Gravel Beach, Lac de Saint-Cassien

The only signs that someone has been here before us are bird prints in the sand and a discarded washing machine. Trudging mud tracks here, through brushwood and whipping growling tearing underwood. The sun is sitting on a hill of scrubbed trees. Clouds push and pull themselves into streaks and whips. Abandoned boats tug the shoreline, resting to be used. A skiff scuds the surface, sculling past. We take our place on gravel beach, the sound of the road opposite a white noise from a far far away world.

Two fishermen are hunting into hiding. A dragonfly helicopters past our tent at night, a huge hanging thing of wings and tail. Wasps thrive on our trashy sweetness. An oil drum rolls on the shore, waiting for a fire or flotation. Cork driftwood litters the gravel, playfully begging a seating. Roots poke up through the floor, between the shards of glass. A jerry can of plastic sits on our gravel beach, with tin can lids and a discarded boat seat, shoved into a hole. There’s a hole in the ground: fill it with rubbish, sandals torn at the toe.

A rower pulls her way past at fifteen strokes per minute, coursing the multicoloured lake, from white-frozen ice to deepest darkest blackest black. She rows into silhouette, a Baskerville barks at her. Dogs in the shallows shake off spray, which mists around them in the low-light like the halos of mystical hounds.

Tranquillity splendours over the lake, where electricity pylons hang. Mountains range, back-layering the scene, trees and television towers. The sun bleeds into the sky. The two fishermen will be joined in the night-time by trance music and a female. Mating will be performed, doubtlessly.

The lake little laps at my feet, dusty rocks beneath my behind and sand under my tread. The roll of the road and the wind in the leaves of the trees blow like static. Ripples ripple on the lake, broken by the ducking dive of the fish, sometimes a plip of a plop, sometimes an almighty splash of leviathan. A wasp bothers my typewriter. The moon curves and daggers into the tree horizon, its mirror in the lake slipping to the shoreline. I smell Egypt, the freshwater seaside, broad water, blowing with the wind-waves: your way, my way.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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