We're in France on holiday; Sammy safely ensconced with a house-sitter and the rain, as usual, bucketing down. Yesterday it was actually amazingly hot and sunny and for once we made it to the beach.
I tell you, it was obvious we were British. OK, so I'm Canadian and the Frog is not only French but we're actually in his home-town but you know, it's been a while. So, firstly, we were pasty pasty white in a sea of bronzed limbs but secondly: All the Kit.
On our way down we passed French women en route to the plage with a little roll of matting tucked under one arm and a tiny clutch under the other. Even French families do it in style - children immaculately turned out porting a little bucket and spade with Maman carrying a chic beach bag with the edges of Hermes towels just poking out over the lid of the Evian. Papa strides ahead, a beach umbrella casually slung over one shoulder, the other dangling a net bag with a beach ball or perhaps a set of beach tennis racquets.
We, however, were a completely different story. The spud had decided he wanted to sit in his French buggy; a tiny affair with no swivelling wheels which forces the parent in charge to hunch as though they are about to ring matin at Notre Dame and to grunt and sweat at every bend. The spare parent has to carry everything else and we have the sort of wheeled bag your Nan used to get her shopping in with. It's stuffed to overflowing - towels, mats, beach brolly, water, buckets, spaces, balls, sun cream, change of clothes, butt wipes, spare pants, arm bands, sweating sandwiches - and it pokes the owner in the backside with every other step.
We wheeled our way onto the beach creaking and puffing and then disrobed in front of about 5,000 blinded locals and spent the next hour either rubbing sun cream onto each other or rubbing the sand off. It was bliss, but we really did stand out dreadfully.
On the way back we passed a nearby playground and the spud demanded to play. The Frog had some errands to run so I stayed behind. The playground was empty but for two neat parents and their two neat offspring. They weren't related by by God they were talking by the time we left.
You must imagine here, if you dare, that I had neglected to remember either my swimsuit or a change of clothes so I had gone into the sea in my knickers and halter top and then taken the top off and put on my cream cotton shirt. I was therefore wearing wet knickers and no bra and my hair was a complete mess. The playground however was under some shady trees and I hoped nobody would notice.
The spud elected to play on a toy near the only occupied bench. I cleared a spot and sat down only for the owner of a nearby bag to scurry over to collect it and move ostentatiously to another bench. After a few moments, the spud decided to move to the slide where this chaps daughter was happily playing and chose that moment to speak one of his few French phrases. 'Pas la! Pas la!' he shouted at the poor girl as she tried to climb the slide. Yes, in his halting baby French, the spud told practically the only other child in the playground not to stand near the only toy she'd been playing with. Since before he got there.
The other parents glared at me. I hurried over to tell him firstly in English and then in French to share the slide and let the little girl play. He glared at me. The parents glared at me. I tried to give them my best friendly smile and realised I was standing in the only shaft of sunlight in the playground, tits clearly visible through my shirt. I must have looked insane. Oh, I tried to remain non-chalant as he road-tested every piece of equipment in the place but then he came running over, pee running down one leg, trying to get his willy out to finish his wee off against the bench. That was pretty much my signal to go.
I loaded the spud back into his stroller and as we pulled away from the place he launched into the chorus of the Okey Cokey. 'OOOOOOOOOhhhhhhHHHH DE OKEY OKEY..... OOOOOOOoooohhhhhhhHHHHH DE OKEY OKEY........ OOOOOOOOOOoooooooooohhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHH.....
I'm never, ever going back.