Tuesday 22 June 2021

Buckets & Spades

 by Alison Proud

a blue raspberry Slushie


It is 8 o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning in June, Mabel walks to the door, unlocks it and turns the sign around. The Bucket and Spade beach cafe is open again for another day of business.

Mabel and her husband George have owned the cafe in the little coastal town of Biddlington, for many years. It is popular with both the locals and the holidaymakers, and they are busy all year round. Inside there are twelve table,s each with a pretty tablecloth, a vase with a fresh flower and the cafe menu. The chairs have spindle backs and a cushion to match the tablecloth. It is a little old-fashioned, very much like Mabel and George. On the shelves at the back of the cafe are rows of coloured plastic buckets and spades. Mabel and George hire these out by the day.

During the summer, Mabel and George’s grandchildren come to stay. Olivia and William love being here.  It is the perfect place to be during the holidays. William enjoys helping George in the kitchen because he wants to be a chef when he’s older and Olivia loves arranging all the buckets and spades on the shelves after she has cleaned them all when they are returned at the end of the day. She decided to give every bucket and spade a name, which amused Mabel so much that she asked her friend who is a printer, to engrave the names on them all.

This afternoon as Olivia was cleaning the returned buckets and spades, she said ‘Nanny, I think Bluey the spade is sad’.

 ‘Really’ said Nanny, ‘why do you think that’? 

‘Dunno, it’s just a feeling’ replied Olivia. 

Mabel smiled.  ‘You have just the best imagination’. She turned the sign around on the door, locked it and they went home for tea.


‘What’s up with you Bluey, you’ve not been yourself for a while now, I’m worried about you’ said Piggy the pink bucket. ‘I want to build sandcastles’, said Bluey. ‘I’ve seen you doing that on the beach’, said Piggy. ‘No, you’ve seen me start to do that, but the boys always lose interest and just leave me lying there on the sand all day, I’m bored of it Piggy.  It’s been going on for too long. It’s alright for you, always getting picked by the girls. They make sandcastles all day’. 

      ‘Well, what are you going to do about it Bluey’, Piggy said. ‘I don’t know, I’m blue.  It’s a boy’s colour.  How can I change that’, Bluey replied.

The next day at the beach Piggy watched Bluey get left on the sand just as he had said, while Ben who had hired him for the day, played in the sea with his friends.

That night after Olivia put them back on the shelves and Mabel locked up the cafe, Piggy told Bluey she had a plan. ‘We need to change things’ she said. ‘You want to build sandcastles this summer’? she asked him. 

‘Yes, I do’ said Bluey ‘but it’ll never happen’. 

‘Yes, it will, if we have a plan’ Piggy told him.

 ‘Jump into my bucket’ she said. ‘Then when a little girl picks me tomorrow, she’ll take you too’.

When Maisie came into the cafe the next morning, her mum took Piggy from the shelf. ‘Mummy’ Maisie screamed as her mum went to pay the hire fee, ‘I don’t want to have a blue spade, I want a pink one or a yellow one’. Mabel told her she could swap it and Bluey was taken from the bucket and put back on the shelf. As Olivia drank her juice, she felt sorry for Bluey, but a little later a boy called Harry came into the cafe and took Bluey and King the blue bucket, so she felt happier.

‘Sorry my plan didn’t work out’, Piggy said to Bluey that evening, ‘How was your day’? 

‘Awful’ said Bluey. ‘Harry had a dog and he thought I was a stick; I spent the whole day being thrown around the beach’. 

‘What shall we do next to sort this out’ Piggy said. 

‘I don’t know’, said Bluey. 

‘If you really want this to change, you have to think about how you can make it happen’, Piggy said. ‘You’re even making Olivia sad these days; I saw her face drop when Maisie put you back on the shelf this morning’. 

‘Do you really want to build sandcastles this summer’? 

‘Yes, I do’, said Bluey. 

‘What difference is going to make if you do’? Piggy asked. Bluey thought about this. 

‘I’ll be happier, I’ll feel like I’ve taken part in something, I’ll be proud of how fine the sandcastle looks, I’ll have had fun and life will just feel exciting’. 

‘Right, so think about how you can make this happen’, Piggy told him.

On Monday, the cafe is closed and because it was  raining George decided it would be a good idea to do some decorating. 

            ‘I’m going to paint the shelves’ he told Mabel. 

             ‘But they are plastic George’, she replied. 

           ‘I have special paint for that.' George grinned. 

            While William was busy in the kitchen helping Mabel make cakes for the cafe. Olivia was feeling a bit bored. 

           ‘Can I help you paint Grandad’? 

          ‘Sure, you can, grab a brush’, he said. 

            ‘Can I paint one of the shelves yellow please Grandad’? 

           ‘Yes, why not, I had thought about doing them in different colours. Grab that pot over there, I think that’s the yellow one’, he replied. He helped her to open it, gave her some gloves to wear and got her a chair to stand on so she could reach the bottom shelf.

As she climbed onto the chair there was a loud bang followed by a splosh. ‘Oh no Grandad, Bluey has fallen off the shelf into the paint pot’! 

‘Quick’, he said ‘take him to Mabel to run under the tap before the paint dries’. 

Olivia plucked Bluey out of the paint pot and said ‘Actually wearing yellow might just cheer him up Grandad.  I think I’ll leave him to dry. I don’t know how he fell off the shelf, I didn’t knock him’. 

‘Maybe he jumped’ said Grandad with a grin. 

After lunch Olivia checked to see if Bluey was dry. ‘Nanny, can I borrow a black pen please, I’m going to draw Bluey a face’. She drew eyes, a nose, a smiley face, and whiskers.

‘Did you jump into that pot of paint Bluey?, Piggy asked that night when they were safely back on the newly painted shelves. 

‘I did’ he replied. ‘I just kept thinking about what I said to you about how I would feel if I could build sandcastles every day and I seized the moment to make a change that might just make it happen. Girls like yellow, I think’. 

‘Brilliant’ said Piggy.

The sun was shining again on Tuesday morning and Mabel had just opened the cafe. Maisie and her mum came in to buy some cakes to take the beach with them. 

           ‘Which bucket and spade would you like today Maisie’ her mum asked. ‘Please can I have the pink bucket and that yellow spade with the smiley cat face’.

Bluey and Piggy helped Maisie build the best sandcastle on the beach that day.  It had towers, a moat and even flags. Everyone who went past told Maisie how fabulous it looked.

That evening after Mabel and Olivia had washed off the sand from all the buckets and spades and put them back on the shelves ready for tomorrow, Olivia told Nanny that she was sure Bluey was much happier now. ‘Do you need to change his name now he’s yellow Olivia’ Nanny asked. 

           ‘No, he’s only wearing yellow, silly Nanny.'  Olivia giggled. ‘He’s still Bluey inside’.

Mabel turned the sign around and locked the cafe door. ‘Is that you I can hear purring Bluey’, Piggy whispered. ‘It is’ he replied.


About the author 

I have a passion for writing and attend a creative writing class. We write short stories each week and I am also writing my own novel. I get my ideas for stories when I am out in the countryside walking my dog. That's when my imagination is at its best!

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