Sensational is the simplest way to describe my week at Cortijo Romero in Southern Spain leading the 'self expression through creative writing' group . A synaesthesia of senses, in fact: silken pool water, velvet hills, and rustling palms. This area, in foothills of the Sierra Nevada, was tamed and irrigated by the Moors but given its tri-zonal climate by nature: flora is extraordinary and clear skies reveal breathtaking layers of stars. Our days quickly develop a delicious pattern: early morning yoga, then after a brief meeting the mornings are dedicated to word-work and word-play, with afternoons free to sunbathe around the pool. After supper, which like all meals is delicious & al fresco, there's optional activities like chanting, dancing, spanish song, or further immersion in conversation, or submersion in the pool...
Here's my 'recipe for Cortijo Romero':
Take white walls and terracotta tiles, and meld into habitation, flattening the roof so it forms a terrace under the stars. Decorate the traditional way with archways, courtyards, and a cat. Soak in sunshine for a long time while the pool is prepared. This must be surrounded by palm trees and blossom – hibiscus is ideal. Turn out under a firm blue sky onto a setting with views of mountains and acres of ancient tranquillity. Fill your finished cortijo with people who love it, with good food, with learning and laughter. Glaze with delight and sprinkle lightly with the scent of jasmine. Your guests will come back for another helping again and again.
Personal highlights, in a week that was up there with the eagles of the Sierra Nevada, were the strenuous clamber upriver to swim under the ice-melt waterfall, and the gentler cascade of wonderful words from my very wonderful group in the last-night cabaret.
So I wasn't looking forward to ten hours in Malaga on the final day, but actually it was brilliant - thanks, Louise, my intrepid and ever-delighted companion, for an unforgettable day of exploration and fiesta, finding ourselves suddenly in the heart of a very Spanish celebration. A great way to leave and take home the musical vibrance of Andalucia.
England was kind to my reluctant return, having the grace to offer sunshine today. I'm hoping it hangs around till next Sunday, for the 'Cascade of Words and Music' in Bath's Prior Park.