The weather has been - to say the least - changeable recently, with places that ten days ago had four inches of snow now basking in temperatures in the high 20s...yesterday we had the same temperature here in the north-east corner of Scotland as in Darwin, Australia.
Which meant that, for once, our spring beach clean-up wasn't a total washout! Eight valiant volunteers, armed with litter-pickers and rubbish bags, set about doing a wee bit of tidying up at Fraserburgh. I was in charge of refreshments, explaining what we were doing to the bemused general public, and recording all the various items found : in two and a half hours, we got at least 990 individual items, including 13 disposable barbecues. Two-thirds of what was collected was 'visitor related' rubbish (i.e. not thrown-overboard/fishing waste/sewage-related...you get the idea).
It was also a great opportunity for a spot of people watching... The sudden shock of the sunshine must go straight to the brains of folks up here, immediately disabling all thoughts of sensible clothing and sunscreen - the skimmed-milk skin of the average punter is immediately exposed to the UV rays to the greatest extent possible. Which results in a preponderance of lobster-pinkness as the pallid flesh is rapidly grilled to the broiling-point. I found myself wincing at the thought of how they would feel tomorrow, and slightly self-satisfied that I had blathered on the new Factor 30, half-price and supposedly with a 'golden sheen'. Being of a pallid persuasion, I need all the help I can get.
Crowds (well, in our terms "crowds" - at least 100 people!) made their way to the beach, with all the accoutremonts of the British holidaymaker - windbreaks, buckets and spades, frisbees and beach games tumbling out of overpacked bags, trolley-loads of beer and barbecue equipment (I feel our clean-up efforts will be un-noticeable by tomorrow morning), and over-excited children. There was a background soundtrack of screams as said children ran into the sea, to suddenly halt as the water reached a critical level and yelp 'IT'S COLD!!!!' before running back to the beach, where their doting parents pointed them back at the water to repeat the exercise. They breed them tough up here. This is the North Sea, after all, and it's only May.
The cafe did a roaring trade. An idiot on a jet ski roared from one end of the bay to the other. Offshore, the crab boats went about their business, followed by hopeful gulls. Soggy, sandy, barefoot children trailed after harrassed parents back to the car park.
I recorded the next sheet of findings on the laptop, looked at my arms to check I wasn't burning and made a Horrible Discovery.
Far from a 'golden sheen,' the damn sunscreen makes your skin sparkle. I mean, really glitter. Like disco gel. Like a freakin' cut-price vampire.... I retreated into the deep shade of the van, and prayed for clouds....