A blast of warm, summer breeze blew
sand into the childrenís eyes. "Mummy," Peter shouted, rubbing his eyes.
"Och, come here bairn. Let me wipe
your eyes for you," she said, grabbing a soft towel. She wiped the sand
out of his blue-green irises. "There now, is that better?"
"Aye, Mummy; much better," he
"Howís the water today, Peter?" she
"Itís a bit cold, but Iím having
fun," he replied. "Iím going back for a wee swim." He ran into the waves.
His mum laughed as she watched him splashing about in the shallow water.
She sat on her beach chair, fanning
herself with her book. The sun was giving her some much needed color as
its rays shone across the shimmering water and sand. The aroma of
something wonderful and delicious came floating towards her. "What is
that?" she said. She turned and looked behind her. "Och, itís coming from
the fish and chip stand. I wonder if Peter will be hungry?" She stood up,
dropped her book on the blue and white striped chair and put her hand over
her eyes, blocking the sun so she could search for the lad. "Peter!"
He heard his mum calling and ran out
of the water. "Mum!" He waved, catching her attention.
"Peter, are you feeling a wee bit
hungry? I can smell fish and chips and thought now would be a good time to
have our lunch," she suggested.
"That sounds brilliant, Mum. After
lunch can I have a donkey ride?" he begged. He pointed at the man leading
a small gray donkey around the beach. "Will said it was great fun when he
"I suppose you can. Letís eat our
fish and chips first though," she said and they headed for the chip shop,
a way back off the sand. "Weíd like to have four bits of haddock and some
chips, and oh, two pickled onions," she ordered. Within a few minutes
their food was ready. They sat at one of the picnic tables and devoured
their fish and chips. Peter poured vinegar on his and tomato sauce too.
"Now can I go on a donkey ride?" he
"Och, all right," his mum gave in.
They walked toward the man holding the reins. "Peter would like a donkey
ride," she said to him.
"Thatíll be 50p for a ride up and
down the beach. It takes about quarter of an hour," he replied.
"Thatís fine. Iíll go and sit in the
chair and watch you, Peter," Mum said and walked away.
Peter asked the man, "Whatís the
"Itís Norton. Heís five years old
now," he answered.
They moved along through the sand.
Peter bobbed up and down as the donkey clomped along the beach. Waves
rolled across his hooves, but Norton didnít seem to mind. "Nortonís a nice
donkey," Peter said. He petted the top of his head and his ears. Norton
let out a loud bray, frightening Peter.
"Itís all right, lad. Norton doesnít
like his ears touched," the man warned.
"Heís got a loud bray," Peter
giggled. All the other children watched as Peter and Norton walked by. He
heard them telling their mums that they wanted a donkey ride. Peter waved
at them. Some of them waved back. Most just stared. "Nice Norton," he
said, rubbing his coarse hair. He turned his head and looked at Nortonís
tail. "His tail is long. Do you have to brush it?" he asked.
"Yes, I do. I have to take good care
of Norton and keep him clean and healthy."
"Only wee ones can ride Norton, not
our mums and dads," Peter noticed.
"Och, youíre right there, lad.
Nortonís not big enough for anyone but the wee folk, but he loves to walk
up and down the beach. Sometimes, at night, after everyoneís gone home for
the night, I let Norton run free. Heíll head all the way down to the
cliffs over yonder and I can hear him braying. Itís like heís saying,
ĎLook at me!í" the man said.
Peter thought about Norton running
wild. "Iím glad heís not running now. Iíd fall off!" He started to giggle.
"Does Norton like fish and chips?"
"Och no, lad. Norton eats hay and
grains. Sometimes I give him an apple or a pear. When your ride is done,
would you like to feed him an apple?" the man asked.
"Iíd love to," he answered.
They walked in silence all the way
back. Peter watched the other children jumping about in the water. He saw
a lass building a rather large sandcastle. She was using a bucket and
spade. Suddenly a wave came rolling in and washed some of it away. She
began to cry and ran to her dad.
"Hi, Mum!" he waved as the donkey
passed her chair. She waved back.
When his donkey ride finished, Peter
jumped off into the sand. "Here you go, lad," the man said, handing him a
small red apple. "Hold it in your hand and dinny be afraid. Heíll not nip
Peter laid the apple in the palm of
his hand and moved it in front of Nortonís nose. The donkey seemed to
smile at him as it lowered its mouth over the apple. Itís wet lips tickled
Peterís hand. He was a wee bit afraid, but held still. He could see
Nortonís teeth. The donkey lifted its mouth and Peter pulled his hand
away. He watched as Norton chewed it up. He reached up and petted him
between the ears, being careful not to touch them. "Good donkey," he
Just then another lad and his mum
walked over. He wanted a ride on the donkey. "Well, Peter, itís time to
go," the man said.
"Thank you for the ride and for
letting me feed Norton," Peter said. He ran back to his mum. "Mum! Mum! I
"Norton? Whoís Norton?" she
"The donkey. I fed the donkey an
apple. It ate it right out of my hand and it tickled," he chuckled.
"Very good. That was nice. Did you
enjoy your ride?" she asked.
"It was great fun, Mum. I want to do
it again the next time we come," he answered.
"Weíll see, Peter. Go and play then.
We have to leave in half an hour," she warned.
Peter ran down to the water and
washed his hands in the salty waves. "Cheerio, Norton," he shouted as the
donkey walked past. Peter and his mum gathered up their belongings and
carried them back to the car. That night Peter told his dad all about his
day at the beach. "It was fun, Dad!" Sweet dreams filled his head that
night - dreams of donkeys, fish and chips and sandcastles.