Finally, FINALLY, it’s here: beach season. Let’s face it, a sun-soaked summer is anything but guaranteed in the UK, so the second we get the opportunity to hit the beach, we’re all over it. Sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, sandcastles! (Does everything you do at the beach begin with an ‘S’?) A day in the sand feels like escaping real life for a bit and living in an alternative, way more glamorous universe.

It’s also a prime location for some serious people watching. It has universal appeal, so you’re never short on people to peek at over the top of your sunglasses as you give them names and make up their whole life story. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to Blackpool or Barbados; these are the people you’ll see at every beach, without fail:

The Dad in Speedos

No easing you in here. We’re diving straight in with the inevitable dad in Speedos. He bought those Speedos in 1981 and brings them back out every summer, almost ceremonially, alongside an annual declaration that he still has the waistline of a 20-year-old (he doesn’t). It’s extremely likely that Speedo Dad has a wetsuit’s worth of body hair, so he might not be identifiable until he’s very close by but once seen, he cannot be unseen. If in doubt, look for his kids, desperately edging their towels away from him as they google ‘can you divorce your parents?’

The Instagrammer

The Instagrammer isn’t here to have fun. They are strictly here for the likes and they view everything in squares. They are most commonly found looking wistfully out to sea while their slightly flustered looking boyfriend/girlfriend/Mum/Dad/best friend takes 80 ‘candid’ shots. You may also see them setting out their book, towel and sunglasses in a pleasing arrangement, flexing, scrawling messages in the sand and taking pictures of their legs (or are they hot dogs?).

The girl who was born at the beach

I mean, literally, she might have actually been born here. She is at one with the sea and sand. She has that alluring ‘healthy glow’, she looks like she’s never worn anything but a bikini and she emerges gracefully from the sea like a vintage Bond girl. And you just know she can surf with zero effort. You could be jealous but really you want to be her best friend and learn her secrets.

The panicked parents

They dreamt of a lazy day on the beach, reading books while their angelic children made sandcastles within their immediate field of vision. What they got was three kids running in completely different directions down the beach and into the path of varying degrees of danger. They’re loaded up with what looks like five weeks’ worth of supplies and the whole day is a cycle of sun cream reapplication to tiny, wriggling limbs. Oh and they definitely have one of those half tents that take 45 minutes and three arguments to put up.

The semi-naked lady

There are two types of semi-naked lady but they are both over 60 and both brimming with confidence. The first is the one who goes topless on a very definitely not-topless beach and the second is the one who gets changed right there in the middle of the beach with precisely zero dramas. They don’t care who’s looking, they don’t care whether they block out the sun with their huge boobs and they definitely don’t care that the lifeguard is giving them stink eye. The semi-naked lady is kind of a hero.

The sun cream fiend

The sun cream fiend emerges from the shadows and squints at the sun with fear in their eyes. Having established that the sun is a definite threat to their ghostly white skin, they spend the next 20 minutes covering every single millimetre of themselves in sun cream. And not just a normal layer of sun cream – it’s like they’re buttering bread. Sun and fun don’t really go in the same sentence for this person but they’re trying anyway, so full marks for effort. P.S. This is me, come and say hello!

The red lobster

This person has thrown caution (and sun cream) to the wind. They got burnt on day one of their holiday after some overzealous tanning oil application and a badly timed sun lounger nap. But did they let it ruin their holiday? No they did not. There they are, sprawled out, ignoring all sensible advice, slowly turning a deeper shade of lobster. They wear their painfully pink skin like a suit of armour with an air of “well, it can’t get any worse!” defiance. You kiiiind of respect their temerity but at the same time, you don’t want to be there when the peeling starts. No one wants to be there when the peeling starts.

Image: Southern Comfort

You’ve been counting down to your fortnight in Florida for weeks. Your jazziest bikinis are packed and you’ve primed your mum in the art of taking a good Instagram photo. So why, oh why, does your period have to come just as you’re about to jet off?

While you’d rather be surfing any wave other than the crimson one, rest assured it’s happened to us all at some point, and these are all the things you know if you’ve had your period on holiday…

It always arrives unexpectedly

You weren’t supposed to come on for another eight days, but somehow that little sadist decided to arrive early, landing on exactly the morning you’re getting on a flight to paradise. This was not part of the plan.

Your handbag full of tampons being searched is the most cringe thing ever

It’s like airport security want to embarrass you in front of all the fit groups of boys.

Plane paranoia is real

A nine-hour flight = how many tampon changes?! And there’s nothing like the fear of falling asleep only to wake up having bled through your trousers, and onto the seat, then having to work out how to get to the bathroom without everyone seeing the big red stain on your bum. It’s never actually happened to you, but y’know, it could.

White swimwear is a no-go

You bought it to enhance your tan and had visions of yourself running down the beach like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. However, the minute your period arrives, that white bikini is banished to the bottom of your suitcase. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Tampon strings are the enemy

Sure, you’re forever grateful to the inventor of tampons for enabling you to hit the pool on your period, but why do the strings have such a habit of popping out the side of your swimsuit? And then there was that time you decided to trim it with scissors and almost ended up in A&E. Never again.

You’re fearful of diving and cannonballs

Ever since your friend told you about their cousin’s tampon shooting out when they jumped into a swimming pool, you’ve always used the ladder, as boring as that may be.

Cramps are somehow always worse in the heat

“WHO IS USING MY UTERUS AS A STRESS BALL?!”

But holidays do seem to make your period go away faster

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Image: Amber Griffin

Thanks to the Baywatch movie and the Kardashian klan’s Instagram feeds, the swimsuit is back in a big way this summer, and for the most part we’re overjoyed. However, cute statement one-pieces aren’t without their issues – especially if you’re blessed with a long bod.

Yep, sticking to bikinis when you’re tall is probably waaaay more functional, but who thinks about function when they’re packing for a week on the beach?!

Perseverance might be the key to finding the perfect swimsuit, but sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re wrestling yourself into a cossie that looks like it was made for a five-year-old. Here are a few things you’ll only know if you’re a tall girl shopping for swimsuits…

Online shopping is not an option

Buying a one-piece without trying it on first? You’ve got to be joking. Swimsuit shopping would not be swimsuit shopping without approximately 35 ‘WAS THIS MADE FOR A SMALL CHILD?!’ moments in various high street changing rooms. Even watching the ASOS catwalk videos with an apparently 5’9” model isn’t enough to persuade you to place an order.

Speaking of models, you’re convinced they wear specially made costumes in the ads

How else do you explain all those super tall Victoria’s Secret Angels fitting in to the same swimsuits that make you look like Borat in his mankini?

95% of suits will either cover your boobs or your bum – but not both

Good luck finding a long enough strip of fabric to conceal your nipples AND your vagina at the same time. Not that you have to if you don’t want to; we’re not the Instagram police. #FreeTheNipple

When you try to buy a fancy cut-out style, the cut-outs are never in the right place

Again with all the flashing…

Swimsuits made especially for tall girls come with their own set of problems

So little selection and so much extra fabric at the butt. WHY?!

Wedgies don’t just happen to your bum

Camel toe is real, people – Khloe Kardashian knows. She even named hers Camille! Yet, standing at 5’8” (way taller than her sisters Kim and Kourtney), she still manages to rock a suit. TELL US YOUR SECRETS, KOKO!

A lot of the time you feel like giving up

Maybe you just weren’t cut out for that swimsuit life.

But finding the one is better than anything – even the Harry Styles’ album

Please never shrink or go bobbly, you perfect specimen.

Some people think summer begins on the first day you don’t have to wear tights underneath your fave dress. Others think it’s when train announcers start reminding everyone to carry water with them. More still think it’s on the summer solstice or whatever – but those people are (respectfully) wrong.

Summer truly begins when you see the first novelty inflatable pool toy on Instagram. So in the spirit of summer, we’re grabbing this unicorn pool toy from New Look (flamingoes are over, hadn’t you heard?) and hunting for somewhere to use it. Lidos of Britain, watch out. We’re on our way.

White Unicorn Inflatable Pool Float, £19, New Look

Summer holidays really are the best. There’s sun and music and your school wardrobe can hang untouched in your wardrobe for weeks. But there are so many things that can go wrong on summer holidays; bikini malfunctions, language barriers, sunburn – and we’ve done alllllll of them. But don’t worry, bad decisions one day make for GREAT stories. Here are some of our faves.

“Me and my boy-crazy friend were trying (and failing) to skateboard in this little French village when we were about 13. Two French boys start playing football next to us, and my friend and I proceed to have a loud and lengthy conversation about how much she fancies one of the boys. Cut to ten minutes later when their ball sails over to us, and, in perfect English, and with the biggest smirk on his face, he says, “So sorry, can you pass that back to us?”. We died.”

“One time we’d hired a car and were staying in a house on a hill and someone didn’t put the handbrake on so it rolled down the hill into the river.”

“I was in one of those child chairs on the back of my dad’s bike when I was a baby, and my brother was on a separate bike. My bro went down a hill that ended in a lake and lost control, skidded at the bottom in order to not go into the lake and scraped his face and arms, my dad cycled down after him and dropped his bike to run to my bro… forgetting that I was strapped into the back of the bike.”

“Going down a waterslide, I get to the bottom and the lifeguard is blowing her whistle and walking towards me. I’m confused and continue to walk away. She comes right up to me and starts pulling my bikini top down – it had ridden right up and I was walking about, chebs out, for all to see.”

“We were throwing rocks into a lake and I couldn’t get it as far as my friends. We were on a bit of a slope and there was a brown muddy bit at the bottom of it, and I knew that if I jumped down I could get a couple of metres closer to the lake and throw the stones further. So I jumped down. It was soft mud, I sank into my knees and couldn’t get out. My friends were hysterical, and my dad had to come down and pull me out and my shoes got lost in the mud.”

“A wasp once flew into my dad’s ear and got stuck when we were on holiday in France.”

“I went braless and stuffed a piece of tissue down my dress so I didn’t get too nippley in front of the French boy I fancied. Obviously the tissue fell out in front of him and it looked like I was stuffing my bra.”

“My friend and I were on holiday and we spent the entire day on the beach. It was sunny but because it was windy, it didn’t feel that hot. Fast forward 24 hours later and we are sitting in the emergency room in Lisbon with all of our luggage because she had sun stroke so bad she needed a drip.”

“One time I went to Rome and ate so much pizza and gelato that my stomach turned inside out and I spent the entire time running from toilet to toilet, pooing constantly. Then there was the time I went to Paris and ate so much my stomach turned perfectly circular and people kept offering me seats because they thought I was pregnant. And the time I ordered a four cheese pizza in rural France and it was so disgusting I cried.”

And the grand finale…

“It had taken me years to convince my parents to go to Disney World, Florida, but they finally caved and forked out for a two week holiday on the agreement that we would do OTHER THINGS besides JUST Disney World. So one night after dinner we decided to go to a crazy golf course near the resort. It was getting pretty dark by the time we had passed the halfway point. Naturally I was getting a little knackered as being great at crazy golf can really take it out of you, so waiting for my turn I sat down on a small hill at the next hole. After approximately a 15th of a millisecond, ants (ow?) started spilling (ow) out (OW) of (OWW) the (OWWWWW) FIRE ANT NEST IT TURNED OUT I HAD SAT ON.

I learnt that night that a) fire ants exist and b) they are called fire ants because their bites feel like fire. My mum, ever resourceful, knew the quickest way to stop ants crawling up my clothes was to whip my dress over my head and throw it in onto a nearby crazy golf windmill, before demanding my socks and shoes join them. As I was wriggling out of my pants another family walked past us in the twilight, took one look at my mum wrestling a sock off my now-starkers and bite-ridden body and dropped their things, frozen to the spot. My dad, unsure if this was really his territory, (he’d opted for ‘standing guard’ over my clothes and poking them a bit with his golf club), assured them in a very rambling British way that this wasn’t a molesty situation but an environmental emergency and that they should continue onwards to enjoy their less perilous game of crazy golf and ‘keep an eye out for nests’. As though I opted to sit on one for fun.”

@LilyPesch

Image: Getty

Eeeeeee! You’re off on your hols! Now you’ve just got to pop a few things in a case and you’re good to go. Easy right? Um…

1. The essential research

Yes there may only be two hours left before you head to the airport. And yes… TECHNICALLY the best use of your time would probs be to locate your passport. But when you analyse the situation properly, it’s pretty obvious that a few well-chosen YouTube videos are defo the best call right now. I mean, Anna from TheAnnaEdit even gives you a packing list to print off. That’s only going to save time in the long run. And yes there’s a high probability you’ll waste 20 minutes paused on a shot of the Chloe backpack Zoella uses as her hand luggage. But that all counts as holiday packing inspiration… right?

2. The sensible start

Having watched a few minutes (OK, an hour) of videos, you’ve landed on the perfect approach for a stylish, grown-up holidayer like yourself. The capsule wardrobe. Just a few key, super-chic pieces that you’ll effortlessly combine into endless instagram-worthy outfits. All while feeling oh-so-smug that you can close your case without having to sit on it. Just a few essential base items to find, then. Crisp white shirt. Black maxi-dress. Breton striped tee. You’re sure you have something like that somewhere…

3. The first clothes explosion

OK you’ve rooted to the very depths of your wardrobe and sorry but who actually OWNS this stuff?!! I mean, a crisp white shirt? Really? When you’re going to be smothered in sun cream most of the time anyway? Totally ridiculous. And now you’re no further along and your wardrobe has become a floordrobe. Ugh.

4. The pack-by-numbers approach

What if you just count how many days you’re going to be away for and then work out how many of each item you’ll need? OK pants. Two weeks away equals 14 pants. Plus 7 extra pants for evenings out, maybe 4 extra pants for period disasters, minus 6 – no, 10 – no, 8 pants for when you’re wearing a bikini, plus… THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! And let’s not even get started on how British people are conditioned to pack for every possible weather eventuality. So now your suitcase is full of 34 pairs of pants and approximately 450 tops of varying thickness, while the things you actually wanted to take – like that ah-may-zing Bardot playsuit – are still festering in your floordrobe.

5. The outfit repack 

OK, everything out. That means you, too, seventh identical vest top. Only your favourite pieces are going in this time. Screw practicality. This is about JOY. In fact, on second thoughts, why not go full-on fashionista and style up each piece into an outfit, complete with accessories and shoes? Great idea. But there’s only 40 minutes until you have to be in the car. So you’re going to have to be an efficient fashionista. An efficienista!

6. The Snapchat fashion show

Packing efficiently is fun and all (OK it’s really, really not) but how are you supposed to decide what makes the cut without a little reminder of what everything looks like on? And you probs need a second opinion, too right? Time for a Snapchat fashion show. For your besties’ eyes only. Extra friend points for convincing you to pack the things you’ve always been too scared to wear.

7. The snack break

Because making good packing/fashion/life decisions requires healthy levels of Nutella in your bloodstream.

8. The realisation

Perfect. All your favourite items are styled up and packed. You’ve even managed to squeeze in some pants, too. Just need to wrestle with that zip, get this bad boy closed and we’re all – GAH! Clothes are not the only thing you need on holiday! What about books, chargers, hair stylers… MAKEUP for god’s sake?! Which means you’ve only got 30 minutes to decide which of your Rimmel lipsticks make up the perfect holiday arsenal. And yep, turns out that it’s all of them. All 14 of them. And you need all three of your nude eyeshadow palettes, too.

9. The negotiation

In which you offer your little brother the airplane window seat, full control of the hire car’s Bluetooth sound system, and first pick of the bedrooms at the villa, in return for stuffing three cosmetic bags into his suitcase.

10. The panic shove

Books and GHDs safely stowed in your hand luggage, you’ve now got 20 minutes for final suitcase checks. And suddenly you can’t remember for the life of you what you packed. Did that fringed jacket make it in in the end? Did you pack any sunnies? Crap did you even pack PJs? There’s only one solution at this stage. Just grab whatever’s left on your bed and SHOVE. IT. IN.

11. The fight with the scales

This delightful cycle involves obsessively weighing and reweighing your case, slowly replacing totally unnecessary items like toothpaste and deodorant with essential items of the same weight (like a fifth bikini) until your case weighs exactly the 20kg allowed by the airline.

12. The passport panic

Goddamn it Zoella! Why did you have to flaunt that beauteous green leather masterpiece on the internet? And why did I strop at dad last year about how I’m a grown woman perfectly capable of keeping my passport in my own room? Why did he BELIEVE me? WHEREISITWHEREISITWHEREISIIIIITTT???!

10 minutes and one room that looks like it’s been burgled later, you find your passport in the outside pocket of your suitcase. Of course. Where else would a grown woman keep it?

13. The airport outfit

Awesome. Suitcase locked with three minutes to spare. You are a packing master. But wait, what’s that ASOS bag peeking out from the carnage? Nooooooo. Four holiday ESSENTIALS that simply can’t be left behind. And now your mum’s calling you to get in the car. Arrghhhh! OK screw it. Your airport outfit has just got an upgrade. And you’re going to rock it. After all, what says ‘I’m going on holiday!’ more clearly than embroidered denim dungarees teamed with neon pom pom sandals, a leopard print beach kaftan, and a huge sunhat? Nothing, that’s what.

Happy holidays!

@LucindaEverett
Image: Hailey Hamilton