Category Archives: travel

Time out at Mount Grace

“Well-being is not a state of mind, or even of body. It is a state of grace.”
– Sally Brampton
“The idea of feeding the soul is an old one, which can be found in mystical literature from around the world”

– Thomas Moore

“You can have all the drive in the world, but if you never stop driving, you will never know all the wonders that have flashed by your window.”
– Rabbi Naomi Levy

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
– Annie Dillard

“Sit. Feast on your life.”
– Derek, Walcott, ‘Love After Love’

“Your granny makes gravy, I make sauces.”
– Executive Chef Franc Lubbe, Mount Grace

“Taste is a form of knowing, a school for the senses. Food is an implement of magic, and only the cold-hearted rationalist could squeeze the juices of life out of it and make it bland.”
– Thomas Moore

“To be a true adventurer in the realm of taste you do not have to be a gourmet. You must, however, be appreciative and receptive, with a salt and peppering of curiosity and experimentation.”
– Oliver A. Wallace

“An exquisite pleasure has invaded my senses … When could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?”
– Marcel Proust

“Grace fills the empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.”
– Simone Weil

“Sleep is an essential part of life – but more important, sleep is a gift … There are few things more exquisitely pleasurable than giving [yourself] over to sleep at the end of the day or lying in bed half asleep waking to the new day …”
– William C. Derwent

“I think the reason we all get up in the morning whether we know it or not, is that brief moment during the day when we recognise the beauty in something.”
– Penelope Michler

“this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.
This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.
There is no house
like the house of belonging.”
– David Whyte, ‘The House of Belonging’

“One may return to a place, and quite unexpectedly, meet oneself still lingering there from the last time.”
– Helen Bevington
Visit Mount Grace Country House & Spa’s website.
Mount Grace Country House & Spa telephone number:
+27 (0) 14 577 5600
Mount Grace Country House & Spa facsimile:
+27 (0) 14 577 1202

Beautiful books

I’ve treated myself to two beautiful books, Tessa Kiros’ Venezia (Murdoch Books, 2008) and A Venetian Journal (Murdoch Books, 2009). They’re as enchanting as their subject.

Tessa’s travels bring her to Venice – a city with a bejewelled past, floating markets and a rich history of food and intrigue. The city fuels her imagination, and the result is an evocative and beautiful recipe book that explores the magic and charm of the famous Italian city. Mingled among the recipes and stunning photographs are Tessa’s observations and diary jottings on Venetian life and dishes.
“Venice in its labyrinth and enigma; everywhere visible from the windows and mirrors on the top floor of Harry’s Bar … Bridges; keyholes peeping into ancient courtyards full of secrets.”

The book is divided by course – Antipasti, Zuppa/pasta/gnocchi, Risotto, Secondi, Contorni and Dolci – with additional sections on Essential Recipes and Cicchetti (delicious small bites unique to Venice). Learn how best to cook polenta or make the perfect Bellini, then move on to pasta dishes such as Bigoli in Salsa, the typically Venetian, rougher, thick wholewheat spaghetti, served with anchovies and onion. Try Grigliata Mista di Pesce (mixed grilled fish) as a Secondo or Fondi di Carciofo (artichoke bottoms) as a side dish. And Focaccia Veneziana – a sweet Venetian brioche-type cake sprinkled with crunchy sugar – for dessert.
“As many times as I went out was as many times as I got lost. But I was never lost. I was always somewhere in Venice.”

A companion to Venezia, A Venetian Journal encourages food lovers who travel and those who explore the world via recipes to map their own journey, recording favourite recipes and memorable cooking and eating experiences. Structured around the classic Italian meal: Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, Colci, A Venetian Journal features the photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis’ personal selection of photographs from his frequent visits to Venice with Tessa and fragments from her own journals as she sought to imbibe the very essence of one of the world’s most romantic cities.

Tessa Kiros

Tessa Kiros was born in London to a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father. The family moved to South Africa when she was four, and at the age of eighteen, Tessa set off to travel and learn all she could about the world’s cultures and traditions, and new ways of living and eating. She has cooked at London’s The Groucho Club and in Sydney, Athens and Mexico. On a trip to Italy to study the language and food, she met her husband Giovanni, and now lives in Tuscany.

Writing Morocco

“In 1931, without any preconceived notion of what I should find there, I paid a visit to Morocco. Two months, I thought, would suffice for seeing the place. And so they would have if what I saw had not awakened a wish to see more, a wish which seemed to grow even as it was being satisfied. At first it expressed itself as a desire to wander over the surface of the land … After the War I returned to Morocco and bought a home there. This time I became aware of the fact that it was not the landscape I wanted to know, but the people.”
– Paul Bowles
Read more about Paul Bowles.

“The … endless banquet at which course succeeded course – spiced chickens and pigeons, kous-kous, and whole roast sheep and kebab and almond pastries and sweet mint tea … lasted all through the night. Swaying lines of women danced to the music of their own wild chant; the traditional boy dancers with painted faces and white robes drawn tight at the waist by gold-embroidered bells, danced to the tambourines and the clicking of the copper castanets on their fingers; in the courtyard a huge fire of juniper logs lit the battlements of the castle; outside the Kasbah wall … the night was loud with feasting.”
– Gavin Maxwell, Lords of the Atlas
“With the afternoon heat too suffocating in the square, the light too bright for any but a Marrachi’s eyes, I slipped into the labyrinth of the medina. Cool vaulted stone, courtyards latticed with bamboo staves, casting zebra stripes across the merchants and their stalls. What an emporium – mountains of tumeric, paprika, salted almonds and dates, yellow leather slippers laid out in rows, ostrich eggs and incense, chameleons in wire cages, and beef tenderloins nestled on fragrant beds of mint.”
from Tahir Shah’s introduction to Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes
Visit Tahir Shah’s website.
“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”
– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales
(Editors’ Choice)
Visit Travelers’ Tales website.

“Inside, the ceiling is low, cobwebbed, and the shelves beneath it cluttered with treasure. There are ancient Berber chests, silver teapots, ebony footstools, and swords once used by warring tribes, and cartons of postcards left by the French, Box Brownie cameras, candlesticks, silk wedding belts, and camel headdresses crafted from indigo wool.”
from Tahir Shah’s introduction to Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes
“Crisply geometric patterns of blue-and-white zellij, sun-bleached panels of carved cedar, rhythmic arcades of white plaster, sinuous lines of wrought-iron balconies: each reveals the hand of a master craftsperson and the beauty of refined materials.”
– Susan Sully, New Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living

“I stand in a portico hung with gentian-blue ipomeas … and look out on a land of mists and mysteries; a land of trailing silver veils through which domes and minarets, mighty towers and ramparts of flushed stone, hot palm groves and Atlas snows, peer and disappear at the will of the Atlantic cloud drifts.”
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco
Read more about Edith Wharton.


“From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin in the night …”
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”
– Edith Wharton, 1927

“The sight of books removes sorrow from the heart.”
– Moroccan proverb
Some reading suggestions
The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles
Let it Come Down, Paul Bowles
The Spider’s House, Paul Bowles
A House in Fez, Suzanna Clarke
Hideous Kinky, Ester Freud
Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua,
Gavin Maxwell
Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes, edited by Barnaby Rogers
and Rose Baring
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, Tahir Shah
In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams,
Tahir Shah
New Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living, by Susan Sully,
Jean Cazals and Meryanne Louw-Martin
Valley of the Casbahs: A Journey Across the Moroccan Sahara,
Jeffrey Tayler
Morocco: In the Labyrinth of Dreams and Bazaars, Walter M Weiss
In Morocco, Edith Wharton
Read the work of some Moroccan poets.
Links to Moroccan poetry organisations and websites.