-old protégé (son of some one semi-famous) played guitar, bass and drums, all very well. Unfortunately not all children had such talent, and between bands we were subjected to some awful rehearsing from the under 10s.
The festival was geared towards children. Lucy spent a great deal of the hot sunny afternoon in the art and craft tent. Painting, painting.. She muttered as she concentrated on dipping the brush in the paint and then blobbing it round the page. It wasnt the right time to remind her that she is going to be a doctor when she grows up, not a painter like her parents.
I got to do one of my very favourite things – play bar tender, a hobby I have sorely missed since leaving shared accommodation in favour of grown-up, married life. By the time the sun started to fall, I was wearing a bright pink wig and pouring my umpteenth jug of mojito. A local folk band was playing tales of drowning maidens and blacklegged miners, mixed with Irish jig-type tunes. Children and grown ups, now many in wigs and fancy dress, were dancing in circles and falling down. Only a small one-year-old called Lara was left standing I missed Lucy, but she and Ollie had already gone back to the comforts of Ollies house. I was very glad to headed there, too, not braving a tent with a toddler as many other festivalgoers were doing.
It was all such fun that everyone agreed to do it again next year. Move over, Glastonbury!
Ollie was reported to have finished the dregs of several grown up drinks, and was up half the night with gut ache. The next morning was all about lazy rest, followed by a lovely country walk, lifting buggies over stiles, and watching toddlers nearly landing facing down in cow pats. Lucy and Ollie even held hands as they tottered along the path, hangovers all but forgotten.
The train home was blissful, too, as we found some lying down space in what used to be the bar car. Since smoking was banned on all parts of the train, we could spread out without the danger of any one coming along for a fag. It was much better than the journey down had been.
We usually try to get the one wheelchair space on the train, but with our luck we also usually get the one train where a wheel chair user is also travelling. This means taking all the stuff off the buggy, folding it and shoving it above our seats, with all the various bits of food, coats, hats, sunglasses, Wellies and toys also spread out in the over head rack. I decided I HATE travelling with a baby buggy. Bumbling around with this clumsy piece of equipment even the lightest, best-designed buggy is MUCH more hassle than just walking around with a backpack or even a suitcase. Plus there is all the extra stuff you have to take for the little person in the buggy. Some people with kids wouldnt dream of taking public transport at all. And no wonder wheelchair users are usually miserable imagine the same hassle tenfold, a giant-sized buggy, which one will never outgrow. So, things could be worse… but still, our next jaunt out of London is going to be by bicycle. I hope.