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Sandcastle J Bates

Summer holidays were always old-fashioned affairs in our family, reminiscent of my own childhood. The simple pleasures in life are worth far more than money could ever buy.

When I was young, it was Whitley Bay up in the north east of England, and then when I was a teenager it was Rhyl on the north coast of Wales. And, when I finally came to live in Herefordshire, it was St. David's on the far west coast of Wales.

Who remembers making sandcastles?

Sandcastles: you remember building sandcastles don't you? Well I certainly do, but not just because of that, but because, it was when I first realised (with all due respect to my boisterous, athletic, three sons) that she – Sarah, was the one. Whilst we were all playing our boisterous, male dominated games, so Sarah began to build sandcastles. But not just sandcastles, but also houses and even trying to make tunnels. And so what did I do, I joined in of course (and so, of course, did all of my three, sons, Sarah's brothers). And so what did we do? We 'built' an entire 'sand village'

One sandcastle lasted three days!

Big deal? Well, not as far as we were concerned. But that tiny little inlet, which was covered by our sand-created building endeavours stayed there for the next three days and more (it was viewable from the cliff-top coastal path which we – and hundreds of others – used every day during the rest of our stay there that particular year).

And today? Well, our Sarah has a degree (as have all of her brothers) and another degree and is studying for her doctorate (PhD) at Yale University in Connecticut. Clever girl.

I thought I could still run fast!

And the boys? Well I was a county borough sprint champion in my teenage years, won my college colours playing football for my university team and continued playing 5-a-side soccer at national level right up until my 50th birthday – but my boys brought me crashing down to earth (and sporting retirement) one fateful summer holiday – on the sands of St. Davids.

It was an annual family event that I introduced the boys to take part in each year – a handicap sprint race on the beach. They were all fast (just like their dear old dad), and so I made sure that we were all evenly matched for the race. But one final year (Sarah and Mike had 'flown the coop', being 22 and 20 respectively), but I still had 16 year old Robbie and 14 year old David with me (I was a single parent at the time – just before I met my darling wife Judith).

I retired from sprinting that year!

We started to set up for the annual sprint challenge, but this time it was different. Both of the boys insisted that there would be no 'handicap' this time – that we should all start 'from scratch' (ie, the same place). And that was the year that I retired from sprinting forever – they both whopped the pants off me!

Happy memories.

Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books ( include:

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