It seems simple to meet on Bovisand Beach, however there are three beaches and this results in some confusion so that we end up on opposite sides of the cliff. I sit and chat to Susan while the Testosterone Twins swim for miles, having promised to wave to Helen and family should they spot them on the next beach. At this point Helen arrives, panting, on Bovisand Two, which is not Bovisand it’s Crownhill Beach, as she mentions several times. Dan has set up camp on Bovisand beach with Issy and baby Freddie and most of the contents of their house. After twenty minutes of full on nagging, I persuade Helen that the walk there and back to collect everything will do her good, especially since she’s complaining of being unfit. Off we go, leaving Susan and Richard’s family to guard the kit.
Helen and I climb the cliff and walk across the grass to Bovisand Beach, from where we can see Dan’s Death-Star sized beach camp on the far side. In fact, you could have seen it from the International Space Station. I’m beginning to wonder whether we can make it back with all their belongings, but after some hours of packing and loading we manage to pick it all up, including both kids, the beach umbrella, pram, tent, bags, food, extra clothes, range cooker and king-sized four-poster bed. We stagger across the beach and up the path, leaving Dan and Freddie with instructions for dumping a few bits in the car (car? Pick up truck more like).
Finally we’re all together on the same beach, the kids are playing and scaling the cliffs, Issy does one-handed cartwheels, and we laugh at Freddie rolling repeatedly out of his tent. Ruth appears with perfect timing for our swim. The sun has vanished, but we’re confident that the sea will be less cold than the boys are claiming, especially bearing in mind the Dart was more or less warmish yesterday. In we go, and it’s brass monkeys. Neck ache, cheek ache cold. Ten maybe? There is smashed weed swirling around in the shallows, and Helen mentions – but only three or four times – that the sea on Bovisand Beach is much nicer. She struggles to keep her body from the water and goes through a series of facial contortions before ending up bobbing around and grinning broadly. We swim out to the buoys in water that’s the colour of a forestry plantation on a dull day, dark green and light-sucking. Over towards Cawsand mist descends and blurs the horizon. The sea magically turns battleship grey.
As we swim back in we see Stephanie who leaps into her wetsuit and comes in to join us. I’m too cold now, and get out leaving Ruth and Helen to swim. Dan, in training for a Channel relay which has to be done with no wetsuit, gets in after some hectoring persuasion from Helen, and stays in for an impressive amount of time. I’m dry but still really cold in the chilly wind, so I borrow grisling Freddie who acts as a rather cute hot water bottle, and falls asleep on my chest. Helen kindly lends me Dan’s jacket, and lends Ruth Dan’s hoodie. Dan’s cold acclimatisation thus continues on the beach.
We eat and chat and shiver on the sand for hours and put the world to rights. Then the sun reappears and it’s suddenly almost tropical. Such a lovely afternoon.