For me the perfect day out with kids is taking them to the beach. I love it for many reasons, mostly because they have such a good time, whatever their age. It is a natural playground – with so much to do and investigate, so many new things to explore. Best of all it’s free, or just the cost of a picnic and an ice cream.
So what makes the perfect beach? Well our perfect beach is a bit of a hidden gem for parents. I don’t want to give an exact location because then everyone will go there and it won’t be our little secret anymore. All I’m going to tell you is that it is tucked away in a small village in between Portsmouth and Southampton, with a beautiful view of the Solent, looking across to the Isle of Wight. I don’t know when we first discovered it, as we’ve been going for years. It’s just a short drive from where I grew up and we make sure we visit ever time we stay with my parents. One of the things which makes it great for parents or water sports enthusiasts is that the car park is right next to the beach. A day out with children means a car full of equipment and of course they are too little to carry it.
The thing which makes it a hidden gem is that if you catch the tide right a natural pool is created. The open sea, with its roaring waves, can prove a bit terrifying for young children. This natural pool comes up to a three year old knees and has been warmed on the sand. Gentle ripples are formed as the wind brushes across it. It’s so inviting, even the most cautious tot will gingerly point their toe in.
Once in there are buckets of treasure to find, shells to collect, or water to carry back to the castle you have dug in the sand.
The sand is soft to play with but firm enough for practicing your cartwheels.
The shallow pool is also a habitat for sea creatures. A few productive hours with a fishing net and you can catch small fish and crabs. Just be careful they do not pinch your fingers.
For lunch it’s a picnic of the beach of the finest cheese or ham sandwiches (and a bit of sand thrown in with good measure) washed down with luke warm squash. It’s may not be haute cuisine but after all that fresh air it tastes like a banquet.
Lunch seems to give everyone an extra dose of bravery. The open sea is calling with waves which are perfect for jumping.
The shock of splashing in cold water is invigorating.
Finally it is time to get dressed and take a walk along the beach. There are so many interesting sights to see.
You wouldn’t think they would have a bit of energy left, but the children always keep a little back so they can play in the park.
Finally, no day at the beach is complete without one thing: ice cream. The perfect end.
After all that fresh air and excitement, splashing and building, jumping and playing, after that feeling of freedom you don’t really get anywhere else – the day can only end one way: the children fast asleep and snoring quietly, dreaming of the adventures they will have the next day.
Then comes the real hidden gem for parents: finally a moment of peace.
We wrote about a fun family day out at this beach before.
Also this is the shell photo frame we made with shells collected on the beach.