“I’m going to call this bit the seaside.” Jake
I lived in the North West for over ten years before I found out that we are under an hour from some superbly picturesque beaches. I grew up right on the North Sea coast, and every so often I get a yearning to be by the sea, especially to take the kids there. Some of my best childhood memories are of going to the beach and I’m really keen to share that with my own children.
During the recent 2-week half term (have I mentioned we get two weeks here?!), I decided to take all three children to the seaside for a day by myself. I knew it was ambitious because Guy raised his eyebrows when I told him. I was riding high after a solo day trip to Newcastle the previous week so I felt pretty confident that we’d enjoy a wholesome day out.
What we did
Picnic blanket, food, and extra clothes packed, we began the hourlong drive to Lytham. The sun started to disappear behind the clouds. Lucas anxiously asked, “If it rains, are we still going to the seaside?” and I realised that I’d forgotten to pack raincoats.
15 minutes from Lytham, it started to rain. The children were, by this point, fed up of being in the car (so was I) as the journey had taken longer than anticipated. During a brief pitstop to curb some less-than-loving sibling interactions, and hand out snacks and drinks, I had a little wobble and wondered whether we should just turn back home. But we were nearly there and damned if I wasn’t going to provide the lovely day out I’d planned!
Our next hurdle was arriving in Lytham and St Anne’s, beautiful picture-postcard seaside towns. We found a car park, a friendly woman gave us her unused ticket, and we all got out of the car, happy to stretch our legs. Then: “Mummy, where is the beach?”
I took a good look around for the first time and realised we had not, in fact, stopped at a beach. Or, at least, not what we would consider a beach. There was no seaside. There was no sea. There was very little sand. We had parked next to an estuary. At this point my only option was to make the best of it, so we grabbed our bags and headed down towards the sand.
Our sandy walk was brief, due to the kids needing the loo, being tired, feeling hungry, and other typical kid needs, but the boys enjoyed looking for rocks (that they plan to paint and hide in local parks), picking the long grass stalks that grow on the estuary, and turning them into cannons (Granny taught them to do this recently).
Since I had no idea where the actual beach was (does it exist?) or how to get there, and little energy to find out, I suggested we head to Park View 4U, a local park I’d found online as a backup activity. And thus our day brightened significantly, both figuratively and literally! We arrived at the park as the sun was peeking out of the clouds. I plonked our stuff down and the kids had explored the ‘toddler’ area, a great space with themed usual play equipment and some interesting stuff like the ‘listening pipes’ as Lucas called them, and a large (immobile) train.
We also spent a good chunk of time in the sand and water area (thank goodness I’d brought towels!). Lucas and Jake were absolutely in their element here, running and climbing and experimenting with the equipment. There are pumps and dams, pulleys and pipes. It reminded me of the parks we visited in Hannover last year, where I’d wished to find something similar near our home in the UK.
When the children were well and truly tired out, we finished the day with ice cream from the park cafe, eaten in their kitchen garden. There was some disappointment that we had not actually been to the beach, and I admitted that I was disappointed too, but that we would come back with Guy and definitely find the beach next time!
What we thought
Aside from not seeing the sea, the children really enjoyed the day. The park was the highlight, as I knew it would be. They so enjoyed roaming around the sand and water play area, having the freedom to play with whatever caught their fancy. Jake adapted well to the change of plan, declaring “I’m going to call this bit the seaside” and gesturing around the park, while his siblings were more reluctant.
Aurora was a bit more uncertain about the park – she was tired and didn’t feel like exploring with her brothers. She loved digging in the sand, making sandcastles, and burying her feet!
I loved the park and would like to spend more time there. I would like to visit with friends or Guy, as it was hard to supervise three kids on my own (what’s new?!) In particular, the sand and water area was built around small but steep mounds, so it was difficult to pick one vantage spot to easily see all children.
The park was busy, but not so much that it affected our enjoyment. My favourite bits were watching Jake and Lucas use teamwork on the sand pulley systems, seeing Jake proudly scramble up ladders, and eating ice cream in the beautiful kitchen garden.
- Near the park is only on-street parking on weekdays. Park on the promenade and walk via the windmill if your children’s legs will take it.
- Learn from our mistake and locate the real beach before you programme your sat nav.
- Take a quick walk through the kitchen garden and listen to the bees’ gentle buzzing.
Parking? Plenty of pay-and-display; machines take cash and contactless cards. Near the park is on-street parking, hard to find a spot on a busy day.
Refreshments? Yes, the park has a small cafe serving drinks, ice creams, and snacks.
Loos? Free toilets in the back of the park cafe. The accessible toilet has a low sink for rinsing off the sand.