Happy Birthday Granny. Let’s spa-lebrate!

unspecifiedOh, yes. I think I am going to enjoy this!

girls-at-the-spaFrom left: Olivia Chetty from the Maritzburg Sun; Jade Le Roux from Public eye; Veggietot Mom; Hazel Whitehead from Beauty Shout Box; Carmen Barends from meanderings.co.za; and Sabrina Maingard from Fashion Nanny.

Granny Mouse Spa hosted a spa day this week in honour of their tenth birthday. What makes the spa unique is its homely feel – an extension of the Country House so famous in the Natal midlands. Unlike many spas’ clinical aesthetic, Granny’s feels just like that: as warm and comforting as a trip to your granny’s house. The rugs, the raw wood finishes, the opulent armchairs and cottage furniture like kists and wicker side-tables create the perfect cozy environment in which you can relax and enjoy the world-class spa treatments.

20160922_130607The entrance to the spa blends seamlessly in with the rest of the homely, peaceful grounds

img_3778The waiting area

unspecifiedWelcoming foot ritual – part of every guest’s experience

It’s little touches that add up to a great spa experience, like heated massage beds, scented eye masks, and having your slippers put back on your feet before your therapist leaves the room, so you can float straight off afterwards without keruffling under the bed for them.

We were treated to a basic facial, an Indian head and neck massage, and a hand and foot massage (it’s not often that a hand massage goes all the way up to your shoulders, but they do things the right way up here). The facial used products from CSpa, a delightfully fragrant range made locally from plant-based ingredients. The staff are happy to custom-make treatments and packages to suit guests’ needs, and they offer kiddies’ treats on request.

unspecifiedYours Truly being pampered (Thanks to my friend K for the pic!)

20160922_111623The spa’s Jacuzzi

20160922_111328Delicious spread laid on by culinary artist Kirstie du Toit from Granny Mouse. The freshly juiced carrot and ginger drink was particularly delicious, and the brownies, well, yum!

The spa – managed by Camelot – keeps up to date with health and beauty trends and regional operational manager for KZN Iska Bharath says the signature treatment – so special it’s even been patented – has really taken off. Called The Infinity of Beauty and Indulgence, it includes a full body scrub with fresh lavender, rosemary and salt; a detoxifying seaweed back wrap; a CSpa facial; and an aromatherapy massage along the back of the body. I’ll have to go back for this one! Want to try it yourself? Email spa@grannymouse.co.za or drop them a line on 033 234 4071

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Tree is growing

I love ‘my’ yoga studio, Tree Natural Concept in Umhlanga. It opened in 2015, followed shortly by its health cafe with the motto ‘if it’s delicious, it makes you happy’. (Most of their meals are veggie, too, with an option to add animal protein if you choose. So it gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from Veggie Tots!)

Their new retail outlet takes the brand to the next level. ‘Tree is now a one-stop shop for all things wellness: yoga is a natural way to exercise, our café offers a natural way to eat healthily, and with the opening of our  store you can take the experience home with you,’ says Dominique Howard, co-founder with Brett Roux.

Here are some snaps to entice you into the newly revamped space – as if you needed enticing!

20160918_100802The kitchen now uses – and sells – fresh organic veggies from Dave Bartlett of eatyourhome.co.za. Deliveries are on Tuesdays and Thursdays so make sure you pop in. Ask about their veggie box scheme. 

20160918_100913 Proprietress Dom stocking the shelves. In addition to their boutique line of dried goods, super foods and supplements, they also sell free range eggs, fresh fare from their kitchen (mmm… bread… mmmmmm…. granola….) and a range of organic skin care including Africa Organics, Bare Naturals, and Esse.  

20160918_100822The new, hand-crafted (and eponymous) tree which greets you as you walk in. (That’s Dom in the background packing the shelves.)

20160918_100950  The studio maintains its aura of peace, calm and playfulness. Mats and yoga gear are available in the new store, too. 

20160918_101651The cafe is still one of my favourite places to avoid deadlines (I mean get some time out) or schedule meetings.

20160918_101621The tree manifesto

See you on the mat. Or at the cafe. Or in the store. Anyway, I hope it’s soon.

If you haven’t yet visited Tree (and you seriously don’t know what you’ve been missing) pop in under the Protea Hotel on the corner of Lighthouse and Ridge Roads in Umhlanga Village, Durban. Call 031 561 1169 for more info.

A day in the Cape

It’s nice, once in a while, to feature places outside of my native KZN, and I recently found myself – sans tots – in my sister’s stomping ground in the Mother City.

Cape Town is trendy, progressive, and in many ways more overtly environmentally savvy than Durban. Could be they just have better publicists. Still, it’s always nice to see how they do things on the other side. The grass may be as green, but they might use a different brand of organic, unrefined, GMO-free fertilizer.

20160903_132623Here we are at the Oranjezicht City Farm organic produce market at the V&A Waterfront, where my trendy, eco-aware sister does her weekly veggie shop. Turmeric latte, anyone?

The Oranjezicht City Farm is a citizen-led project that turned a derelict bowling green into a thriving vegetable farm showcasing heirloom and indigenous culinary species. I love this sort of grassroots stuff (pun intended). I wrote a story on the venture for Living Space Magazine back in 2014, which I’ve included at the bottom of this post for those who are interested. Aside from the market venue move to the Waterfront, it’s still pretty up-to-date. It also includes some tips on starting your own organic veggie garden.

We lunched at a wine farm – as one does in the Cape – making our way to Signal Gun in Durbanville. I’m always one to notice environmentally friendly touches, but no one could miss the fact that the entire grounds of the sizable tasting area and outdoor restaurant were covered with dried out fruit stones instead of gravel.

“Where on earth would they find SO MANY?” pondered my sister’s fiancé.

“Koo,” mused my sister.

The fiancé, a huge fan of canned peaches, looked at once satisfied with the answer and hungry for dessert. And we hadn’t even eaten lunch yet.

The pits do the same job as pebbles but utilized what must have been a few tons of material that would otherwise have been considered rubbish. Yes, fruit pits are biodegradable, but this quantity would take quite some time, so they’re not clogging prime land while they do so. I have much respect for ingenious ideas like these. Upcycling at its best!

20160903_143737Something different: My sis’s fiancé and I enjoying wine pairings with chocolates and Turkish Delights. Lunch was pizza (cheese and wine, of course!)

In the evening we took in a show at the Fugard. With three small kids (my eldest is now seven), I’ve kind of resigned myself to the fact that this stage of my life is about playgrounds and places that serve hot chips, and the most culture I’ve experienced recently is in the organic yoghurt in my fridge, so it was a welcome change to go out on the town with people who consider it normal and don’t squeal with delight at the tickets, the foyer, programme, the usher, the stage curtains… They forced me to calm down and not embarrass myself.

I haven’t been to the theatre in years (unless you count the children’s panto’s at The Sneddon – which are very good) so Clybourne Park was a real treat. Although set in Chicago, it raises issues of history, race, class, and the trending fashion of gentrification of decaying neighbourhoods – all issues relevant to SA, and all best discussed over a very large glass of beer (craft, naturally).

20160903_224659Late supper at Lefty’s. I ordered “The Return of the Beetroot Falafel” (I hadn’t known it was Here in the first place, so I was mildly surprised by its Return). It wasn’t like any falafel I’ve ever eaten, but it was tasty in its own right.

Story on Oranjezicht City Farm, Living Space, September 2014:

hsmls2014-09-p42-real-garden-urban-harvest-copyhsmls2014-09-p42-real-garden-urban-harvest-copy-p2hsmls2014-09-p42-real-garden-urban-harvest-copy-p3-copyhsmls2014-09-p42-real-garden-urban-harvest-p4

 

Berg Break at Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens

We live in such an exquisitely beautiful country that it (almost) amazes me that South Africans want to travel overseas.

20151126_052857Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens as seen from the summit of my hike. Hard to believe this is less than a three-hour drive from Durban. 

Last week I was treated to a media event at Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens resort. I’m hoping to return soon with the rest of the Veggietots clan, because it’s not often that the cliche is true: here there really IS something for everyone.

20151126_141243We stayed in the hotel (how’s this for a view to wake up to?). There are also self-catering chalets for those who prefer.

For the grownups:20151126_172853 Jacuzzi overlooking lake with fountains. I spent a LOT of time in here!

The wellness centre includes a gym, a spa, an indoor pool with hydro facility and a set of jacuzzis. The resort is also a renowned golf course, so I’ll have to factor that in when I bring Veggietot Gramps.

For the kids:

20151126_16414720151126_165726 The cutest (and friendliest) animal farm 

img-20151126-wa0033 Horse rides (little ones for the littlies, but I went galloping across the plains with an experienced guide). If horses ain’t your thing, there’s also cycling and a games room. 

For everyone:

20151126_060208Ah, nature.

20151126_060705 20151126_06024020151126_16063520151126_060141

20151125_151523Beautiful hikes, starting at a comfortable 45 minutes and peaking at several hours for those up to more of a challenge.

20151126_123727 Lunch overlooking the lake. There are several restaurants on site so you can pick which tickles your fancy at any given moment. Most are family-friendly. 

After just a short break I felt almost like a new person. Must be the mountain air! This place is a wonderful combination of countryside and convenience, with all the amenities one needs to feel comfortable, yet a rejuvenating atmosphere of crisp, still mountain energy. I’d quote The Terminator, but that would be trite.

20151126_132223

For more info, contact drak@goodersons.co.za

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Sed dignissim justo. Suspendisse fermentum erat. Duis consequat tortor. Mauris ut tellus a dolor. Suspendisse nec tellus. Donec quis lacus magna, sollicitudin id, turpis. Mauris in velit vel sollicitudin justo. Proin vitae massa nec cursus magna.