We run along the path, glimpses of blue bobbing up and down in time with our steps. Down we go to the edge of the road, then we wait for the green man to stop the slow-moving but determined traffic. Across, and they keep running, but I stop for a moment, because there it is, stretching out ahead. A curve of white on blue, blotted with moving, coloured dots.
The up-way or the down-way? Always the down-way. Unfenced heights and wild five-year-olds are not a good combination. We start down the slope, already assessing the distant ice-cream queue.
“It looks busy mum,” they say.
“It’ll move quickly,” I tell them. We’ve done this many times before.
Slower now at the end of the ramp, there’s time to take it all in. Glittering blue to the left, white sailboats bobbing up and down. Unhampered sunshine turning colour volume up.
“Will you stop for a photo?” I ask them.
“Ice-cream first!” they plead, and I can’t argue with that. On towards the van we go, the line growing ever longer.
Sunday afternoon strollers, grabbing seaside air in the unexpected sun. A couple with a pram, tiny baby inside. A family of scooters – three children whizzing ahead of two parents, zipping in and out between the strollers. Three girls, long hair swishing, jeans ankle grazing. Dogs on leads, bicycles coasting.
Then we reach the queue. “I promise it won’t be long,” I tell them, before the first complaint comes. But nobody minds – everything’s easier under the sun.
“Can I take a photo now?” I ask. But no, we need to focus on the ice-cream queue. We’re at the top. Three small 99s and two normal. Hoping the kids don’t hear the ‘small’. They want syrup. I usually say no, but today I say yes – everything’s easier under the sun.
“Now can we take a photo?” I try. This time they agree. I can’t be here without taking something home for posterity – every visit is the same. But it’s special every time. Like I’ve never seen it before, and I need to prove it happened. Our very own Riviera.
I snap the ice-cream eaters and we start to walk again, towards the band stand – bright and seasidey against the blue sky.
“Will we go up?” Of course we will. They play chasing, my husband leading the pack.
I watch for a while, then turn to the water. Again the indescribable blue stops me – as though it’s the first time I’m seeing it. And it’s not, but it is. Every single time.