Monday, May 2, 2011

Why you should always check tide tables

Some friends Jamie went to school with spent the last 2 weeks in Wales on holiday, finishing up with 5 days camping nearby at the Three Cliffs Bay caravan park on Gower. We went out to see them on Saturday - the weather forecast had threatened thundery showers but it was glorious and sunny, albeit ridiculously windy.

Three Cliffs Bay is a weird mini-estuary type beach, with a tidal river winding out around the beach and pouring into the sea, cutting the beach off from the cliff-path. There are large stepping stones to take you out onto the beach, but once across you're then foiled by the river doubling back in front of you to cut the beach in half again, meaning that you have to wade if you want to get onto the beach proper.

Having negotiated our way across the stones, we decided not to bother getting out onto the beach itself, and just settled down on a sand spit so J-cub could run around a bit and dabble his toes in the icy cold river-water.

And we got so distracted by rescuing various toys that he kept throwing into the water, that we totally didn't notice the beach (above) disappearing (below)...

Until the water was suddenly lapping around our toes and we beat a hasty (and slightly hysterical) retreat back beyond the tide line. It was at this point that we realised that not only had the beach disappeared - so had the stepping stones. And it was fast approaching half past 6, we had no food for J-cub's tea, and Rowan and Mark had dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant. While J-cub happily surveyed our consternation from on high...

...our friend Mark went to investigate how deep the stones were. At just over ankle-deep, and with the tide still coming in, we decided to risk it. J-cub clung to me for all he was worth and Mark waded across the river alongside me to catch us if we fell. But we didn't. We reached the other side safely and I berated myself for not checking the tide times before we came out. Because I always do. I was brought up to respect the sea, and I forgot, and it laughed in my face.

Still, I'll remember next time. The above picture shows me lying down to calm my beating heart, with J-cub berating me to "Det UP, Mummy!" He then spent the rest of our time there throwing rocks and sticks into the river, in an attempt to copy Mark who was expertly skimming stones.

Then he crouched for ages at the edge of the water, dipping dry stones into the water to watch them change colour.

By the time we left, the tide was on its way out again, and the stepping stones were almost visible. We live and learn.

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