And so the Journey Begins!

We arrived in Lyon on Tuesday August 3, a bit late, but calm after an uneventful flight. Peta, Bryan & Matt were there to greet us and whisk us away to a small park, where we started the day with Cremant (Champagne), Orange juice, croissants and pain chocolat. A repast that ensured that I drifted in and out of consciousness on the rest of the drive to Bel Air.

Bel Air sits atop a hill outside of the farming town of Digoin, in Burgundy. The original part of the house was built in 1776, and various additions were made over the centuries, all in keeping with the original style. Bryan and Peta bought it 20 years ago and Bryan has been working on it ever since, adding new sections, fixing up the old. As a result there are many nooks and crannies and they are able to house family and friends in abundance.

Tim and I are staying in the gite at the end of the building. It is a perfect cottage, furnished with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom. Private, but company is just next door. We’ll be in this section for a few days until a renter arrives, when we’ll move into the main section of the house.

Bryan says he built the pool before the house was even livable. The boys were little then, and he said it made sense to build the pool because they would be entertained for hours while he and Peta could get on with the renovations. Now, it is sheer heaven to cool off with the swallows skimming the surface of the water and the valley opening up beyond.

Gentle industry takes place all around us. Roosters crowing, cows lowing. A pace of life that has existed here for many centuries. It is hard to imagine the world beyond, except for the occasional boom of the Mirage jets in training, breaking the sound barrier. On my walks I see working farms, but also families who, like Peta and Bryan, have chosen this as an alternate to city life. I feel spoiled and indulged, but also can’t help but feel blissfully happy.

Author: Amanda West Lewis

AMANDA WEST LEWIS has built a life filled with words on the page and on the stage, combining careers as a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her new book, The Pact, (Red Deer Press) was released in the fall of 2016. It has been listed on the 2017 USBBY OUTSTANDING INTERNATIONAL BOOKS LIST; selected for the 2017 ILA YOUNG ADULTS’ READERS CHOICES LIST; Nominated for 2017 SNOW WILLOW AWARD; and listed in the CANADIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK CENTRE BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS & TEENS, Spring 2017. SEPTEMBER 17: A NOVEL was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award, and the Violet Downie IODE Award. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her theatre career, Amanda is the founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, where she teaches and directs children. She has developed specialized drama and literacy programs for youth at risk, and for children with autism spectrum disorder. She has a Certificate in Theatre for Young Audiences with Complex Difficulties from Rose Bruford College, England. In 2015, Amanda co-produced the hit play “Up to Low” is based on the book by Brian Doyle. As a professional calligrapher and book artist, Amanda is passionate about the history of writing and has taught calligraphy courses to students of all ages. She studied with Hermann Zapf, Mark Van Stone and Nancy Culmone among many others. Amanda lives with her husband, writer Tim Wynne-Jones, in the woods in Eastern Ontario. They have three wonderful grown children. Find out more on her website at http://www.amandawestlewis.com/

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