Tide scuppers Vinny’s designs on sandcastle supremacy
Bereft busman’s beach bailiwick battered and broken
Vinny Fitzpatrick’s efforts at building the biggest sandcastle ever seen on Kilmore Quay beach in Wexford were looking good until the tide turned.
The bulky figure in Dublin GAA top and baggy shorts drew no more attention than the other beach builders scrabbling furiously into the shingle. None of the others gave their rival a second glance. All were on a mission.
Moments earlier, the whistle had peeped to start of the annual sand castle challenge on Kilmore Quay and Vinny Fitzpatrick was instantly digging quicker than a JCB running on Red Bull.
On the final afternoon of the summer holidays, the burly bus driver wasn’t in a sunny mood on his arrival.
Burdened down by fold-up chairs, wind-breaker and two tennis rackets, he was like a camel crossing the Sahara as he traipsed dutifully across the strand, behind his family.
With an eagerness which Vinny envied, Angie had cobbled together a feast of sarnies, buns, biscuits and drinks, both hot and cold.
She also oversaw the loading of the boot with beach furniture, hampers, swimming gear, towels and sporting accessories.
“Ange, are we going out for the day or a week?” whinged Vinny.
Aware any extended protest might curb his pass to the pub for the World Cup final later, Vinny didn’t press on with his gripe.
In truth, Vinny wasn’t cut out to be a sand boy: shallow beaches left him high and dry.
Sand was fine if you had a wedge in your hand and were playing the famed Liverpool links of Hoylake where the Open was about to take place – Vinny felt a Yank win was nailed on and would be punting on Rickie Fowler.
But away from the golf course, there was little love lost between Vinny and the shiny tiny particles.
Minor sandstormInvariably, he managed to spoil his cup of tea, or ham sambo with an injudicious gesture which sparked up a minor sandstorm. Today, he had already caked a punnet of strawberries with brown sprinkles after casually flicking out a towel without noting the wind direction.
Vinny’s mood deteriorated further when he was press-ganged into the beach activities for “all the Mammies and Daddies”, by the games organiser, a Neptune-like thespian with flowing hair and a plastic trident.
With Oisín and Aoife urging their aul fella on, Vinny performed like Eddie The Eagle. He fell in the sack race after stubbing his toe on a half-hidden rock; then he’d dropped his potato into the briny in the egg and spoon race.
But the greatest ignominy of all had come in the three-legged race where he’d finishing in rear even behind the twins, despite having the advantage of two fleshy trotters free as he was the spare runner in the field.
The sandcastle challenge represented Vinny’s last opportunity to salvage something from the wreckage. Mr Neptune called everyone to order, allocating a small rectangle of beach to each team, which in Vinny’s case consisted of himself, Angie’s 20-year-old daughter Emma, and the twins.
“There will be prizes for the tallest castle, for the one which goes deepest, and also for those castles which display most imagination,” bellowed Mr Neptune. “You have twenty minutes and may not use anything that you cannot find naturally on the beach. On my whistle, ready, steady, go.”