Sandcastles can be very time consuming constructions. I read an article about what makes the best sandcastles. I thought the answer would be 'sand', but it turns out that you need a thousand things happening simultaneously to create the most structurally sound sandcastle. This is absurd because the best thing about sandcastles is having the tide come in and rend them asunder before your very eyes. You don't need them to withstand a tsunami or king tide. Who's got time for that?
I would decorate sandcastles with arrays of small and colourful shells. Pipi shells worked well if I wanted to make a statement somewhere. Then a spray of seaweed or a sand crab shell would be the cherry on the top. Tiny jellyfish made fine windows and added a little sparkle.
My childhood friend Jeremy would make elaborate sand cities alongside my simple bungalow. They were replete with freeways and broad rivers and lakes, airport runways and stadia. He'd bring real shovels and trowels from his holiday house for the excavation, and once I even saw him spraying water from a bottle with an atomiser attachment onto the surface of a tower he'd built. Then he carefully patted the surface down with the palms of his hands.
While Jeremy was doing this, I was in the surf. Then I was drying off on a towel in the sun and then I was at the milk bar eating chips with sauce and playing pinball.
At dusk, I looked down at the beach and I could just make out Jeremy's angry father marching him home, and I could just about hear Jeremy crying in the dark.
The next morning, Jeremy's castle was still standing and a shadow was starting to extend from the tallest of his many structures along the yellow sand. My bungalow and all its shells was long gone. More about the new book.