There are those amongst us who would rather eat worms than be pushed in a wheelchair. But I suggest it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to paddle in the sea or build a sandcastle without getting bogged down to your axles.
Balloon-tyred beach wheelchairs are increasingly a feature of our seaside resorts. The Channel Island of Jersey has six of them, strategically placed on the biggest sandy beaches by the BeachAbility charity and ready for free loan to visitors and residents. For the less mobile a hoist is also available, but you may need to give notice to get it in the right place.
Johnny phoned on a whim one sunny Saturday morning and coordinator Mig said she could be at the Gorey site in 15 minutes. We needed a little more time than that but we soon met her in the Long Beach car-park, where the chair is kept in a small locked shed. The size of the tyres can make transferring tricky so a sliding board is to hand.
The previous day I had taken my standard chair onto the hard sand of le Hocq at low tide. Even if the way ahead looks flat and firm, there are soft patches everywhere and even with a Freewheel I soon got stuck. On the beach chair even the fine sand, above the high-water mark, was a breeze — for me obviously but for Chris and Pippa too. We rolled down to the sea and watched the dogs going loopy in the shallows.
I considered swimming but it would have been a scramble to get back on and, these days, I am taking care of my shoulders. And you can only go so far into the sea before the chair starts to float. I hadn’t thought of that.
We rolled back to the soft sand at the sea wall and bought bacon-and-egg rolls for breakfast. A simple pleasure and one I had not fully enjoyed for 30 years. Back in the car-park, the excellent Mig was waiting patiently at the shed, looking after my own chair.
Swallow your pride says Johnny, and enjoy the wondrous Jersey shore on more-or-less equal terms.