Bounce Back Mountain
Fairlady|September/October 2021
How a retreat in beautiful surroundings can provide new perspectives on wellness, wine and hunger.
Pippa De Bruyn

I knew I was in trouble after dinner.

I’d arrived around 2 pm, reeling from a morning so busy I’d not had a chance to eat. ‘Just in time!’ Juanine said, waving me closer to a small group seated on the mid-century furniture that makes Stanford Valley’s Manor House such a cool country restaurant.

While she explained how a stint at St Francis Health Centre had inspired her to spread the philosophy of its founder Anneliese Cowley, I looked around, appreciation tinged with nostalgia. I had celebrated my 50th here – a decadent weekend long celebration during which we ate like kings and drank like skunks.

I’d returned a number of times since, experiencing different vantages from the cottages scattered behind the Manor House. There’s a quality to the light that electrifies the lawn rolling like a green carpet to white fenced paddocks, an Impressionistpainterliness to the ploughed red soil. It’s a liminal space, both energising and nurturing.

So when I received an invitation to trial its Bounce Back Retreat, I didn’t hesitate. That was until the day before, when I received a ‘reminder’ that this was an alcohol and caffeine-free retreat. Every day, as the sun sinks into the horizon, my body knows: its wine o’clock, certain as gravity. How would I make four days? ‘That’s a bit pathetic,’ was my husband’s terse response.

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