Whether May refers to the month or the tree is unclear.
But anyway what I’m getting round to is that when I was a child I was never allowed to swim in the sea until June or until we had spotted the first jellyfish – a sign that the gulf stream had “discharged its filth” as Pop used to say.
But when I was twelve I knew better than to pay attention to folklore and I went swimming. My mum said I’d pay for it. There was a cold easterly wind blowing and I’d probably catch my death. You know what mothers are like.
Well she was right. I didn’t exactly catch my death but I came down with a bout of bronchitis that took several courses of antibiotics to clear and I ended up not being able to go swimming for ages. My mum’s “I told you so” button had never been so active.
Last week my youngest son’s two little girls Roxy and Charlie came to stay for a few days and for once the weather was with us. I took Roxy and another of my granddaughters to the beach – no swimming costumes (my mum’s warnings ring in my ears still), but Isabel had other ideas.
“No going in the water,” I said and I got on with making sandcastles safe in the knowledge that the shingle between beach and sea would be too harsh for tender little feet. I should have known that a determined two year old would find a way – she made the journey on her behind.
After all the effort I hadn’t the heart to refuse her a paddle so I rolled her trousers up. Well of course she fell in. And so did Roxy. There was no nasty easterly wind blowing though and the sun was warm, so no harm done and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
We had a lovely time while the girls were here – including a visit to the animal sanctuary at Mistley where the girls fed friendly goats, cuddly sheep and dozens of assorted chickens that crowded round their feet.