Dates: 4pm Fri 8 Aug, 2008 to 4pm Sun 10 Aug, 2008
Location: Point Wolstoncroft, Central Coast, NSW
Account of the Weekend by Joy Mozzi of FruVeNu
Grant bought a 400kg box of apples. He stood up at dinner and confessed "Hi I’m Grant and I’m an appleoholic". With someone that crazy for fruit, you know it’s going to be a great Raw weekend.
I met Grant & Ricky at the Organic markets in Flemington (Sydney) at 7am on Thursday morning. They had already been there a couple of hours after driving up from Canberra, as you do. Grant was running on no sleep (which might explain the apples?!). He and Ricky were munching on their 10th organic Fuji when I arrived and the guy at the market was offering the whole 400kg box to Grant for $1 a kilo. Hard to resist, a few phone calls, Lynita offered her car and trailer and the deal was done.
There is a limit to how much one can put in my small Toyota Starlet but the guys did pretty well: 5 huge long watermelons wedged behind driver and passenger seats, big box of celery, boxes of cucumber, oranges, lemons, pomelo, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes, bananas. Their cars were already loaded to the rafters. Dashed home, unloaded most of the stuff tipped the citrus out of the boxes loose into my boot and headed for the airport to pick up an old friend Tracey.
Tracey drives coal trucks in Blackwater for a living. Over the last few years she got a wee bit unhealthy, put on weight, smoking too much and no exercise. We met in Malaysia about 9 years ago when Tracey was on a yacht sailing around Langkawi and I met up with a guy who was sailing in tandem with Tracy & Roy. For 2 weeks we cruised and each night created some wonderful dinners which we shared on each other’s yachts.
I told her Raw cuisine can be just as exciting and flavoursome. She has followed my raw progress via emails and photos from overweight, smoking and unhappy to the Fabulous 50 that I am now. Told her to get on a plane and get down here for the weekend. She did! We were worried we might not recognise each other at the airport as she commented that she was the incredible expanding woman and I was the incredible shrinking woman...
"No Tracey, you can’t push your seat back, sorry, we have 5 watermelons behind us. No, can’t put suitcase in the boot, it’s full of loose juicy yellow and orange citrus and bananas". Gave her my bedroom to sleep in, she’d never spent the night with so much fresh produce at the end of her bed before. Grant we have a confession to make…. The cherry tomatoes that were piled on top of the cucumbers that were piled on top of the roma tomatoes on top of the celery fell over. Um, they rolled all over my bedroom floor and we had to repack the lot. Luckily no one noticed the mixed punnets of mini roma and mini round cherry.
On Friday we reloaded the car with ALL the other boxes I had stored inside, plus our sleeping gear, dehydrator, salad bowls, clothes and between manic giggles squeezed ourselves in and set off on our big raw journey. Stopped for petrol and Tracey went to find a last coffee. She was a long time, went to find her and she was just wiping away the last of the sushi from her mouth and then a smoke to finish off the coffee. Hmmm.
Point Wolstoncroft at Lake Macquarie is a stunningly beautiful location; we got there as the sky was turning pink over the water and kookaburras laughing across the treetops. There were no men to help us unload; they had all gone of one of many power runs to the point and back. Alison and Karen had driven up from Canberra, Lynita from Gosford and we carried box after box into our lodge to join the huge pile of boxes already there.
The lodge was perfect. 7 cabins with 4 bunk beds in each and shower with toilet and a heater! A long enclosed veranda stretched the length of the building with tables, chairs and a ping pong table. A large kitchen but unfortunately not quite large enough for a raw crowd, Alison opened the fridge and cos lettuce dived out to meet her. Boxes of green kiwi stacked up under the kitchen table with lush red organic strawberries, 2 Vitamix machines, 2 dehydrators, food processors, enormous salad bowls.
First task, get the dehydrators going. "Do you think Grant would mind if we used some of his apples?" We set up a production line with Tracey, Karen and Alison using the nifty Apple corer slicer machine, dipping the apples in freshly squeezed orange juice and filling the dehydrator trays. Uh oh, Karen and Tracey were hitting it off really well, too well. Isn’t it amazing how the ‘naughty’ ones always find each other so quickly? Tracey wanted someone to talk dirty SMS with her on her mobile using all the bad words like ‘white wine, coffee, feta cheese and pies”.
The boys came back from their run - in T-shirts. Come on, it was bloody freezing and I had 5 layers on to prove it. I guess being 100% raw makes you immune to the cold (or just mad?). With shining examples like Grant, Jim and Kim no one can deny the 80/10/10 way of eating raw gives you energy and outstanding good health. At the moment 70-80% raw health is my level while I still enjoy dehydrated apple & walnut fruit leathers with banana ice cream smothered in raw chocolate sauce, tomato crackers with macadamia nut cheese, soft white coconut flesh & milk made into luscious desserts. Although I have to admit Grant’s apple pie was amazingly delicious.
So, Friday night everyone trickled in till we had about 20 of us. Christine arrived with a car load, Sandra, Louise & Lucy. Colin came from the Blue Mountains, Sharon came from Brisbane and some from WA. Not sure where everyone came from but we had Kathy, Tim, Phill, Beth, Kate, Stephen & Tsung with Simon & Steve arriving later. Simon had driven up from Sydney and Steve, who is in the defence force had decided last minute he just had to be there and hitchhiked! Dinner was leafy green salads with 2 tasty sauces blended up in the Vitamixes. The guys helped by peeling heaps of oranges.
What a night. We put our heaters on in the cabins but it got too hot, Tracey got up to turn it off, 10 minutes later Sandra got up to turn it on. "I need the noise to block out the snoring!" Tracey was snoring, oh dear. Louise gave Sandy earplugs, things settled down again. In the morning we found Christine had pulled her mattress out of her cabin because Karen was snoring, hmm the 2 partners in crime shared a common bond amongst a few others. Tracy was keen to see what raw was all about but giving up smokes and cups of tea is tricky business. I know, I have been a smoker most of my life - 3 and a half years mostly raw now and 3 and a half years no smokes, it works to be Raw, besides being 50 and fabulous.
So we had sweet juicy red watermelon to re-hydrate us after the night. Bethany arrived and then Brock (another super fit 80/10/10 joined us too. The enthusiastic went for runs and walks and then we had yoga. The incredibly supple Sandy ran our yoga class on the shores of the lake; weather was stunning, blue skies and sparkly water. The kookaburras were back to laugh at us right overhead and someone had to be the lucky one…the kooky poo landed neatly on Kate’s mat just missing her. Yoga was intense but certainly warmed us up and we followed this with green smoothies for another breakfast with lots of creamy bananas, emerald kiwi and soft buttery lettuce.
Some of us went for a walk to the point, others played volleyball, swam - yes SWAM in the icy lake waters. Mad people. Lake Macquarie is a saltwater lake so it was interesting to sit on the white-shelled beach and stare out across a huge expanse of water. When we got back, everyone was sitting on towels on the grass enjoying the sun. We carried out the tables and chairs to the sunshine and set up the apple production line again to fill up the dehydrators. Our first batch of apples had been enjoyed. Grant started his amazing apple pie. A couple of the girls de-pipped the Medjool dates and squeezed them to make a base. Grant pulsed fresh apples with dehydrated apples and made a filling to go on top. Kim and others sat and chopped mushrooms, cherry tomatoes. I brought out my tomato crackers, some made without salt for the 80/10/10 bunch. The crackers are always a hit and I had kept them hidden till this meal otherwise I know they would have been inhaled by certain people with hollow legs. Lunch in the sun with friendly, happy people is a heart-warming experience and highly recommended.
Point Wolstoncroft Sport and Recreation Centre is a lovely place for groups. There was a Martial Arts group of about 40-50 young people with their instructors strutting around. Our raw fooders are definitely healthier and I wish we had had the opportunity to share some of that with them. Their day was spent inside away from the yellow sun and blue water in a shadowy hall making loud martial arts training noises followed by meals in the dining area. One can only shudder to think what they were eating. The guy from the Wolstoncroft centre in charge who kept looking in on us to see everything was okay even admitted that the cooks in the dining area could benefit from learning more about fresh produce. He still approached us with some caution after seeing HOW MUCH fruit & veggies were carried in the first night.
I went with some fellow tree huggers for another walk to the other side of the area while others played a game of soccer. It’s all that green energy that needs to be burned up you see. No one goes to sleep after a raw meal, they just keep going. We sat on the grass and Grant held a discussion group for anyone who had questions. He, Jim and Brock answered all the queries while sitting in skimpy clothing and we got colder and colder as the afternoon sun disappeared. One day, maybe, maybe I will try 100% Doug Graham 80/10/10 to see if my circulation improves.
Time to get dinner ready, another group of helpers got into the kitchen and turned out 3 huge Goldilocks bowls of life giving enzyme rich fresh salads. And 2 lovely soups that Christine dished up together in bowls creating a yin-yang pattern with green cucumber and a bright red beetroot mix that Tsung had created. Jim and Brock made their own salads competing to see who could have the bigger bowl, each with a dish the size an average family of 6 might use.
Simon had brought his TV, no, not to watch the Olympics but to watch Raw DVD’s. Mattresses were pulled out of rooms and lined up in front of the TV. We played table tennis, bounced on the mini trampoline, talked, cleared up the kitchen. Tracey and I moved rooms so we didn’t have to disturb anyone with snoring. A couple of the people left as they were doing City to Surf the next morning. Lynita got a nice surprise when a friend let her know that she was going to baby-sit the children and that Lynita could stay an extra night and her husband was going to drive down and spend it with her. I shared out some banana walnut fruit leathers I had also been hiding.
Sunday morning, another glorious day. Cut up some more watermelon. Steve decided one slice just wasn’t enough and took a half watermelon for him and scooped it out with a spoon. He eats his body weight in food sometimes so it must be draining out from his feet. Grant and the others went for the morning run. When he got back, Tracy and I wanted to get going so had a green smoothie and then packed up the car. There were a few apples left….. Grant wanted to give everyone apples to take home which had been his plan by buying the 400kg. There was a heap of produce for us to share so instead of going home with a half empty car as we had expected, it was loaded up again. I bought an extra box of apples and bananas to make more fruit leathers for my stock at home. I wish we had more days, more hours to share. The retreat needs to be at least 4-5 days long to fit everything in. Grant does a huge amount of organising to prepare these retreats for us and he is infinitely patient, caring and understanding of all the different levels we are at in our lives.
Tracey had been down here since Thursday and now it was Sunday morning and she actually did feel a difference. She felt lighter; her tummy did not feel as bloated and she was surprised at how filling the green smoothies are. We left and at the next petrol station stopped for a cappuccino. Some habits are hard to break. But we did have a colourful salad lunch at home. Monday morning Tracy insisted on green smoothie for breakfast and when I offered to make her a salad lunch to take on the plane she opted once again for green smoothie in her big bottle.
Thank you to everyone there for your wonderful company and maybe next retreat we can hire 2 lodges for all the people who want to come and enjoy a weekend of healthy living.
As Grant said, it’s almost a RAW FESTIVAL!
Joy... fully yours