Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sunshine in Southport!

Well we've been graced with some unseasonably lovely weather this March and yesterday decided to make the best of Foz's day off by heading to the seaside! Southport isn't too far from us and, although the beach isn't particularly sandy, it's got a nice marina and pier. We started with a meal in Wetherspoons which was unsurprisingly awful. We waited ages for it and when it arrived it had clearly been sat under a heat lamp for a long time, my egg mayo sandwiches were crispy.

But no matter, on to nicer things: our walk down the pier!
Walking down the pier
Waving to the tram

 Southport Pier is the second longest in Britain (after Southend Pier) and runs at a whopping 1,216 yards or 0.6 of a mile. It starts a ways back from the seafront, passes over the marina and past a shopping complex before hitting the beach. A tram runs along it, taking people from one end to the other as it's a heck of a trek to the end! But trek it we did, we're tough, we don't need no tram! Plus it was such a lovely day and Bee was fed up of being in the pram.


Look Mama!
It was lovely to walk in the sunshine with Bee toddling along next to us, waving her bucket and spade around and looking very cute in her sunhat. She's very excited about her freedom these days and loves to just walk, it doesn't matter where. She does have a distinct preference for walking by herself however, she does not like to hold anyone's hand, something we're starting to work on now we need to worry about her wandering into roads and such.

Having fun on the train
On our trip down the pier we stopped halfway for a ride on the minature railway. It was only a short ride but since our trip on the steam trains recently Bee has been very interested in trains. One of her new words is "hoo hoo" meaning 'choo choo'. The train took us along the side of the marina and back again, maybe 10 minutes at the most but plenty enough for our Bee with her short attention span.

After out little jaunt on the train it was back on to the pier to finish our trek to the end. We were all tired by this time, Bee had given up and asked for the pram and Foz & I decided to ride the tram back instead of walking. 

Finally the end was in sight and we could see the tram sitting at the tramstop. We knew the end of the pier shut at 5pm and it was getting on for that time. But wait, the tram was getting nearer?? The damn thing was leaving without us! We literally missed it by 2 or 3 minutes, that's what we get for stopping to admire the view! So, cue a loooooong walk back! Lucky Bee got a pram ride though!

Once back we treated ourselves to hot, fresh doughnuts which Bee has never had before and my did she love them! We kept getting "mo" and lots of signing every time she finished a bit, I was very impressed that she managed almost an entire doughnut to herself. Greedy Bee!

Having a go on a ride-on car
The sun was starting to set and it was time to head back to the car. We had plans to head to Crosby Beach (Home of the Antony Gormley installation 'Another Place') for Foz to capture some nice sunset shots. I didn't have high hopes of our success at Crosby. Last time we'd tried Bee on the beach (at Talacre, Wales) she'd screamed in fear the entire time. Bee and sand are not best friends. So I'd been expecting for myself and Bee to sit in the car while Foz got his photographs.

Even though I wasn't expecting Bee to tolerate the sand we still wanted to give her the opportunity and, as it was fair chilly by the time we got there, I put Bee in her ski suit and we headed down to the beach. I carried her down the steps and over the initial uneven surface of beach but once we got to the firm, flat sand I asked if she wanted to walk. Her answer was 'yes' so I placed her down and continued to walk ahead, hoping she would follow. She didn't. Instead she stood in place reaching out to me and saying "mama up". This is typical behaviour of Bee, she lacks confidence outside generally especially when the surface is uneven and/or of a texture she doesn't like. We persist though and try all kinds of encouragements to overcome her fears and get her walking. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Yesterday it worked.

Walking across the beach
In preparation for the melt-down I set up a blanket for myself and Bee while Foz got his photographs although wonderfully Bee was happy to potter about on the beach. We did digging with her bucket and spade and collected shells and pebbles as an encouragement to touch the sand. 

 The beach sloped slightly towards the sea and at one point Bee lost her footing, fell forwards and banged her face on the sand. Although uninjured she had sand on both her hands and her face, which distressed her. I took her to sit on the blanket and gently wiped her down and tried to calm her down. I was worried that that small incident would be enough to undo the small positive steps she'd made in conquering her fear of sand. It took a few minutes but she calmed down and with lots of encouragement and praise carried on digging in the sand next to the blanket with her spade. Although she wouldn't stand on the sand again I was thrilled that she even overcame her little knock to that extent.

Touching the sand
Bee got very excited by digging up sand and putting it in her bucket, then tipping it out again all over her legs. She even made the great achievement of touching the sand on her spade. We build a sandcastle, Bee's very first, and she enjoyed whacking at it with her spade and watching it crumble. Little hooligan!

I'm hoping this is the start of major progress with sand and if we get the right weather this summer we'll be able to practise much more.


Once the sun set it was time to head for home. It was well past Bee's bedtime and she was a very tired little miss. We had a wonderful day as a family and I'm looking forward to many more this summer if we get the weather! 

Bee's first sandcastle


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