Winkles & Waves

437

By Judith Stafford

Every girl loves an eye opener. 

So when Mr Rigsby announced that he had booked us a minibreak at the beach to shake out the last drops of Summer, I was thrilled! 

“We’ve got our own little house” – he proclaimed in a very proud voice – “A terrace, two bedrooms for when you snore, a BBQ, a few steps to the sea. And it’s right next to the Oyster Village.“

“That sounds perfect. How much?”

“Well that’s the best bit” – in smug tone – “€50 a night!” 

“How lovely. Thank you. That’s so romantic! Ooooh what shall I wear?”

He looked a bit shifty. Then in a strange, slurry sotto voce he muttered, “Izzernaddurizzresorrr.”

‘I beg your pardon?”

“Its…a…natrrizzresorr.”

“What’s wrong with you? Have you had a stroke? Why are you talking like that?”

He coughed, then, nervously, “It’s a naturist resort.”

“Oh well that’s OK. People who love wildlife! Chasing butterflies, bird watching. That sort of thing. We can take your binoculars.”

“Actually I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

The truth began to sink in as I realised the full implications and the lengths he would go to to secure a bargain. Now, let me tell you, I’m no prude. I mean, I watched “Bouquet of Barbed Wire” and I’ve been know to take my vest off in warm weather. People can do whatever they like as far as I’m concerned as long as it’s harmless. 

“I’m keeping my pants on.”

“Then you’ll be textile.”

I was horrified – “I’ll be EXILED??!!.”

“No – you’ll be “textile”. That’s what they call people who keep their clothes on.”

“They can call me Danny La Rue with a doily on top. I’M KEEPING MY PANTS ON!” 

So the next day we raided the fridge and set off with chicken thighs (for the BBQ),milk, salad, coffee, candles, crisps, chocolate, wine and a large pack of anti-sceptic wipes for the plastic chairs. 

On arrival the iron gate was locked and Tom Cruise himself would have had a job getting in. So we had to ring the owner of the house, who came to greet us brandishing his zapper. 

This opened the gate and we were soon settling in and skipping off for the first of many refreshing dips in a gloriously clear, blue Mediterranean. 

La plage was populated but not crowded and had a nice, chilled vibe about it, everyone happy in their own skin. Lots seemed to know one another and chatted companionably. We sat there all afternoon very contentedly and when the sky started to blush flesh pink, we brought a cheeky glass of rosé down from the house. 

There’s no finer feeling than coming in from the end of a beach day, sun-stung and sandy. After hot showers we dressed in grit free togs and strolled around the corner for apéro, ordering plates of crevettes, clams and oysters with a chilled Picpoul de Pinet. 

We’ve been to the Oyster Village many times for lunch, but never in the evening. Only a few of the restaurants were open, but we chose Le Petit Bigorneau (The Little Winkle) and sat on a terrace over the water. The chairs and tables were cobbled together from driftwood and dim festoon lights swung from the rafters. I looked up at a pure inky black sky and glimpsed the most spectacular shooting star I’ve ever seen.

Back at the little house we enjoyed our BBQ in a peaceful setting, the moon glinting on the ocean, everyone doing similar and, we felt like we were really on holiday.

The house had everything you’d need, small but fully functional, with plentiful piping hot water and good wifi. 

The next morning we were splashing in the waves even before we’d had coffee. Realising that we’d need more food for that evening, I cast about for someone to ask. A gentleman nearby was unwrapping his saucisson on the terrace and so, with eyes firmly fixed on the horizon, I approached and explained our dilemma, asking where he thought the nearest provisions might be found. 

“It’s leedle”, he answered in English.

“Well, I mean, I didn’t really notice, I certainly wasn’t looking, but it doesn’t seem that sma..…OH LIDL. Of course. Thank you so much.”

That evening the weather turned. We bought oysters à emporter and grilled steaks watching the lightning. It was time to go home. 

We’d found our house on Airbnb and many others are available to rent, some more spacious than others. Apparently in August this beach club is much busier and you can barely move for members. However in the final days of September it was nice and quiet.

 There’s a boules pitch and pool with a bar/restaurant on site, but that was shut as it was the end of the season. You can find a larger restaurant open, also a shop at the neighbouring resort, Aphrodite, only a few minutes away. You’ll notice residents cycling to and fro with their  baguettes poking out from their baskets. The shop closes in the afternoon, but Lidl is just up the road. 

If you love the seaside, seafood and a warm sea breeze around your winkles, if you are respectful of an au naturel environment and are not averse to joining in, I would genuinely recommend a few relaxing days at the Naturist Village. We’ll definitely return. Next time I might even take my hat and scarf off. Well, its a start.

Village Naturiste Ulysse
Rue Albert Lecocq, 11370 Leucate
04 68 40 21 53

Le Petit Bigorneau
Centre Ostreicole Rive Droits, 11370 Port Leucate
06 16 94 39 10

For more revelations, Judith’s book is available on Amazon here.