Thrilled to say hi, let me introduce myself… I’m Lucy Felton, Alex and Alexa’s Life & Style Contributor, a fashion journalist turned lifestyle blogger at The Lucy Edit, wife, mum of two (one of each – Hector, 4, Hadley, 2) and lover of chocolate, décor and buying hordes of magazines I inevitably never get to read!
Just like you guys, I’m a mother trying to juggle it all, stay sane and pretend I’ve got all bases covered when I’m generally having a meltdown on the inside and dropping plates left, right and centre.
I never get to go to the bathroom alone anymore and can’t remember the last cup of tea I drank hot, but would I change it? Of course not! As I navigate the chaos that is life with two tinies, I’m here sharing my motherhood journey with you all. Expect plenty of baby hacks, parenting tips and postpartum advice.
Picture this… You’ve made it to the end of term, school’s out for summer. Sadly, the passport probably isn’t going to be needed so much this year, with the pandemic making pretty much any plan-making impossible. (High-five if you have managed to organise a last-minute family getaway abroad!)
Whether you’ve already planned your summer break at home, are weighing up your options for jetting off, or are the kind of family who likes to throw a (crammed) bag of beach essentials together at 6am one morning before road tripping to the nearest sandy shore, for most of us, coast days are what summer is set to be all about.
I’m here to help make sure that the sandy, salty escape doesn’t become a chore with a little bit of forward-thinking on what to take. We managed to squeeze in a trip to our favourite Cornish hideaway in Cape Cornwall.
“While high summer season generally brings warmer sea temperatures and a fully-opened seaside resort, we kind of love the quiet, off-peak appeal of true Cornish life anyway. We had to take our chance for a break while it was on the table!”
Actually, the British weather wasn’t too bad at all. For every day of downpours (and cove wave-watching in the car during a storm, complete with bakery lunch), there were the days when tucking away behind a wind break on the beach, sun shining bright, really did feel like a trip to the Med. Look at the blue water in these shots, amazing!
We’re quite big beach-goers in our family all year round. My husband kite surfs and I grew up in a small town by the sea in Essex. When my parents gave up the lease on our beach hut, we quickly learnt to streamline what to take for beach days.
Now as a mum myself, what I have discovered from many beach jaunts with my two kids, is that there’s only a certain level of ‘prepared’ you can really be. It just isn’t realistic to carry everything, but if you hone in on a few hero items, things to make the day a little more comfortable and definitely some treats to bring out along the way, then you’ll be guaranteed a day packed with smiles, spilt ice creams, sandy toes, surf-hopping, cove-exploring and best of all, happy memories. So grab the kit, head for the beach and be sure to stay out for the sunset… for as long as the temperature allows, at least! (See: ‘Layers’, below!)
Great escape essentials
Begin with the basics. Swimwear, surfsuits, rash vests and shorts. (An old long-sleeved tee for the water is fine too.) Towels, those fluffy beach ponchos are so handy for keeping them toasty, swim nappies if needed, sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses. A large picnic blanket always makes for a nice base camp. A parasol and/or beach tent and beach break is a good idea to make the little ones comfy. We skip the fold-out chairs and prioritise the kids toys and activities instead. Buckets and spades, bat and ball games, frisbee, my two love their little pack-away mini kite on the beach too. Note: if you can park your car nearby, do, because… stuff!
Always think layers. And I don’t just mean SPF! It can get chilly on the coast and if you’re coming from a town or the city, the drop in temperature can sometimes take you by surprise. The sea breeze will test you either which way – trick you into thinking it’s cooler that it really is and then hello – sun scorched – please, please, remember to keep applying the sunscreen. On the flipside, that weather app you checked 10 times before leaving the house promising a balmy 21 degrees… well, it kind of feels more like 15 at a push. So SPF, SPF, hats, glasses and at the other end of the scale, take enough jumpers, cardigans and jackets for everyone to layer up when its overcast. You can always peel them off.
While seafood linguine in a taverna may be off the list, a picnic hamper (by hamper I mean the cool bag jammed at the back of the cupboard) with picky food they’ll love, cold drinks, paper plates, cups and napkins will really make things feel special. Maybe even pop in a rose or fizz for the grown-ups for extra special days. Let them help you pack the picnic, even if it’s just a cupboard raid, they’ll love getting involved. We love seafood in this house, so we always pack a bottle of vinegar and some pepper before stopping by the local fishmongers on our way to the beach. Ice packs in the cool bag will keep that seafood chilled.
Water sport action
Whether you’re a dab hand at paddle boarding, want to try a canoe or are happy with the holiday fave – the pedalo boat – do you research first and find out what’s available. It’s always best to book ahead. Cornwall and Devon are the places for surf lessons, or maybe you just want to watch the kite surfers glide along the horizon while the sun goes down. A body board is a good place to start for the littles, essentially a giant float. Remember mini wetsuits unless it’s going to be a really hot day, wet shoes and floaty vests. Arm bands and rubber rings are also good on the beach for helping them to enjoy the water safely. On that note, always check the flags on the beach – they are colour coded so you know whether the surf is safe to enter.
Ok, so let’s just clear this one up, you can’t just pitch up your tent on the beach, it’s not really allowed. Ditto, fires. But, if you do want to stretch out your trip a little, it’s well worth researching great camping spots near to beaches you fancy visiting. Try campsites.co.uk or The Greener Camping Club.
If you can’t get to the beach then let the beach come to you. During the summer holidays towns and cities often put on pop-up beaches with sand pits, deckchairs and music galore. Check what your local area has going on. Local lidos are also a great alternative to visiting the beach. And look into your nearest splash park – often hidden away in parks: they are a life-saver on really hot days during the holidays.
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