For a perfectly baked body, baste flesh generously with sunscreen, place onto pre-heated sand and cook for 4 hours at 35°c

Beach holidays remain a popular getaway choice for tourists all around the globe, and are often thought to be the ultimate way to relax and escape from the stresses and strains associated with our everyday lives. The warmth of the sun’s rays on our cold, weather-worn faces can be just the boost we need during the winter months, or can help us to top up our tans when we’ve simply been too busy to enjoy the summer weather at home.

I can recall with painful clarity my first beach holiday, as an oily skinned and distinctly tubby teenager, whose tendency to wear over-sized clothes did nothing but accentuate my girth, and who made the idea of wearing a bikini one definitely not worth entertaining. I had an almost desperate desire to become deeply tanned, having heard that this would make me look slimmer and therefore become infinitely more attractive to the opposite sex. The reality was that I spent so long lying in the heat of the midday sun, that I burnt my poor pale flesh, causing it to blister and to be incredibly painful.

That was in my day of beach holiday virginity, and while I have no issue with those who do choose to spend their entire holiday sunbathing, I find that nowadays I enjoy the beach for very different reasons.

Morocco, my current home, has some wonderfully wild and untamed stretches of coastline that attract sea birds and fishermen rather than tourists, and where the ocean brims with white tipped waves that the birds dive into at incredible speeds in search of fish. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I find the ocean to be inexplicably comforting, and although gazing into the water doesn’t provide me with any answers, it can make a question seem less imposing or problematic.

I don’t make a habit of swimming in the ocean or even participating in water sports; for me the presence of that vast expanse of water and the warmth of the sand between my toes is more than enough, and provided I have adequate shelter and supplies, I can sit and gaze into the deep blue for hours on end. Of course, when I say adequate shelter and supplies, what I actually mean is a sturdily erected wind breaker or ideally, a bivouac, a comfortable chair, preferably with cushions and the ability to recline, and a gigantic umbrella to protect me from the glare of the sun. Then a thermos flask of something hot should it happen to be a chilly day, or, better still, a picnic hamper complete with thermos and ice packs so that I can be prepared for a change in weather conditions.

A selection of snacks are essential, as are:

  • A packet of wet-wipes
  • A few sheets of kitchen paper for unexpected spillages or in case the nearby facilities (and I stress, there must be nearby facilities) are not equipped with toilet paper
  • A pen and paper (you never know when that can come in handy)
  • At least two extra layers of clothing. There is nothing worse than settling down for some hardcore sea gazing, only to discover that a chill has gotten into the air and is penetrating your flimsy t-shirt, potentially ruining the entire experience.

I have been known to throw caution to the wind and arrive unannounced on a beach with barely an extra layer of clothing to wear or snacks to nibble on, and found myself to be perfectly content, but in order to get the best beach experience, I generally insist on at least a few home comforts. This doesn’t make me sound like a particularly carefree and impulsive person I know, but when your knees begin to creak if you so much as consider sitting on the floor, and a lack of regular snacks makes you feel dizzy and weak, you know that the time has come to accept that spontaneity on a beach holiday is a thing of the past. Allow for a little preparation, however, and you will find that a beach break can offer you the perfect solution to the winter blues, or any other kind of blues for that matter. Even if you need the comfort of a deck chair (and possibly even somebody to help lower you down on to it and lever you back out again!), it can be worth it.

So should you happen to be a fair-skinned and slightly stiff-jointed maiden like me in need of a holiday to help soothe your limbs, your equilibrium and possibly your sanity, I strongly suggest that you dig out your beach towel, dust off your sandals and buy yourself one of those floppy hats that you can only get away with wearing on holiday. You won’t regret it, and your body will thank you for it too!