I must have begged to go too so, rather loathely, I was included. Perhaps it was conditional. “You can go with Daddy and Desiree but only if you promise to be a good girl and not cause any problems.”
“Yes, I promise,” I probably said, for I didn’t want to be left out and at five years old I was being left out of everything important. But I could feel that neither my sister nor my father wanted me with them that day.
There were already a lot of people down on the beach by the time we got there. We parked somewhere in amongst the mass of cars parked in row upon row in the carpark. It was going to be a scorcher and more and more people were rolling up for the day.
“ Okay here is your spade and your bucket. Why don’t you make us a castle while we are in the sea.” My father suggested, craftily. They didn’t want me to swim and spoil their fun! My father wanted to teach my sister how to surf on her new board. But I wanted to do everything that she was doing.
“I want to swim too!” I whined.
“You don’t like the cold sea!” My nine year old sister reminded me.
“I want to swim too.”
“Well, you can come with us. But only if you listen carefully and don’t cause any trouble.”
“I’ll be good!” I promised blithely.
“Don’t move from here!” said my father, warningly.
My father and sister plunged into the icy sea laughing and racing each other and I was left splashing in the shallows. I couldn’t swim yet and anyway I’d been told to stay where I was. It wasn’t much fun on my own, and I remembered that my mother had warned me not to go.
I was pretty miserable but I tried to have fun…..still totally left out and a bit scared!
The sea was that duck-egg blue with white foam swirling on top of each wave. It was pretty cold and each wave although small, slapped me smartly. There were lots of people swimming and jumping the waves and some coming like bullets at me riding the waves on lilos or plank surfboards. All the small children like me, had a parent helping them. I looked up at the Muizenberg mountain with its windblown cloud like an eccentric white-haired old man huddled over the string of houses and little bays along the coast: Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay and Clovelly. A toy train snaked its way just above the seashore all the way to Fish Hoek and Simonstown. There was a lot of shouting and laughing and there was the constant crashing and shushing of the waves.The seagulls screamed overhead in the bright blue sky…….. and there was a warm sun and a freshening breeze.
And then I felt the shock of icy water all over me!
I looked up. A little boy of about my age was splashing me. I retreated. He followed. Splash! Splash! I moved further and further along the shoreline, further and further away from where we had left the towels. He kept coming and I left the water to make for the safety of our towels. I walked and walked but there were no towels on the beach that looked like ours. There were by now so many people. So many umbrellas had been erected and the beach went on and on. …..and so did the many people. I was cold and scared. I now knew that I was lost.
I decided to tell somebody, but every umbrella seemed to harbour another scary female in scanty attire with painted face and nails. To a five year old these ladies did not look appealing or as if they would help.
At last I saw an elderly couple sitting, fully clothed, on a rug, sipping coffee from their mugs. They had a thermos flask and some rusks and looked kind and safe.
I walked up to the kind-looking old lady and said: “I am lost!”and started to cry.
Soon, I had a warm towel around my shoulders, a steaming cup of tea in my hands and a rusk to nibble on. The old man amazingly found our car from my description and found a very worried sister and rather contrite father.
But I am found and I am safe and sound and am forgiven for being a pest.
My father and sister have also perhaps learnt a lesson, for they are a bit kinder to me.