“What is it you do at your Writing Retreat, apart from swimming and sleeping?” The #Tinder message flashes up. It’s from a Dutch chap who is on holiday 145km away from me. No idea where that is, or why he’s been presented to me by the app, when I’ve asked it to show me chaps who are up to 14km away. Maybe he was closer and has moved, or we matched whilst he was travelling past here from somewhere.
“Writing,” I reply. And I am managing a small amount of writing. It’s still early in my trip, I tell myself. It’s not the two day Young Women With Breast Cancer weekend or the three day Meditation Retreat. There are still five days left to do writing, and tomorrow is a Day Out, so then I’ll even have something to write about.
“You have to swim three times every day, Tanya, now you’ve done it twice,” the owner of the house tells me when I bump into her after my pre-breakfast swim.
“Yes, I’m certainly making the most of your pool,” I say, hanging my wet towel on the line to dry. Of course I’m swimming three times a day, I think. Soon I’ll probably have more treatment and I won’t be able to swim again for months whilst my wounds heal or my immunity is non-existent, or both. Out of everything, this has probably been the cruellest punishment: the year of not being allowed to swim. Swimming is one of my best things.
The trouble is that three swims a day means three baths a day too, to wash off all the chlorine. So this is all quite time-consuming. The other writers have already nicknamed me Beyoncé, because of my several outfit changes per day. After all: I’ve brought a huge suitcase of pretty clothes – I need to model them all.
Another message flashes up, from an actual French chap, 60km away. He’s 32 and he has a wide smile. Quite cute.
“Slt, comment vas tu? Je te trouve vraiment de plus charmante ^^. Ca te tente de faire connaissance?”
That must mean something along the lines of – How are you? I find you really charming. Do you want to meet up? – I decide. No idea what the cat ears signify. They are bound to be a French sexual position that he wants to do with me.
“Hello! Am on a Writing Retreat. Can’t actually meet but thank you,” I reply.
As I open my Tinder I see two more messages from French chaps. Unlike the English ones, they have written to me first. Presumably it is rare for new girls to arrive in these parts.
“Bonjour,” one writes. That is hello, I know that one.
“Coucou, ca va,” the third chap writes. OK – so “ca va” is “how are you.” Don’t know what “coucou” is. The dictionary says “cuckoo”.
I leave these messages to reply to later and start some actual Writing…