Freefall 2015

Such a wonderful week of Spring sunshine!  Primroses and daffs are brightening everywhere and the first martins arrived yesterday – we heard them around the nests above the utility room.  Our Freefall writing group are having their final celebratory meal at the end of their week-long course and, inspired by the Spring weather, we’ve been decorating the tables with primroses, forget-me-nots and tulips for their last evening.
Barbara Turner-Vessalago ( runs this course here at Poulstone annually and all the writers and would-be writers who attend rave about her ability to facilitate and guide their writing.  We send out an invitation to the course each autumn so send us an email if you’d like to be added to the mailing list – it books up fast!  It makes a nice change for Mel to have regular visitors to the office each morning as people come to print their work and have a chat.  This group has at least two published authors attending which is testimony to the usefulness of the course.

Last week we hosted Manda Scott ( Chris Luttichau ( bringing Manda’s advanced students here for a shamanic course on death and dying. Both teachers have a strong reputation in shamanic circles and we enjoy hosting them every time.  Manda’s new novel “Into the Fire” is out in June and details are on her website.  The synopsis sounds really intriguing:

Next week we say hello again to the Gordon Moody Association (  This is the second residential part of their 12 week programme for women with a gambling addiction. The group really enjoyed the supportive environment here when they came in January and we look forward to seeing them all again.

Things are really getting going in the garden.  Steve is on a pruning-fest around the place and Mel has been weeding between the paving in the kitchen yard to smarten up the back.  Gail’s been weeding the top yard and working in the veg garden. Mel has sown the beetroot, carrots and parsnips into the raised beds as well as sowing the courgettes and squash indoors.  The window ledges in the barn cloakroom are full of Gail’s seedlings including kales, peas and beans.  It definitely feels like the year is getting underway now!

Right!  Time to slope round to the kitchen to see if there’s any of the delicious walnut and cashew wellington left!

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Silly glasses, blossom and lots of yogis!

Bit of a delayed start to the day today as we sat in the garden and watched the eclipse.  Well, you have to, don’t you?!!  Mel had saved the 1999 eclipse glasses (which hadn’t got any more stylish in storage!!…) and Gail, Mel and Steve had breakfast sharing the silly specs and watching the moon move across the sun. With all the little details that need attending to in our lives as in everyone else’s, it felt good to have them all put into perspective by this mighty event. I think it was Professor Brian Cox who said that an eclipse always reminds him that we are living on a very small rock in a very big universe!

And after that we unpacked the grocery deliveries!!!!

Richard & Marigold Farmer ( and and their Giant Leap 1 group are arriving tonight and just having their supper.  It’s lovely to see all our old Rising Dragon Tai Chi chums arriving and settling in. Over the last few weeks we have had a steady stream of yogis moving through the house. Burgs and The Art of Meditation ( brought two retreats in, pretty much back to back and it was very restful having the house in silence for that period. And Burgs was followed by Feel Hot Yoga ( who were new to Poulstone and really enjoyed their first stay.  Tutors Nina, Shasha and David were great to work with and Shasha has written a very lovely account of their time here at We were particularly pleased that they enjoyed being without mobile phones and wi-fi, seeing it as part of decompressing from busy urban life. We hear news of their return and look forward to it!

Chief amongst our garden pleasures this week is the blossoming cherry plum. This is an annual delight and usually one or two groups are lucky enough to be here when it bursts forth!  The bees were loving it today and the fragrance is wonderful.


That’s all from us right now!

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Spring is around the corner

Despite the icy rain of yesterday, Spring definitely feels like it’s around the corner.  Daffodils are coming up in enough quantity now to use on the dining tables and it’s been warm enough to sit outside in our tea breaks and take in some sun.  Swans have migrated in numbers to the field the other side of the walled garden and we can see them every morning from the bedroom window. The helibores are looking lovely as too are the dogwoods and snowdrops outside the dining room windows. Steve and Dave have been putting a mulch down on the borders which has had a very neatening effect (it’s an experiment and remains to be seen if it suppresses weeds effectively or provides a rich medium for their growth!!). A couple of days ago, Mel had a wander around the garden to take some February pictures.  We hope you enjoy them.

We’ve had three groups in since last writing.  We met More to Life trainers Pascale Ascher and Richard Perry for the first time and greatly enjoyed hosting them and their group.  You can see more information on their work at:  We’ve also had Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork here for their annual winter residential.  Andy Fagg and his team have been synonymous with massage in Bristol for well over 20 years ( and we always enjoy supporting their work here.

BCMB were followed by Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery of Ancient Harmonies who bring their advanced shamanic students here three times a year.  They have been coming to Poulstone for over two decades now and enter into the house like a hand into a favourite glove! As usual it was great to have their work in the house and we look forward to seeing them in May.

We have a number of new teachers visiting in the coming months. This Spring we will also be saying hello for the first time to Nina Sebastiane and her team from Feel Hot Yoga (, Clive Tempest of Conscious Connections with his Chi Gung group(, Joy Hicklin-Bailey of Secret Garden with her Joyful Loving retreat ( and Alaric Newcombe ( bringing his Iyengar Yoga retreat for advanced students.  All their courses are open to the public and details are on the calendar on the website or click direct to: for full details.

That’s all for now!

Much love,

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Back in the swing of things

Happy New Year from us all at Poulstone!  After a very refreshing break, we are now thoroughly back in the swing of things with our second group now here with us.  Last week we hosted the Gordon Moody Association ( which helps people with an addiction to gambling.  This was a new residential programme for women and we really enjoyed providing the residential support for this excellent work and meeting all those involved.

Last night we were joined by Chris Luttichau of Northern Drum ( and his group.  Chris is a shaman of many years standing and after 30 years of study with indigenous teachers and elders, Chris is the keeper of an integral body of teachings that he shares in workshops and ongoing one-year and three-year training groups. The teachings cover a broad range of topics from healing and dreaming to spirit contact and self-development. This weekend we understand that the group is working with plants and herbs and they have a beautiful crisp, sunny day today for working outside with the plants. Chris’s book “Animal Spirit Guides” is available in the Poulstone shop or direct from Northern Drum. 

Poulstone is enjoying the presence of a large number of swans and geese at present camped out on the field next to Poulstone.  We’ve had some beautiful frosty mornings just recently and it’s lovely seeing them flying overhead in the early morning light.  Steve and Dave have done the winter pruning of the apple trees and cut back the perennials in most of the beds now the birds have had a chance to eat the seeds up so we are nicely tidied up in the garden.  Mel and Steve have relaid all the garden irrigation piping  before the plants in the borders start to bush up and were kept company all day by a lovely little robin. Gail has re-lined all the curtains in the group room so it feels extra cosy in the evenings.  We all sat down the other evening and have ordered all our onions sets, potatoes and seeds for this year’s growing in the veg plot.  It was a nice time to review what worked and what didn’t last year and also order a few new varieties to see how they do.

We were very sorry to hear this month that Windhorse Trading is shortly to cease doing business.  Products from this wonderful Buddhist trading company have been in the Poulstone shop for 20 years and they were a great organisation to work with.  We wish everyone well with whatever they do next, particularly David and Jim who used to bring the mobile showroom around for us.  The search is now on for another ethical and fairtrade company for craft goods, incense, candles and the like.

That’s about all from us at the moment.  We hope the year is starting very well for you all.

Warm wishes

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court

Dec 13, 2014 - General    No Comments

Signing off for the year-end

Well, our last group has come and gone for the year.  We said goodbye to Burgs’ Introduction to Meditation, Mindfulness and Chi Kung group on the 7th ( and are now winding down for the end of the year.  Steve is outside tidying the garden up and he has also been planting cyclamen with Dave to provide what we hope will be a lovely white carpet of flowers on the triangle before the barn car park, under the fir tree there.  Gail has been re-lining the group room curtains for extra warmth and Mel has been doing the end-of-year housekeeping jobs around the place.

Quieter times are also when we have time to try out new recipes to add to our menus.  These delicious cinnamon caramel rolls taught Steve a lesson in reading the recipe right through to the very end before starting!  After several knockings-back and risings and restings and so on, they took





over four and a half hours!!  Which would have been OK…………..if we hadn’t started so late…..We finally got them out of the oven at 1am!!  Utterly delicious though!

With the place empty of guests, we also get a chance to invite friends and family to stay and enjoy Poulstone.  Mel’s book group had their Christmas meal here on Wednesday and both sides of the family will be joining us here over Christmas.  It should be a busy but enjoyable time.

Today’s been another cracking day – brilliant sunshine and as the mist cleared this morning we saw that the Wye had flooded into nearby fields so Poulstone meadow was sparkling in the sun.  And geese and swans were exploring this extension to their territory.

Anyway, that’s all from us at the year end.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a lovely time however you celebrate the season.

Much love

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Do Not Disturb!!

We’ve had a short break since our last group.  Mel & Steve have been on retreat and Gail’s been away to spend time with family.  And Hilary and Gem have enjoyed a bit of a break from the kitchen too.  We had some high drama last week when a pheasant flew into and through Gail’s sitting room window showering the place with glass.  The pheasant was able to be released and flew away, seemingly with just a few scratches but leaving a trail of devastation behind it (and a rather shocked Gail who had been in the next room!).  Fortunately, we managed to get the window fixed the same day and Mel & Gail spent time painstakingly shaking out throws and rugs and vacuuming every inch of the room for glass.  Anyway, we hope the pheasant survived the shock….x

Later the same week, Gail had a slightly more relaxing encounter with wildlife when she discovered a hibernating hedgehog under a mass of nasturtium foliage she was removing from the veg patch whilst we were all out in the garden working.  We could just see its little flank breathing through a gap in the leaves around it.  Mel was raking up leaves nearby and brought over a few good handfuls to keep it warm.  It was right on the path so we put up a sign and put a chair over it and a notice to avoid it being trodden on by unsuspecting guests!  Steve was going to make a little shelter for it this weekend but we see with the warm weather back again, it must have woken up and moved on (hopefully to a more private spot).

There are at least 25 pairs of swans on the field next to Poulstone meadow at the moment, often delighting us with their flight overhead.  Today they seem to have been joined by a flock of geese, apparently co-habiting quite happily.

It’s been lovely being out in the garden on these autumn afternoons, especially at dusk.  Today started with teeming rain but now we have golden sunshine making every surface out there shine. We currently have Heart2Heart Events with us ( who arrived last night on a chilly evening. They are always a pleasure to work with and we enjoy having them in the space. They usually work quite intensively through the weekend but we hope they get some time to take in the late autumn sunshine as well.

Our minds are turning towards end of year jobs – repairs and a deep clean of areas we don’t always get time for. It feels like a nice gentle wind-down towards the Christmas break with just one more group here before we close for the holidays.

That’s all for now!

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Late autumn news

We greatly enjoyed hosting Jonathan Horwitz’s Death, Life and Shamanism course here last week (  We had a full house for 5 days and two thirds of the group were new to Poulstone so it was very nice meeting more of Jonathan’s students.  They’re a very appreciative bunch and we felt cushioned on a cloud of goodwill all week!  Very lovely.  They make good use of the outside spaces whatever the weather and had a ceremony outside with a fire one evening. Jonathan is trying to travel a bit less these days so we shan’t be seeing them all next year but look forward to their return in 2016 (and hopefully we may get to see them before that if we can make good on invitations to visit Jonathan and his partner Zara in Southern Sweden next year!).

Around the place we are generally doing end of year tidying jobs.  Mel has been potting up geraniums and fuchsias from the hanging baskets to over-winter them and Steve and Dave have been taming the roses against the walls in the walled garden – some were still flowering! 

Today Gail and Steve removed our mini tunnels from the veg garden from over the brussels and kale and Gail is clearing out some of the raised beds, getting a final crop of dwarf beans and mange tout into the bargain as she did so.  She was enjoying the company of a robin who was sitting on her bucket hoping for some tasty morsels to be unearthed as she was working. Steve’s finishing off the rose training today under the barn windows and then this afternoon Mel will be escaping the office to rake up some leaves in the back garden and under the Wellingtonia.  It’s a beautiful sunny day today so a good opportunity to get things done and enjoy the fresh air before the forecasted rain tomorrow.

Spectrum Psychotherapy’s Women in the World group are with us this weekend (  It’s very inspiring to see a peer group like this, many of whom having been working together for decades. We always enjoy the blend of warmth and professionalism they bring to the space (and it’s nice to be round the fun and laughter that is always present when they’re here). Last night we all had a free firework display as the Kings Caple Bonfire Party set off their fireworks a couple of fields a way.  Very noisy but wonderfully vibrant against the night sky!

These evenings have been very clear and as the mist creeps over from the river, there’s an ethereal shroud of moonlit mist around the house and gardens. It’s nice to be out in the garden then and feel the stillness of the space, the delicate rustling of the breeze in the beech trees and see Poulstone looking cosy all lit up at its windows. The turning of the season has its compensations, to be sure.

Warm wishes

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Oct 27, 2014 - Ponderings    No Comments

Energy fields and modern technology

For those of you who are interested, we are posting a link to some Conscious TV programmes which look at the effect of mobile phones and wi-fi on our subtle anatomy and therefore our health and well-being.  The second link includes some very interesting dowsing demonstrations showing how even mobiles on stand-by can close  down our energy fields:

The links are:

Be well!

Mel & Steve x

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Autumn days…

Steve’s just been rained off from the mowing and we are waiting for the group to arrive so we have a little time to write the blog. It’s a little colder here now in the evenings and we’ve been having heavy rainstorms interspersed with sublime autumn sunshine. Still feels very mild for October. In the garden, Dave and Steve have been putting the garden to bed ready for winter – cutting back perennials, weeding and tidying generally.  Gail has been clearing the raised beds of crops that are finished and planting green manures to enrich the soil. There’s still plenty to pick from the veg garden – lots of chard, spinach, kales, carrots, tomatoes.

Berries are beginning to appear everywhere and we are leaving deadheading some of the rose bushes this year in the hope of some nice rosehips for winter colour. We’ve picked all the apples and pears – some for cooking and for the fruit bowl and the rest have gone to Ragmans Lane Farm for juicing. Not such a bumper crop as last year but plenty enough to keep us in juice for the year. It’s one of our favourite things, clanking back from Ragmans with all our bottles in the back of the van!! Mel’s re-done the hanging baskets to cheer up the kitchen yard for the end of the year and we shall soon start potting up the geraniums and fuchsias from the yard to over-winter them up at the bothy.

This is generally a month of shamanism for us – and very lovely we’re finding it too!  Manda Scott has returned for two weekends running with her advanced students and then a foundation course for people who are beginning their work with her. Manda’s site is: and contains contact details for anyone interested in her classes.  Tonight Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery join us for the beginning of their next cycle of meetings with their advanced students.  This group has been coming for over 20 years and come from as far as East Anglia – and Germany! We greatly enjoy their warm, friendly presence in the house and the work they offer to the land here at Poulstone.

Next week we have a weekend off and Mel has a group of old school mates (a.k.a. The North Walsham All-Stars!) coming for a weekend of walking, eating, hanging out and reminding each other of what we were like when we were young….(not always pretty)! We’re hoping to not need a Diary Room for de-briefing anyone……!  Most of them haven’t a spiritual practice as such but really appreciate the peace and stillness of the environment when they stay.

Then Richard and Marigold Farmer ( returning for their second Giant Leap group so lovely to see lots of our old Tai Chi colleagues on that one. And then Jonathan Horwitz’s shamanic group brings the month to a close with his hugely popular Shamanism, Death and Life course and a full house of students (  Should be fun!

Well, the sun is blazing outside now after the rain so time for a little tea-break in the garden before the guests arrive.

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Sep 20, 2014 - Around the House, People    No Comments

Drizzly day blog….

Well, we’ve just had a bit of time off between groups which has been nice and relaxing. Gemma and Mel put another 18kg of apples in the freezer last week and we will now begin boxing up the rest for storing and making juice. The squirrels have also been enjoying the fruit – unfortunately we could only get a grainy photo from a way off!

We had a huge fall of rain last night which has bashed a few things down but generally it’s is rather a relief for the garden. The mulberries are now ripe and need picking so we’ll try to get out there later in our wellies if the rain holds off. The dahlias and sweet peas are still in full swing and providing some welcome colour indoors on this grey, drizzly day.

We were joined last night by Richard and Marigold Farmer ( with the first of their Giant Leap groups – always a pleasure to have so many Poulstone old-timers (or should that be long-timers not old??!) about the place doing this advanced course with Richard and Marigold. We hope the weather picks up for them so they can do some Tai Chi outside as well as in the barn.

We’re just adding some stock to the shop today – more CDS, some new card designs from Anne Thomas and some more of Jenny Shutler’s wonderful re-purposed cutlery jewellery!! ( She makes lovely bracelets, earrings and pendants from vintage silver-plated spoons, knives and forks. They’ve been selling very well and we have just asked her to stock us back up again.  If you’re not coming to Poulstone soon but live in the area, you can catch Jenny at her stall at All Saints Cafe, Hereford from October 22nd – 25th (this is where we first met her and Steve cheekily asked her if she’d like to supply us!).

In the rainy weather, Steve is at home experimenting with some new recipes for the kitchen – most notably the rather wonderful mung bean dumpling in spicy tomato sauce!

Looking forward to lunch now – tomato borscht, cheesejacks and falafel, turnip and watercress salad (extra yummy with our own turnips), Greek salad…….yum!

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre