THERE'S something about building sandcastles that brings out the child in me.

When I was little, there was nothing I enjoyed more than being taken on a trip to the seaside – usually Redcar or Saltburn – and playing for hours with my bucket and spade on the beach.

My sandcastles always had to be better than anything my two brothers could construct. Theirs were basic. Mine were elaborate and multi-tiered, with moats, bridges, windows, and turrets. Come to think of it, I should probably have been an architect.

There is even a faded photograph of me, at the end of a happy day, ready to take a big bucket of sand on the bus, so I could carry on building sandcastles at home.

Half a century on, my wife and I took our little granddaughter, Chloe, to Saltburn, and, naturally, the day had to start with a spot of sandcastle building.

It turned out to be quite a nice structure too: a solid foundation comprising four closely grouped sandcastles, with another plonked on the top. The three of us did our bit to dig out a moat, clumps of seaweed were used to make a garden in the castle grounds, and Chloe found some large stones to be the prince and princess who lived there.

‘Ganma’ – with the kind of foresight she’s known for – had brought some colourful little windmills to provide the finishing touches, and all was well with our seaside world as they fluttered in the breeze.

But, like I said, I’m naturally competitive when it comes to sandcastles, and I couldn’t help thinking there was something missing.

I got my chance when Ganma and Chloe went off to fill the bucket with seawater to pour into the moat. While they were gone, I started work on a bridge. Not just any bridge. A bridge designed to impress my three-year-old granddaughter and make her gasp in wide-eyed admiration.

Six separate pieces of driftwood were perfectly dovetailed together, with neat little pebbles fortifying the edges. Even if I say so myself, it was good enough to provide safe passage across the moat for any prince or princess.

“Look, Chloe, Gandalf’s built a bridge for your sandcastle,” I said, proudly, when she and Ganma got back with the bucket of water.

I waited for the smile, but it never came. Instead I got a grimace.

“No, Gandalf, me not want a bridge!” she shouted, stomping her foot.

“But you need a bridge so the prince and princess can ride their horses across the moat and not get wet,” I explained, gently.

“No, Gandalf, don’t you know about princes and princesses?” she replied. “They magic, so they can fly across moats – they don’t need bridges!”

And with that, my beautiful, driftwood bridge was demolished with a single swipe of the hand.

There are times when I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of this grandad lark.


CHLOE loves to help Ganma with the Sunday lunch.

“Is it time to test the Yorkshire Puddings yet?” she asked.

“Not ‘til half eleven,” replied Ganma.

Ten seconds later, Chloe piped up: “Is it half a lemon yet?”

MY daughter, Hannah, teaches ballet to little ones in London.

She was recently doing “pony gallops” with her class. This involves getting them to hold on to a pretend horse and do high knees, like gallops.

One little girl was refusing to do it, so Hannah asked her why.

“My Mummy’s allergic to horses so I’m not allowed to ride them,” explained the budding ballerina.

I LOVED this from Alexandra Page, on Twitter, last week: “Bitter disappointment today. Four-year-old thought we were taking a day out to see a zebra for lunch. We are actually seeing my friend, Deborah.”