This is the story all about how a stupid woman (me) bought an inflatable flamingo island from Aldi on impulse.
Why I thought a flamingo would be fun
The best place to start is always at the beginning. So with that in mind here’s a little background to us as a family.
We live in West Sussex, right by the sea, and we love it. Really love it. We’re often down there in all weathers.
And it’s not a recent thing. Joe and Jess used to love coming down for a splash when they were younger. Now they can’t be anywhere where they can’t see their screens properly. Teenagers eh?
Pretty much every warm and sunny day, you can guarantee that we’re down on the beach. We take a picnic, drinks, towels, sun cream and beach shoes, and stay there for as long as we can stand it (or until someone needs a number 2).
We’re the ones who go straight in the sea irrespective of the temperature, just because the sun’s out. Some people might call us stupid, I prefer ‘adventurous’.
And as much as my girls love swimming in the sea, they are always after ‘beach accessories’ that make our time there much more fun. And by fun, I mean, extra things for buckaroo here to carry down the beach and back home again.
We’ve had inflatable boats. Lots of inflatable boats over the years. They aren’t much good on a pebble beach at low tide. Or even at high tide actually. Unless you really want to spend an hour dragging squealing lunatics through cold salty water, whilst trying to stay upright against the waves that is.
We’ve had body boards. So many body boards. Which are fun, and don’t puncture. But they do snap in half when certain lunatics use them to sledge down the stairs when it’s not a sunny day. FFS!
As you can imagine, as soon as the sun shows its pretty face again, I’m on the lookout for something new to cart down the beach.
One day in 2018 I was shopping in Aldi and I came across an inflatable flamingo. The box wasn’t very big, and although it had a picture of an adult woman lounging on it, she was a skinny minny so I didn’t pay
much any attention to how big it actually was. Plus it was only £20 so I was expecting it to be the same size as other inflatables we’ve had. My girls were well into flamingoes at the time, so I thought it would be well received.
I bought it, and kept it hidden from the aforementioned lunatics so it wouldn’t be used for things it shouldn’t be. (Rare parenting win)
It wasn’t quite the summer holidays yet, so the next sunny weekend day we had, I packed our usual beach bag, and picnic and put the flamingo box in the boot and drove down to the beach.
I just want to add here that although we live about a 10 minute walk to the beach, it’s easier for me to drive down there. For 2 reasons.
1. I have osteoarthritis, and lugging everything there and back again would cause me too much pain.
2. Because the girls always want to go to the beach, but they never want to walk home again. And I can’t be arsed with the rows and listening to them complain that a grain of sand is stuck to their toe. (Even though they’ve spent the previous 3 hours swimming in seaweed without being bothered).
It’s not just laziness, it’s a way of facilitating these nice days out without me having a breakdown.
Unboxing the flamingo
The girls were very excited to see the flamingo, and couldn’t wait for it to be inflated. Once we got on to the beach, I told them to go and play in the water whilst I blew it up, and that I’d wave them over when it was ready.
Seemed like a good plan… except I’d forgotten to pack the foot pump.
Not wanting to disappoint them, and having pretty good lungs, I assumed I could just blow it up myself. I have done with previous inflatables and in similar situations.
My confidence should have faltered when I took the thing out of the box and unfolded it. It was pretty big. But it had different sections, so I thought doing it bit by bit would be ok.
I started on the first section, blowing and blowing whilst watching the girls splashing about in the sea. One of them waved, so I waved back. They thought I was waving them over, so came running, excitedly shouting ‘is it ready yet?’ over and over.
It wasn’t ready. They went back into the sea.
I sat there, all by myself, surrounded by pink plastic, huffing and puffing until I was dizzy. I felt the flamingo. It didn’t feel any different. I carried on. And on. And on.
I blew into that fucker for nearly an hour.
All that happened was that the outside felt a bit smoother than it had done before.
Exhausted, I gave up. I told the girls we needed a pump and that we’d take it home and inflate it and then bring it back to the beach the next day. I thought they’d be disappointed, but they were too busy laughing at my beetroot red face.
The bloody thing wouldn’t go back into the box, so I looked like a total twat carrying the bright pink, slightly smooth failure, back up the beach to the car. Along with everything else we’d taken down there.
When we got home, the girls had their usual fight about everything, this time over who got to use the pump first. So I left them to it, instructed them to take turns to pump it up and went away to cook dinner.
Half an hour later, I realised they’d given up, left the flamingo in the hallway and were sat building Lego. The position they had left the flamingo in, made it very difficult for anyone to get down the stairs. Or use the downstairs toilet or go in/out of the kitchen, the lounge or dining room. So ideal for dinner time basically.
I remembered we had an electric pump somewhere, bought for the millions of air beds we own for all the various sleepovers we’ve had over the years.
I kid you not, I felt like a rockstar as I approached it, swinging my electric pump in my hand.
As it was already in a heap on the hallway floor, I plugged the pump in to the wall out there and set about inflating the impossible.
And inflate it did.
It was massive.
It was so big, I had to turn it on it’s side to finish inflating it because it was pressing up against the hallway wall. On both sides of the hallway. This should have set alarm bells off in my head. But I was distracted by the sound of hysterical laughter coming from 3 out of my 4 children.
As the pump forced air into it, the flamingo’s neck started inflating. Rising slowly like a proud, pink, giant, erm, cock basically.
It was at this point that Joe read the description on the box which said:
Giant flamingo island. Suitable for 2 adults and max user weight of 100kg.Side of the box that I should have read
The description wasn’t wrong. The picture for ‘illustration purposes’ was. To cut a long story shorter, when we tried to get it out the house the next day, it was so big, it took 3 of us to get it out the front door. One pulling, 2 pushing. All the while getting smacked in the head repeatedly by the overly friendly, bobbing
cock flamingo head.
Then came the next problem. I had a yellow beetle at the time. Given it was a struggle to get it out the front door, there was no way it was going to fit inside the car either. Which left me with this option :
It was far too big for me to carry down to the beach. So I drove it like that. I had no other option. It’s not like I could get it back in the box to take it back for a refund because it was too big.
The girls thought it was hysterical. I felt like I was driving in some kind of moron parade. I was too frightened to drive faster than 20mph in case we took off. Or in case the car tipped over Flintstone-style.
There were people pointing, staring and laughing as we cruised down to the seafront. And, in one case filming the spectacle I was putting on for the good people of Worthing. Parallel parking my bright yellow beetle with an enormous flamingo ISLAND on the roof along the promenade isn’t something I ever thought I would be doing. Much less being filmed doing it.
Flamingo on the beach
It was an absolute pain in the arse to carry it down a sloping pebble beach. I had to carry it upside down over my head. Holding on to the handles on either side, with the neck and head banging against my bum as I walked.
I simultaneously managed to frighten off seagulls, and attract looks of utter bewilderment from various old people sat outside their beach huts. All this whilst also carrying a beach bag, picnic bag and 4 litres of drinks down closer to the water’s edge.
On the bright side, it made it really easy for my brother and sister in law to find us on the beach that afternoon. My girls spent hours playing, laughing, shrieking and having the best ever time with it, so it was totally worth it.
Well. Until the next day.
We took it back down the beach for another day of fun. They pulled the neck too hard trying to clamber on top of it, and ripped a massive twatting hole in the side of it. Much bigger than the tiny repair patch that came in the box.
That thing went down faster than my ex after dropping a £10 note, whilst I shouted FFS at the top of my voice. Once again scaring the seagulls and upsetting the elderlies.
Having to take the flamingo down to the tip was the worst thing. It seemed like such a waste of plastic or whatever it was made out of. If I hadn’t have been such a hothead and taken it straight down to the tip when we left the beach, I would have looked for ways to recycle it.
I found this amazing company not long after, that use burst inflatables and bouncy castles to make the most amazing bags!! They’re called Wyatt & Jack.* I really wish I’d known about them beforehand. If I have another disaster next summer, this is definitely where I’ll be sending any thing that bursts!
*This is NOT a sponsored post. I’m not in any way affiliated with Wyatt & Jack. I just think they’re amazing.