Cosmopolitan (UK)


- Keep in touch by following me on Twitter @Farrah_Storr and Instagram @farrahstor­r FARRAH STORR Editor-in-Chief

Late last summer, I turned off the main highway that links Nice airport to inland Provence, and found myself back in a place where my mind had travelled to time and again throughout my adult life. It was a simple stone guesthouse at the foot of a hill, two stories high, with four simple rooms and a garden that looked out onto a horizon of vineyards. It was the summer of 2004 when I had first visited, on a trip away with my mother and sister. I was 23 and escaping a complicate­d relationsh­ip I had embarked upon with my male best friend. There was a big shaggy dog – one of the most lovable mutts I had ever seen. He would sit in the courtyard all day long, moving only to turn his belly towards the sun’s rays or to beat his tail against the cobbled ground. But what I remember most of all was the general hum of happiness that seemed to envelop the place. The proprietre­ss was a handsome woman: warm, smiley and beautifull­y bosomy, a kind of French Sophia Loren, who made perfect coffee from a copper pot. There was a husband somewhere, too, tinkering contentedl­y away in the background. For five whole days I read, ate and thought about the man I had left behind. It was one of the happiest holidays of my life – and I often wished I had taken more of it in. But it would always be there, I reasoned, as I left. I could come back whenever I wanted. So last September, I did just that – this time with the man I had left back in London all those years ago, who was now my husband. It felt right to share this place with him. But as we turned into the car park, I could sense something had changed. The door was tatty, the paint peeling off in long thick ribbons. We rang the bell. Minutes passed before the door drew back an inch and we were met with the pale-eyed glare of an old man. I explained we were guests, at which his face changed from genuine shock to palpable irritation, before settling on something that appeared, to me at least, to be genuine sadness. As the door swung back, I could see why. There was no dog dozing in the midday sun, no manicured lawns and no emerald-green pool. Instead, in their place, was a scruffy, scorched lawn, three broken plastic sunlounger­s, and views onto a bar that was pumping out the sort of Europop one finds in an Ayia Napa strip bar. As we walked up the stairs to the same room I had taken all those years ago, I mentioned I had been a guest many years before. “You had a dog back then?” I said. “You just missed him,” he replied wearily. “We lost him last year.” We stayed only two nights in the end, during which time I spied the proprietre­ss only once, shuffling around in the background, much thinner now, with a face as hard as her husband’s. As we paid our bill and went to leave, I turned to the man.“Will you get another dog?” I asked. “Oh no,” he replied, shaking his head sadly. “It was a grand love affair, never ever to be repeated.” As we drove off, I knew exactly what he meant. The things we love only ever stay the same in our minds and hearts. So this holiday, wherever you’re heading, make sure you cling on to every moment.

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