The British Summer, gawd bless it, is unpredictable. Not for us the stone-cold certainty of the Costa Del Sol or the other baking hellholes of mainland Europe.
Here in the good old U of K we like our weather the way we like our beer: prone to wild variations in strength and quality!
Which is why this weekend we paid a visit to the charming seaside town of Broadstairs. But not on Saturday, when temperatures were a guaranteed match for anything the Continent could offer, but on Sunday, when rainfall was a potential match for anything the Indian monsoon season could offer.
To be fair, it wasn’t a deliberate act of self-sabotage: we went with friends and Sunday was the only day everyone (almost) could make it. The forecast was…dicey. Nice in the morning, followed by an unholy towering spike of rain after lunch.
We arrived just after 11 as the clouds were beginning to gather, and the girls pulled on their swimming costumes and ran fearlessly into the sea, grateful for the sandy beach after last week’s pebbly nonsense.
I pulled off my trainers and ran after them, leaving the Lovely Melanie on the beach with Uncle Nick – our chauffeur for the day. :-)
Damn, that sea was cold. The second time we tried it was a bit easier, but still cold. Seeing the girls swimming a few minutes later I felt a mixture of pride at their fearlessness mixed with relief at my being 43 and sensible enough to steer well clear of it.
Then Auntie Liz arrived with Minnie the dog – her presence pulling Millie from the beach like some kind of Pied Piper. Minnie’s a small, high-pitched and rather needy little dog, and Millie loves her. She loves Auntie Liz, too, but Liz + Minnie = irresistible.
Not long after a gently refreshing rain began, but the dark clouds were promising a whole lot more than refreshment. Like everyone else on the beach, we began reluctantly to pack up, put our shoes and socks back on and head for the safety of the town.
It was still a bit early for lunch so we drove five minutes down the road to Dumpton (catchphrase: Don’t be put off by the name!), which has nothing but some nice beach and imposing chalk cliffs, to give Millie the chance to walk Minnie. Sadly, the rain had other ideas and were forced to retreat back to Broadstairs where we sheltered and dined in the friendly Prince Albert pub.
It was a classic English pub in every sense of the word, and we had a lovely time there waiting for the rain to stop – and finally meeting with the remainder of our group, Jimmy and Rich.
If Millie had been delighted with Minnie then Jim’s two labradors, Maya and Shai, utterly charmed the pants off her. She was utterly captivated by the charming pair and spent most of the day with them, tongue hanging out as though she were a dog, too!
After being made thoroughly welcome in the Albert we returned to Dumpton and walked a mile or so along the beach, just beating the tide (albeit, with wet feet!).
On the way back we climbed the cliffs and walked along the top – all the soft sandy beach now swallowed by the tide. Jim says he’d checked the tide tables and this was carefully planned but I’m not sure we didn’t just get lucky!
Regardless, it was a lovely afternoon spent by the sea catching up with old friends. I’ve had to promise Millie that we’ll visit Jimmy’s very very soon for her to see the dogs again.
For a girl who used to be so terrified of dogs that I wrote her a book about not being afraid of dogs, this is quite a turnaround!