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HEAVENLY & HEALTHY (article first published : 2008-03-9; last edited : [an error occurred while processing this directive])

In 1989, after years in the safari tourism and hospitality industry and despite having no experience in the new venture of their choice, Tony and Wendy Somers-Cox set about looking for a property in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Their aim was to create a health hydro but six months – and numerous unsuitable properties later – they had almost given up and Wendy was by now heavily pregnant. Then came a call from an estate agent who wanted to show them an old homestead built around 1897 not far from Rawdon’s Hotel near Nottingham Road.

The rare sighting of a male Narina Trogon with its bright red breast offered a good omen and, although the property was very neglected and overrun by gum trees and bush, Tony and Wendy were able to recognise its potential. Brookdale Health Hydro opened its doors in February 1992 and it now has a team of 12 consultants and accommodates 34 guests.

A fascinating “then and now” series of photographs shows how the project has grown and developed into the impressive complex it is today. Brookdale’s beautiful environment has much greenery, flowering shrubs and trees - in winter it even snows!

Brookdale is not just a “fat” farm and you won’t go hungry. Meals are delicious and beautifully presented. Obviously alcohol, caffeine and sugar are off the menu but smokers may use certain areas outdoors and, while guests are encouraged to take advantage of joint activities, they are welcome to follow their own schedule. The cover flyleaf of the book reads a promise from Tony and Wendy Somers-Cox: “You are welcomed with open arms along with all your stress and tribulations and are taught that you can cope and get well. And you do.”

Personal caring and concern is what Brookdale does well. In fact, the two Cairn terriers – Cassie and Spud –are also a part of the Brookdale experience. Spud is known to recognise unhappiness in a guest and has been known to pop up alongside and lay his head in the person’s lap for comfort.

While the history of Brookdale and its health and nutrition services could make for dry reading, Monica Fairall’s eloquent turn of phrase makes the book entertaining and interesting. This is obviously a place she feels strongly about and her warmth and enjoyment of Brookdale shines through the text as does her extensive knowledge of health matters.

Nadine Conway’s design and layout takes this publication out of the norm and into the excellent. The beautiful and sensitive photography by Paul Karnstedt balances the challenge of capturing the Brookdale environment as well as the food dishes.

In his foreword, Cape Town-based sports scientist and health business consultant Rob Cowling describes Brookdale as a “home-from-home environment for people seeing a sanctuary for rest and recovery from the accumulated stresses of daily living and working” and that “most chronic disease and dysfunction can be prevented by changes in lifestyle and adopting health-promoting behaviours.”

Good healthy eating patterns are best instilled as early as possible and the book offers hints to wean youngsters away from fast-foods and to introduce them to a healthy outdoor lifestyle. An interesting point is made that “children need to be introduced to a new food at least ten times before they get a taste for it and learn a new habit of eating something different”. So perseverance skills are required here, parents!

Heavenly & Healthy offers suggestions for healthy diets alongside at least 80 recipes that range from Muesli Pie, Baked Phyllo Vegetable Spring Rolls and Roasted Potato Wedges to Couscous Salad with Lemon Baked Mussels, Braaied Chicken with Apple Juice, Kudu Loins and Marinated Ostrich Fillet. There’s no lack of delicious dessert dishes either such as Legal Chocolate Mousse as well as Pears in Red Wine, Blueberry Muffins with Cheese or Cream Cheese or Sweetcorn Crumpets. The Roasted Butternut & Onion Bread looks scrumptious as does Pumpkin Tart with Cinnamon.

Heavenly & Healthy ISBN 978-0-620-39600-4 is a fitting and splendid coffee-table celebration of Brookdale’s 15th anniversary in 2007. It is available at R320 plus R70 postage (incl. VAT) from Brookdale Health Hydro’s website at www.brookdale.co.za – Caroline Smart




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