And on the third day – the sun actually came out, and threatened to stay out.
Having by now experienced a good chunk of beach life, and slightly perturbed by the prospect of a day with a sand eating baby, and his older siblings wanting to do something else shortly after getting there (as is often the case once they have been informed that we’re spending the day somewhere) – before any smaller folk could suggest something like another walk to Bournemouth pier, we decided to head to Poole for a spot of crabbing instead.
After a slightly eventful bus journey, which involved the 11 year old punching her 9 year old brother squarely on the nose having suffered a severe dose of “being overly irritated by a sibling-itis”, and the baby deciding to clamp his teeth firmly into my thumb and then not let go (reminding of some kind of medieval torture device – with a few medieval style contorted agony facial expressions from me to match!), we made it to this historic seaside town – famous for its pottery, seafood, big posh boats, seaside pubs and crabs. Lots and lots of them.
A quick walk along the quayside took us past the flotilla of boat tours, and on to the old lifeboat house that sits serenely at the water’s edge. Do take advantage of any and all crustacean catching related activities that might occupy the rest of your family to take a look inside. It’s compact and very cute, and there’s a good bit of British history on offer – not to mention lots of opportunities to be grateful for such valuable lifesaving services that the (mostly voluntary) RNLI provide. It also has a ghost. You can’t beat that (not that I saw it!)…
A few steps from this you will find a tiny bait hut, complete with very friendly couple who will happily exchange a few English pounds for a crabbing bucket, some rather smelly bait (a mackerel fillet), a plastic knife, and a crabbing line. I can safely say that this was the best few English pounds spent during our time home, as it kept both Small People and Grandad (and a tiny person who wanted to get in on the act…) very happy for a good few hours whilst I sat on a bench and caught a few well earned rays…
Now, we’ve had crabbing experience before – having been introduced to the delights during our time in Denmark. I remember the Small Girl telling anyone who would listen that she had successfully caught her few harbour crabs with big chunks of seal, when it was actually sild (herring!). It was in Norway however, where we hit the crabbing jackpot, as we were let into a little secret – crabs aren’t really bothered about mackerel, and although they like herring, they LOVE bacon…
So out of our two experienced crabbers who was the champion of the day? The Small Girl – who despite losing her entire kit (bucket and all) before she had even started by knocking the lot off the sea wall (Grandad to the rescue!), and then sustained a rather nasty crab claw pinch as she tried to manoeuvre one fighting crab into her brother’s bucket, went on to catch 8 fine marine specimens, compared to her (mildy raging and very competitive) little brother, who caught a single lonely pincher…
The Kings Head directly next to Poole Museum looked after us afterwards when we needed a rest. This popular ancient pub not only has friendly staff, it boasts the loveliest pub garden surrounded by historic buildings should the weather prove favourable. Just the place after a busy morning’s fishing…
And by the end of the day, once they were settled in bed, I asked the Small People what they thought of their first British Seaside experience? The two that could answer intelligibly expressed their immense enthusiasm for it, and one of them has now added “rock maker” to his list of possible future jobs. Thanks for taking us Grandad x
A few crabbing tips should you need them:
- Take your own bucket if you have one to hand, this will save you money when buying all the gear;
- do take antibacterial handwipes, definitely a necessity after lots of cutting up chunks of herring;
- warn children not to sit too close to the edge or they risk knocking everything into the sea, and quite possibly themselves too;
- fill your bucket with water, and a few rocks etc. to make your crabby friends feel at home, and get started!;
- let the weight on the line touch the bottom of the bed, wrap the line gently around a finger and wait for a tug – gently does it now or they will drop off before they reach the surface (a fishing net can be useful here!);
- remind children to handle the crabs carefully, they are living creatures after all (and can pack a hefty nip if you don’t!), gently put them back once you are finished;
- crabs like bacon more than mackerel;
- do visit the little lifeboat house if you get a spare minute, it’s really worth it;
- The Kings Head is good for lunch, and if you are looking for something more substantial for dinner, then might I suggest the Italian institution that is Fillipos, a little further up the road towards Bournemouth.
There you have it, crabbing by numbers!