Blossom and sunshine

Still enjoying the Spring weather and all the cherry, plum and pear blossom is starting to come out in the garden. Lovely and bright and fresh.  The cherry tree in the Japanese-inspired garden we made last year is looking particularly good.  And the pheasant eye daffodils around the small apple trees are also looking beautiful and smell gorgeous.  We went out last night at dusk for a wander round the garden and walked into the walled garden to waves of beautiful scent.  The last light in the sky was picking out their pale petals against the dusk.  Magical.  All the tulips are beginning to come out in the long border and the round bed near the back porch too. Everything feels like it’s coming alive!

Gail and Mel have been planting potatoes this week and preparing some of the other beds ready for seedlings we’re bringing on indoors.  Mice have had their wicked way with our courgette and squash seeds, so we re-sowed them last night in slightly more protected circumstances on a trestle table they won’t be able to climb (we hope)!!

Following on from Burgs’ introductory course last week, we were joined by Manda Scott this weekend, again for an introductory course, this time in shamanism ( It was very nice to have so many new people arriving at Poulstone over the last week or so and from their enthusiasm for the courses they took, we expect to be welcoming them here again before too long.  Burgs ( is back in again from today for a Towards Samadhi retreat for advanced students which will take us right up to Easter.  We have the Easter weekend off before our Freefall writing course returns for its annual residential starting Easter Monday (

That’s about all for now.  Enjoy the sunshine!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Intermittent basking!

Well, we’re intermittently basking in Spring sunshine between the odd thunder storm.  Last Friday afternoon as the group was coming in we had thunder rattling the sash windows in their casements and a hailstorm, which then gave way to the most blissful weekend of Spring sunshine!  We’re all getting drawn into the garden.  Mel has finished tidying the kitchen yard and planted up some baskets and tubs with edible flowers which we use to decorate our salads at lunchtimes.  It’s nice to have a splash of colour out there after the winter gloom.  The little faces of the violas are particularly lovely.

Steve and Dave have finally admitted defeat in their battle against the invasive plants in the flower bed under the barn and abandoned the ideas for a new planting scheme there. Despite the best efforts of Ian and others on the work retreat last year, the plants have come up as strongly as ever so we’re going with that and instead  have grassed it over to provide a pleasant sitting area under the apple blossom in springtime.  In the autumn we will plant some spring bulbs to come up around the bench that will go there.  

Mel & Steve have been weeding in the veg garden ready for planting and Gail’s been busy moving muck and compost up onto the raised beds.  Mel’s just off to sow her courgette and squash seeds in the potting shed once her stint in the office is over for the day.

Mel’s also been busy with the year end stocktake so anything not actually moving has been counted!  She finished in the shop today and has placed an order for some of the popular Japanese bowls that some of you were asking about earlier in the year.  They’ll be in soon!  We’re also featuring some new cards by the talented artist Anne Thomas.  Hilary first came across her work and told us about it.  We particularly like her nature mandala cards which are now in stock here.  Here are some examples and her website for buying direct is:   'Samhain' or 'Oak' mandala  'Midwinter' mandala by Anne Thomas

We’re on our third group since last writing.  We had a very lovely yoga group in two weekends ago with teacher Rowena Harris ( who lives nearby in Longtown in the Black Mountains.  Rowena hadn’t been with us for a few years and so it was nice to be reminded by her and the students of all the changes that have taken place in the house and gardens since that time.  A week later we were joined by Chris Luttichau and an advanced shamanic group.  We had met Chris when he taught here with Manda Scott a year or so back and it was really great to have him return here with his own students.  We very much hope we can host them again at some time in the future.  Chris’s website is We now have Burgs in with an introductory meditation retreat till Friday (  In between the meditation sessions and discourses, there’s been some lovely weather for sitting quietly outside and letting the work settle.

That’s probably it for now.  More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Yayy! Spring is here!

How wonderful to be writing with the office window wide open and sun pouring in! Everything feels very alive as we are approaching the Spring Equinox.  Days of dazzling sunshine, clear, fresh air and very pretty cloud-strewn blue skies.  The cherry plum tree near the meadow gate is absolutely covered in blossom and is vibrant with bees.  Every now and then one of us is seen under it, bathing in its scent and wonderfulness!!!  The bumblebees seem to be favouring the pulmonaria near the Wellingtonia tree and we’ve seen Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies and masses of ladybirds out enjoying the warmth.  Birds are busying themselves everywhere – blue tits, finches, sparrows, field fayre, pheasants, partridges – and the woodpeckers can be heard around the valley.

We’ve been busy doing some Spring tidying outside – Steve has been tying in the white roses on the walled garden walls and Mel has been tidying the kitchen yard ready for planting up our hanging baskets.  Everyone’s minds are starting to turn towards seed planting – Gail is getting out all the veg seeds and soon we will be sowing this year’s crops, and we’ve potted up our sweet pea seeds and dahlia tubers ready for our summer and autumn cut flowers.  We’re cutting daffs at the moment for the dining tables and the scent is wonderful (as well as the general cheerfulness)!

Joining the daffodils and crocuses, the primroses are coming up everywhere, and the helibores planted a couple of years’ ago have spread and have been providing wonderful winter colour since mid November.  If you’re here over the next month or so, do take a look in the walled garden at their exquisite flowers (you need to turn their faces towards you to see all the delicate details).

We’ve had two long retreats in since last writing.   We had Burgs’ seven day silent meditation foundation retreat ( in at the beginning of the month and were lucky enough to sit in on the retreat that week.  A very peaceful and transformative week.  We are now hosting Christian Pankhurst’s Deep Dive Retreat ( which uses group process in the work of awakening.  Lots more noise coming from the group room this week!  Both teachers are very highly regarded in their respective fields and we are always delighted to host them.

Coming up in the next month and a half we have yoga, two shamanic groups, two more meditation retreats and our annual week-long writing course, so we shan’t be twiddling our thumbs!

The writing course, Freefall, has been booked up since the end of last year but for any of you who have been interested over the years but not taken the plunge, Barbara is offering a short taster workshop in Bath in April.  This is a great way to find out more with very little financial outlay – and maybe, who knows, you might be inspired to join us at Poulstone in 2015?!  For details, follow this link: 

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

We’ve put the ark on hold…

Just when we thought it might be prudent to start building an ark, the waters have receded from Poulstone meadow and we’ve been blessed with several lovely sunny, blue-skied days!  The crocuses, daffs and snowdrops are out in profusion. Also, the swans have suddenly become very active and we noticed as we walked down to work this morning that lots of birds are being tempted out into the sunshine.  There was a very loud squabble of sparrows in the holly hedge as we came by! 

Steve has been able to get out into the garden today with Dave and do some weeding and general tidying up after the storms.  We’ve had a week and a half between groups which has given us an opportunity to do some of the jobs that don’t generally get done when groups are coming through on a rolling basis.  Gail has been mending one of the sofas in the living room which was showing signs of wear and tear and we’ve finally got some beautiful prints framed which were donated by artist Lydia Kiernan (  This one, called “Windswept”, is now gracing the front hallway and we love it!

Windswept (2007)

Following Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork, we have had Poulstone regulars Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery in with their advanced shamanic students.  And we were delighted that our hunch about Jessie’s felted animals proved true – several got snapped up enthusiastically and Jessie now has a list of animals to make which they would be interested in buying.  Yayy!

We were very impressed by the group’s stoical and intrepid approach to the stormy weather they arrived in on the Friday night – hardly a murmer from anyone – impressive; it was a really wild night!

In a couple of days we will be welcoming Burgs ( for a seven day silent meditation retreat which we love having here in the house.  Let’s hope the weather keeps nice and sunny for their stay.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Feb 8, 2014 - General    No Comments

A busy January

Well, January has been unusually busy this year.  We enjoyed meeting Dutch trainers Thomas and Alet de Neve ( who gave their first weekend training here at the beginning of January.  They brought a lively group of English and Dutch students, some of whom we already knew from Christian Pankhurst’s groups here in previous years.

Then we had a week off before Richard and Marigold Farmer ( brought their Giant Leap groups in on two consecutive long weekends.  These guys all know the house like the back of their hands and it’s always lovely seeing them and catching up with old friends.  Some of them were on the very first course we both did at Poulstone in 1993 so we go back a long way!   A couple of Richard and Marigold’s students, Helene & Catriona, stayed on afterwards for a few days and volunteered a bit of work in the house and garden which was very welcome.

This weekend we are joined by Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork ( who’ve brought a lovely group of trainee masseurs and masseuses for the residential part of their one-year massage training.  There’s lots of laughter around the house and despite the very stormy weather here this weekend, they’re really enjoying their time together.

As we write, the wind is pelting rain against the windows and the river has once again flooded the surrounding fields.  Gail even looked out earlier and saw that the flooded fields had waves moving across them!  There’s not much gardening going on as everything is saturated, although Steve did manage to do an afternoon’s weeding yesterday in a few hour’s bright sunshine between storms…

We also welcome new member of staff, Jessie, to the team.  Jessie has just moved from London and is enjoying her new life in the countryside.  She’s also a very talented maker of felt creations which we will soon be featuring in the shop.  We thought her work might particularly appeal to some of the shamanic groups who come to Poulstone.  If you want to look at her fabulous felted animal totems or buy directly from her, her work is at  Here are a few delightful examples:

Sitting Brown Bear Totem, Needle FeltedCustom-made Elk, Needle Felted We hope Jessie does well in setting up her new business with them.

Well, that’s about it for now.  It’s the delicious Mushroom, Stilton and Pumpkin Pie this evening, perfect for such a chilly, blustery night, so we will be sloping off to the kitchen shortly to see if we can score some tasty leftovers!  We now have recipe cards for this and many of our new supper dishes available in the shop, with wonderful illustrations from our friend, Kevin Kimber (


More soon!  Hope you’re staying dry!

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Dec 31, 2013 - General    No Comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!  We hope you’ve had an enjoyable Christmas – jolly or quiet as you wished?!  Our thoughts were very much with those who experienced flood damage and power cuts over the festive season, as well as those much less fortunate both in the UK and around the world.

The Wye flooded which is usual when we have storms and heavy rainfall and we awoke several days running to a transformed watery landscape which the swans and ducks readily colonised.  The above picture and the ones below are actually the park in front of Poulstone and the field next to it!! With blazing sunshine glittering off the water surface, we had a beautiful walk along Poulstone meadow on Christmas morning.  As a New Year resolution to get a bit fitter started to kick in, we took our new bikes out for a road-test and came back happy and mud-splattered, feeling about twelve years old!

We have another week or so before work really kicks in so we’re enjoying this quiet time before Poulstone gets busy again.  We’re looking forward to meeting up with all the staff prior to work on the 8th for a New Year lunch at All Saints Church in Hereford (a great cafe if you’re ever in Hereford before or after a Poulstone visit:

May 2014 be all you wish it to be.

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Thoughts and Reflections

Our guest blogger today is meditation teacher, Burgs, who teaches meditation and healing retreats regularly at Poulstone throughout the year.

Burgs has been teaching meditation in Europe and Asia since 1998. His teaching style draws upon a wide range of traditions he studied whilst in Asia. He has been recognised and trained by many highly-regarded teachers including the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in Burma (the first person in Burma for 500 years who can teach the complete teachings of the Buddha) and the Tibetan master, His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche.

Burgs has a deep grounding and understanding in all aspects of meditation and energetic cultivation, and has a profound appreciation of how different spiritual practices and traditions fit together as a whole. It is rare to find someone that can deliver such teachings and practices whilst providing the energetic support for progress on the path to the highest level.

As with all our contributors, we asked him to write something that would be useful to all of us in these demanding and changing times.  He writes:

“Over the years that I have been running retreats at Poulstone, I have often wondered what is the most important factor in creating the optimum retreat environment. In the past it was always the ambience of the place, the surrounding environment and, of course, the quality of the food. But I realise in recent years that a new factor has come to the forefront, and perhaps one that many people haven’t considered. And that is providing the opportunity to take a break from the constant bombardment from modern technology and in particular the huge increase in electro-magnetic field (EMF) exposure that most of us encounter these days.

 I recently called a hotel near an airport where I needed to stay overnight and asked “Do you have any wifi free rooms” to which the receptionist proudly announced “Yes, sir, all our rooms have free wifi.” So well-appointed were they that there was no facility to switch off the wifi in any part of the hotel.

Yes, we live  in  a cloud of EMF and microwave frequencies these days and the debilitating effects are just starting to become apparent. Anyway, I do not wish to go into the emerging scientific evidence which can be researched on-line. I simply wanted to suggest to all of you who come to Poulstone, that perhaps the most nourishing part of your experience these days, may be to switch off your phones and keep the wifi off for the duration. Mel and Steve switch off the wifi router for the whole of our retreats and it makes such a tremendous difference to the depth to which people are able to meditate. I am sure the effects would be the same for anyone coming to Poulstone to do energy work. People do try to complain that they need to access the internet while on retreat, but really, what actually IS a retreat if it isnt time out from our ordinary lives?

For many people it is not easy to create a totally EMF-free environment, but luckily for us, Poulstone can be that for the time of our stay. All we have to do is switch off the wifi router and agree not to use our mobile phones in the house. If you try this I guarantee you will go home feeling even more refreshed that you usually do.

 I know it may sound dramatic, but it is my opinion, (and being a meditation teacher I do not say this lightly) that if we are currently heavily exposed to wifi and the like, if it was a choice between being free from all RF–EMR (electromagnetic frequencies and their fields) exposure and not meditating, or meditating and remaining highly exposed, I personally would choose the former, because I believe the benefits to our general state of well-being would be greater. Luckily we are not in a position where we have to choose, but we can inform ourselves, pay attention and make choices accordingly.

In essence it is heavy and persistent exposure that worries me. Occasional exposure is inevitable and I do believe our energy and nervous systems are capable of adapting to that. So I just want to suggest that you consciously make efforts to reduce the level of RF–EMR’s  that you expose yourself to.

A few simple steps can reduce this by 50-80%. So here are my suggestions:

1. Never take a mobile phone call directly to your ear for more than a minute.

2. Use the speaker phone wherever you can.

3. Switch off your phone when it is in your pocket or carry it in a bag. Check your messages from time to time.

4. Use text messages instead of phone calls as often as possible.

5. Change your wireless DECT walkabout home phones back to plugged in corded phones or get a power saving /eco cordless phone ( these wireless phones are AS damaging as wifi and many people don’t know it).

6. Change your wifi (wireless) internet router back to the old style plug-in cables ( ethernet ) and live with the minor inconvenience of having to use your computer in designated areas.

7. If you can’t get rid of your wifi router, then only switch it on when you need it and NEVER leave it on at night while you sleep.

8. Do what you can to encourage your colleagues/ boss at work to put your working/office environment back over to plug-in cable (ethernet).

9. DON’T upgrade to 4G when it is offered to you. It is a VERY strong signal (way more than 3G and we have NO idea what the effects of long term exposure to this will be). Leave it at least a year and watch to see how others respond/ feedback on it.

None of these suggestions are actually in any way extreme, and they are all really easy to do if you set your mind to it. Just remember 10 years ago NONE of us had any wifi! And certainly no 4G.

These steps will, depending upon your current exposure and living conditions, reduce your exposure from between 50-80%. Certainly enough to make a real difference in the long term. And remember there has been no long term studies with this stuff yet so let’s not just wait to find out.

If you wish to inform yourself more on the subject there is a lot of material gathered on the Dangers of Wifi Facebook page. If you want it in a well put- together and concise format, please send a message through Facebook to Cablesnotwireless and request the information pack they are offering”.

Well, definitely some food for thought! We have both certainly found a huge benefit in switching off the wi-fi and returning to corded phones and wired mouse, keyboard, printer etc.  It cost virtually nothing to do and we feel less drained after a day in the office, have more energy and better mental clarity (not that sludgy computer-head we used to come home with!).

Burgs will be running a number of 5 day and week long retreats at Poulstone in 2014 as well as two exciting on-line meditation courses starting in January for those who find it difficult to take time away. For full details click here:  We took the one year on-line course last year and found it a powerful tool for deepening and stabilising our daily meditation practice at home.  We highly recommend it to anyone serious about developing their meditation.

Warm wishes and love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Nov 21, 2013 - General    No Comments

Quiet and golden

All very quiet and autumnal here as we approach the end of the year.  We have the second of three silent retreats in ( who complete the Poulstone year for 2013.  The house feels lovely – quiet and focussed and still.

Outside everything is wonderfully golden.  The cherry tree in the walled garden and the beeches are glorious at the moment!  Leaf raking will begin in earnest soon and Gail is also tidying up the veg plot, removing courgette plants and nasturtiums that have finally succumbed to the first frosts.  Steve has taken up the dahlias for storing and done some general tidying around the garden.  We thought you might enjoy a few autumn photos from around the garden.

















Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Apples & pears, and all things shamanic




















So another busy time since last writing.  Unusually, we have had three shamanic groups in one after another.  Manda Scott re-joined us in early October for one of her advanced courses (  Manda is also a prolific author and writes under the name M.C.Scott for her historical novels.  Do take a look at her website to find out more.  She’s particularly well-known for her series on Boudica.

Her group was followed by Jonathan Horwitz’s Peace and Power retreat which was with us until last Sunday.  A much-loved Poulstone regular, Jonathan is resident in Southern Sweden but comes to Poulstone annually in the autumn, usually with a course for advanced students.  (  (One of Jonathan’s students, Faith Nolton, created the beautiful picture above.  See her website for more images and downloadable pictures,

A few days off and Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery will be joining us with their shamanic group until Sunday.  We greatly enjoy having all four teachers and their groups here. Respect and gratitude seem to shine out of these groups and we feel that the land and nature around Poulstone benefits from the work that the groups do here.  It’s wonderful seeing trees and plants and creatures receiving a deeper kind of attention than the every day.

In the garden we’ve been busy harvesting our apples and pears, and enjoyed the final pear-picking yesterday in blazing sunshine.  We even had lunch outside!  Then we took a van-load of pears and apples up to Ragman’s Lane Farm for juicing (  We shall look forward to collecting our bottles of juice next week and sitting and labelling bottles for the shop.  We’ve also been picking the last of the plums from the trees on the drive for freezing.  At the other end of the journey, Gail has been planting our garlic for next year which is always a nice job at this time of year.  There’s still plenty of produce in the garden – the courgette plants are still going for it, the carrots are tender and tasty and we have oodles of greens coming through.

Today has been torrential rain which is rather perfect weather for getting the house ready and doing the book-keeping!

Time to get back to work!

Much love, Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Too busy to blog!

We do seem to have packed a lot into the last couple of weeks.  Burg’s meditation group ( went out last Wednesday, Clare Gennon and Richard Farmer’s Metatronic Healing weekend came in on the Friday ( - and Burgs returned for his seven day retreat on the Monday!  Phew! Interestingly, these quick changeovers, which are very frequent these days, seem to get easier and easier as we get more used to doing them and trust more that everything will fall into place if we just stay quietly engaged with what needs to happen.  Anyway, Burgs’ retreat is now in till next Monday so a chance to catch our breath!

Steve has taken a bit of time off recently, roaming the Brecon Beacons with a back pack.  He’s come back looking very aired and extremely bearded!  He’s been easing back into work with some mowing and mending, and cleaning all the outside windows of the house now that the swallows and martins have finally left their nests in the eaves (making it now worth doing!).

We continue to be inundated with produce.  Hilary has been using up some courgettes that we accidentally let grow to marrows, spinach and chard, turning it into delicious minted pea, spinach and courgette soup.  A wonderful colour as well as taste!  Not quite time to pick the apples but we continue to freeze the windfalls for puddings next year.  We’ve been juicing windfall pears too which make a beautifully tasty, sweet juice.

There’s still a fair bit of colour in the garden – pink, orange and yellow dahlias, cosmos in various pinks and whites, nasturtiums, heleniums…..Today’s so warm, you can hardly believe autumn is here.

Well, time to turn our attention to next week’s menus and collect up today’s windfalls,

More soon!

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre