Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enjoy Life's Pleasures While You Can

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enjoy Life's Pleasures While You Can

Article excerpt


TWO issues are currently dominating the silly season columns of the national press: the decline of topless sunbathing and the fate of the British pork scratching.

As it happens, I am deeply concerned about both, since after many years of reflection I have concluded that heaven for me would be sitting in a deckchair on a beach, drinking a glass of cool (but not cold) English ale, eating a big bag of pork scratchings and watching a group of underdressed young ladies playing volleyball.

If they could be persuaded to sing a bit of baroque opera at the same time that would be absolute perfection, but I recognise that even paradise has its limits.

Where to find such a Heaven on Earth? Well, certainly not on Bamburgh beach last Wednesday, when the question was not whether it would be proper to shed the top half of a bikini, but whether to wear one overcoat or two while sheltering behind the windbreak.

I had bought toddler Charlie his first bucket and spade in Seahouses, along with one of those little windmills I used to enjoy at his age. I sensed that his first visit to the seaside was not going to be a complete success when the top of his windmill promptly blew off.

So we adopted Plan B and went on a rain-lashed cruise around the Farne Islands, where Mrs Hann hoped to fulfil her lifetime's ambition of seeing a puffin. If we'd gone last month she could have seen 35,000 of them, apparently. Now there were just two left, floating dozily on the sea and wondering where all their mates had gone. But at least they saved my day from being an unalloyed disaster.

True, Charlie also went "wow" at the grey seals. But then he said "wow" when he found an empty coat hanger in the bottom of our wardrobe this morning, so he may be quite easily impressed.

In short, at the end of four days trying to sell Northumberland as the ultimate holiday paradise, it is only my cunning ruse of allowing my passport to expire that is now keeping us from a beach where the sun might actually shine. …

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