Can you build a decent sand castle

Beach stories from a TAZ writing competition - published on Ferienwohnungen

Beach story

How sand becomes a concrete castle
by GUNNAR GRAH (4th prize)

You know, this is our first time in the North Sea. That wasn't our thing in the past, but with this al-Qaeda everywhere you don't want to go anywhere anymore. And I have to say we like it here. Pure relaxation, you can really let your mind wander, as the saying goes. You hardly need anything either - two loungers for mom and me, the little one is enough with a towel. Parasol and cool box, that's it. Unfortunately the wind is a problem, or better: the sand. Unbearable when it sweeps across the beach. Like being sandblasted. And afterwards it is everywhere, it never stops trickling. Dreadful.

I took a look around what the others are doing against the sand. Many build beach castles. So, not sand castles like our little one makes, but large castles that you can then lean into. So I built one for us too, it turned out to be a real ring wall. Ridge height one meter thirty and inside space for the three of us. It's really a great thing: No sand around your ears, and the sea doesn't rustle too badly inside either.

But you won't believe it: the next morning strangers are lying in our castle. In our castle! But we were able to clarify that quickly. Bloodless, as they say.

After that I first wrote on our castle with mussels: "Reserved until August 20th!" Since then we have had no more problems with castle occupiers. I also put our coat of arms out of shells; you have to hold up your own flag, so to speak. And then there was the seafood buffet thing. Mom felt so bad afterwards that you can't even imagine it anymore.

Of course, the little one and I didn't want to sit around in the apartment all day, that's understandable. But mom kept moaning: "I just want to lie down." So I said to her: "You can also lie on the beach."

But Mutti said she absolutely needed a closet nearby. So I pulled up a smaller one next to our castle. Deep hole in the middle and two boards washed ashore over it. It was a real thunder bar, like a hundred years ago or so. I also bought this camping toilet liquid. After the business you only have to swell it, it binds the smell quite well. But if you lie in your beach castle all day, the days drag on. And half the time the sea is miles away anyway, which nobody tells you beforehand. Anyway, we have a TV in the apartment. I look at it one morning and see that it can also run on a car battery. Now you can guess. I tucked the TV under my arm and Mutti also packed our car battery, she only carries the towels. Oh yes, and the loungers. And that really is quality of life. TV on the beach. At the beach!

I already told you that we are well protected from sand in our beach castle. But the castle itself is properly sanded down. It needs repair work every day, your own castle shouldn't look like a pig. But one morning we get there and I think I can't see right. Vandals must have been at work there. The west wall of the main castle: completely torn down. The Kloburg looked similar. And the dirt finches have added a huge power to our heraldic animal. Should be funny. In any case, I almost burst my collar. I went straight out and bought cement. Fortunately, you are allowed to drive to the beach here, otherwise I would have had to make do with just one sack. The sand is pretty fine here, so you can get a decent amount of concrete. Of course I didn't make the wall massive, I'm not stupid. A decent concrete reinforcement is enough. I smashed two beer bottles and spread the pieces on the outside. Looks really nice when they sparkle so green in the sun.

Unfortunately we are leaving tomorrow. But we'll be back. The vastness, the sea - you simply won't find this feeling of freedom anywhere else.

Gunnar Grah, 28, works as a science journalist and is currently planning a doctoral thesis on desert ants in Tunisia. He lives in Freiburg

20.9.2003 taz Reise 147 lines, GUNNAR GRAH S. 18-19

© Contrapress media GmbH
Reproduction only with the permission of taz-Verlag

subscribe you can get the TAZ here
a subscription to the daily newspaper give away can be done here
The daily newspaper online not only offers the current edition, but also yesterday's edition and the supplement Le monde diplomatique.

(Many thanks to TAZ for allowing us to publish the beach stories from the 2003 summer writing competition here on

More beach stories: