France ... It all Started with the Glimpse of a Turret (#TheMidsummerGarden)

It all started with the glimpse of a turret, you see. I was on a walk near Chalus, France, headphones in listening to my audiobook), striding along narrow roads that weaved through lurid green fields and acres of chestnuts forests, when over the barbed-wire fence I spotted this old castle.

It wasn't grand. Indeed, it looked almost abandoned. But for this Aussie girl, it seemed almost ridiculous that I could come across this forgotten castle just plonked in the middle of the paddock. It was as if the world had moved on to better things, and these crumbing stones walls, a barn and perfectly solid castle were still standing there, waiting ... for what? 

Later, I came back with my family and we toured these grounds of Chateau de Brie. We stood in the barn that sheltered people during the Crusades, learned that none less than Richard the Lionheart had stayed and feasted there. I crouched and ran my hands over the wide oak floorboard in the oversized banquet hall, and admired the marble fire surrounds. Traced the lines of the worn steps spiralling to the top of the turret. At the top of the front turret was a tiny room, the guide had nicknamed 'The Maidens Room'.

And I started thinking, who loved here? Was it a maid or a noble maiden? Was she trapped or was she free? Perhaps she slept here the night before her wedding?

And then I looked out the wIndow at the abandoned garden below, and imagined it in midsummer, with a party in full swing. A wedding perhaps, with a banquet ....

And suddenly, I knew I had to tell a story about a banquet prepared from the garden below. Set within the grounds of this castle. Nothing too fancy, but utilitarian and strong. Like my main character, a cook. A herbalist ... a gardener. Someone who would lose herself for hours at a time in the chestnut forests beyond the walls of the castle ...