To the Beach
By Ronnie Smith
Well, sadly the summer season is over and it's back to school for everyone, not just the kids. For some reason I remembered this being the time when such as Ken Dodd would end their annual stint at the end of the pier and start rehearsals for their Christmas pantomimes. The time when Val Doonican's new Saturday evening show on the BBC was only a few weeks away.
But this is Languedoc and now that all the bloody tourists have packed up and returned to their normal, stress-filled lives we can finally enjoy our marvellous beaches in something approaching peaceful and joyous solitude.
Of course we are spoilt for choice as far as beaches are concerned but recently my wife and I have discovered a new favourite, the beach at Le Petit Castellas between Agde and Sete. We like it because it is unkempt, un-ironed, un-manicured and unprotected from the breezes that sweep across it from the sea and the land. We like it because it is wild and natural and also because, being close to a campsite, there are fast-food outlets where burgers, kebabs, pizzas and take-to-the-beach pichets of rose wine are served. And, there is an orderly car park.
Being separated from the mainland by Le Bassin du Thau and now that the din of tourism has subsided, the wildlife that inhabit the area come closer and offer a sense of sharing nature that is absent during the busy summer months. The gulls come closer on foot and seem more polite in their search for scraps, more egrets and herons stalk patiently in the wetlands and you can actually hear the tall dense foliage swishing in the wind.
On the beach the sun is strong, despite the breeze, and the complex dance of colour performed by the sea and the sky reduces the senses to silent reverence. And the concerto of the sea on the coarse natural sand, whether lapping gently or crashing and clashing in the offshore wind, renders the 'zen' tracks on YouTube utterly false.
Actually I believe that this and the early Spring are the best times for the beach, any beach. Perhaps you might like to go and see for yourself.
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