Monday 15 April 2024

Retreating from reality – Rowena House

Driving home after marking the 90-year milestone of my dad’s well-lived life which, tragically, is now sunk into the horrors of Alzheimer's, I made a sudden – but also not-so-sudden – decision to return to the beautiful southern French town of Castillon-la-Bataille on the banks of the Dordogne to reprise last year’s energizing, restful, magical writing retreat at Chez Castillion with the inimitable Jo Thomas, hosted by Janie Millman and Mickey Wilson. 

On Twitter or their website you can find more photos of their historic sandstone townhouse and the azure swimming pool in their courtyard garden. The colours are just as crisp and exotic in real life. The interiors are a mix of cooling mosaics, eclectic furniture and artworks, nothing pretentious, all homely and dreamy.

I took the decision to return to this paradise while parked up in the rain about 4 pm yesterday. We catch the ferry this evening. The course starts tomorrow. I am overwhelmed by the privilege of being able to repurpose money at the last moment to fulfil this dream, but life is precious and can be snatched away in so many different and cruel forms. In his heyday, dad would have approved of my choice.

I really hope everyone can snatch back agency and joy from time to time. I think I’m going to cry if the swifts are screaming over the pool as they were in the evenings last year. Meanwhile, here is the link to their website and also to Manda Scott’s recent Accidental Gods podcast which in part prompted the decision to escape the ocean of tears for a week.


Rowena House Author on FB where I’m sort of journalling the C17th witchy work-in-progress

@HouseRowena on X/Twitter 


PS If you're a writer who wants to be published, please read Anne Rooney's piece on the economic realities we all face. I'm very aware my writing is another expression of privilege. Here's the link:





Nick Garlick said...

Having been through something similar, Rowena, I can understand the need to escape for a while. I hope it works well for you. But one question: is Chez Castillion only open for retreats? It looks wonderful.

Penny Dolan said...

Hope the magic works again for you, Rowena, and that your stay at Chez Castillion gives you what you need right now. So sorry to hear about the tough time that's led to your moment of escape.

LuWrites said...

Really sympathise. My father is now losing the ability to remember anything, even tell the time... you obviously needed to escape. X