The European beach is not a natural environment for us Brits. We’re a funny breed. Especially on holiday.
You can spot a fellow Brit a mile off. To start with we’re the whitest humans on the beach, with the possible exception of the northern Scandinavians, Ukrainians and Russians. We’re not used to the sun so we arrive fully covered with appropriate floppy sun hat and large bottle of SPF 75.
The first day of the holiday is always the worst. It involves the big reveal of the swimsuit that is either brand new and pinching in all the wrong places, or hasn’t seen the light of day for 12 months. Most of us Brits are blessed with a highly developed sense of self consciousness so stripping off to our swimwear is a whole ordeal of it’s own. This can either be done by arriving fully prepared – bikini underneath your clothes, or can involve an elaborate sand dance whilst trying to change modestly under a beach towel that doesn’t quite cover everything.
The Europeans just get on with it without a care in the world. We find ourselves wishing we could be this relaxed, but deep down feeling it’s just not quite right. Not very British.
This is just the first of many “very British problems” that we face on our favourite holiday beaches. Here’s a few more:
1 Hopping across the hot sand like a gecko whilst maintaining British dignity.
Our feet just aren’t used to it. The soles of our feet are accustomed to soft bedroom carpet and smooth bathroom tiles, not super heated mediterranean sand. It takes a while to acclimatise our tootsies and for these few days the best piece of sand to make camp is often the nearest to the end of the walkway, avoiding the very undignified hopscotch.
2 Finding the perfect spot to lay your beach towel
I’m not a great lover of crowds so when we’re on holiday we avoid the beaches Saturday and Sunday. There’s not a spot to be had. Mondays are a good day and there’s nothing nicer than lying prostrate in the sand thinking of your colleagues sweltering in a sticky office back home. Poor things!
Finding the right square footage of sand is the first challenge. Locating close to the water’s edge is vital to avoid further unnecessary hopping, but finding a flat piece of sand in the correct trajectory for effective sunbathing is less than easy.
We daren’t be too close to the next family or their parasol may interfere with our “sunline”, and their blow up pink flamingo might bounce across our patch.
3 Keeping your ice cold water ice cold
We all know about drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated in the sun. But is the tap water in your hotel or your resort safe to drink? Not always. Do a bit of research before you go. You might find it’s certified safe but, because of the different mineral content, you might want to chose bottled water for drinking. Tap water should be fine for brushing teeth and ice cubes in drinks.
So you arrive at the beach with your ice cold water lined up for the day and after 20 minutes it’s starting to feel lukewarm and far less tempting. I’ve brought my Chilly’s Water bottle this year for this very purpose. There is simply nothing worse than warm water on a hot day. Chilly’s Bottle have a clever double wall vacuum technology that keeps your drink ice cold for up to 24 hours. I chose a 500ml pastel green bottle and couldn’t resist getting it personalised with my name. I’m delighted with it and plan on taking it everywhere with me this summer.
Whatever you do – don’t get caught red handed with a “single use plastic” bottle unless you intend to refill it 3 times a day for your entire holiday. Did you see BBC’s War on Plastic? A must-watch. Single use plastic is really not cool anymore.
4 Keeping your towel pinned to the beach.
This is a tricky one. Flips flops are quite good for securing the corners and the beach bag can weight down the other end. But then you head off for a dip and a herd of tweens gallop past your “area” pebble-dashing your carefully placed towel. And then there’s the summer breeze to contend with, which on some days can whip up into quite a tornado. These are the days you could do with a hard hat as parasols tumble across the sand along with beach balls and airport novels. So keep an eye on your towel or you might have to do some more undignified hopping to retrieve it.
5 Reading your phone messages in the bright sun
Unless you have a ginormous beach bag to bury your head in (avec phone) to read your messages, it’s pretty impossible. But what the heck – you’re on the beach. Get a life! The messages will still be there later.
6 Trying to read your book whilst maintaining the optimum tanning position
If you wear reading glasses, or prescription sunnies , you’ll understand this little problem. On your back and the page will be too bright to read, or you risk a book shaped outline in your perfect tan. On your side or your front and you need to ensure complete SPF coverage. If you miss a bit, that smiley ball in the sky will find it and burn it.
7 Taking turns for a dip whilst guarding the valuables
If you’re in pole position on the water’s edge, you can afford to go for a little bob whilst keeping your eye on the beach bag. But any further and someone has to stay behind and guard the goodies. Probably best not to bring your entire holiday spends with you. All you really need is enough for lunch and an ice cream.
We all love a good beach day don’t we? Do any of these “very British problems” relate? I’d love to hear your beach stories.