But in case all this luxury makes you forget you’re in the countryside, the DIY barbecue dinner yanks you back down to the salt of the earth. For the evening meal, I’m required to fend for myself using a barbecue to cook ingredients delivered hours earlier by Sabine. My attempt to get the fire going with newspaper, wood, and charcoal ends in a pitiful plume of smoke. Thankfully, Sabine is on hand, via frantic text message, to help me out. Once the flames get going, I toss the potatoes, sausage, and onions (sliced and diced with a yours-to-keep Opinal camping knife) onto the flames. The result is a high-quality, locally sourced meal so succulent I don’t even need ketchup to mask any mediocrity. I’m glowing with self-satisfaction.
Sitting on wooden chairs and using a tree stump for a table, I chow down the grub, my thousand-yard stare taking in white butterflies and tree leaves that rustle sonorously in the breeze. Sparrows, buzzards, and magpies are tweeting, while a couple of rabbits hop around to my left. Even red-feathered wild pheasants have been known to surprise guests at the cabin door, Sabine tells me. For company I summon the two stallions, Lugo and Sueño, who amble over to my fence for some eye-to-eye interaction. This animal gazing, combined with open-air cooking and golden-hour sunshine, brings my stress levels right down.
As night falls, I lie down on my bed by the light of a candle scented with lemongrass, citrus, and cannabis. All is quiet outside, save for the occasional owl hooting in the darkness. Sabine’s house is just a one-minute walk away across the road and behind some hedges—distant enough for a sense of seclusion yet close enough to keep those night-time heebie-jeebies at bay.
The next morning, I roll up the blinds and let glorious sunshine flood the cabin. For breakfast, Sabine delivers fresh croissants, homemade chocolate spread, yogurt, homemade granola, and eggs laid by her own chickens. Each meal, every one of her ingredients, offers a reminder of the richness and variety of this locavore diet, be it the estate’s apple trees that make the juice (Sabine also offers juice tastings), the cherry trees responsible for her homemade cherry frangipane dessert , or the sensationally creamy goats cheese I’m given for lunch, made by the Ferme des Cabrioles goat farm a few miles away. It’s a battle not to scoff the cheese by itself rather than incorporate it into the courgettes, tomatoes, and eggs delivered to my room. At lunchtime I’ll turn them into an omelette, this time cooked on the kitchen.