Friday, 1 December 2017

The rescue dogs of Saint du Barrys

Saint du Barry's name originates from the St Bernard rescuers, particularly one famous Barry, the story of whom is on the wall in our dining room. Our guest house has been home to many animals, all affectionately remembered, and perhaps one day all their stories might be told.

Currently, we have three dogs, none of whom were planned as pets, but all were chosen at their own appointed time.

The longest-standing one, ButterBean, whose colour and shape are good clues to her name, was found at the Spur in Piketberg. We had stopped there three times in quick succession, and Joan noticed her apparent homelessness, and suggested we take her. The staff who had been looking after her, all came to greet, as we took her home. Her genes have given her short legs and a long, chubby body, and thus, mechanically, she is not a quick machine. She still knows how to gaze at anyone who is eating what she would like.

Jack is a this year dog, a Belgian shepherd who was found at the informal settlement in Hout Bay in Cape Town by an organisation called Pavement Specials. No-one knows how he came to be there. He is an intensely loyal dog, whose innate sense of orderliness is severely disturbed when we move tables, the stove and other furniture. He's old, with plenty of grey on his snout, but he's strong, and is always ready for a walk. We refer to Saint du Barrys as his retirement home.

Shona would have died the day we decided to rather let her live. Joan had been feeding dogs who had a place, but were not being looked after. The mother was wandering around town looking for food, and Joan tracked her down. There were puppies, and while Joan fed the adult dogs, the puppies disappeared one by one, and the story that was given as explanation was never clear. One puppy was particularly forward, and when I looked for her one morning, and found her lying listlessly, I picked her up, and realised that she would die. Her energy was falling away, fast. It was a Tuesday, though, and on Tuesdays the vet arrives at eleven o' clock, so all it took was three medications, and within the hour she was perking up.  She has stayed with us since, has made friends with Jack, and the two of them play rumbustiously. She likes to be in water and trouble.

I have often thought about the fact that dogs have distinct personalities. As do cats, but that's another subject.

We have four cats, but I have to stop at this point because I'm actually not allowed to talk about one of them. That's an interesting story which will have to wait for some time. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

New stories from Saint du Barrys

The big tree.

Our big tree had to go for a haircut. Our tree doctor told us that several branches had begun to pose a threat, and I could see exactly what he meant. The current drought added to my uneasiness, and so, with many apologies to the tree and the nest of harrier-hawks that had taken up residence, an appointment was made.

And so, our tree now has a re-styled look, still the same staggering height, but less wide. Guests are free to suggest names for the new look. One of the highest branches on which the nest had been built wasn't touched, and the harrier-hawks are still there. They are magnificent creatures. More than once I have been startled when a shadow briefly separated me from the sun, and looking up, I saw the hawk settling on another tree. Their characteristic call has become well-known to us, and this will be a memory to carry, similar to the magic of hosting our martial eagles.

The cherry-picker, as the truck is known, drove over the garden beds, chewed up the pebbles and pavers, and it has taken weeks to begin to get the garden back. Still quite a way to go, but it's happening.

The Story Clinic.

Wally has shaped an initiative called the Story Clinic. Some workshops, presentations and interactive sessions have been held, for example, at the local art gallery, with the CANSA support group, and at the Kalk Bay Bookshop in Cape Town. His background as professor of English and his training in homeopathic medicine have contributed to this venture.

The interest is growing because of his novel approach, which combines the sense of story, the sense of meaning, attention, intention, emotion and non-differentiated pathology.  One's life and one's body are more like a story than anything else, and once this is grasped, the question of how to read and act on one's own health changes.

Guests are welcome to enquire, and have an experience or book a consultation. To learn more about Wally's background, check

At the moment, via a free 3-4 hour experience is offered to anyone who books two nights at Saint du Barrys. Feel free to take advantage!

New products from The Storytellers Apothecary.

Quite coincidentally, which is how stories seem to work, new products arrived at Saint du Barrys, and are available along with the range of rooibos toiletries provided in our bathrooms, and are also for sale. There has been a great deal of interest in these, which include soaps, bath-salts moisturisers, balms, spritzers and sun-blocks, and contain ingredients that include rose-geranium, lemon-grass, rooibos, cancer bush, buchu. The plants are grown close to Saint du Barrys, here in the Cederberg, and the manufacturing is home-based.

We're fortunate to have such carefully-crafted plant-inspired people-centred products available. The packaging and presentation are compellingly attractive. Perhaps the owner herself could tell her own story on a later blog.

Noticing new things

As we rebuild our garden, become acquainted with a new family of hawks and move into the next season, it's striking how the blurring of the present and the next present occurs. Greeting guests who have often come becomes a matter of the heart more than professional courtesy, and wondering where the next sense of connection will occur is an intriguing experience. We often consider what guests are looking for, on their travels, and hope they find something soul-satisfying at Saint du Barrys. That would give us our own sense of joy and accomplishment.