It’s Saturday night here in Carcassonne and I’m sitting back with a glass of wine feeling pretty pleased with myself. I’ve just clicked over 60,000 words – three quarters of the way up the mountain- and I’m hitting my stride.

It’s been a week of solid pegging away at the keyboard, trying to claw back the two days I lost last week. I’ve got there and can now abandon all care and enjoy the gratifying sensation of hitting my target – before I start up again on Monday.

Tomorrow I’m off on a winery tour organised by the local tourism authority – a treat I discovered last week when I visited Vignobles de Carsac and Chateaux de Serres. It was a great day out taking in the wineries, two abbeys and a delightful cruise around the countryside beyond the town – something I haven’t been able to do up until now being sans car.

The first abbey we visited was St Hilaire where I discovered a little known but fascinating factoid.

Cloister of St Hillaire

You may have heard the story of how champagne was invented by a Benedictine monk called Dom Perignon. ‘Tis false. One hundred years before the fizz was popping in Champagne, the monks of St Hilaire discovered the secret of the magical brew. They call it blanquette de limoux and it happened in this cellar:

Birthplace of bubbles

It is even said that Dom Perignon visited St Hilaire to learn the secret and exported his newly acquired knowledge back to the north. Such questions raise heated debate in France where each region is fiercely proud of their spécialités.

From Limoux we travelled up to the Cabardes region where we dropped into the Abbey of St-Martin-le-Vieil, a ruined Cistercian house now in private hands. It was delightful, but I suspect that by the end of this trip even I – an inveterate history lover – will finally have achieved a surfeit of abbeys. I’m beginning to become blazé about cloisters.

The biggest treat of the week came on Thursday. I’m a huge fan of the author Kate Mosse whose historical novels are set in Carcassonne. In fact, her vivid descriptions of life in La Cité and La Bastide significantly influenced my choice of authorial location. I knew that Moss usually spends her summer months here and I’d been fantasising about meeting her, having a coffee and sharing my writing experience with her. One night I even went so far as to Google-stalk her, trying to work out a way to make contact.

So I was beside myself with excitement when I discovered she would be in town doing a book signing at Librairie Breithaupt. Champing at the bit, and clutching a copy of her latest offering, The Burning Chambers, I fronted up to meet the object of my adoration.

The very lovely Kate Moss

Our meeting was brief, but I was able to tell her about my Carcassonne sabbatical and my hopes of meeting her. I even confessed that I have a further fantasy where one day we sit on the same panel at a Writer’s Festival discussing the tribulations and triumphs of writing.

The poor woman must be continually pestered by aspiring writers but she was most gracious, even noting the ‘off chance’ of our meeting on a panel in the inscription she wrote in my book. I could see she secretly thought I was delusional but, dear readers, I have the temerity to believe that one day I will sit on that panel and when I do I’ll whip out my copy of The Burning Chambers and watch her eyes bug out.

Her final injunction to me was ‘keep writing’. And I will …

Step by step …

3 thoughts on “Hitting My Stride …

  1. The Carcassonne adventure just keeps getting better! I love St Hiliare’s sparkling – it’s just as good as the more famous French sparkling and significantly cheaper. Now knowing it’s true story I can now say to people, ‘ah this is true champagne!’

    Yes that moment when we meet our literary idols. Don’t worry I’ve gushed many a time at Writer’s Week with Muriel Barbery, Janine Di Giovanni, Magda Szubanski, Jane Caro, Ed Ayres and Markus Zusak some of my targets in recent years. I’ve usually been also fortunate enough with my social media work to get a mini interview and photos with some of them as well – that requires serious stalking given I don’t have a media pass (the volunteer pass only does so much). This year I had great fun with the ‘it boy’ of Australian publishing Trent Dalton. It is a part of the aspiring author’s life – we aren’t the first to do it and we won’t be the last! 😂

    Author events and appearances at Literary Festivals are now an essential marketing tool for writers. I do believe too both of us will be on one of those panels. Wouldn’t it be great if we are on the same panel at some event and chatting to a new generation of aspiring author at the signing desk, reminding each other we were once the gushing, seemingly delusional reader transforming into a writer. You are getting ever closer to that sumit. 😊👍✍️📚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nearly there buddy! Cannot wait to read the finished article…It certainly pays to have an inspirational setting to keep you penning away.. Bon Chance! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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