I can only recall three occasions when I’ve willingly woken up early:
1. for the birth of my second daughter
2. Glastonbury tickets pre-sale
3. to escape some random’s bed at Uni
Getting up early is reserved for only the most pressing moments in my life.
If you’re prepared to drag yourself out of bed first-thing in the morning, you’ll find magic all around you. Head into London in the early hours to watch fishmongers unload a fresh catch at Billingsgate. Take off for a morning run in Santa Cruz and you may be rewarded by the sights of a whale breaching.
And in Cabo, Mexico, if you set your alarm early enough you can engage in all-out sunbed warfare before the eggs at the breakfast buffet have even been scrambled.
This morning was the first time in my life that I did just that. Learn from my experiences and you’ll emerge victorious on the sunbed battlefield every time.
Know the rules of engagement.
The words may say “Don’t reserve the beds” but the picture says “Don’t throw in the towel”. And that’s the underlying message. If your poolside game is serious, surrender is not an option.
Positioning is everything.
1. Avoid the front line – the row of beds closest to the pool. Don’t be seduced by the easy access you get to the water. You’ll be splashed, hit by a wayward volleyball, and expected to rescue a drowning child. Head to the second row and you can watch a child flail, without any moral responsibility to save him.
2. Don’t get too close to the kids’ club. There’s a reason those sun beds are empty. When you’ve worked hard to get your kids to stay in there, the last thing you want is for the little fuckers to see you.
3. Steer clear of buildings. A sunbed in front of a window attracts girls with chiseled abs and blokes with Popeye biceps. Without a reflection to convince you otherwise, you are a fucking supermodel. Don’t forget it.
Pick your weapon.
If you want to win, you need to be convincing that you’ve actually spent time at the sun bed, and not just dumped a load of random stuff. Otherwise some bastard’s going to see straight through your game and overthrow you.
You could mark your territory the primitive way, but in the hot Mexican sun that circle of piss will dry up pretty quick. Instead, you could follow these bullet-proof examples…
1. Make it look like a child did it. If a toddler has gone to this much trouble, nobody’s going to move their shit.
2. Go balls-out in your Britishness. There’s a threat hidden here. Ain’t nobody going to fuck with this guy.
3. Use a wild animal to scare off the pool attendants.
4. A solitary flip-flop will make others think the sunbed is occupied by a paraplegic.
Whatever you do, just be more planful than me.
At 7am when I hauled my arse out of bed, I wasn’t thinking straight. Instinct took over and I just grabbed whatever I could lay my hands on in the hotel room. When I got to the pool I found myself clutching some goggles, Ava’s soiled underwear, and Alex’s passport.
And then, only after I had secured my bed of choice, did I notice that the sun was completely covered by the biggest cloud I’ve ever seen.
So I learned the hard way the most simple lesson of all: check in advance if it’s going to be sunny.
And if it isn’t, just stay the fuck in bed.