Alice insists on writing our names on the tin foil wrapped sandwich. Daddy, Mummy, Alice, Ian and Grandma. On a banana the word ‘MonKeY’, because we must not forget to feed her favourite toy, the loved and abused ‘Monkey’. Hot water in the flask for cuppa soup after the walk, a double box of Jaffa Cakes two tins of coke, one bottle of orange, a small container of pineapple juice and crisps. The day begins putting together a picnic snack, and Alice makes the simple task her own, organising the menu and deciding what we will eat for lunch.
We drive to Anderby Creek. It is as good a beach as any in the World. The seascape captivates me; the simplicity overpowers my mind. Anderby, the happiness vacuum, hoovering away discord, leaving philosophical thoughts to content the mind. I have written about this beach before, and in certainty, this will not be my final essay. One day I will visit the beach from early morning to late evening to record interviews, make videos and take portraits of the visitors.
Midday arrival. Sandwiches and soft drinks before the walk. Alice had not seen Anderby before and was eager to begin the adventure. How blessed we are to be part of the magic of a child’s imaginations. It was sure to be pirates, sea serpents and other mysteries; who knows how the day will evolve. A ten-foot wide entrance through the dunes is access to the beach. And before the large beach is entered, on the left is a Cloud Bar. Climb the galvanised steps, and the platform overlooks the vista, in the corner five blue revolving tubes with convex mirrors mounted on their tops. The mirrors are used to view the clouds; Alice preferred to climb on the metal poles. The sands proved more interesting than the sky’s water portraits.
The one-litre yoghurt pot is used to save items picked up from the beach. Shells, small pebbles, sun-bleached wood, a crab shell and yellow toothbrush will become magical tokens, ingredients for spells and treasure worth more than gold. Within fifteen minutes the small bucket is in my hand, I am now ‘In charge’ of the treasure and am instructed ‘Don’t lose it Ennie, it’s very important and valuable.’ Not wanting to risk terrible punishment, I oblige the young buccaneer’s orders.
‘Sea Serpents are dangerous things Ennie’ (I am known as Ennie) ‘They live in the sea but can sleep under the sand. Watch out for them’ This is my first warning, Captain Black Jack Alice is now fully into her role as leader of the pirate galleon The Golden Sweet Pea. I have been a member of the crew since August. She is a tough commander, I have had to walk the plank at least twenty times, and sharks have eaten me after each subsequent fall into the ocean. On the other hand, Captain Alice has shared, sweets, crisps, and ice-cream with me when stranded on desert islands. There is good and bad in every great leader.
The young pirate purloins Lizzy’s trekking pole; this is used to dig holes to find sea serpents. ‘What happens if you find a serpent Captain?’ You’re in trouble Ennie’ Her laughter is Hammer House of Horror frightening. Later on, the pole is used to leave a trail in the sand which I must follow (it is hard work keeping up with a little girl on soft sand). This sign is also used to help other crew members of The Golden Sweet Pea find us after they return from their shore raid on the local inhabitants. A secret message is drawn in the sand; an arrow guides them in the general direction of their leader’s whereabouts. Lines are drawn in the sand to help them a find the Captain. If the crew becomes stranded, it will, of course, be their fault.
After a mile, I have to take over the pole and Alice now follows the line, which I decide to make wavy, so Alice has to walk further than me. It is a plan destined to failure ‘Go faster Ennie’. I point out three pairs of footprints; ’You see those three footprint tracks, Alice?’ ‘Yes’ ‘They are cannibals, they always walk in threes’ I have no idea what made me think cannibals walk in trios, although it would not be long before I would think of the reason. The conversation changed to the pirate ship windmill ship travelling across the sea. Modern pirates have windmill generators on their ships; the windmill generators charge the batteries and power the electric motor for the propellors. ‘Do pirates use mobile phones?’ is answered with a look of disdain.
Ahead of us we see the other members of the crew. Mummy, Daddy and Grandma. In truth, I am pleased there will be time for a rest, Daddy will take over the pole, and Pirate Ennie’s task will be complete. ‘You know those cannibals Ennie?’ ‘Yes, captain?’ ‘They have had a snack’ ‘How do you know Captain?’ ‘There are only two tracks now’ as indeed there are.
The crew take over looking after Captain Black Jack Alice. I walk along the desolate seashore; a pirate left stranded on a desert island. For the two miles back to the carpark Ennie becomes Robinson Crusoe. There is no Man Friday; his friends ate him an hour ago.