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Write, write, write

I wake this morning to a sky that is grey with the promise of rain. Before breakfast I walk outside and round the block to check if the café/bar is open yet. It is not. Today is a “day off” from the travel part of the course and time for us to focus on our writing. Sydney and Stephanie decide to go for a long hike. I decide to write.

I come up to my room to begin work. I sit at the desk with the pastel blue wooden shutters back against the wall of the building and the windows wide open. The air is cool and fresh. I boot up my computer and begin to write. My journal contains the details of each day and from it I extract pieces for the travelogue. At least that was the theory but I really am only catching up on the journal today. And somehow this is one of those times when the words just flow. I write steadily until lunch time.

Later, at lunch time, I go into the dining room to find the table set for one. The aural beauty of Mozart, Schubert and Bach, playing softly in the background, counterpoints the vista of stone walls, pastel wooden shutters and iron grilles seen through the window. On a wooden board rests a small white bowl of tiny perfect cherry tomatoes and creamy feta cheese squares in olive oil, a coiled loaf of bread, saucisse de foie (typical sausage of the ariegepyrenee region) and a triangle of blue cheese ripened to perfection. My novel lies unopened on the table. I savour the moment through every sense; flavour, aroma, texture, sight and sound meld into a surreal sense of pleasure. The tart sweetness of a juice laden nectarine completes the meal. I fold my napkin, and just as I am about to rise from the table the CD changes and Verdi fills the room.

Va Pensiero, the chorus of the Hebrew Slaves or Israelites from Nabucco is one of my favorite opera choruses. I smile as I remember one particular night of a holiday with friends in Italy, in early October last year. Driving along a narrow country road after dinner in a small mini-bus, nine of us plus the Italian driver (the only one with a good singing voice) belting out a version of Va Pensiero that we had scribbled down on a few scraps of paper with the help of our guide.

Around 5 in the afternoon I set out for a walk along streets lined with canopies of plane trees. My mind feels charged up and refreshed. I jot down phrases and thoughts in my little notebook and record images with my digital camera. What a luxury this time is. I am so glad I decided to take this course.