Once in everyone’s lifetime should come a moment when they are brushed with magic. That moment came for me last weekend when I was invited to France to read at the Segora Literary Evening. The magic didn’t come from my reading, but from the warmth and otherworldly charm that surrounds the organisers, Gordon and Jocelyn Simms.
I left Breda early Friday morning, three stops, sixty euro’s in motorway fees and an arthritic ten hour drive later I pulled up outside their 15th century watermill.
Scrumptious is a word that harmonises with the apartment I rented: spacious, beautifully decorated, with a fully stocked fridge and store cupboard, including Gordon’s homemade fennel bread (yes, I did put weight on).
I was a little overawed to be invited to share dinner with my hosts and Vivien, the winner of the poetry prize. I was surrounded by exceedingly creative talented people, eating delicious food plucked that morning from the garden, with the rustling river Argenton acting as background music. It was everything I’d imagined a perfect dinner party to be; it was difficult to prevent the silly grin sticking to my face. I fell asleep that night mumbling the word paradise.
Another invitation: a lunch of fragrant homemade cherry tomato Tarte Tatin. As I listened to Gordon and Jocelyn talk about the Segora Bilingual Literary festival (next one takes place August 2014) I realised what an incredible labour of love these two have gifted to the international and local community. To bring so many people together to share a love of English and French literature in a small pocket of the world is a herculean feat that deserving of far more praise than can be provided by my paltry blog.
I won’t write about my performance at the literary evening, those of you who read my last blog will know how I felt, for those of you that didn’t. Well, let’s say I wasn’t too awful and leave it at that. It was a relief and pleasure to listen to the other contributors, most of who travelled much further than I did just to read at the event.
On the last morning Gordon gave the poets and authors a tour of a nearby 13th century chapel with a collection of recently discovered murals.
When he regaled our group with tales and legends, I could have selfishly wished all the other guests away and listened to his stories for hours. Especially the true story of the hundreds of shin bones protruding beneath a local stone wall – gruesome stuff!
I sat next to Jocelyn for the last lunch, but this time even though the food was delicious I found it hard to swallow. My time was almost over, and I’d adored every moment. Most of all I realised I’d come to adore the lady sitting next to me, with her gentle friendship, and bright eyes shining with welcome and a longing for mischief. I didn’t know if our paths would ever cross again, but I knew that having met her I left a richer person.