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Rae’s on Watego’s – Just Three Hats

August 9, 2011

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty”

 Rainer Maria Rilke

Impulsively I decided to go to the Byron Bay Writers Festival – I needed to be fed Intellectually and Spiritually.

I always pack lightly and carefully, taking three hats and three outfits into cabin luggage to enable a quick get away from the airport. I love the idea of clothing being a visual metaphor for how one is feeling enabling an element of dress-up in everyday dressing so even though I pack light I like to include a little bit of fantasy.

I was lucky to get a booking at Rae’s on Watergos during the three days of the Byron Bay Writers Festival. Staying at Rae’s on Watergos affects ones imagination like no other. The Moorish styled pink palace is exquisitely positioned between rainforest and coast so close to the sea you can almost touch it.

Here, safely tucked up in my four poster bed in my Moorish themed room in five star comfort, my imagination seems revived. I dreamt of the dissolute life in Kenya in the 20s with the Happy Valley Set.

When I woke I half expected to bump into the stylish Kenyan based English aristocrat and adventurer Dennys Finch Hatton from the 1930s, sipping whisky on the sofa with his beautiful young Somali servant Hamisi sitting by his side listening to Mozart over the gramophone. Denys did languid, disinterest in worldly success and charisma better than anyone in the twenties. Never too decadent himself – he preferred to spend his evenings with the classics and a gramophone, although he had a fondness for the Ballets Russe and women, particularly the Danish writer known as Karen Blixen. Denys was a lover of hats. The uniquely modified ‘Chasseur Africain Modèle’ with a very English ‘Qualité Supérieure Tissu hatband became as much a part of his character as his rifle and his sensuality. Denys also loved bowler hats which was quite incongruous in the blazing African sun but probably a necessity to protect his balding pate.’

As always at this time of year at Byron Bay night came quickly, a curtain visibly falling. I took a stroll along the beach and looked back on this magic house silent and secretive,mercury moonlight reflected in the windows and I imagine I see Karen Blixen writing at her desk. I love the way she writes. Her books have a storytellers magic combining her unique brilliant manner of writing, demanding and rich and lush as it is, with her quirky imagination. Blixen also had lots of personal style, directing her couturier in Paris to utilize the many animal skins provided by her hunter lover Denys Finch Hatton and sketching hats for her Danish milliner. Many of Blixen’s African servants were proud of their mistress’ unique personal clothing style and would sit mesmerized as she told them fantastic rhyming tales in their own language.

I had earlier dined in the open air restaurant at Rae’s and watched stars cartwheel across the stars, and mysterious creatures rustling in the undergrowth while I dined on divine food fit for the gods.

Rae’s is not a glitzy place but it is a place that will seduce you if you let it – to live at ease, to enjoy the sound and sight of the sea, to eat exquisite food and catch the pulse of an older more innocent world – that is not easy to find.

I will leave you with a quote by Karen Blixen –

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever”

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