First Time at the Beach

We had long been talking about an outing at the beach, little gosling’s first proper time at the beach. We were looking forward to seeing his reaction at first touching the wet sand and the waves. Little gosling was looking forward to walking barefoot on the beach. We weren’t disappointed. He explored and discovered it all at his own shy pace. 

The take away from the day? We walked barefoot on the sandy beach, we splashed with the waves, we played in the sand with the toys and we went to the aquarium where we saw penguins, seals, seahorses and clownfish and… other fishes :))). Aaand, we travelled by metro and train :). 

We finally made our way to the coast on a fine, warm July Saturday. We took the metro to the train station and started our hour and half long train ride – one wish of little gosling’s ticked off the list. He loved it and for us, parents, the excursion was also thoroughly enjoyable. It was so much less stressful than a car ride. We looked outside the window, played our “what do you see ?” game, mostly hunting for wind mills (the latest object of fascination).. We, of course, ate :). “Bebe wants food”, he announced almost as soon as we were comfortably seated. It took him a while to eat through half of the sandwich. The last half hour of our trip we read Atinuke’s “Splash, Anna Hibiscus!”. A lovely story about an extended African family enjoying a day at the beach and eventually being lured by little Anna’s contagious laughter to join in to playing and “splashing with the laughing waves”. A splendidly joyful celebration of family time at the beach that I had saved for this particular occasion and which, I thought, set the scene very nicely for little gosling’s first contact with the sea. 

Playing into the school’s monthly theme of sea creatures, we had been reading stories at home. We had planned to also visit Sea Life Blankenberge, give little gosling a first hand peek of some of the creatures we had been reading about. He fell asleep in his pram on our walk to the aquarium, so we sat down by the seals’ pool, waiting for him to wake up. We didn’t want him to miss out on anything… He woke up one hour later, breastfed to his usual self and off we went on the tour of the aquarium. It is not a big place and I would say it was a good size for little gosling’s attention spam. He dwelled on the penguins, hoping we may catch a glimpse of them jumping into the water, but the six of them just lazied in the shade. He loved the games featuring animal sounds, pushing the colourful big buttons to hear penguins, sea elephants and orcas. He preferred seeing the seals from above than down below the water, and we played at tracking down the seals showing their heads here and there (“where is it?!”, “where will it come out next?”, “there it is!!!”). He ran and jumped from one aquarium to the other, excited to see the fish, without lingering anywhere. He saw seahorses and clownfish and prawns and snakes and lobsters and many other colourful and less so creatures… At the end of the tour, he couldn’t make up his mind which stuffed animal to take home with him, but he was clear that he would take one along. I thought the clown fish would be the winner, thinking at the same time that he’ll probably enjoy Finding Nemo and Dory when we finally start watching TV. He played around with a very red crab before finally deciding on a pink seahorse, which he quickly turned into a lollipop for the day. 

From the aquarium we found our way through the dunes to the beach. From the moment he felt the warm sand on his feet, he was enchanted. He barely nibbled from his lunch, way too busy going around in circles on four feet in the sand making car engine noises, “vrrrm, vrrrmm”. He was so absorbed that of course sand flew everywhere from his little hands, including in mommy’s lunch :))). I picked out what I still could, some grains of sand included. 

He took his first walk onto the wet sand, jumping into the low tide pools and into the tiny waves holding his daddy’s hands. It was only a matter of seconds before he got wet enough to first take off his shorts and then his t-shirt :). I was finishing my lunch and watching them from a distance getting their feet wet. I love seeing them together :). Little gosling loved the sea. Luckily, the North Sea was really calm and smooth and welcoming. During the two hours we spent on the beach, the beachline advanced by… a lot! :))) Back on the dry sand, we all played with the sand toys. We brought back sea water in a bucket and he spent more than half an hour making sand shapes with his daddy (more like his daddy was doing all the work and he was watching entranced): fish, octopus, star fish. It took a while to get the hang of the water-sand proportion. First they would rain down a bit of “flour” (faina), fill up the form with wet sand and then flip it over on the sand. Little gosling found it very entertaining.

Just before leaving, we took another trip to the sea, to clean the excavator. We ended up splashing with the waves, just like Anna Hibiscus, and completely wet, falling over and playing around in the muddy pools left behind by the tide. That was so much fun! We ran barefoot on the long waterfront and spent the train ride back home reminiscing about the day and talking about doing it again soon. 

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