The Wadhams: Castles In The Sand

Shutterstock © Sandcastle and bucket Illustration: Shutterstock

We’re delighted to bring you the continuing adventures of Life & The Wadhams, featuring the younger members of the family. Not yet met the Wadhams? Read the background on My Weekly’s best-loved family, then come back and enjoy the next generation’s adventures as Mike and Polly Wadham’s elder grandson, Alex Clark settles into a new life with fiancée Natalie in the flat above the antique shop his grandfather used to own. After the arrival of baby William, they finally managed to have their Lockdown wedding and were happily settled – until their landlord announced he was selling up the shop and flat…

The policeman standing at the side of the esplanade scanned the crowds on the beach below. Young and keen, he elbowed his older colleague in the side as he pointed towards a distant group, spread out against a rocky outcrop of cliff which offered shelter from the spring breeze.

“Look at that!” he said. “There are five adults there, and a little girl, not to mention a young lad and a dog. Should we have word?”

The policewoman at his side sighed. She hated this part of the job – she’d joined the force to nick villains, not make criminals of generally law-abiding citizens. But her partner was right – the group certainly seemed to be breaking the rules.

“There’s more of them!” The policeman’s hat almost flew off his head as he leaned over to point to the young couple with a baby in a buggy to whom the already large group were waving eagerly.

“Right, that’s it! I’m having words!”

Pinky Clark looked up from the picnic basket she was unpacking to see a bobby in blue striding purposefully towards them, and sighed.

“I told you no-one would believe we were just two households,” she said to her teenage daughter Jennifer, who had proposed the picnic in the first place. “Maybe we should have stayed at home.”

“Nonsense!” her husband Jim laughed at her discomfort. “We’re as entitled to be here as anyone else – and just as much in need of the break.”

“Well, you can explain who we all are then,” Pinky told him firmly. “And after that, you can go and pick up another blanket from the car – Alex and Natalie will have to sit separately from us, and it doesn’t look like they’ve brought anything with them.”

Jim pulled himself to his lanky full height and went off to speak to the policeman, who was visibly crestfallen to learn that yes, Jim and his wife, his wife’s parents Mike and Polly Wadham, his teenage daughter Jennifer and son Matty and toddler Ruby were all one household. That was his elder son Alex, daughter-in-law Natalie and grandson William joining them – at the appropriate distance, of course. They were all together to celebrate Natalie’s 25th birthday, as they couldn’t gather in the house.

All this was said very politely, of course – Jim knew the young bobby was only doing his job. He just hoped that they’d be left in peace now – he was looking forward to this day out with his family all together, a rare break for them all.

Back at the picnic spot, Alex and Natalie beamed round at everyone.

“Sorry we’re late,” Natalie said. “We had to go back and change William’s nappy just as we were leaving the flat – you little rascal!” she said playfully, poking her seven-month-old son gently in the tummy as she lifted him from his buggy. He chortled with glee.

“And I got the job of changing him,” Alex sighed. “Not to put you off your picnic or anything…”

“Stop!” His mum laughed. “We don’t want details. Oh, here’s your dad back with the extra rug. Now we can all get settled and enjoy the day. Who wants coffee and who wants tea? I’ve got both in these flasks.”

“Juice! Juice!” Ruby exclaimed, abandoning the bucket and spade she’d been playing with when she saw refreshments were on offer. Tyson, the family’s Jack Russell terrier, continued to dig in the sand with delight, until 13-year-old Matty was instructed to tie up the dog away from the food.

“We don’t want sand in our sandwiches,” Polly Wadham chuckled from the folding canvas chair where she sat beside her husband Mike, who was already snoozing in the sun.

“Nor in the birthday cake!” Pinky said, and Jennifer glared at her.

“Mum! That was supposed to be a surprise!”

Natalie had guessed there would be cake, of course, but she was always happy to keep the peace. “A cake! That is a surprise, Jennifer – a lovely one, for a change.” Despite herself, she couldn’t suppress a sigh. Things had been so stressful lately.

“No word from the bank yet?” Pinky asked sympathetically.

“They’re still hedging their bets,” Natalie said morosely. “I think I can get the loan to refurbish the antique shop into a hairdresser, OK – they said my business plan was sound. But the mortgage is the sticking point. If we’re to buy the flat and the shop, we need a much bigger deposit than we have.

“But let’s forget about it for today. It’s my birthday, and I’m here to have fun, not worry about keeping the roof over our heads.”

“That’s my job, in any case,” Alex said gruffly. “And we’ll sort something out. The Richards aren’t going to turf us out on the street.”

“And if they do, we can live in this wonderful castle! Can’t we, Ruby?” Natalie bent to tickle the little girl who had picked up her spade again. She banged it happily against her bucket and chortled with glee. Sand, sunshine and sponge cake – what more could any toddler want?

The sandwiches and sausage rolls eaten, Jennifer produced the cake with a flourish, even managing to keep alight its one candle as she presented it to Natalie.

“Make a wish,” Matty said as his sister-in-law blew out the flame.

“But don’t tell anyone what it is,” Jennifer said. “Or it won’t come true.”

“Oh, I think we can make Natalie’s wishes come true,” Mike said from the depths of his canvas chair. “Isn’t that right, Polly?” His eyes twinkled as he turned to his wife, who was pulling a stiff envelope from the capacious straw bag at her feet.

“We know you won’t take a gift of the money,” she said, as Natalie opened the card and read the message inside. “So instead, Mike and are proposing a partnership. We’ll put up the deposit for the shop and the flat, and you can pay us dividends from your profits – I know it won’t take long for you to make your business a success, Natalie.”

Natalie was speechless. It was left to her husband to respond.

“Grandma. Grandpa.” Alex reached to take the cheque that had come with the card from Natalie before she dropped it in the sand. “We don’t know what to say.”

“Just say yes,” his grandma said. “And make an old couple very happy by being as happy and blessed as we’ve always been. We couldn’t have bought Elderslie Terrace without the help of Grandpa’s aunt Clara – and now we want to help you. Just as we will our other grandchildren when their time comes.”

Alex looked to his wife for her nod of acquiescence, then stood up and bent to kiss his grandma’s wrinkled cheek.

“Then, yes. And thank you, Grandma and Grandpa. We’re so grateful – and we’ll make sure you get your share of the profits.”

“In the meantime, I’d like a share of that cake.” Mike chuckled. “Then I think I’ll take Pinky for a paddle.”

“Ruby, darling,” Polly corrected him gently. Mike had been making small mistakes like this for a few weeks now.

Jennifer, busy helping Ruby push shells into her castle, caught the exchange. Her work at the care home had made her aware of the confusion old age can bring, and she resolved to have a chat with her mum and grandma when they got home.

But now wasn’t the time to spoil their happiness. She looked around.

Little William had fallen sound asleep on the rug. Her mum and dad were leaning into each other as they watched over their sleeping grandson. Polly was holding Mike’s hand gently as he struggled to his feet from his somewhat wobbly chair.

Matty and Tyson were splashing in the sea, noisy and engrossed in some game of their own.

And Natalie and Alex were beaming with delight as they wandered off hand in hand to discuss a future that suddenly looked far more secure and bright.

There would be a lot of hard work to come, of course, but they were young and eager to face all the challenges that lay ahead.

In the meantime, the sun shone down and everyone continued to enjoy its gentle warmth. She could even spot the policeman who’d spoken to them earlier, crouched low in his seat in his patrol car, eating a surreptitious ice-cream!

Join us next month for more adventures from the Wadhams.

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team twelve years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!