CONTRIBUTE YOUR EXPERIENCES
& win a beach book
If you have any fun suggestions or photographs send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put the best ideas on our site. the best contributions get a FREE beach book
'I was reading your site today very useful! I thought you might like a tip from a recent journey I tried. I had to take my newly-crawling baby nephew on a flight to Scotland, and while waiting at the departure gate, I rolled a ball around the floor for him to chase. Other passengers joined in and we all had great fun. He used up so much energy he slept for most of the flight, he only woke up when the pressure hurt his ears when we landed. I found that the game even helped a bit then because the other passengers were helpful and sympathetic rather than irritated I think having played with him earlier helped. If you consider my suggestion worthy of inclusion, I would like to give a copy of the beach book to his dad. '
BEFORE YOU GO TO THE BEACH
Sun cream, Sun shade, Sun glasses, Sun hat. Wind break or beach tent. Basic first aid kit. Arm bands or any other buoyancy aids your child might need. Mosquito repellent, bite soother.
Always be aware of how the tides operate in your area, it is very easy to get engrossed in a game or go for a long walk and find that you have been cut off from land. Tide tables are usually readily available at the seaside and will tell you exactly when high and low tides will occur
The one most important thing about picnicing with children is minimising sand! It gets everywhere and to avoid crunchy sandwiches there are a few things you can do to make sure the entire picnic isn’t thrown away.
- Before you start eating make everyone swills their hands in the sea
- While they are doing this shake out the towels and lay a sand free area for them to sit on
Make absolutely everything mouthful size so it doesn’t have time to attract the sand, suggestions are:
cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumber wedges, carrot battons in single mouthful sizes
bite size sandwiches, squares of cheese or cheese triangles, a slice of ham rolled up and secured with a cocktail stick, mini sausages, breadsticks, hard boiled eggs, mini biscuits, celery sticks filled with cream cheese and cut into mouth sizes pieces
Give everyone individual drink bottles with the sealed spouts to keep the sand out. Try to avoid fizzy drinks and have plenty of squash and water.
Make sure you take your rubbish away ... check out the adjustable disposal bags
Games and activities
Buckets, spades, play shapes, balls, bats, reading books, colouring pads and sketch books crosswords, a newspaper, binoculars. Identification books for rockpooling etc. Camera, MP3 player (but do be careful of all the sand it gets everywhere and can wreck electronic stuff very easily)
On an English beach holiday you have to be prepared for all weather and there is nothing worse than sitting huddled up and freezing praying that the kids will want to go home soon! Make sure you not only have swimming stuff, T shirts (a couple) 1 to swim in if it's really hot and a dry one to put on afterwards but also comfortable warm clothes. A travel rug to wrap up in. Something for the little ones to lie on and have an afternoon sleep. Towels. Something for you to lie on. Waterproofs if it looks likely to rain. Sun shade, Umberella!! Check out the Moonbag a fantastic product to keep all the wet swimmers, dirt and sand off you and the car!
WHEN YOU'RE THERE
Things to do on a beach
Play games: French cricket, ball games, check out the waboba ball for older kids, bodyboard, hop scotch, catch, make a row of objects and try to hit them with a ball, play boules
Fly a kite
Do a puzzle
Collect shells or beachcomb for interesting 'treasure'
Collect water from the shore and fill up a moat around your sandcastle,
Make a dam
Dig a hole and try to fill it up with water
When the tide is coming in dig a trench to the shore from a hole near your camp and watch the tide gradually fill it up.
Make a sand garden by collecting flowers, seaweed, shells and pebbles.
Make a sand golf course and flick a smaall pebble around it
Make things out of sand: Sandcastles, Sandman, Sand cars for the under 6's to sit in and go on an imaginary journey
Crabbing is a wonderful way to occupy children for hours - they absolutely love it and the enjoyable part for adults is that the children are happy and occupied. It involves dangling a baited bit of string or fishing line into the sea and pulling up angry scrabbling crabs which are usually then plonked unceremoniously into a plastic bucket. The suspense of sitting waiting for a great big crab to take your bait and then dropping it into the bucket before it nips you has children squealing with excitement and fear all rolled into one.
Where should you go crabbing?
Anywhere you can dangle a line into still water, a pier is the perfect spot
When should you go?
High tide.What do you need? A long piece of string or fishing line with a hook attached, a weight, some bait and a bucket.
Most crabs you will catch off a pier are inedible so should be returned to the sea when you’re finished. Make sure the catches don't overheat crabs like the cool sea water that they have just come from so on hot summer days you should add fresh water every now and then.
How to do it
The string or line should be at least long enough to dangle on the bottom. The weight (which can be anything heavy enough to sink the line to the bottom - crabbing is not a delicate business) should be tied to the end of the string by the hook and the bait attached. For bait you can use anything meaty or fishy - bits of uncooked bacon rind are perfect but crabs are not fussy and anything meaty will attract them.
Adults should accompany children crabbing due to the usual risks of water, the sea etc. (Check tide times)
Twice a day the sea rises and then retreats again leaving behind it a wealth of interesting treasures. For those of you that want to do something a bit more energetic than gaze into rockpools or if the weather is just a bit too chilly beachcombing is the perfect way to spice up what would otherwise be a boring old walk (and let's face it, most children reckon walks are pretty boring things).
It’s at its best after a good storm when the sea has washed up all sorts of odds and ends. It is extremely rare to find anything of value on the beach and despite the occasional horror stories, it is also rare to find anything dangerous. Nevertheless, it is sensible to supervise beach combing just to be on the safe side.
The key to beach combing with children is to use your imagination:
See who can collect the most of a certain shell, collect pebbles and or shells to make a necklace or a bracelet, imagine the dried out banks of seaweed are giants cornflakes, is it just an old bit of wood or has it come from a pirate ship, was someone made to "Walk the plank" on it? etc etc. As soon as they're fired up, children can spend hours happily participating in a good hearty walk without a single moan!
Look out for:
- Mermaids purses
(Dog fish egg cases)
which are often washed ashore. how did the mermaid loose it and what was she carrying? The cases with horns instead of tendrils belong to skates and rays
- Giants Fingernails
the empty shell can be found on most beaches try and find both sides still attached with a hinge
- Mermaids Sponges
(Whelk egg cases)
why has she left her sponge behind? a very common find on the beach, each pocket once contained a tiny fully formed young whelk
- Feathers, Shells, Sea Urchin shells (or tests), Cuttlefish bones, Polished pieces of glass, interesting bits of seaweed.
The capital of Mull, Tobermory, is the real life setting for the childrens programme Balamory complete with its brightly coloured houses but that aside - Mull has so much to offer for a family holiday. Superb walks - both gentle and strenuous, sailing - either by hiring a yacht or bringing your own, two golf courses to play on, pony riding, swimming, fishing and cycling. Beautiful deserted white sand beaches to walk and play on. There are even several shipwrecks around the shores. In 1588 one of the ships of the Spanish Armada was moored in Tobermory Bay and blown up there, reputedly with £300,000 of gold bullion on board which hasn't been retrieved. And for those of you who love wildlife there is a wealth of wildlife to see - Golden eagles - Otters - Harriers - Merlin - Divers - Dolphin - Porpoise - Whales - Seals - Gannets - Razorbills ... Springwatch 2006 was based in Mull where Simon King, along with Bill Oddie, observed a resident family of white-tailed eagles.
Escape the rat race for a week or two !