Blackberry Farm Retreat
I recently had the sincere pleasure of leading a yoga retreat at a very special place with some very special people. From the moment I stepped foot on Blackberry Farm I thought I had died and gone to heaven — if heaven had a 160,000 bottle wine collection and bred its own Italian truffle hunting dogs to sniff out what would later be shaved onto your dinner plate, which I’m pretty sure it does.
So like I said, heaven.
There were so many things I loved about Blackberry Farm — that the obvious focus on luxury was never ostentatious, but rather an expression of understated simplicity; that the sprawling 4,200 acre property felt untouched, almost wild, despite its quiet paths and endless miles of white fence; that the food was beyond words, although I will try my best to do it justice. What I really loved, though, were the people. Much like my beloved Jungle Bay in Dominica, the people who work at Blackberry Farm seem like they’re part of one big family. Each member of the staff, from the waiters to the farmers to the artisans, treat Blackberry Farm as if it were their own property; they each display a genuine joy in welcoming you into what feels like their home. This is rare, and it’s what makes Blackberry Farm so special. You feel like you’re a part of the family.
Billy and I took a trip to Charleston last week and we had such a great time! I had visited the city a few times as a child, but all I really remembered from those trips was that it was hoooooot. My grandmother, though, has always loved Charleston. It’s her spirit city. She used to tell me stories about how she and my grandfather would wander the streets and look at all the beautiful old homes. When my grandparents moved to Sanibel Island, they built a home inspired by the architecture of Charleston. My grandfather, an engineer, even traveled to Sullivan’s Island after Hurricane Hugo to investigate the homes that were still standing to see how they had been made; he infused those structural elements into the Sanibel house.
At Home In Provence
A few days ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Rodolfe and Monique, family friends of Estelle’s and her parents. Rodolfe was the contractor who managed the redesign of Estelle’s flat, and Monique cleans and cares for the neighbors who live across the hall. A friendship sparked. Estelle told me that I simply had to meet them and that I would have a heart attack when I saw their house.
Keep It Simple
I’ve enjoyed some incredible meals on this vacation. There was the traditional bouillabaisse at Nounou, the beautiful dorado at Bistrot du Port, and the cod ravioli with ricotta and leeks at Le Comptoire de la Tourraque in Nice. But I have to say that the meals I enjoy the most are the ones we make at home.
Pretty In Pink
Today was such a good day. We decided to visit the Bonnard Museum in a little town in the hills above Cannes called Le Cannet. The museum was featuring the work of Henri Manguin, a French artist who painted alongside Matisse and Cezanne. They say that all the greats came to the South of France to paint because of the amazing pink light.
I bought a lemlem before I left on my trip thinking I would wear it as a beach coverup, but one of my friends pointed out that I probably wouldn’t want to wear it to walk through town and down to the beach because it’s completely see-through. I packed it anyway hoping that maybe I could wear it around Estelle’s apartment. Then I got here and showed it to Estelle, who shook her head and said, “Bah, oui! Mais bien sûr que tu peux le porter! This is France!” (By the way, this is how we speak to each other: half French, half English.) So I put on my chic little beach coverup and proceeded to walk by at least a half dozen topless women on the beach, and it became clear that I was sporting the most conservative look on the French Riviera.
Le Premier Jour
Je suis arrivée en France! It was an easy trip. Surprisingly, I was able to sleep on the plane and so thankfully I don’t feel the usual hard slap of jet lag. Estelle picked me up from the airport and we were so happy to see each other that we started jumping up and down, clapping (I’m realizing more and more that I clap when I’m happy; sometimes awareness makes your life more uncomfortable because you’re now cognizant of that fact that you’re standing in the middle of an airport, jumping up and down, clapping). But I didn’t care; we were both smiling from ear to ear! I will have to tell you more about Estelle and our friendship, but for now know that she is probably one of the few people on this earth who truly gets me. We are cut from the very same (French) cloth.
La Vie en Rosé
Today’s the day I leave for what I can only describe as the trip of a lifetime. I’m headed to France for three weeks of vacation. You heard me. Three whole weeks (I know)! I’ve been fantasizing about this trip for a long time. I’m spending the first two weeks in the south of France with one of my best friends, Estelle. We’ll be staying in a little town called Golfe-Juan (between Nice and Cannes) at what was once her grandmother’s apartment—the place she’s been visiting every summer since she was a child. We have no plans other than to sit on the beach and drink rosé. Don’t hate me, although if I were reading this, I’d probably hate me (to hell with Sutra 1.33—cultivating an attitude of friendliness towards the happy can be such a tough practice). I then fly to Paris for the last week of my trip where I’ll be taking some cooking classes and meeting up with Billy for a romantic rendez-vous in our favorite city.