Greetings from Robbi and Jim

A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours newsletter in more than 30 countries around the world.

Robbi and I are greatly looking forward to another outstanding year of tours and are well on track to experiencing our "best year ever" once again. 

2006 was such a big year for us with our Aroma Tours achieving more than twice the results of any previous year and also the purchase, renovation, moving in and settling into our new country home in the goldfields region of Provincial Victoria ( please note our new address and phone numbers below ).

We feel truly blessed to see our dreams flourishing as we continue to share our passion for Aroma Tours with wonderful people from around the world.

We invite you to visit our Aroma Tours site to enjoy the new photos in our Picture Galleries and to visit our Information Request Page for details of this year's tours.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

One of the main reasons that we have continued to grow and flourish, is the on-going support we receive from past Aroma Travellers who consistently make up more than 20% of our bookings each year. In 2007 this tradition continues to grow and we are both excited and grateful to be welcoming back so many good friends.

Robbi and I would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals and by spreading news of our tours and retreats amongst your friends.

Memorable Photos by Susan and Kelvin Choi

The latest addition to our Picture Gallery Pages is a beautiful collection of images taken by Susan and Kelvin Choi from Hong Kong who joined us for last year's Essential Provence Tour

They have taken some of the most delightful photos of our meals in Provence that I have seen. It is true that a picture speaks a thousand words enjoy!

Our Current Booking Status

Our fabulous start to the year continues with several tours already fully booked and several more soon to follow suit.

Because this year's Turkish Aromatic Odyssey became fully booked so quickly, we have already opened bookings for Turkey 2008 to allow those who missed out this year, or are keen to journey with us in Turkey to secure their places for May 2008.

Also we are pleased to announce two wonderful new tours to add to our offerings in 2007: Flavours of Italy and Provence Blossoming Heart Retreat

Our current booking status is:-

If you are planning to join us in 2007 or would like to reserve your place for our 2008 Turkish Aromatic Odyssey please visit our Tour Booking Page

Adventures in Art

Serendipity is a wonderful thing and during our Heart of Provence Tour last year it took us on a most delightful and unexpected journey.

During market mornings on tour I like to use my free time to run about checking that all is well with our up and coming visits. For some reason I felt drawn to a small sign on the side of a road I had travelled many times, only to discover that for the next week only, an artist was having a small exhibition in an otherwise nondescript house.

When I entered, there was no-one to be found, just 3 rooms full of the most wonderful paintings of Venetian masquerade ball figures with their elaborate costumes and ghostly masks as well as vibrant still-lifes and Provencale panoramas.

After a while I noticed a man on a small bed next to an easel and as I entered he arose from his siesta to greet me with the most beautiful, clear and soulful eyes. The ravages of many years of focus and close detail work plus exposure to oil paints were evident, but as we chatted in French it was clear that his joy and reason in life was to paint - and the most beautiful paintings they were!

Right then and there I knew that I had to bring our group back to witness this amazing talent. I could see as I left that he didn't think I would return but the next day true to my promise we arrived and the smile he gave me was priceless.

Everyone was amazed to see such fine paintings in such a simple setting and a few of our group members were moved to buy several paintings. It is fair to say that the artist's life is generally not one of great fiscal reward so our talented friend was doubly delighted by our visit.

Sadly the small travelling note book I always keep with me on tour went missing last year so I do not have this wonderful man's name but our meeting is one of the memorable moments I will always keep with me.

By the way, after his small Provencale showing he was on his way to exhibit these same paintings in major galleries in Venice, Holland ( can't remember where ) and New York!

Adopt a Penguin

One of the iconic birds in our part of Australia is the fairy penguin ( Eudyptula minor ) which is found along our southern coastline especially at Philip Island and along the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles.

People close to us know how much we love our feathered friends of all varieties, so we have decided to support the wonderful work of the Philip Island Penguin Foundation by joining their "Adopt A Penguin" program.

Our penguin which we have christened "Archie" is a gamely little chap about 30cm ( 1 foot ) tall and will no doubt make us proud.

Flavours of Italy our Stunning New Tour

In our last newsletter I briefly mentioned our new Flavours of Italy Tour which is a 4 star sojourn from Florence to Venice that explores the flavours, culture and beauty of northern Italy from the magnificent Ligurian coast to the fertile abundance of the Po valley and the lush vineyards and grand lakes of the Veneto region.

To begin, we stay in an elegant sea-side hotel with magnificent views of the Ligurian coast, visit gorgeous Medieval walled cities and the beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre, savour a long leisurely seafood lunch overlooking the millionaires playground of Portafino and journey through picture-book countryside.

Next, we stay in a beautifully restored villa full of antiques and elegance tucked away in the Po valley, where we sample and experience the production of Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar and explore the rich culture of the region. We learn how to cook delicious, authentic Italian dishes from a Nona ( grandmother ) and take a VIP tour of Lamborghini, makers of one of the world's most famous super sports cars to see their creation, from the first piece of tubing and carbon fibre, to the complete 200,000 Euro plus ultimate boy's toy.

We then journey to the Veneto where we stay in an elegant boutique hotel in the heart of Verona with its rich historical and cultural heritage and fabulous shopping. We enjoy Verona's many delights at a leisurely pace and journey to the famous Valpolicella wine region, as well as Italy's largest and most beautiful lake. Then on to Venice where our tour ends.

To get a better idea of the wonderful experiences we have in store for you please be sure to take a peek at some of the Photos of our Flavours of Italy Tour

Blossoming Heart now in Spanish

We are pleased to announce that Robbi's book The Blossoming Heart, currently available in English and Chinese was recently published in Barcelona by one of Spain's most prestigious publishers.

If you are interested in the power of aromatherapy to enhance your emotional wellbeing and have Spanish as your first language, you can purchase a personally signed copy of the Spanish version of The Blossoming Heart by emailing Robbi directly at robbi@aroma-tours.com

In addition to her role in Aroma Tours, Robbi's wonderful work continues to shine and keeps her very busy indeed. We are also pleased to see that our new Blossoming Heart Retreat in the beautiful Vaucluse region of Provence is already half full.

Frankincense - Milk of the Gods

Frankincense is a resin harvested from trees of the genus Boswellia which grow in southern Arabia and Eastern Africa - Oman, Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The Arab name for the milky sap of the Frankincense tree is al luban, meaning "milk" and this has led to the use of the anglicised name Olibanum for the resinous granules.

Some claim that the name Frankincense comes from the Frankish Knights who fought in the Crusades circa 1100, who are credited with bringing the use of fragrances and perfumed oils to Europe. I believe that its' name simply derives from the term "frank" or "true" incense, because its' use was wide spread and in high demand well before the Crusades began and drove trade routes as far back as 1200 B.C.

The use of perfumed oils and incense was common place during Roman times and perfume bottles and Frankincense have been excavated in the ruins of Roman bath houses. Nero is said to have burned the entire stock of Rome's Frankincense when his beloved wife Apolonia died - a fortune in those days.

In the Middle East there was also a healthy trade in fragrant ( macerated ) oils, however, even though they where transported in alabaster bottles ( because of their great worth ) they were very prone to loosing their beneficial volatile aromatic components due to the extreme heat.

Frankincense was rendered extremely valuable by virtue of its ease of transport and stability in even the hottest places. Also its medical components could be easily extracted by placing a small portion of the resin on top of hot coals and holding a cold flat-shaped stone in the resulting smoke to collect the fatty Frankincense oil.

The fatty oil, so obtained, was used to cure wounds, ulcers and sore gums, and was particularly valuable as the only known remedy for puerperal fever ( following child-birth ). How sensible then, that the three Kings would bring it as one of the gifts when visiting the manger after the birth of Jesus.

The origin of the word perfume comes from the latin per fumum, meaning "by smoke" and Frankincense was burnt to disinfect rooms and protect from disease. Some anecdotal evidence exists that it protected villagers in the Ukraine from the spread of The Black Plague which started in Crimea and was spread to Europe by Venetian traders.

In medieval times monks were well versed in the prevailing medical knowledge, so how natural then for Frankincense to be burnt in churches where many people regularly congregate. Perhaps one could postulate that a medical precaution became a spiritual ritual.

Frankincense has a warm, sweet, rich resinous fragrance and in addition to aromatic terpenes, is rich in sesquiterpenes and diterpenes. High quality resin can be visually discerned through its level of opacity and Omani Frankincense is said to be the best in the world, although quality resin is also produced in Yemen, and along the north coast of Somalia.

  • Olibanum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin.

Turkish Delight

Every time we visit Turkey one of the first treats I always enjoy is to sample "real" Turkish delight in Istanbul's Egyptian spice market.

Amid the mountains of spices, tins of caviar, saffron and other aromatic produce, are tables groaning with Turkish delight of many varieties with stall holders offering free samples and the traditional cup of sweet black tea in small glasses on silver trays. This is place where you can really indulge all of you senses!

It is well worth the effort and a lot of fun to make your own Turkish delight.

Ingredients

400g sugar
150ml water
1 tsp lemon juice
50g cornflour
175ml cold water
1 drop pink food colouring
1.5 tsp rose water

Method

  • Line a medium size metal tray ( at least 2cm deep ) with plastic wrap and smear with a little sunflower oil.
  • Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring gradually to a slow boil with occasional gentle stirring.
  • Lower the heat and simmer without stirring for approximately 25 minutes until the temperature of the syrup rises to 115C ( 240F ).
  • While the syrup is simmering add the cornflour to a large heavy based saucepan and gradually mix in the cold water.
  • Gradually warm the cornflour mixture with constant stirring, making sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan to avoid sticking.
  • When the mixture starts to thicken remove it from the heat and continue stirring until smooth.
  • Return to the heat and repeat this process until the cornflour forms a thick gluey paste.
  • Pour 1/2 a cup of the syrup into the cornflour paste and mix well until the paste is smooth again. Continue adding the rest of the syrup in similar fashion.
  • Bring the resulting syrup/paste mixture to the boil with constant stirring, then simmer over a low heat stirring every 2 minutes for 1 hour. Do not overheat!
  • Blend in the rose water flavouring and test the mixture by dropping a small portion into cold water and let it set for 1 minute. It should hold its shape, be soft, slightly chewy and have a delicate flavour.
  • Once you are happy with the mixture, pour it into the oiled plastic wrap lined tray and leave uncovered in a cool dry place overnight. Do not refrigerate.
  • Sift a thick coating of a 1/3 cornflour, 2/3 icing sugar dusting powder mix onto the top of the Turkish delight, then turn the tray upside down onto a smooth dry surface.
  • Remove the tray and plastic wrap then coat liberally with the dusting powder on all sides.
  • Cut the delight into 2cm squares and coat with the dusting powder.

Why wait, eat some right now!! Then store the rest in an air-tight container for later.

Instead of rose water you can also use orange blossom water or ground mastic and pistachios.

Arranging Your Travel

To join us on tour all your need to do is make your travel arrangements to meet us at our rendezvous point, either with the help of your travel agent, or for the more adventurous, by booking your flights and connections yourselves.

All of our rendezvous are easily achieved and naturally we provide all of the information and assistance that you ( or your agent ) will need.

Just a reminder that we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page to help answer the most common questions including how to book, travel arrangements, group sizes....

Previous Newsletters

Our past newsletters are well worth a browse and are available in our Newsletter Archives

You may also enjoy reading a few of the stories that Jim has compiled from his writings over the years on our Stories of Interest Page

Thought for the Day

"May you always have walls for the winds,
 - a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
 - laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
 - and all your heart might desire."
 ~ Irish Blessing

Our Invitation

We are very excited about the year ahead and feel truly blessed to be able to share our passion for the places and experiences that we love with so many wonderful people.

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats and invite you to visit our Aroma Tours website for more information and to take a peek at the latest photos of our travels in our Picture Gallery

As always if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you personally with advice about your travel arrangements or with any other details please contact us either by email at info@aroma-tours.com or by phone on +61 3 5331 3254 ( afternoon/evening USA time zones, mornings from other countries ).

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi


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