I love reading magazines, especially lifestyle and interior magazines. I like the ones that are down-to-earth or more practical most of the time, but I love the occasional completely over-the-top article on glamping, picnics that involve table, baskets and complete cutlery set or other such event using so much equipment that hiring a sherpa is a real possibility. I like to imagine these articles are being written three months before, in an office that is trapped in the middle of London or another city and that they represent some dream of freedom for the poor writer who is doomed to live forever three months behind that which s/he dreams of.
I have tried to emulate the articles from time to time, collecting the baskets, gathering the blankets and going to the park, the outdoor theatre production or the beach as if ready for the next Everest expedition. It’s hard work, but ever such good fun while you sit there sipping chilled prosecco from a glass glass.
Of course, the end of the evening is the worst part. Who wants to lug the baskets, bags and boxes back to the car when all you really want to do is sleep? There must be a middle way.
Enjoying time by the beach can be a bit like an expedition. The list (written or not) of what you need to remember, the concerns about security (do I take my purse? Leave my phone? What do I do about my medicines?) and all the pre-planning just to get to the bloody place could destroy any peace. And peace of spirit and mind is a vital part of hygge. I’m not an expert on beach holidays — I have a husband who thinks sand is the invention of the Devil to spoil a good sandwich — but I have done it often enough to know that there are ways of making preparing for and spending time on the beach a much more hyggely experience.
- Prepare well. Make a list of everything you think you’ll need, every thing you want to take and everything you’d take if you were free to do whatever you want but probably won’t have time to do really. Now, focus on getting that list down to just the essentials. Do you know the beach you’re going to? What facilities does it have? A good beach with a decent, but not expensive, cafe can save a weight in drinks or snacks, while a beach in a town with convenient shopping area can provide an elegant buffet lunch for two. And, of course, the nearer you can park to the beach, the more you can take ‘just in case’.
- Pack light. No more than 2 bags per person capable of carrying anything. And don’t rely on anyone under the age of 10 carrying anything back at the end of a beach day. They’ll be too shattered. Try and keep equipment light: a beach picnic is not the time for bone china and crystal unless you like to suffer. Pretty melamine and plastic glasses work just as well and are environmentally friendly as long as you take them home to reuse them.
- Pack sensibly. Are you a family of red-heads? Pack a parasol or tent to crawl into and definitely, definitely make sure your SPF is high enough to cope. For a family of bookworms, entertainment need be nothing more than a book each, but sporty souls need to be sure that the full cricket equipment complete with pads and helmet is worth the weight. Far better to stick to beach cricket or French cricket, which is my preference as it really only needs a bat of any sort and a ball, but has no limit on players. Other light sports options are beach balls (uninflated) or frisbee. Use weather forecasts to decide whether windbreaks or umbrellas are necessary, but I would pack a light coat even on warmer days, since it can be chilly when you finish bathing and a breeze comes up.
- Prepare snacks. Time spent on the beach can be tiring, just walking along dry sand or wading in the shallows uses your muscles more than a gentle stroll along the prom. Keep energy and spirits up with plenty of snacks and drinks. Nothing messy, or too wet. Trail mix, nuts, pretsels or crisps, fruit and vegetables all travel well and can fill an empty stomach after a few hours of rock-pooling.
- Have ideas that don’t involve moving too far or fast as well. On really hot afternoons, encouraging a game of beach volleyball may be the last thing you want to do! Have some artistic ideas or competitions up your sleeve instead. Collecting shells, making shell pictures, sandcastle building, sand sculpture, building cairns from piles of rock and seaweed faces are all activities that will give hot, tired children and adults a break in between the next swim/game/sunbathe.
- Enjoy the beach whatever the weather. Although we always say we like a bright, sunny day to visit the beach, there’s a lot of fun to be had when it’s cloudy or threatening drizzle. Rockpooling or crabbing are both activities that are supposed to be even better in fine drizzle, while shallows walking and beachcombing work better the day after a storm or wind. And there are few pleasures to compare to that first scalding cup of tea after returning, wet and dripping, from a sunny day on the beach that turned nasty.
- Just enjoy the company. Whatever activities you plan, wherever you go, it will be all for naught if you don’t actually enjoy the people you are with. Be happy, be content. Just enjoy the hygge together, and hope it turns into one of those afternoons that, years later, you turn around and say “Do you remember that French Cricket game on Nefyn beach? And how the dog ran away with the ball….”
Only a few suggestions… I have many more in my second book, How to Hygge Your Summer , which contains my advice on having a hyggely time at home and outside, and is available in ebook and paperback version.
Hygge and happiness go so well together. If you’d like to read about the small things that have helped me to be happier, my new book is available from Amazon. Happier is all about how to use the small details in life to make you happier. You can get it at Amazon. I also think the principles of enjoying life and making the most of small details is an important part of hygge and that runs through my first few books as well. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.