Saturday, July 21, 2007

What are the ideal elements for a Book-lovers holiday? I'd say: fabulous venue, great meals, stimulating discussions, skilled hosts, friendly participants - and solid sunshine. "7 Day Wonder" in Languedoc ticks every box. I'm not surprised La Maison Verte sees so many returners.
There were 16 at the Wednesday Q/A session about my novel 'Frozen Summer', including writer Clare Dudman. Clare gave a fascinating talk next morning about her research for the wonderfully-titled '98 Reasons for Being', a fictionalised study of the psychiatric work of Heinrich Hoffmann who wrote 'Struwwelpeter'.
I can't praise Zoe and Lee's hospitality and organisation, or the venue itself, enough. The house is set in opulent gardens, dripping with jasmine, oleander, and apricots; a swimming pool, loads of nooks & intriguing artworks, and a wide range of courses from laidback literature-loving to standup comedy. Yoga on the lawn before breakfast as the temperature creeps blissfully towards 40 degrees, and time to walk around the streets of Roujan and beyond, where long vineyards shimmer in the heat and cicadas shrill. Roujan is an unpretentious little town, less than 2000 inhabitants, but clearly growing.
Footnote for the carbon-conscious: it's not far from Montpelier so easy by rail from UK.

From the airport virtually straight to the 'Completion of Album Party' for charismatic band Urusen for an unforgettable night. Unforgettable for different reasons throughout the UK apparently, with 2 months rain falling in 24 hours, a statistic that became vivid for Hazel & me when her car died on the outskirts of Bath and the RAC couldn't respond to calls never mind callouts. Around 3am both we and our mobiles lost the will to live so we abandoned the car and took a taxi home.

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