My family's day by the sea was totally ruined by drunken morons... It's time these louts were severely punished
There we sat in the glorious sunshine, surrounded by garbage, watching drunks stagger around and listening to so-called adults curse and swear in front of their children. Just a normal day at the beach in Northern Ireland.
Two days of beautiful weather over a weekend and the whole place turns into a zoo with every yobbo out and about making everyone else's life miserable.
It never fails to amaze me that there are so many people who can be so loutish, ill-mannered and downright aggressive in their determination to do exactly as they please.
Our family day out started off brilliantly. The sunshine was switched on for the weekend and so we decided to head to the beach, like so many others.
My five-year-old was suncreamed up, the picnic made and buckets and spades packed into the car.
We decided to head for the north Down coast as I am taking part in a cross-border maracycle and could use it as a training run. All good so far and my pedal along the coast was lovely.
As the rest of the family arrived at Helen's Bay car park they lucked out with a space – even better.
From this promising start, it then began to go pear-shaped.
The first thing we noticed – and this was just after midday – were hordes of teenagers heading for the beach, effing and blinding and with the c-word very popular among the girls.
Many appeared to be under the influence of drink or other substances and were totally oblivious to our glares.
Our little girl watched in confusion as several threw empty drink bottles in the hedge, one bouncing back out at her feet. I fumed as I tried to calmly answer her question: "Why did they do that Daddy?"
There was a big sign on the gate of Crawfordsburn Country Park saying no alcohol was to be consumed in the park – but the first thing we saw as the sand came into sight were police arresting a woman so drunk she could barely stand.
Finally finding a spot to sit, we soon realised we were next to two frankly obnoxious family groups and a mob of teens.
One lot consisted of several women, a couple of men and around a dozen children. None had any idea of personal space. The kids ran amok through other people's belongings, while the adults shouted. When they had totally trashed their area they simply moved 20 metres away, leaving all their garbage behind them – including a soiled disposable nappy. Charming.
Then they started drinking – or started drinking more openly.
Meanwhile the other nearby mob – several generations of the one family – were competing in their obnoxiousness. Led by a tattooed walrus of a matriarch with a voice like a foghorn, they screamed without pause.
One such exchange went like this: "Sara, stop yer f***in' sunbathin and luk after yer f***in' chile. You don't have time for f***in' sunnin' yerself, play with yer f***in' chile."
This to a girl who looked about 16, regarding a little girl of around three. Meanwhile the men of the family sat and had tins of beer and cider handed to them with no sign of any interference by police or council staff.
The group of teens nearest to us continued to turn the air blue while the girls amused themselves by burying one of the boys in the sand and then fashioning a phallic representation on his groin – and taking pictures of themselves with it. Lovely.
To give ourselves a break we went for a walk to the rocks at the end of the beach. On the way back we passed a young women so drunk she kept nearly falling head-first into the portable barbecue she was using to make a smokescreen across the sand. When we got back to our spot, even more rubbish littered the area and the swearing and drunkeness and aggression had also ramped up. We decided it was time to go before we got into a row.
Now, before anyone gets on their high horse about me being a spoilsport, I'd like to state there's nothing I like better than an ice-cold beer or two on a hot day, especially on a picnic or barbecue. Where I grew up in Australia it is an intrinsic part of the culture to eat and socialise outside, and as a teen I virtually lived on the beach.
What is not part of the culture is leaving the place like a municipal dump and annoying everyone around you.
How hard is it to put your rubbish into a bag and either put it in a bin or take it home?
Obviously well past the mental capacities of these morons – so the only thing to do is fine them heavily.
A night in jail would maybe sort a few out too.
If the authorities are really serious about stamping out littering and other anti-social behaviour they must enforce the rules.
Oh, and just to round off our lovely day out and about, on my cycle home I was abused by a stripped-to-the-waist idiot hanging out of the passenger window of a car who tried to flick a cigarette butt at me.
I don't speak cretin, so can't tell you what it said, but I guessed it had something to do with my means of locomotion.
Think we might stay in the backyard next time.