It seems a bit ridiculous sharing this post with you on such a wet and miserable Monday. But writing it has taken me away from the grey clouds and dark skies sitting ominously outside my window so hopefully it can do the same for you!
A few weeks ago we took Ettie on a day trip to Camber Sands near Rye in East Sussex. I wanted her to have another opportunity to splash around in the sea because she’s been a little wary of it in the past! She likes splashing around in paddling pools and buckets of water but isn’t overly keen on anything that moves i.e. water out of a tap, the shower and of course the moving sea. The first time I took her down to the sea in Brighton, she lifted both legs up into the air and absolutely refused to put them down! How dare her Mummy try to make her touch this strange running wet stuff that’s all bubbly and cold!!
When we took her to Weymouth, she was a little braver, pointing at the water, eager to investigate. But again when the waves approached her feet she ran away shouting ‘ no no no!’ In fairness to her on that occasion the water was COLD!! Even I had to put my brave face on as the waves tickled my feet, and I suppose I can understand her reservations. I mean even the smallest of waves could seem a little daunting to a 2ft tall one year old, when there’s strange liquid hurtling towards their feet. But Ettie is such a fun and outgoing little girl, I knew she’d love chasing them once she got used to it, we just needed to get the conditions right.
Well Camber Sands was the place to do that. Just like the beach near where I grew up, Camber has a huge expanse of sand leading into the water which meant the waves weren’t too ominous. The shallow gradient of sand also meant the water was warm, perfect for little legs.
We started her out in a little pool just in front of the tide line to see how she reacted… And she absolutely loved it!! After her initial shock of being plunged into some water, in what she would have seen to be her clothes. She took stock, let out an approving ‘oooooh‘ sound, a huge smile then started waving her arms around with glee as she splashed around in the water.
The tide comes in FAST at Camber and within a few minutes of this photo being taken Ettie was jumping around in the full body of sea water. She even let Stu lie her on her back in the water which is unheard of as she hates water going on her ears even in the bath!!
I absolutely love watching Ettie with a her Dad. They’ve got such an amazing bond. He’d do anything to make her happy and she thinks he’s absolutely hilarious.
It took us about an hour and a half to get to Camber which was perfect as it gave Ettie the chance to have a long morning nap! We took the coast road driving through Bexhill and Hastings which was interesting and a nice way to see a bit of the south coast, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you were in a hurry!
There are a couple of car parks on the approach to Camber Sands. If you’re after a bargain and don’t have too many things to carry, the private car parks on the left offer all day parking for a fiver which is pretty cheap. Because we had the picnic hamper and a few bits for Ettie, we opted for one of the Council operated car parks which are closer to the beach. These cost £10 for 5 hours or £12 for the whole day, but you pay on arrival so will need to have an idea of how long you intend to stay before you arrive. I should also add that we arrived before 10am and there were still spaces. but I’ve heard this can change the later into the day you leave it, so my advice would be to arrive early.
Access onto the beach is over a steep sand dune which is not for the faint hearted! Poor Stu had to carry all of the bags and was loaded up a bit like a Donkey because I had Ettie. If we’d thought about it, we could have been a bit more prepared by carrying rucksacks, but we didn’t so enjoyed a bit of a hardcore workout before our relaxing day on the beach!
When we arrived the tide was out and was quite a long way away, but no one had really pitched up near the water. Observing that there must be some form of local knowledge in operation we followed suit and found a space on the fluffy sand directly in front of the sand dunes. After what felt like our 400th attempt at removing a sand covered food item from Ettie’s mouth we later felt that this was a rookie error and were about to jump ship to move closer to the water, but as I mentioned previously the tide comes in extremely quickly at Camber, so once we’d had our little wander down to the sea and back again, the tide had almost covered all of the inviting – fluffy sand free places we’d been eyeing up earlier, so we were happy with our choice of location after all.
As you might expect from a place with ‘Sand’ in the title, there was SO MUCH SAND at Camber Sands, I honestly think we were cleaning it out of the car, Etties ears and our laundry basket for weeks following our trip!! Again in hindsight I think we would have taken a couple of those little rattan mats to lay under the blankets and perhaps a deck chair or two – but this would have been difficult with a one year old. We had great fun building sandcastles with Ettie and watching her bash them down. A couple of the older children were building huge forts! So much time and effort being dedicated to their constructions!
We packed a picnic for lunch which I believe it actually the only way to go as we couldn’t see any cafe’s or food vans anywhere on the beach. There could have been something on the other side of the sand dune, walking back towards the car park – but one return climb over the dune per day was quite enough for us! The picnic was lovely, such a chilled out way to spend the afternoon, sitting back, relaxing and nibbling on strawberries, but I honestly do not know what got into Ettie – it must have been the sea air or something, because she did.not.stop.eating!! I mean not even for one moment!! Even when we were building sand castles with her which she thought was hilarious, if we turned our eyes away for a second she was dashing back off to the tent to have a peek inside the picnic hamper! I came away convinced she must have worms because i’d never seen anything like it – but thinking about it rationally I think she was just excited at the fact there was food within her reach (thank-goodness for baby locks!!).
I’ve mentioned it above, but on this visit, Ettie absolutely loved the water and she looked so cute dashing about in her little pink swimming costume. When we arrived, the beach was relativity clear so she had chance to run around and investigate all of the new and interesting things. She’s usually extremely wary of animals, giving them a very disproving ‘No’ and a pointy finger if they dare to come close. But at Camber she had the time of her life chasing the Seagulls and even made friends with a little cockerpoo. It was such a delight to watch her running around so care free and fascinated by her new surroundings.
We headed back to the car around 4pm with rosy cheeks, windswept hair and sand absolutely everywhere having had a lovely day at the seaside. Ettie slept the whole way home overloaded with sea air and we weren’t too long behind her!
Sunset (or not!)
While sitting on the beach I remember thinking how lovely it would be to watch the sunset over the sand towards Rye. Aside from the hoards of people which descend onto the beach over summer, Camber is pretty rural and the beach is untouched so would be a lovely place to watch the sun go down. It wasn’t until we were leaving that we realized the car park closes at 8pm so this wouldn’t be an option in Summer anyway – unless we were walking, but it’s perhaps something to consider if you’re ever in the area.
All in all a lovely day at the seaside and one I hope we’ll be repeating for years to come.