Preparations begin in the winter as you trawl through the sales to purchase a couple of Gul kids' wetsuits that won’t fit them come the summer anyway as you ready yourself for a day at the beach.

The morning arrives and you peer out to see the forecast was, oddly, correct, safe in the knowledge that the other emmets will also be glancing out of their buy to let, chalet or caravan windows the length and breadth of Cornwall as they plan to hit the same stretch of beach as me. The local knowledge of my Cornish wife counts for naught, as a couple of hours is spent loading up Sports Direct bags for life, so you can truly look like the tourist you are.

Towels, a pre-requisite ‘tree of life’ throw, sandals, a change of clothes, drink, food, disposable barbecues, shades, sun cream and a phone charger are packed in no particular order, before my wife, in front of the kids, suggests we take the four-man dinghy that I had purposely kept quiet about.

With no choice but to bring it, I find myself sweating profusely and covered in cobwebs as I manage to locate the ‘Boatman 4’, along with the battery-powered pump in the garage. True to form, the batteries have had it, and we stop off at Sainsburys. I insist on ‘just popping in’, but the family decide to join me and, 50 quid later, after buying excess food and drink, I manage to escape with some overpriced Duracell.

Arriving at the beach, it is busy. We play car park stalking as we follow couples slowly around the gravel. Recently I followed an old man for 250 yards. He got in the car, I indicated, I waited a few minutes, and then he got out with a sun cap he wasn't carrying before. I get berated as I mutter expletives under my breath and my wife hears me before the car next to ours springs to life and makes god speed as a BMW driver, thinking their attitude on the road extends to car parks, attempts to whip in before me. I wheel spin in as I smile and offer to see him next Tuesday as I am berated once more for the dual crimes of muttering expletives and dangerous driving.

It’s now time for car park payment roulette. The first machine is out of order and a local suggests I could ‘risk it’ while pointing out the sister machine some quarter of a mile away. Arriving with a fistful of coins, I find I am 20p short and feel like a beggar as some kind soul offers me their excess. It then turns out the machine is not accepting coins and the only option is the pesky pay by phone, which the sign says takes two minutes. 10 minutes later, as I stand on tip toes, I still can’t get a reception. The wife’s battery is dead, and we decide to do what we should have done 20 minutes earlier and ‘risk it’.

We walk to the beach to meet our friends, unsure where they are. The area nearest the car park is rammed with tourists and their Sports Direct bags. Laden like a pack horse, it is just as we reach the friends, half a mile yonder, that my wife asks where the Boatman 4 is? I turn and walk through heatstroke back to the car. I become aware of a family in their Rav 4 following me slowly through the car park. I do not acknowledge them and open the boot before hearing ‘are you going mate?’ I reply in the negative and he wheelspins off giving me evils and no doubt verbally beasting me, as I sadistically chuckle.

Back on the sand, I drag the boat, no doubt now punctured, behind me. I sit and take a breath on the Tree of Life before our friend’s husband, who lives on junk food, takes his top off to reveal a ripped six-pack that belies his diet. I wait until he has his back turned, and let loose with my less than impressive dad bod as I discreetly attempt to flick the belly button fluff from the matt of hair that seems to have spread like Japanese knotweed recently. A friend of the friend shows up and, although not interested in ‘courting’, I do what all men do and stand to greet her as I breathe in deeply. My wife asks why I’m standing at a funny angle and I blame the bad back before I spend two hours blowing the boat up, dragging it to the shoreline with the tide fully out, watching the kids play on it for precisely three minutes before getting bored, and dragging it back to the temporary homestead where I gather rocks to weigh the damned thing down.

After ice cream runs, toilet chaperoning duties and another trip back to the car to get my wife’s shades, I get to sit down for five minutes and drop off. It is at that point, with all the others having gone rock pooling, that I feel a sudden blast of cold water up my leg as I realise the tide has turned. I manage to drag three families' possessions to the rocks where I am now sitting in the middle of a group of rowdy teenagers sampling Spingo, before I am chided on my return as to ‘how the towels got wet’.

Still, it's better than sitting indoors on a sunny day, and the money I saved in the Gul sale will go toward the car park fine. If truth be known, I could do with a nice relaxing day on the beach to get over it.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher