This has been an amazing week thanks to three immensley talented people whom I am delighted to have welcomed to Les Cerisiers - writer Miriam Halahmy, mosaicist (if that is the right term for someone who makes mosaics) Brenda Hazeldine and musician Roland Walravens.
I had only spoken to Miriam, who will be running a creative writing event here next year (watch this space for more details), on the phone before so to meet this warm, energetic and thought provoking woman face to face was brilliant. Having finished reading her novel 'Secret Territory' (see below) the week before it was great to be able to ask questions (interrogate) and learn more about the process of writing.
By way of introduction to this very special region we drove out into the hills around Macon and, after a freak down pour of rain, took photos in the vineyards at the foot of Solutre, our legs being cooled by the damp grass. Miriam managed to find a gift for her husband, who loves bread, at Cote Pain, a traditional 'rustic' bread manufacturing enterprise at the top of our road and has learned to appreciate Cremant - the regions sparkling wine and a convincing alternative to Champagne.
Brenda has been a friend of mine for longer than either of us care to remember and I was thrilled when she agreed to design one of her stunning mosaics for the entrance to the barn. I am all the more grateful as she spent 5 days of 'holiday' lying on a stone floor to produce her colourful work. The reception area for our activity centre has been given a vibrancy boost as a consequence. I have already started muttering things about the pool side terrace needing a bit of an overhaul - we shall see...
Finally I'd like to mention Roland. My idea of the perfect evening is a group of friends gathered in the garden sharing good food (courtesy of Mark and his BBQ), good wine (courtesy of the vignerons of burgundy), good conversation and Rolands music. The ambiance he creates is wonderful and his playing is equally marvellous. The singing may need a little fine tuning but the atmosphere is warm and filled with bonhomie.
From Miriam Halahmy's website: http://www.miriamhalahmy.com/
SECRET TERRITORY ( Citron Press 1999)
A journey to the Promised Land – a circular journey, across generations, charting dreams and aspirations of father and daughter. Feeling she should have been born in the homeland, Eve travels to Israel in search of an identity, unaware that her quest will painfully expose her family’s hidden history. Her father, Jack’s story, is of London in the ‘40s –
a time of idealism, political terrorism and conflicting values.
In their separate ways both confront the discord between collective ideals and personal needs; both must make their choices and live with them. This is their story – an honest and evocative account of what it means and feels to be Jewish in the modern world.
Miriam Halahmy’s sharp, concise style helps to sum up contemporary Jewish dilemmas. Jewish Chronicle.