Today’s columnist, Jeni Harvey: All the fun of the seaside right outside your door

Sheffield By The Sea in Sheffield Peace Gardens'eva Chui and Violet Licence play in the sand
Sheffield By The Sea in Sheffield Peace Gardens'eva Chui and Violet Licence play in the sand
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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Like staying up late and having your own door key, the seaside is one of those things that holds great excitement as a child, but not so much as an adult.

Don’t get me wrong, the beach is great in theory. Sitting on warm white sand with a crystal-clear blue sea lapping at your toes, discovering hidden coves while wandering along a coastal path, or having a fun afternoon barbecuing with friends on the sand as the sun goes down – it all sounds perfect.

But in reality, what the seaside seems to usually involve these days is a very messy contact sport, also known as covering a writhing toddler in suncream while they shout ‘I WANT TO GO IN THE SEA MUMMY!’ This is inevitably followed by said toddler running straight into the sea, being floored by a wave, and then having to be picked up fireman’s lift-style, crying.

And of course the suncream has been washed off by that point, so it’s back to square one. Add the joys of sandcastles being knocked over, queueing for 25 minutes for an overpriced ice cream which is promptly dropped, and trying to wrestle a wet child out of their swimming kit into sand-covered clothes, and it’s not so much a relaxing holiday as an exercise in endurance.

As I’m pregnant this summer, I also appear to have found myself in the not-so-enviable position of being responsible not just for my own but for other people’s children.

During a recent holiday in Cornwall, the rest of the family pulled on their wetsuits and headed out with their surfboards, with a cheery ‘you won’t be surfing this year, will you Jeni?’

They left me with three pre-schoolers who all wanted to run in different directions. I don’t know how I coped.

In fact I think I’ve blocked it out, due to post traumatic stress.

That’s why, for the rest of August, I’ll be well and truly avoiding the hordes heading to Blackpool, Cleethorpes, Scarborough and the rest, and instead making for the far more relaxing location of the Peace Gardens.

Sheffield by The Seaside runs until Wednesday, August 26 and has several parent-friendly features (as well as the child-friendly attractions, obviously, but who cares about those).

These include fountains, where sand-covered children can be easily rinsed off, the absence of a real sea (all the better for avoiding potential drowning incidents) and the proximity to several bars and coffee shops for when it all becomes too much. I’m sold.

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