I have been planning to take my mother and child to Brighton beach for a long time now.
To you, it might sound like an easy thing to do. To me however, it is a challenging expedition that can potentially go horribly wrong.
First of all, to an Azeri the beach weather is not the one with a bit of sun, partially obscured by heavy clouds and the air temperature of around 18C. If I drive for two hours, I want to get some of that dangeous sun on my pathetically white body, and maybe even have a swim. For two months (since my mother arrived in the UK) I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast with no luck. BBC guys promise it is going to be hot, only to change their minds the next day. So I had to plan and get prepared at a very short notice. That is a challenge when my child’s social schedule has to be coordinated with my part-time job and other arrangements.
I then spent hours worrying about getting lost on my way and not finding somewhere to park. A friend started to explain that I could actually find plenty of free parking- at the Marina, when husband interrupted the discussion:
– Look, - he said- it is simple. You get on the motorway and follow the signs with‘Brighton’- all the way. You get there and notice something big and blue. Oh, yes- that must be the sea. You then see signs with a large letter P. Not P for Pillock. Not P for Penis. But P for Par-king. So you park there.
(You are probably wondering how come he is still alive and I have not killed him. But it is a British thing, this sarcasm, you see? And my husband is particularly skilled at it. It is not his fault, honestly. His father is the same.)
Azeries are lazy. We don’t like parking far away and then walking.
The next morning, I did drive down to the free parking spot at the Marina, just to realize it is miles away from the civilization, where you can hire parasols and loungers, and buy endless amounts of ice-cream. Needless to say, I chose personal comfort over money and paid for the whole day right near the famous Brighton Pier.
But cutting the long story short, we made it there. And I did not get lost, not even once.
Paranoid of the UK traffic jams, I woke my mother and the child at 6am. We had thought of everything that could possibly go wrong. I took a roll of kitchen towel: in case my child pukes on the way there, or back. I took a change of clothes for her and me- in case she pukes on me. I took some spare disposable contact lenses, as I had once before experienced one-eyed driving and it is not my idea of a fun day out.
But most importantly, we took food. There is something about a picnic on the beach.
As we started to take everything out of the cool bag I'd purchased specifically for the occasion, I became increasingly aware of how Azeri we must have looked.
There was a biker couple next to us. All they had with them were their leather biker boots, a thermos with tea and cigarettes. Behind us, a sophisticated elderly couple read books, and a few young and trendy young people just relaxed, chatting away.
But not us. From my cool bag I produced:
Fresh and pickled Russian cucumbers
Hard boiled eggs
Turkish white cheese
Crisps & Doritos
Now, that’s what I call a nice day on the beach.
I bet you were waiting for some punchy ending where something did actually go terribly wrong. But nothing did. It went smoothly and perfectly. As if I knew what I was doing.