Beachside English Style

Walberswick, Suffolk. Not an easy village name to roll off one’s tongue. Our dear friends have a house, or two, there and we have been visiting this special spot by the sea for ten years. The week was spent either crabbing, swimming, playing 40/40 It with their chickens running the game or on their speed boat knee boarding, doughnut-ing and rocketing down the river. Collectively we have 8 kids and as each one had their go, Clare and I kept looking at each other wondering who was going to say between us ‘my turn’ first. “I’m a really good water skier,” I announced about every five minutes to impress the kids. “I can do this…and that…on one ski…I was really good!” Pathetically wimpy, are what my comments were, because after watching the kids for over an hour sit on their knees and get bounced from here to eternity, all I could think about was my potential back surgery and there was no way I was having a go. Clare is quite capable of jumping in on a whim so I was silently grateful she decided to keep her jumper on.

We also spent time in West Wittering, an hour and a half from London on the south coast. It has the beach life of Santa Monica on a much smaller scale, and the true dedication from families to enjoy the sea regardless of the whipping winds and ominous clouds. I’m afraid Californians are far more fickle and if we sniff rain, forget it. Here, rain/shmain. They put up their wind guards like a fortress, strip down to their swimmies and no one bothers with suncream. They’ve come for a day at the beach and dammit, they’re going to have it.

We did get some gorgeous weather as well, it must be said. The English claim that they never talk about the weather in the summer, if a bbq is planned then a bbq you will have, even if it’s wet. What else were umbrellas made for? But I do find more and more people talking about, well, the weather! It’s like this game of roulette that gets played every summer’s day as plans are made and marquees go up and down. Currently I have a friend coming for a walk in Richmond Park and the forecast is for sunshine with rain.

And we got drenched. No worries. However, the most exciting event of the day was the realization that the indoor pool down our lane is now open as kids laughter and screams can be heard from three doors down. The pool belongs to a private home that gets rented out a lot and my boys have swam there before, thus the knowledge of what the buzzing noise is from behind the big wall. The tricky part of getting invited this time is this…Brad and Angelina and Co are the occupants! We noticed the paparazzi down the lane camping out and didn’t think much of it until day three, and they were still there on their motorbikes and cars round the clock. Very annoying, very intrusive, not a nice bunch. What a horrible part of living famously.

My boys didn’t know who B and A were, shocking but true, and merely wanted to have access to the pool next door. So, with ball in hand, they did a ‘ding dong’ and asked if their kids wanted to play. A very dishy male nanny took my number – given by my six year old so lord knows if it’s right – and said Brad will be calling today or they will just stop by and collect my boys for a swim. And now, they all think that the phone is going to ring and their trunks and towels need to be ready. They have no understanding of why I don’t believe the phone will ring, why Brad isn’t going to say ‘Hey Jen, wanna swim with the kids??” And I have no desire to run through the rules of Hollywood and what distances people from being able to live normally and make friends with the neighbors. After all, that’s the part of being a kid I love – they don’t see the differences yet…even with the last name Pitt.

About Jennifer

Jennifer is from Beverly Hills and has lived between London and LA since 1994. She's been a writer for over 20 years in the world of film, tv, travel and magazines and has been a class rep eight times and counting...
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