(This post was written a while ago, but I forgot to publish it at the time. Sorry about that. I’m catching up slowly.)
All I’m aware of is a look of gape-mouthed horror on Liv’s face. However, apparently she just had her bikini bottoms pulled down to her knees by a particularly large wave. Thankfully she managed to catch hold of them and hoist them back up before anyone saw anything. (We think …)
In an attempt to save our modesty while we keep cool, we do as the Italians do and sit at the breaker line on the shore while we chat. This turns out to be not such a great idea, either. The water is too rough today and it’s kicking the pebbles into a frenzy. Every time a wave breaks over us we end up with more and more stones piled in our bikini bottoms. On the plus side, our arses are being beautifully exfoliated, but (a big minus), as soon as we stand up we look like we’ve done large, lumpy poos in our knickers. We dive, red-faced, into the waves, holding bikinis up with one hand and fishing stones out with the other. Oh, the glamour.
For the rest of the day it’s playing it safe with sunbathing and people-watching. A mum and her toddler son walk across the beach in front of me. Or, rather, he barrels towards the waves while she ambles behind, rapt in a phone conversation. Mum is more aware than she appears, however. Just as her offspring is about to launch himself with gay abandon into waves taller than he is, she kicks off her Crocs, phone still clamped to her ear, and swoops to the edge of the water. With one arm she scoops him up out of harm’s way, while both roundly chastising him for running away and continuing her phone conversation. She grins down at him wriggling at her side as she marches back to their umbrella, not noticing the fact that she’s going through the middle of a volleyball game. The four teenage boys playing eye her with indulgence, and one shouts, ‘wait!’ It’s not clear whether the warning is for his friends or the oblivious woman about to be hit in the face with a ball, but either way it averts disaster. The ball game stops for a moment, and Mama beams and ducks her head in acknowledgment while not changing her course in the slightest.
Five minutes later her son is armbanded and she has abandoned her phone in favour of the waves. Her fuschia-pink Crocs also lie forgotten, just above the tideline, where she kicked them off in her earlier rescue effort. She, meanwhile, is waist-deep in the water, with her son perched on her hip. Both their faces are split with grins a mile wide. The Lido owner’s kids, next to them, dive through the bottom of the waves crashing over their tiny heads. They are burnt black from being on the beach all day, every day, and they emerge sleek as seals from the far side of each breaker, crowing with excitement.
I’m disturbed from my people-watching by the feeling that I, in turn, am being watched. There’s a small boy standing by my feet, eyeing the bag of crisps that Liv bought earlier and which lie, half-eaten, between us. Having caught my eye, he grins and points at them. His mum, meanwhile, is sitting five feet away, gazing in curiosity at the brazen scene unfolding. I ask him in broken Italian whether mamma will approve of him eating crisps. Mamma shrugs and gives me a sheepish smile. I laugh and offer him the bag, from which he takes one and toddles back to his towel, apparently satisfied. 30 seconds later, however, he’s back again. This time he’s braver and comes up next to me before staring pointedly. On the third go round he sits down and just dives straight into the bag. He’s probably doing us a favour by stopping us from eating them. If the sea is going to continue stealing our bikinis, at least our bottoms will be trim when we flash them to the world.
Image by Calwhiz on Flickr