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Looking Back on 2014 and Forward to 2015

Thinking back on this year, as it literally comes galloping to an end, I must say that I can only smile and be grateful for the very blessed one we have had at Blanco.  Everything has continued to thrive and grow and we are looking forward to the grand finale in terms of our festive season to finish off a perfectly fabulous year.

I have to begin with the most important thing of all and that is to thank all the guests that supported us yet again this year.  The main thing that makes Blanco special is the type of person who comes to stay here.  We have to thank you all for your incredible hospitality J.  I know that sounds funny because it is us that should be showing the hospitality but you guys show it back to us in abundance.  To work in a place that has such a magical environment plus a customer base that have endless generosity of spirit and heart makes us that work here the luckiest team alive.  Thank you for loving this place and to each and every one of you who pay a part in keeping our business flourishing.

Talking of our team, we still have our trusty old favourites, Dolls and Rube, working their magic at Blanco.  Dolls, despite having Parkinsons, spends most of her day with the biggest smile on her face, giving the whole of her beautiful self to everyone she meets.  If you take the time to talk to her, you will not encounter a person with a serious illness, you will meet a lady with a zest for life and a passion for living that few could match.  Dolly is an inspiration to us all and we love her deeply.

Rubie, as you all know, continues to make us fat and knock the best of the Tim Noakes fanatics off their pedestals with the roasties and breads that he whips up.  Rube is a national treasure here at Blanco and we are blessed to have him.  At his side is trusty Irene who faithfully supports Rube day in and day out.  She too is one of Blanco’s blessings.

Then there is Gert whose job is difficult to define because he literally does everything and anything.  If we could clone Gert we would definitely start mass producing him.  Gert is such an incredible asset to us and his delightful sense of humour keeps us sane on those days when the sun shines a little less brightly. Our beautiful Nicole is still working her charm in the office and has been with us for a year now.  She has been a true delight and is now an invaluable part of our team.  She has been designing all our lovely new adverts that you see out there.

We have also had another wonderful young couple join us – Vinnie and Venesia – V & V!  We would like to welcome them to our team and are hoping to have many great years with them. It has been a treat working with them this year.  We would also like to congratulate them on their engagement.  They in fact got engaged here at Blanco on the day that they were interviewed and then hired – talk of meant to be!  They will be getting married here at Blanco in March next year.

Sadly, we said goodbye to Jeanie Budler this year.  She spent 2 years here with us recovering and healing after her husband died but has decided to move to America where most of her family are.  It was truly a gift to have Jean here as part of our Blanco family for the time that she was given to us.  She has a smile and a way of being that would just light up your day in an instant.  Jean honestly is the bravest person I have even met and I have learned so very much from her.  Jean, it has been a privilege and your Blanco family will never forget you.

Our Xhosa staff continue to serve and bless us with all their dedication and hard work.  In an age where a whole new modern dynamic has come to play, we have somehow kept many of the old school values here at Blanco.  By old school I mean when people see service to others as a joy and not a sacrifice, where humbling oneself is the greatest of causes and not the worst of causes, where living simply but passionately is adopted as opposed to living with complexity and a lack of passion.

Talking of this my learning this year has all been centred around the concept of wellness or wellbeing.  So what really is this whole elusive concept of wellness anyway and why does it seem to be coming up so much lately?  Well, if we lift our heads up for a moment and look around us, it is clear to see how many people are battling with this frenetic, high paced 21st century living that we all seem to be doing.  More and more people are becoming ill than ever before, stress seems to be a growing epidemic; many seem to be losing their sense of passion and vitality for life and almost all of us seem to be chasing a little bit more peace or a better life somewhere out there in the future.  The future, that elusive little thing that always becomes the present.  Now, I am not quite sure how one would define wellness as I would imagine it to be different for each of us but I am pretty certain that wellness or for want of a better word, wellbeing, would pretty much be the opposite of all that I have described above.

So, this being said, our wish for you all from us at Blanco is that you take some time to check in on your own personal sense of wellbeing and to realise that it is our right and our privilege to make sure that we are living with a deeper sense of purpose and vitality.  Our challenge to you then is to find ways to bring a little bit of it back into your life if it is not already there in abundance.

Wellness at Blanco is made clear to us by the natural environment.  Nature respects the laws of being.  It understands that change and growth is never instant, it is always a process.  It understands that nurturing, tending to and care will ensure healthy yields.  It understands that all things have seasons and it must be so.  It understands that there is symbiosis in differences and beauty in similarities.  It understands that defying universal laws never work.  It understands stillness and movement are opposite sides of the same stick and must live together.

We have had no dramatic highs and lows this year to report on but instead it has been a funfilled, simple and successful one with all our lovely guests getting up to their usual craziness.  It seems that our guests, like nature, do understand balance.  When they have had a particularly extreme night in the bar, they always seem to follow it up with a beautiful day of rest.  When they deplete their energy reserves cycling and running up, down and around mountains, they always make sure to replenish those reserves by gobbling up dozens of roast potatoes, Blanco bread and pudding.  When some guests start getting out of hand, others are very quick to balance out bad behaviour with appropriate elephants foot and rhino horn punishments.  When guests get too loud the one day, they tend to balance it out by being very quiet the next.  When guests get too hot in the sauna, they brave the icy cold Blanco pool.  When guests go horse riding again for the first time in 20 years, they spend the next day hanging around the Blanco massage salon and on it goes.  Balance in action here at Blanco!!!

A very special mention must be made in this newsletter about the late Mr. John Burgess Senior – one of our most loved and cherished guests of fall times.   Mr. B passed away this year at the ripe old age of 86.  The legacy he left behind was priceless.  He will always be remembered as the most incredible man who radiated love wherever he went.  Mr. B, we will never forget your beautiful speeches, your zulu dancing and that incredible booming laugh.  I will also never forget the honour you gave me by letting me be the first lady to dance with since Pammie died.  We all know that you and Pammie are dancing up a storm together again now.  To have you shining down on us from heaven is a true blessing.  Your spirit will live on at Blanco forever and we will be certainly have the biggest toast to you this New Year.  We will miss you but you are fully entrenched in our hearts.  If more of us could leave a legacy like Mr. B then this world would certainly be a better place.

Another 2 very special guests that I would like to make mention of is Lionel and Edna Rowe.  Lionel and Edna can almost no longer be called guests, they have become more like family to us and so I would just like to take the opportunity to thank Lionel for the wonderful part that he plays in helping us with the veggie gardens and the golf course.  We will always be grateful for your 16 year old energy gramps, it results in the best veggies in town and a golf course that is well ummmmm, far from perfect but a whole lot better with you tending to it from time to time.  Ed, thank you to you for always spoiling out little ones and for always being your lovely pleasant self.  You are both an inspiration to us and our only wish is that we can one day be as vibrant and energetic and youthful at your age as you are now.

The one sadness this year is that we lost both our airstrip dams in the floods.  Yes, the Karoo has floods from time to time and it invariably does endless damage because we just cannot absorb it.  Fortunately, my step dad, Theo does tend to play the role of Father Christmas for us and is hopefully going to work his magic and do some fixing for us this year.  Theo is responsible for all the delightful trails and roads up and around the mountains.

Talking of the airstrip, our beaten up old Blanco strip has finally been redone and although we are no Oliver Tambo, it is looking pretty good.  We had the East London flying club join us already and they enjoyed their fly in with us.  Thanks so much to Peter Bain for encouraging us to get this done.

Our road is also looking the best it ever has after the rains almost washed them away earlier this year.  GS Civils came and gave them a complete overhaul and now guests with low cars no longer give us death stares on arrival.  We are very grateful to have had the road fixed finally.

Talking of natural destruction, our resident porcupine family (some guests are very attached to our porcupine) literally collapsed an enormous tree at our bowling green that has been around for many years.  They made such a meal of the roots that the whole big tree came tumbling down.  It was quite a sight to see.  Nature is full of wonders isn’t it?  Not sure how that tree gets is mojo back but we certainly have got lots of fire wood.

So in closing, from all of us here at Blanco, we would like to wish you all the very happiest of festive seasons.  To those of you who we are going to see, we are looking forward to a very happy holiday with you here at Blanco.  Please all drive safely and take special care over the season.  Remember, it is a time to be merry and to overindulge in all the bad (good? – perspective is everything) things in life.  Remember over this time to let your dreams be big and your worries be small.

Best wishes

The Blanco Team

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