Writing Competition Winner 2016

In 2016 we invited guests to write about particularly vivid holiday experience they had enjoyed with us. The winner of the writing competition was Ilene Sterns (pictured with our chairman Graham Simpson), who wrote beautifully about a summer concert in Cap Corse. Ilene won a holiday for two at the Blue Jasmine Hotel on Kefalonia, and we are grateful to her for allowing us to share her piece entitled "A concert in St Florent"

Our principal judge was much-loved writer Susan Lewis, who had this to say about the winning entry:

"I chose this because of the way it reaches so many senses, the hypnotic stillness of the setting, the imagined scents and entrancing Mediterranean feel. The music seemed to come alive, inviting the reader in; the response to it was both satisfying and gently restorative. A great travel writer is able to transport you and this is exactly what this piece does. I can tell the writer has really immersed themselves and the language is just beautiful. Congratulations and keep writing"

A concert in St Florent

“We climbed the steep lane to the Cathedral of the Nebbio. Lit by the rays of the setting sun, the ancient church glowed like a beacon. Sheep grazed lazily in the surrounding fields and the scent of herbs hung in the air. Cicadas chirped their evening songs.

The dusty church square slowly filled with music lovers. Flocks of swifts soared round our heads, swooping and screaming in a joyous mob. They were the guardians of this holy place, which had always been their summer home.

A young man arrived with a folding table and a box of tickets. We filed past him into the whitewashed sanctuary, taking our seats on hard wooden pews. In front of the altar were musical instruments, some familiar, others barely recognisable. With no introduction, the musicians walked in and began to play. Their voices blended in exquisite harmonies, swooping and soaring as effortlessly as the swifts. The audience sat transfixed, bursting into wild applause as the final notes of the encore died away.

We walked out of the Cathedral into the warm summer night. No one spoke, because no one wanted to break the spell. The sky glowed with countless stars and the world felt new again.”

Interested in hearing the music of L'Alba for yourself? Have a listen here