meditation retreat

Meditation Retreat – reasons to be grateful

If we were having coffee together this Sunday morning, I would invite you to join me for a picnic on the beach. Let’s pack a basket with a thermos of French Vanilla Coffee, some cream, a few butternut rusks and a pair of binoculars.

I spend a few weeks each year in the country where I was born. For a few weeks each year, it is «Goodbye, Winter Weather» and «Hello, Summer Sunshine!». It is still early, so not too-too hot, the 33°C expected later today is still only a vague rumour and the sea breeze will keep us cool enough to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee.

We have been here for more than a week now: a whirlwind week crammed with exciting activities, meetings, meals and surprises. Today is really the first day that I have time to sit down and get my breath back. I am very grateful that I can share this supremely happy time with you, who have also shared some of my darkest moments. So let’s sit here against this sand dune. Dig out a seat for yourself and we’ll settle down to watch the crashing waves and breathe in deeply the wild thyme-scented sea air while I share with you what is on my mind today.

Today I am infinitely grateful.

I am immeasurably, profoundly, unwaveringly, intensely thankful that:

– I can be here today, on this unspoilt and deserted beach, during one of the hottest summers this part of Africa has known for years, far away from the rainy and overwhelmingly muddy days at home. Coming here is like going on a retreat ourselves; it helps us recharge our batteries so that we will be full of energy and enthusiasm when our Mindfulness Meditation Retreats season starts in spring.

– We have found a trustworthy, retired couple to look after our menagerie back home: all 6 horses, 1 dog and 3 cats. I care little about my stuff – I learnt two years ago when all our furniture was in storage for 15 months while we were looking for a house to buy, how little one actually needs to be happy – but I care about our animonsters, a lot, and knowing that they are in caring and experienced house sitting hands makes this holiday so much sweeter.

– I can travel here so fairly effortlessly. 12 hours on a plane and I find myself in a different world. When people first travelled here, it was a hazardous journey of at least 6 months, sometimes much longer, with the constant threat of pirates, disease, storms, shipwrecks and mutiny waiting in the wings.

– I have this time to spend with my father, talking about anything and sometimes about nothing, sometimes just sitting quietly together. I am so grateful that he is still healthy in body and in mind, active, curious, wise, witty and always, always, always there for me.

– The internet and e-mails exist, making it easy for me to stay in contact with those precious friends I left behind (especially Rosemary C and Carolyn W) and that this easy way of staying in contact enables me to share my experiences here with them – instantly.

– Facebook has given me the opportunity to make friends in different parts of this incredibly beautiful country and that I can look them up on my travels. Finally, I can meet the real person behind the Facebook friend photo – some of us have been friends for years and through thick and thin but have never met in person, until now.

– I have the opportunity to ride here too. I have already met and ridden three wonderful horses, through some of the most beautiful countryside and on the beach and I am hoping to meet some more horses and do some more riding next week.

– We could renew old friendships and make new friends. Admittedly, most are horse people, but I don’t think that matters, as we are rather horse-focused ourselves. What fun we had sharing our horse-joys and horse-disasters sitting around a campfire till all hours!

– There is such an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available here at the moment. And so terribly cheap! Pineapples, peaches, nectarines, melons, grapes of all colours, mangoes, papayas, lychees…after weeks of only oranges (however delicious) and apples at home, we can not get enough of this treasure.

– I can share this holiday with my better half. It makes every experience twice as wonderful and means that I shall, God willing, have someone to share the memories within the months (winter will still be in full swing when we get back) and years to come.

Good coffee, isn’t it? Had to be French Vanilla, of course, as I am the teensiest bit homesick. When you have finished, we’ll take the binoculars out and watch the racehorses train – the beach is the best place for them to get fit.

What did you think the binoculars were going to be for?

This post is part of the MJP Gratitude Challenge, Finish the sentence Friday and the Ten Things of Thankful Challenge (#10Thankful)

This post is also part of the #Weekend Coffee Share collection of blog posts, hosted by Diana of 


26 thoughts on “Meditation Retreat – reasons to be grateful”

  1. Butternut rusks sound fascinating – do you have a recipe somewhere?

    French vanilla coffee whilst snuggled against a sand-dune with a beautiful view ahead, and good company, sounds absolutely blissful, and I’m glad you’ve been having such a wonderful time.

    TOTALLY with you on the connectivity and the importance of internet and facebook though – I’m lost without those 😉


        1. Best I can come up with:

          1750ml cups of flour
          pinch of salt
          10g instant yeast
          10ml cinnamon powder
          300ml sugar
          100ml lukewarm water
          250ml melted butter
          750ml butternut pumpkin (cooked and puréed)

          Sift together the dry ingredients.
          Add the water and butter and mix.
          Add the pumpkin and knead the mixture for 10 minutes.
          Cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture rise for 1 hour.
          Knead the dough and then pinch off medium-sized balls of dough
          Place the balls closely together in greased bread pans (two 33 x 11cm pans). Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place
          Heat the oven to 180°C and bake the rusks for 50 – 60 minutes
          Turn out the rusks and let them cool. Break into bigger pieces and dry out at 80°C in the oven for a few hours, leaving the oven door slightly open while drying the rusks.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed – we were desperate for this one! However, we have just found out that there was a storm last night and some of the horses’ fencing and one of the shelters blew down – luckily we have great house sitters!


  2. I have always wanted to experience a beach in Africa and love that you’ve got so many different fruits and were able to get away while leaving your animonsters (cute word BTW) with somebody you trust. Enjoy your travels and french vanilla coffee is my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This all sounds incredibly exciting.
    I love French vanilla and all that fresh fruit sounds divine.
    Also, I am a sucker for the scent of a sea breeze and the crashing waves, so I immediately began picturing all of it, per your description, as I read. Thank you for taking me along for the ride, horse or imaginary, on this cold February day, where I am here in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have many things to vrateful. I also learned a long time ago the processions are not necessary to be happy or retain your memories. I value some more than others but if they are gone I still have the memory. Knowing our furfriends are well cared for by others adds to the joy of a vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post!! I’m so happy for you! I would of loved to watch the race horses train…and/or ride on the beach. All the fresh fruit sounds very tempting! I’ll settle for some coffee and good reads this Super Bowl Sunday morning. Have a wonderful day, thank you for being a part of my gratitude challenge. I will re-blog your beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved your post too and thought it is high time that I introduce my readers to your Gratitude Challenge – so I took the liberty to reblog. And thank you for reblogging my post. I think I told you we also have a Sheppard, although ours is a Belgian. Her name is Melchi’ore.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes! We named 2 of our cats after the three wise men (magi), so we had Balthazar, and later Gaspard, and when Melchi invited herself to come and stay with us, she was next in line. We named her Melchi’or, because we thought she was a boy – is took a while before we could get close enough and realised she was a girl. She most definitely is the wisest female on this farm, even wiser than Belle, my Friesian alpha mare and soulmate. Picture of Melchi’ore here:

          Liked by 1 person

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