Out of Africa

'Nature's intelligence functions with effortless ease........with carefreeness, harmony and love.

And when we harness the forces of harmony, joy and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease'                                                        

         ~   Deepak Chopra

Christmas 2013 Africa
Christmas 2013 Africa

I have spent 3 weeks with friends I love in Africa for the Christmas and New Year holiday. I cannot think of a better way to start the new year of 2014! We were staying with the Zwager family (see my Serendipity blog) for some of the time in the timeless paradise of the Djinn Palace by Lake Naivasha - a white morocan palace with gardens and an animal sanctuary to match - living a life in partnership with nature. From early morning to early evening game drives to swimming and reading by the pool. The sun shone most days but because of the altitude, mornings and evenings were cool, so wonderful log fires were crackling away by 6pm in the palace.

It truly is a paradise on earth. Spiritually enriching where you float with the slow dreamy rhythms of an African day. It reminded me of a mindful quote by Deepak Chopra who says, "If you observe nature at work, you will see that least effort is expended. Grass doesn't try to grow, it just grows. Fish don't try to swim, they just swim. Flowers don't try to bloom, they bloom. Birds don't try to fly, they fly. This is their intrinsic nature.................It is the nature of the sun to shine. It is the nature of the stars to glitter and sparkle. And it is human nature to make our dreams manifest into physical form, easily and effortlessly." This is how I manifested my dream to be in Kenya again.

I've always believed that holidays are an essential part of making life great; they allow you to feel inspired, heighten your senses, sleep better, be more productive, put your values into perspective and appreciate the wonderful life you have back in London! Never underestimate the power of smart, positive thinking - a great holiday enhances this!

We flew to Manda Island for the Christmas and New Year celebrations - living another sort of paradise with nature by the sea. Manda Island is an island opposite Lamu in the Indian Ocean - the next islands along are the Seychelles. The Zwager family own a large part of the island that is just so private and beautiful. You go to sleep with the sounds of the Indian Ocean lapping on the shore. The dawn chorus that awakens you is quite exceptional and to have breakfast on the terrace amongst the birds and monkeys flying through the trees is just heavenly. From Dottie the Jack Russell waking me up with a large pot of tea to having a swim in Juni's beautiful pool - it is sheer paradise. The great golden sun rises in a cloudless sky at 6am and by 7pm - there is no twilight in the tropics - it would be completely dark apart from the twinkling stars. However the early morning light is exceptional - mother nature is the best dop (director of photography) - the light is as beautiful as found in Provence, France, but different.

I believe buildings only exist because of humans, so they should be nurturing, emotional places - Juni Zwager manages to evoke that feeling in all her houses which she personally designs and builds with her team of crafts people. Her staff are wonderful, loyal people who have been with the family for many years and trained to a very high standard.  This has to be one of the best places in the world!!

Thank you Juni - we love you and we had a ball!


PS  By the way, everywhere we went from meeting old friends to new friends - they all said the same when I said I lived in London. Everyone, but everyone, including Sandro Rosell - the chairman of the FC Barcelona - all said how London is the most exciting city in the world and beats New York many times over and how lucky we were to live there!!! From the culture, to property powerhouse, to financial clout to food to comedy to liveability - they all agreed London has it all!! Yes.........I've been saying this for years.........finally it's filtered through - it is the best city to live by far and isn't it great most nationalities finally agree!!!!

'Joy is not in things; it is in us'   ~  Richard Wagner



Do you believe in serendipity? I do. Wikipedia defines 'serendipity' meaning a 'happy accident' or 'pleasant surprise'. I believe it's much more than that - it's being open to chance, luck, happenstance and having gratitude. Serendipity smiles upon people who know what they like, love and want. Life follows you. Choose what you love and remain relaxed but sticky enough to attract and magnetise the good stuff to yourself. I'd like to give you an example of this in my own life. At the time I wasn't consciously aware of the fortuitous circumstances I'd created but by loving something and showing gratitude I had attracted it to me. In 1984 I was flying out to Sydney, Australia to produce some Quantas commercials with Michael Parkinson and Barry Humphries (Dame Edna). The flight at that time was @26 hours (with stop offs) so we knew we were in for the long haul. One of the creatives I was travelling with handed me a book called 'White Mischief' by James Fox and said 'I think you'll enjoy this'. I could not put the book down. I was riveted start to finish. Isn't it great when you get a book you love - well done James Fox! Anyway the book is based upon a true story about the Happy Valley set in 1940's Kenya and the murder of the philandering Earl of Errol. Whilst I was reading the book I began to realise I would go there, not just to Kenya but to the Djinn Palace on Lake Naivasha. In fact I loved the book so much I was certain I would go there - it all seemed so familiar - maybe I was visualising the movie!

I had travelled a lot by this time, but I had never been to Kenya yet. My father had been there as a young man - before his marriage to my mother - and had loved the place, so I must have picked up on this as a child. He'd regale stories of his adventures there, meeting Karen Blixen, Joy Adamson, etc. He'd also said whenever you go to Kenya you always leave a little piece of your heart there - it's a very spiritual place that gets to your soul.


So I remembered all of this, especially the 1940's were very much my parents era - so throw in the nostalgia factor too - I was hooked. So much so that when we arrived in Sydney I rang London to try to get the film rights of the book. However, the director Mike Radford had already snapped them up and the rest is history. An excellent film was produced called 'White Mischief' starring Greta Scacchi and Charles Dance which was released in 1987. However, by 1986 I'd already met the friends who would take me not only to Kenya but to stay at the Djinn Palace on Lake Naivasha - the Earl of Errol's original home where much of the action took place in the real and filmed 'White Mischief'. Coincidence or serendipity?!

Since then I have spent many Christmases and holidays there with the owners, June and Hans Zwager and family and have loved every minute of it! They run as a family the biggest flower farm in the world - Hans Zwager is truly the flowering Dutchman! I was also asked by June Zwager to oversee the filming of the 'Safari' perfume launch commercial for Ralph Lauren who had chosen the Djinn Palace as the location to make the ad with his New York ad agency. I didn't realise back in 1984 what an important part in my life Kenya would play but the Zwager family are like extended family now and when they are in London they have a house 5 minutes from mine in Kensington. Coincidence or serendipity?

I am now embarking on helping raise awareness of the poaching of white rhino from their animal sanctuary at Lake Naivasha which specializes in protecting endangered species at great annual cost. You can find out more  about this wonderful charity at their website www.oserengoniwildlife.com. As you probably know this is a worldwide issue with great supporters such as HRH Prince William and Stephen Fry rallying the cause. I would hope that the serendipity factor works for me with this!