Last week we we did something that we haven’t done since having our children. We climbed the sand dune at the far end of our favourite beach in Bolonia, Cádiz. I don’t quite know why we haven’t taken the children up there before now, because after all it is an ideal place for two boisterous boys to burn off some energy. They are currently going through what I think of as a ‘bundle’ phase, because they spend most of their time bundling on top of each other and rolling about on the ground while trying to smack each other’s bottom and shouting “bottom, bottom!” Consequently any location that has very wide open spaces, relatively few other people within a 100m radius and lots of opportunities to roll around on the ground is an ideal place for us!
To get to the dune we parked at the far end of town, near to the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins. Parking there is limited and a bit of a ‘find whichever small space you can to squeeze your car in’ experience and we ended up having a bit of a minor altercation with a family in a campervan as we both vied for the same space but it was resolved almost amicably when I bounded across to say hello and cheerily offered the rather grumpy, muttering campervan family the space and we went off to find another. Having found a new ‘space’ and parked lopsidedly in the middle of a grassy, puddly, uneven bit of land we set off to begin our adventure.
The weather was very strange that day. As we drove there we noticed a thick blanket of cloud just over Bolonia but as we passed by we saw that Tarifa was bathed in glorious sunshine, Punta Paloma was also sunny, in fact everywhere was sunny except Bolonia which was grey and chilly. We weren’t discouraged though and actually it was rather advantageous because as I remember from the last time we climbed the dune, about 9 years ago, it was quite difficult climbing it in the heat of the sun. I also seem to recall that we were hungover on that particular day too which wouldn’t have helped, but those were our pre-children days when we seemed to do most things at the weekend with a hangover. Now, in our post-children days we just do everything in a constant state of extreme tiredness. But anyway, I’m digressing.
Now then, where was I? Oh yes, climbing the dune in the cloud. We had gone along the wooden walkway from where the car was parked until we reached the base of the dune. Looking up to the top of the dune from the beach you realise just how high it actually is and climbing on sand isn’t the easiest thing in the world. We started off full of enthusiasm, the boys running on ahead and throwing themselves down the steep sides of the dunes, running, rolling and bundling and generally getting covered head to foot in sand. As we got closer to the top Henry needed more coaxing as his energy levels depleted which resulted in him throwing himself down in the sand and refusing to move from his comfy, sandy nest and eventually we had to carry him some of the way as his little legs were tired and we feared we may never reach the top otherwise!
As we made our ascent we came across all sorts of different people. There was a group of three French lads with their bikes which they had pushed up to the top and were attempting to ride down some of the very steep slopes with various degrees of success! There was a small group of tourists being given a guided tour and we eavesdropped on what the guide was saying as he pointed out some interesting, little known places that could just be made out in the distance. There were other families with children and dogs leaping around excitedly, people sat on their own reading on the peaks of the dunes and groups of people who had set up windbreaks, deckchairs and picnic tables in the troughs of the dunes and who looked like they were set to spend the day there.
When we finally reached the top we sat down for a few minutes and admired the views before we all ran and rolled back down again. We tried surfing down on a bit of plastic that we found but it didn’t work, even when we tried sending little Henry down. So instead we continued rolling and running, frequently needing to coax Henry back up from where he was contentedly lying flat out in the sand refusing to get up again. Eventually I ended up carrying him back and felt like I’d had a very thorough workout by the time I reached the wooden walkway again.
On reaching the walkway we emptied our shoes of the copious amounts of dune that had collected inside them and then attempted to de-sand the boys which proved to be a job almost too big, even for expert de-grubbers like us to handle. Brushing off as much as we could and making a mental note to stick them both in the shower when we got back home we set off to a nearby chiringuito to get some lunch.
We had a fantastic afternoon climbing the dune and we decided that next time we would take our dog Joey as he also enjoys our favourite family pastimes of running and rolling and ‘bundling’! If you too like to roll/run/bundle then I would encourage you to climb the dune too. Or if you are more accustomed to leisurely, sedate walks (lucky you!) then I would also encourage you to climb the dune. And while you are there, if you hear repeated and increasingly weary calls of “Come on Henry! Up you get!” or “Come on Henry, you can’t lie there all day!” or “Come on then Henry, mummy will carry you!” travelling to your ears on the wind from across the dunes then it’s more than likely that we are there too.