The Sea and Sand Tool Kit
Ten things to make your day at the beach the perfect day of rest and relaxation: for everyone, including man’s best friend
I heart Karachi. Actually, I love all the bits of Pakistan that I have seen — admittedly this is not much. Still, I have found much to love wherever I have gone. I love the scent of pine trees in beautiful, green Islamabad, and I am stunned by the idea that you can walk into the hills every day. I love the laid back charm of Lahore with its fantastic, palpable history. I love Thatta and the farms that I have visited; I cherish happy memories of picking guavas from the trees and eating pakoras with the villagers there. I love Nathiagali and the stunning beauty of the foothills of the Himalayas (and the parathas that you eat there for ‘energy’). I am too chicken to venture further north, but if the baby Himalayas are that beautiful, I imagine that the big daddies would strike me with wonder. I would love to walk on the glaciers and see the beauty of Kashmir and Balochistan.
But as a Karachiite, I can tell you that of all the things that we love about our city (and there are many!) the beach is the extremely plump cherry on top of this multi-layered, chaotic, available-at-all-hours cake. A winter sunset in Karachi is a thing of beauty, but pop that on top of a seascape and now you’re talking. I have so many lovely beach memories, some from when I was a child and some as fresh as last week: sun, sand, the big panorama of blue, green and grey, rock pools, long walks, ice boxes, cool ocean spray, skipping pebbles — and all culminating with the sleepy drive home and a shower that relaxes me for a sleep like no other. I love how everyone becomes young at the beach. We are all equally thrilled by the water, the wind and the view.
Here are some of the items that really add to my beach trips: the small things that make a big difference. I bet you don’t have all of them. And yes, you need more than a Frisbee and a towel.
1. Beach Sandals
A good pair of beach sandals is essential to your comfort. Not only in the moment where you can slip on the rocks but also later on, where an ill fitting sandal will give you blisters that appear the next day. Plus this is one of the greatest beach statements that you can make, what kind of sandal guy or gal are you? Bright? Sensible? Old fogey? Plus I think nothing sends the message “I am relaxing” to your brain louder than looking down and seeing a beach thong on your foot!
Nothing kills a love for the beach more quickly than getting burnt and leathery skin. Now that everyone realises the risks, I find that people are fairly assiduous in their attention to proper coverage. But for those of you who really want to get technical about UV protection, please know that true sunblock and sunscreen are different. The former is considered stronger protection as it reflects the sun’s rays and lasts longer, meaning that it does not need to be re-applied as often as sunscreen (and traditionally the zinc oxide in sunblock has caused it to appear white, though there are pricey transparent versions available now). With sunscreen, there are also newer and cooler things available on the market that you may not know about, from the super SPF variety to the spray-on kind, which makes life easier on kids and mothers where speed is of the essence — Archie Andrews would not be impressed.
Other than stopping you from squinting all day and giving you a headache, sunglasses help reduce fine lines around the eyes. If you manage to get your hands on a polarized pair then you will be able to reduce glare without losing detail. Polarised sunglasses reduce glare to the point that water seems more transparent and driving becomes easier. But don’t forget: a pair of beach shades are going to get a little scratched up so go nuts with your seaside fashion statement and have some fun!
4. A Tescoma Flask
These are unbreakable stainless steel flasks with a top that clicks open and closed ensuring that the liquid inside stays hot or cold for the whole day. The cup, too, is the perfect size. And one piece of advice when catering to coffee and tea drinkers: take hot water, tea bags, coffee, small milk boxes and sugar to the beach. This way people can customize their beverages to their liking rather than having to drink what you give them. Oh, and sugar cubes are way easier on the go. I like to put a mix of brown and white sugar cubes in a small Tupperware box. (The kids steal all the white ones, so be careful!)
5. Good Tupperware
There are loads of new recyclable, green Tupperware in the market now, but the new shapes are the ones that find me squeaking with excitement in the aisles of Agha’s or Ebco. Check out this handy sandwich-shaped box that not only perfectly fits your bread but also demands the support of a condiment or two. And speaking of condiments….
6. Squeezy Bottles
You have been there. A bottle shatters and everything is a mess. I have not only found organic ketchup, HP sauce, English mustard (essential for a proper roast beef sandwich) but also mayonnaise, salad cream and much more all in soft plastic bottle form.
7. Swiss Army Knife
While the purchase of our Swiss Army Knife seemed like plain enthusiasm at the time, I find we use it two to three times each trip. Now that you have to take your own cooler, you also have to have your own opener, and some Swiss Army Knife models have two different sizes. We have often used the knife to cut up food, and the tweezers have come in handy for a nasty splinter or two. The corkscrew is of course purely decorative. Plus the sheer boy scout-ness of the whole operation is just great fun!
8. The Gimble
I am amazed that more people do not have Gimbles. I use mine constantly. Basically it is a plastic device that holds paperbacks open, leaving your hands free to do other things. And, as you can no doubt guess, it is a very handy little device to have at the beach, where pages fly around turning your relaxing afternoon read in to a rather exasperating experience. I found mine at Liberty Books, but if it is not in stock, then this simple yet inventive device is easily ordered online.
Ziploc bags to transport gooey things such as fruits that can be tossed in to the cooler to be chilled, colourful and durable plastic cutlery that you can use again and again, multi-purpose wipes, face wipes and a paper towel kitchen roll are all little things that add comfort and convenience to a fun (and always messy) trip to the beach. Plus they all ensure minimal clean up when you get home. A worthy aim.
10. Dog Food
While many people think of the dogs as pests that should not be encouraged, I think that they have already been trained to ask you for food. I, for one, am happy that they are friendly and sweet and don’t cower at the sight of people. That is not something that we see very often, sadly. So if you do not want to share your fancy beach food with them, then take some naan or bread to feed them, and leave out some water: that would be a real act of kindness that would spread the joy of your beach trip to a few of man’s best friends as well.
Photography by Bina Khan