Walking along La Plage du Boucanet from La Grande-Motte to Le Grau-du-Roi,
you come across an abandoned site populated by the shells of concrete buildings. At first, all you can see behind the low dunes and their retaining fences are the rooflines. Soon there appears a hint of graffiti, so you step closer.
This is the month in which Ursula K Le Guin died, an author I have often been recommended, but have never read. My science fiction reading is limited. To the extent it exists at all, it is the world of Nevil Shute's 'On the Beach', John Wyndham's 'The Day of the Triffids' and Ultravox's 'Dancing with Tears in Your Eyes'. So I know there is a post-apocalyptic world out there and it's lurking behind these dunes, and this is the week it found me. Better get reading.
It's a world of sylphidine figures emerging from the walls, missing eyes and limbs, consumed by empty doorways and windows; it's a place where the vegetation, starved of affection and care and water, reaches out to the lifeless structures; where the interior world is bereft, an exposed wound, waiting for its demise.
Returning to the beach, you realize the seemingly eccentric picnic, guarded over by the bald biker who checked out the stranger wandering amongst the buildings, is more likely a wedding, styled with found objects and strange outfits, a guest list of survivors; a wedding whose protagonists are a modern couple in spite of their dress, hoping for happiness but offering little hope for humanity's survival - without the hairless biker, that is.
As you turn away, there's a young boy flying his kite, lifting it over the thatched roofs of beach huts, and you realize you have stepped back into a world of sunny January Sundays and walkers and dogs and dog-sh.....
As it turns out, the site is an abandoned hospital, turned over to nature in a sad commentary on human ingenuity: it contains asbestos, making the buildings not only unusable, but the site too expensive to safely redevelop. Some playground.
And on a happier note, winters are not only crisp sunny days, but delicious bitter salads.
Peel and slice
two or three blood oranges, saving the juice that runs free to make a vinaigrette by adding your favourite sweet or savoury condiment such as pomegranate molasses or a flavoured syrup; add sugar to taste, salt, pepper and olive oil.
some very thinly sliced red onion in lime juice and a little sugar for an hour.
a small head of trevise into a shallow wide bowl; add the pickled onion and orange to the bitter leaves, drizzle with vinaigrette - and take a photo or two or three as you eat!