Chapter 3 – the beach on the lake

Today came my turn to drive the giant hire car/bus. I had never driven an automatic car before so just as a big thunderstorm hit seemed like the perfect time to have a go. I tried to drive on the right side of the road and keep the bus between the lane markings, but it was slightly tricky in that I couldn’t see the road very well through the flash floods. Somehow I managed to get us all to Port Stanley on the shore of Lake Eerie without any motoring disasters.

Port Stanley is a small town featuring a proper sandy beach and harbour on the northern shore of Lake Eerie. It was still raining when we turned up so, as British people are programmed to do, we headed straight for the fish and chip place on the edge of the beach. We tucked into the (frankly rather amazing) fresh Lake Eerie yellow perch and curly fries and watched the rain move away over the vast, still water. By the time all the food had been scoffed the sky was getting brighter and the deserted beach was all ours (apart from two slightly bored looking lifeguards in their tower).

It was hard to imagine that we were looking at a lake and not the sea… We couldn’t see the other side of it (the USA side to the south), little shells and drift wood marked the shore line and the fishing boats chugged in and out of the harbour. There were birds catching fish but no salty smell and no surf…Lake Eerie was eerily quiet.

On the beach
On the beach

We paddled for a bit as the sun emerged and then went in search of ice cream. I can honestly say I have never eaten such an enormous ice cream before in my life. I requested 2 scoops (expecting the scoops to be the usual small ball of ice cream balanced on top of a cone), but ended up with half a bucket of mango loveliness which made the cone look tiny. It took a long time but I finished it…I will never let an ice cream beat me.

2 scoops (a 3 scoop option was also available if you fancied eating your own weight in ice cream)
2 scoops (a 3 scoop option was also available if you fancied eating your own weight in ice cream)

We headed back towards London, stopping briefly to see an enormous monument to a circus elephant named Jumbo who was killed on the railway line at St Thomas in 1885. He was struck by a grand trunk locomotive of all things.

Jumbo
Jumbo

We passed through a sleepy little town called Lambeth just north of the elephant and sniggered at the ‘Live in Lovely Lambeth’ signs. Maybe ‘Lovely Lambeth’ signage would be just the thing to brighten up the grimmest areas of the South London borough we instantly thought of when we saw the name. Maybe not, on second thoughts… The signs would probably be tagged, stolen, used as a weapon and then sold on to a dodgy scrap dealer within minutes of them being put up.

As the sun was blazing when we returned, Catrin decided that she wanted to hurl herself into the swimming pool. Thankfully, she waited long enough to put her swimming costume on and my husband jumped in with her. My daughter has no fear and didn’t care that the water was chilly…she plopped in off the diving board and kicked and wriggled herself up and down with a huge grin on her face. I love her sense of adventure.

Water baby
Water baby

Later in the evening, my husband and I found the local shopping mall and, in the interest of nostalgia, bought a baseball and mitts. We also visited Walmart in search of a baby- sized wetsuit (just about the only thing with Walmart doesn’t sell) before taking Catrin to the airport to form the welcoming committee for her Uncle who is joining us for a couple of weeks. He turned up in his best bear t-shirt…I suspect he will have added to his bear t-shirt collection by the time his holiday has ended.

Welcoming committee
Welcoming committee
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