Friday, 17 July 2009

In which Adrian nearly drowns and wrecks our holiday

All my life I’ve had this image of the perfect day at the beach. The sun is shining and it’s deliciously warm (not too hot, definitely not raining). The sand is soft and I’m lying on the dear old tartan rug in the shade of rocks (Celtic skin doesn’t do sunbathing) listening to the waves softly slapping the sand. Nice things are sizzling on the barbecue and I have a glass of bubbly in my hand as my boys splash merrily in the sea, their laughter floating on the gentle sea breeze.

It was there, it was absolutely (well nearly absolutely) there. On a beach in Cornwall just last week. This is it, I thought. I have finally, FINALLY achieved the dream. This is the day that will wipe out all the failures and disasters; it will sweep aside the days of lashing rain and jellyfish and turds floating on the waves. This is, quite simply, It. Bliss.

Adrian and James were snorkelling. Adrian very James Bond in his new wetsuit and, dare I say it, ever so slightly vain about his newfound sub aqua prowess.
‘Now James,’ he said, in strong paternal tones. ‘There are several rules you have to follow. These are…..’ pause for effect…

‘One – stay close to me – don’t go swimming off on your own.
Two – don’t go out of your depth.
Three – keep an eye on where you are – water can be deceptive.
Four – don’t stay in too long – you’ll get tired and cold.’

James nodded solemnly and off they went. I pulled the top off my ready mixed G&T and lay back with my book (Marion Keyes’ This Charming Man – one slightly irritating POV but her usual mix of humour and hardhitting issues). Every so often I bobbed up, turned the sausages and checked their progress. Two little heads, like seals, a long way off.

I have a morbid imagination, I can’t help it. I played out this horrible scenario in which I couldn’t see the heads anymore, in which they had vanished. I got as far as the bit where I’m being sedated by the doctors and then driving home alone to an empty house and weeping over my ex-family’s scent on the clothes in the overflowing laundry basket. It’s an awful habit and I slapped myself on the wrist. Stop it. It’s a perfect day. All is well. They are together. Adrian would never let James drown. Pulled the ring-pull off the second G&T and sighed with pleasure.

‘Hi Mum,’ James padding up the beach.
‘Hi love. Want a drink?’ Not a G&T I hasten to add.
We sat and sipped, watched the waves.
‘Where’s Dad?’
‘No idea. I was getting cold so told him we should get out but he wanted to stay in.’
We both peered. No sign of a head. No sign of kicking feet. Just the far off rocks, waves crashing into them.
‘He’ll be fine, Mum.’
‘Of course he will.’ I will NOT succumb to neurotic obsessive behaviour.

Twenty minutes later he emerged, staggering up the beach. Gone was the cocky surf-god demeanour. He looked knackered – and shaken.
‘Hi love. Want a sausage?’
‘I nearly drowned.’
‘Ho ho, ho.’
‘I nearly DROWNED.’

James and I looked at each other.
Turns out he had been quietly snorkelling along, blithely disregarding all his own advice. Came up and didn’t know where he was – couldn’t see the beach. However hard he swam he felt himself being pulled out. Panicked. Swallowed water. Found the beach and called ‘Er, hi,’ in a very British embarrassed voice to some people on the shore. They didn’t hear. Swallowed more water and tried again.
‘Hellooooo.’
People smiled and waved.
‘Er. Help.’ In a small voice.
‘What? Sorry, can’t hear you.’
‘Help.’ Still couldn’t bring himself to shout it.

At this point, he said, he was overcome with a sense of complete and utter unfairness. How totally ludicrous to drown within sight of a beach, with your wife and child merrily prodding the barbecue. He wondered if his body would be found, bloated and nibbled by fishes or whether we would go home leaving him in a watery grave.
‘Worse of all,’ he said. ‘I knew you wouldn’t do me a memorial.’
What?
And then, just as he was saying his final goodbyes, looking wistfully at us far away, clinking cans, laughing totally unaware of his plight, he stopped trying to swim and put his feet down…..and (yup, you know what’s coming) touched the sandy bottom. Stood up, shook himself down and walked out perfectly alive and in a right palava.

Poor chap. Since we got back, he’s been telling everyone about his near-drowning and is very reproachful that I haven’t been more sympathetic. I would be, I really would – but somehow the comedy elements are too strong. Still, it’s a cautionary tale and just goes to show you CAN nearly drown in an inch of water. Oh, OK, three foot. But, serious voice now, DO take care.


Slightly insane footnote
Now this may seem a bit bonkers, given our ‘heatwave summer’ has collapsed into a soggy mess. But, ever optimistic, I’m going to offer you free suncream! Nivea have brought out a new pocket size children’s suncream (factor 30 and 50), designed to be popped into handbag or rucksack without weighing you down (or spilling all over the shop). The first ten people to click the link will be sent a free full-size sample (all Nivea ask in return is that you give some brief feedback on the product).

So, come on, let’s be optimistic eh? If we wear it, it will come (the sun). Maybe. No? Nah, I’m not sure either…..but what the heck. Click here and let's bring on summer:
http://niveasunkids.dbmblogs.co.uk/request-a-free-sample/?siteName=Exmoor

PS - pic is James, not Adrian.......I may be cruel and heartless but I'm not THAT cruel and heartless.

PPS - Beth, if you're reading this, DON'T tell your Mum or Doris - you know they would be worrying themselves into early graves.

51 comments:

Michelloui said...

As a mother this sort of story sends the chills right up my spine! I also have the curse of the morbid imagination... Anyway, alls well that ends well I guess, sounding slightly cliche and all that! And it does make for a funny story to tell!!!

Strictly said...

That is hilarious Jane - I really was worried for his near miss till you said he stood up.

Exmoorjane said...

Michelloui: Lesson is, check out the notices on the beach! We walked in from another beach and missed the warning about rip tides. Scary.. But yes, it was pretty funny too - in retrospect.

Strictly: that was the bit I liked best!

Frances said...

Wow Jane, I am so, so glad that story has got a happy ending.

James clearly must have gotten a very good lesson on just what could happen, and will now be a wiser beach boy.

Hoping that Adrian will snorkle many more times, and maybe get you into one of those suits to join him?

All the same, glad that you had a fine holiday! xo

elizabethm said...

Oh I am so glad I am not the only one who does the morbid imagining. I have my husband dead and buried and am seriously wondering whether to stay in this house or move down to Devon every time he is late when out on his motorbike. I thought it was just me.
Glad you nearly had the perfect beach day!

Mud in the City said...

Don't we all have that morbid bent? I cycled back through Battersea Park last night convinced something dreadful was going to happen and I'd be found, mauled by urban foxes, 2 weeks later under a bush.

seashell cosmos said...

Yup, me too with the wild imagination, of course having my middle teen tell me how he was caught in a rip tide while with his father ( my ex )..... ( *clinches teeth*) only fuels it. Love your beginning, the description of a perfect day at the beach. * sigh*

pebbledash said...

It's the way you tell it...bet you were on north cornish coast with a strong rip. Another morbid imagination here, too....
Always entertaining reading your blog AND the comments!

Glad there's a happy ending, too.

ArtSparker said...

Lady, you can WRITE. That was pretty scary to read. Glad it was merely an instructive experience.

Billie Jane said...

Are we all suffering from guilt at being happy? Is this why we run the disastor scenario at the drop of a hat...? So glad you had a happy outcome... and valuable lessons learned at the same time... what a bonus!

Celtic Heart said...

I was raised by a mother who did enough worrying for 10 people and then some, so I figured I needn't worry about anything as she had it covered. This is actually not a particularly good attitude to grow up with. Living near the coast and owning a boat we lived on the edge of the knife each time the maroons exploded (right above our house) when anyone of our immediate family was at sea. You can never, ever, ever be too careful where the sea and people are concerned, and thankfully your story has a happy ending.

family affairs said...

That is hilarious x

Shabby Chick said...

Oh dear, I have that imagination as well. One minute I'm thinking all is fine and the next imagining impending doom... though the G&T's must have helped with that ;)

I had to giggle at the thought of you sniffing the laundry, brave lady!!!

Mel xxx

Milla said...

But how, Mrs Lincoln, were the sausages?
at least your morbid imagination is just romantic and sobbing and wafting round, presumably, in nice clothes. Mine always involves the police and my shortcomings being paramount and a nasty scene in court.
Glad the old boy is OK. If you will assay a wet suit in your 50s what do you expect, tut tut.
You've not sold the MK v well.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Now... I just LOVE the idea of ready made G & T on the beach. And Marion Keyes. And BBQ. This is good. Very Very good.
We have bread, salami, carrot (raw) lettuce, cheese, lemonade and beer. At every single Picnic. Will now change and do Your Picnic. Thank you!! Oh, and poor poor Adrian. Hope he liked his G & T afterwards. Oh, dear, am so absorbed by all the food in your post have ignored life threatening awfulness. Made me giggle too. But will keep an extra eye out on next beach excursion. Now, where is our BBq. Quick! Find the briquettes.... :)

Exmoorjane said...

Frances: me too! But hell would freeze over before you got me in a wetsuit!

EM: so glad it's not just me! Giggling at your imaginings - so incredibly similar to mine. I too move out of the house - too big, too much.

Mud: sorry, shouldn't laugh at you mauled by urban foxes, but such a great line!

Seashell: ah yes, sigh indeed. Seems so long ago now.

Pebbledash - no, the Lizard, believe it or not.....missed the warnings about the rips!

Art: thank you! I think I should have found it scarier...or so Adrian believes!

BJ: dunno. Homeopaths says there is a 'disaster scenario' type - Arg Nit is the remedy. Have always been like it... Grim!

CH: A has always wanted a boat - now I know why I have always said, NOOOOOOOO.

Lulu: Yup, I thought it was too....what kind of sick mind do I have?!

Shabby: yeah, might have overdone the laundry bit come to think of it!

Milla: sausages were darn ace - only tesco too. You'd hate MK - but I have a soft spot.....

LWM: focus on the food, it's the most important bit - and the drink of course. Have ALWAYS wanted to do BBQ on the beach and it was fab...think that was why I wasn't more sympathetic - too happy to be eating sausages instead of curled sandwiches. G&T in cans just fab too....

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

A very entertaining read - and a happy ending too, of course. Loved when poor James gave up and stood up. Best wishes. Lesley

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

I mean when 'poor Adrian' gave up and stood up!!

Victoria said...

That is a priceless story, Jane, and you tell it so well. The image of you reading your book and prodding your sausages while your drowning husband says: "Er, help" in a stiff-upper-lip sort of way is hilarious.

Brown Dog said...

Yes, I do the morbid imagining, too, I'm afraid. And I also know to keep husband and child in view at all times - it's not so much the child I'm worried about, he's far too sensible. But how did you keep the G&T COLD, I want to ask? That would be my biggest worry in the scenario you paint.

Must say, James looks very dashing in his wetsuit.

Annette Piper said...

Oh dear - that would have given him a scare, even if he feels a bit sheepish about it all now. Just as well you son listened to the sage advice, even if the teller didn't. It's pretty amusing in retrospect though, eh!?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Given our background in BCDs, fins, snorkles, air tanks, weight belts and goodness knows what else..I was geared up for a grand finale.....but it sort of adrianed out....(v. glad he's still with us though :) )

An award for you over at mine. It's to make amends for not blogging for ages.....

KittyB said...

Completely with you on the morbid thing - why do we do that? Poor old Adrian - however does make an exciting story. H had a near miss on holiday in a kayaking episode (I still get a tight chest thinking about it) but was thrilled to write on his postcards to pals about how he went in a kayak and 'capsided and nearly dided'. Oh the glamour of a close brush with the afterlife!

Fennie said...

What a lovely, if slightly scary story for all concerned. That's the really great thing about serious accidents - 95 per cent of the time they just go whirling by as a near miss. That though doesn't stop the morbid imagination which I suspect may well be - like our type of skin (I don't do bronzing either - imagine 3 weeks on a hot Spanish beach at the age of 18 and still as white at the end as I was at the beginning) a Celtic or at least a Nordic phenomenon, caused by endless winter nights and horrific worries that the days will just get shorter and shorter until we are all subsumed in perpetual darkness.
Happy days!

jeriden said...

I wonder if it's mostly just us "womenfolk" that do that whole morbid thing. I think it's tied in with guilt, for me. Guilt for what, I have no idea. I just know that there's some kind of "I don't deserve" tied in there somewhere when things are going really well. Sick. Anyway, hilariously told story. Thank you for brightening my day!

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

Ive done the same thing myself so realy feel for Adrian. I had to lok around and check to see if anyone had noticed me panicking for no reason then quietly slinked out of the water.

HER ON THE HILL said...

I decided to marry my husband (then long-term boyfriend) after I had similar morbid imaginings - which I too often have - when we were living in Italy together. I shall tell the story one day...

But I'm with Adrian on this one, and not laughing. A couple of years ago on a reasonably crowded beach on the west coast of France, I left a group of friends and family chatting at the water's edge and went for a little dip. Not far out. Could see everyone, just like Adrian, chatting and laughing. But suddenly I just couldn't swim shorewards, however hard I tried. I was just making no progress and getting more and more tired. I thought, just like Adrian, 'God, I'm going to drown in sight of my mates and my family and they won't even notice!' It was not a comforting thought. I was getting a little panicky when finally, somehow - and I'm not sure exactly how - I got to a point where I could just about stand again and I managed to work my way to the shore. A friend who lives there said in these circumstances, with complicated currents, you should allow yourself to be taken out to sea and then the current will eventually sweep you along the shore and back in. Still, it would take a brave person to allow themselves to go further out into the big Atlantic sea in the hope of then being swept back in...

It was a very alarming moment in my life and a lesson learnt. It really can all happen so quickly.

Welsh Girl said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who concocts entire worst case scenarios. Why do I torture myself with them? They are always so realistic and believable that it is hard to shake myself out of them when life carries on, thankfully, as normal..

Edward said...

Hi Jane - the rips in Cornwall can be really fierce, but some beaches (like Polzeath, for example) are so shallow that you can walk for half a mile and still only be up to your tummy. Best wishes to Adrian on what was clearly at the time a very frightening experience, but I hope he one day sees the funny side. I'm afraid I did (spraying oatcake over the keyboard in a very uncool way).

dulwich divorcee said...

Yes, I do the morbid imagining too, right down to the music played at the funeral ...glad I'm not alone ...what a beautifully written post, though obviously a bit of a shame that Adrian had to nearly drown ... glad he didn't xx

Preseli Mags said...

I truly tried not to laugh at the standing up bit, but before then it was sending chills down my spine. Thank goodness he arrived back unscathed (and I too think that a ready mixed G&T sounds perfect for the beach).

Pipany said...

Even those of us who live here have done the same, so tell Adrian not to feel too bad. The rip tides are the real problem; really strong even in a few inches of water. Did make funny reading though Jane! x

Friko said...

but apart from that, Exmoorjane (or better, because of that) how did you enjoy the holiday?

What's with the bad blogger bit? Not from where I'm reading.

claire p said...

I had never done the imagining your family dead thing until I became a mum. Must be a hormone thing!
Poor A he probably felt a bit daft to, when he realised he was in the shallows.

ChrisH said...

Poor Adrian, he must have been in quite a state - so glad there was a sandy bottom for him to tread on (the beach - not yours).

Calico Kate said...

Poor Adrian! I have a similar imagination and get carried away to the point that I know what I am wearing to the funeral! Think I need to write more and think less.
Sounds like you have a ball though EJ. But pleased to be home??!!!
CKx

AR said...

Every morning these days JJ and I arrive at the beach for our morning walk just as the sun come up. I'll be smiling from this end of the Atlantic tomorrow :-) Thanks.

clareybabble said...

Oh I do the morbid thing too, it's terrible.
Shame on you for not being more sympathetic! But men do have the tendancy to exaggerate don't they?! ;)

Rob-bear said...

Well, if Adrian didn't get much support from you, did he get some from ASBO Jack?

Sally's Chateau said...

Truly a most nasty experience. His Lordship nearly drowned in front of my very eyes on a beach in Dorset, the waves just tossed him around like a rag doll and the undercurrent (a warning on a very tiny notice) kept sucking him back in. Glad all is well. I don't think people realise how dangerous the sea can be. I went back to the beach the other week and my enjoyment of a very large clotted cream ice cream was blighted by people ignoring all the golden rules.

DJ Kirkby said...

How very freaky...until I got to your punchline!

Woozle1967 said...

Oh, Jane! Don't tell Adrian, but I DID laugh out loud. You told it so well - I was there right next to you! I wonder how long he leaves it before he next dons the wet suit? When you fall off a horse, you should always get back on, so they say........x

Rob-bear said...

And you're absolutely right; "Celtic skin doesn’t do sunbathing." I used to burn after about five minutes.

Now I'm a tougher ol' Bear, but I still need to be careful.

PhilipH said...

That is a scary tale; one that I can fully relate to. It's happened to me and it is so easy to get swept out to sea.

About 20 years ago we were on the Isle of Wigit (or Wight to be precise). My wife and children were building sandpies and stuff whilst I swam out to sea.

Before long I looked back and was astounded how far from shore I was. Started to swim back. Soon became tired. Seemed to make no progress at all. Had to stay as calm as possible; started using backstroke instead of the crawl.

Gradually, very gradually, I got closer to shore. Continued switching from backstroke to crawl until my feet actually touched the sandy floor of the sea.

Never, ever, under-estimate the fierce under-tow of the tide. You can be gone in sixty-seconds! And a young person, not fully developed, might easily and quickly drown.

Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

oh my, my heart was in my mouth reading this post, (sorry I am late, I have been deluged by non stop visitors and am sick to the back teeth with catering.....oh the joys of living in Scotland!)......

I am exactly like you in the imagining terrible things happening stakes.

What a horrible experience though.

When I was very young, I drifted out on a lilo.....supposedly safe waters, and wondered why everyone was waving at me from the shores, so I waved back.......

then found out the tide had taken me far too far away and was heading for disaster. And much water swallowing, if not the indignity of drowning in front of a huge crowd of on-lookers too far away to help.

Someone helped me, so long ago I cannot remember the details, but ever since have been gripped by terror at the capacity of the sea to look so "nice" but to be so evil.

I am glad he "stood up" though! ha ha! Very funny but frightening all the same.

You have made me laugh out loud, and I was in such a bad mood with the husband tonight. Thank you.

Letty ;0D

also Marvin's mama

http://returnofhollowhound.blogspot.com

just so you know I am genuine

he he, I was reading Liz Jones in the Mail t'other day, seems she is now weaving her own woollen tops from her Exmoor Sheep! Made me laugh out loud!

Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

aaaargh! Had to pop by and let you know Liz Jones is whingeing away again in today's Mail on Sunday.......but it made amusing reading with a glass of wine sitting outside in the sun.

Apparently some person has upset her, in Exmoor, yet again, and again......

Letty ;0D

Pam said...

Similar thing happened with my in-laws too in a sailing incident.Father-in-law and his teenage nephew. Father-in-law returned to shore first,as nephew had swum back and ended up elsewhere.Father-in-law was incredibly hurt that his wife looked straight past him in anguish, shouting "Where's Steve!!" For my mother-in-law, having to explain to her sister that all her morbid thoughts had eventuated, and living out her life with the resulting scenario was just too much to bear.All resulting from what was supposed to be a pleasant day out in the ocean! footnote - the sailing boat was sold soon after that!

Barbara said...

Oh Gosh! I know how this feels and in Cornwall too. The water was so cold I could not get my breath, the cove was deserted except for my husband who was reading and oblivious and I managed eventually to swim out to a kind of 'reef' where I could stand out of the water and work myself around back to the rocks. Terrifying.

prashant said...

I am so, so glad that story has got a happy ending.


Work From Home

CAMILLA said...

Dear Jane,

Pleased Adrian dear boy was alright, heck.... kind of scary with reading that but hope it will not put off Adrian getting into that swish wetsuit again for snorkling.

As ever, brilliant writing dear Jane.

xx

kevin said...

very interesting post I read it and i like it the most.