Have you ever dreamed of swapping urban life for a rural retreat in spectacular surroundings where mountains circle the valley and a river runs through... finding and renovating old stone buildings where donkeys and chickens can roam - maybe putting up a couple of yurts in the garden ...pictured yourself and your partner following your ideal work here as your children grow up healthy and happy (there'd be a small village locally, for schooling and community)
...imagined evenings sharing meals al fresco with friends as sun sets over the forested horizon and the sky fills with an unimaginable numerosity of stars ...And then thought, Oh it would never work.
Sharon and Alex live the dream: they talk the talk (French) and walk the walk, along the wonderful woodland paths of the Cevennes to Gardoussel. There's only one thing to do when you find a place like this and friends like these, and that's go back, which I intend to do, next year and for longer.
This was the first Creative Writing group that Sharon, herself a talented writer, has organised here as most courses are Ayurvedic nutrition and yoga. Le Loft adapted itself perfectly as a venue for inventive self-expression, lyricism and laughter, poignancy and passion.
And who comes to write in a magical story-book place like this? Magical characters, of course: A fairy, a jester, a cat (blue), a witch, a lord and lady, a wandering minstrel, and a colourful company of shape-shifting companions.
Donald opened his comments at our book-review evening:"I suspect that the books we love above all other books are those whose heroes are ourselves: flawed as we are; ideal as we intend to be." Open for discussion in terms of reading choice perhaps, but certainly every personality here glowed through their writing.
This was a fantastic week of word-crafting and sharing, amazing meals, and forest walks - I swam under the waterfall and hiked every afternoon, except the day of the thunderstorm when every surface suddenly became a pit of writhing rain-snakes. Admittedly there was, overall, less sunshine than the terms of the contract (viz: South of France, August) implied, but wonderful writing, wild walks, and white wine were acceptable alternatives.