An Introduction to Sandcastle Design and Engineering


Whoever said that sandcastle building was child’s play was wrong! Anyone who thinks they are merely decorations to adorn the beach… wrong again!

In fact, construction of the ultimate sandcastle is a major feat of engineering and design. For starters, a good sandcastle has to withstand the force of the incoming tide. Making a sandcastle too far up the beach, or as the tide is going out is considered cheating.

In order to achieve this adequately, the central fortress or “keep” must be protected by a series of wave resistant walls and moats, which help reduce the pounding of the sea on the central structure and facilitate the movement of excess water back out to sea.

Constant reinforcement is required, and a less than diligent sandcastle builder will find him (or her) self unable to compete with the more consistent efforts of Mother Nature herself. The more one can “put one’s back into it” the better. Therefore, it is advised (but rarely followed) that one is suitably attired in shorts or bathing costume, with shoes removed, as a complete soaking is absolutely guaranteed as part of the job description.

With this basic engineering in mind, design elements can be more thoroughly investigated, depending on the local materials (shells, rocks, seaweed etc) and the amount of time available for construction.

Naturally, a full afternoon at the water’s edge, as the tide is turning, is going to yield the best results.

How do I know this?

Hubby is a master sandcastle builder. He has been making sandcastles at the first sign of beach for as long as I have known him. Every. Single. Time.

Now he has an apprentice. Munchkin has adopted his role with gusto.

Together they turn sandcastle design and engineering into an artform… one that is apparently worthy of complete strangers stopping to take photos.

Now that is something to be proud of!

Today I am grateful.

The Colour of Happiness

Colour of Happiness

At last we have reached the ocean. After hours of driving through endless fields, coal mines and forests, it feels like coming home.

We have caught the last rays of the late afternoon, catching the breakers and making them glow.

The Munchkin runs off to make a sand castle. His dad will soon join him… boys + beach = sand castle, right?

Personally, after 7 hours in the car, I prefer to walk.

As the sun sinks lower behind the trees, the water takes on THAT hue… that incredible azure blue that only happens at sunset, when the reflection of the blue sky hits the water edge, and sits on top of the orange glow.

It is my favourite colour. The colour of calm, of magic, of happiness.

This colour first became my colour of happiness a long time ago. In defiance of some nasty bullying girls at primary school, who over-painted my papier mache project a hideous, greyish pink, I discovered the beauty of this blue, created by the contrast of sitting on top of pink/orange undertones. It took my breath away with its beauty. It reminded that everything would be OK, and that I can take control of my life and choose to be happy, no matter what is thrown at me.

When I rediscovered this shade while living near the beach in Glenelg, it did it again.

As it does today.

I wander back to my boys… they have created a HUGE sand castle. The Munchkin is soaked and covered head to toe in sand. It is almost dark.

My blue is finally merging into orange, the last of the sunset reflected in the sea.

Today I am grateful.

In the Wild

Cheetah Cub

There is nothing more graceful than a cheetah stalking its prey.

I watch the young cub slowly, gradually, sneak through the long grass. Its brother and sister join the back up team. Mum watches on.

Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly and then… run! It may not be full cheetah pace (110kmh), but it is quick and it is incredible to watch the animal’s muscles moving strongly, as they should, the leaps long, the back arched!

The ibis flies to a nearby tree. Foiled again!

The 8-month old cubs are very cute, but Mum is a truly beautiful animal. She is a King Cheetah, with deep coloured stripes and splotches rather than the traditional pattern of spots.

Naturally, our thoughts turn to peeled gazelle! The Munchkin is most annoyed he forgot to bring Cheetah along today. Cheetah is no doubt annoyed also. Peeled kangaroo would have been most welcome.

Yes, I have seen a wild cheetah stalk and chase a gazelle in the wilds of Africa. It is one of the highlights of my life (especially because the gazelle got away and I didn’t have to witness the gory after effects!) Today cannot replace that.

Today I am at the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, not the wilds of Africa. No, it is not the same.

And yet…

We witnessed some young cheetahs stalk and chase a wild animal. There was not a big crowd around. The keeper had long gone and was not providing commentary (although the commentary the keeper did provide earlier was incredibly interesting and entertaining).

Zoos are not the ideal habitat for wild animals. They often leave me feeling sad and depressed, especially as someone who has witnessed these stunning animals in the wild. But through a zoo I can share my experience of Africa with my family. I can ensure that the Munchkin better understands the conservation issues at stake. I can help him relate his personal Cheetah Stories with these real-life, amazing animals, and maybe, just maybe, spark an interest that will, one day, send him to Africa too.

Today I am grateful.

PS. The peeled gazelle reference comes from Zoo of the Untrue, a set of illustrations which have become a family meme! Unfortunately the original site is no longer with us, but these brilliant images have been captured here.

King Cheetah, Zoo of the Untrue


Page 6 of 18« First...«45678»10...Last »

Hi, I’m Cath

Cath Connell

Creating my amazing life one tiny moment at a time. Bringing the Hubby, a Munchkin and about a dozen tomato plants along for the ride.

Keep in touch