PS: If 12 September, 28 November, 12 December, and 9 January, sound like good dates for you to walk our Green Mountain Trail, and 17 October and 21 November, for our Blue Mountain Trail BOOK HERE.

Good Morning

We are not pretending that all is hunky-dory in the world. That said, living in Houw Hoek and the Elgin Valley remains a great privilege and we are doing our very best. One hundred steps and you’re in the mountains, plenty of wood on the forest floor for cosy fires, a happy working team of at least twenty years, an easy drive to the creative edge of the city, and a great yoga teacher in our midst. Recently our friend Mimma Ferrando, when asked about the current Italian government changes, expressed “Italy is a mess, but us Italians each make the best of what we have.”

We are experiencing wondrous winter days for the hikers who wanted to get out in August. Some old notes from, most likely Monocle, February 2021, read “Try things in their good old analogue forms once in a while and you might just enjoy it. .. It’s like googling but involves a book, or better yet, ask someone who might know the answer.”

Annie Olckers and Rose Kroukamp are having a marvellous time back in the kitchen making flasks of good coffee and soup for the mountain stops, and our old favourites of carrot cake and slow cooked lamb shanks. And in between, marmalade with Seville oranges kindly gifted by Liz Wood (of Christmas Cakes and Rockhaven Lodge fame). We have bottled many jars this week, all in preparation for our farm shopping at Elgin Open Gardens October 2022. We spend a great deal of time with our noses in real hard back recipe books.

On Sunday we were blessed with a visit from Alice Toich and Jules Sanchez, to introduce us to little Miss Nova Magnolia. Of course in the company of this family we had a delightfully intense convo about everything. Jules has been smart enough to specialize in the very useful laws of tax. Knowing how much of “your” money is indeed yours, is of course essential. The importance of parents, grandparents and if you are lucky enough, great grandparents, as well as the role of language in cross cultural explorations, were all covered.

Yesterday morning I asked our Green Mountain trail guide, Andreas Groenewald, why our Magnolia Soulangiana blooms before sprouting leaves, because I knew he would know. I did not understand everything but I learnt that by blooming ahead of other flowers, the Magnolia is first in line for pollination, and by blooming ahead of it’s leaves, it is best able to show it’s self off, attracting in our case bee pollination.

With the lyrics of our classic legendary musicians, who needs a motivational book, in analogue or digital form? When setting out for the second time to fly home from Italy (due to a fire and a Lufthansa strike), Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush were alongside with their “Don’t Give Up”. Gabriel told Spin in 1986. “The chief thing dragging them down is unemployment, which is presently tearing the social fabric of Thatcher’s England apart. Without a climate of self-esteem, it’s impossible to function.”

Gabriel said of this song’s message: “The basic idea is that handling failure is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do.”

Don’t give up
We don’t need much of anything
Don’t give up
’cause somewhere there’s a place
Where we belong

Rest your head
You worry too much
It’s going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don’t give up
Please don’t give up

PPS: Did you know that Italy has had 43 Prime Ministers since the end of the second world war, yet it is the third largest national economy in the EU. Italy is the world’s sixth largest manufacturing country characterised by a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size, and many dynamic small and medium sized enterprises. (BBC and Wikipedia) the underlined part is what we love!

PPPS: Have you ever been in Italy for an olive harvest? The area around Casa di Simonetta is expecting to harvest in the second week of November or thereabouts. To stay, and possibly be on time to join the harvest, email us here. 

With love,