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The joys of Spring and friends over the border

The joys of Spring and friends over the border

We’re really enjoying Spring at Poulstone.  The meadow is full of buttercups and cow parsley and looks beautiful, and today it’s fresh and sunny.  As we write we can hear the cuckoo calling in the meadow and are watching the cattle herding themselves up and down the field. On rainy days, Mel and Steve have been camped out in the store under the barn, completing the potting up of all our dahlias to bring them on for summer. We were in there on a particularly squelchy day last week but the reward was a stunning rainbow in the late afternoon behind the stand of beech trees.  The sweet pea wigwams are up with the promise of summer to come.  Gail has finished planting out most of the seedlings in the veg garden and Mel had a pleasant late afternoon diversion from the office putting the courgettes and squash seedlings in under cloches.

Birds are everywhere – swallows, martins, robins, bluetits, blackbirds, wagtails……This year a robin has pipped the swallows to nesting space in the paint store in the kitchen yard. We are enjoying watching the male going in and out to the nest with worms and Mel managed to snap him this morning on one of his visits!

Following on from Clive Tempest’s chi gung retreat, we were joined by a Course in Miracles group last weekend led by Angela Hoskins and Terry Butler. We enjoyed their warm and friendly presence in the house over the weekend and all the singing and laughter around the place.   In both groups even the meat-eaters were very vocal in their appreciation of the vegetarian fare on offer. It is always a real pleasure to feel that we have opened people’s eyes a little to what vegetarian food can be – delicious, varied and satisfying. We are now joined by regulars Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery of Ancient Harmonies with their advanced shamanic student’s group who will no doubt be making the most of being outside over the weekend.

Some of you may remember Ellie who cooked for us a couple of summers ago.  She and husband, Tom, also cooked on one of the work retreats together and Tom came and supplied some much-needed gardening help for Steve. Following their wedding last autumn, they have moved from round the corner in How Caple to Felindre near Newtown, Powys.  Mel went to visit them last week and see their new home which is set in lovely woodland and backs onto heathland with views to Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and Shropshire hills.  They are in a really special spot and are running two delightful holiday/retreat spaces. If you are looking for a beautifully quiet and regenerating holiday or a place for solitary retreat, check out their agent’s website for details of  Llethrau Barn http://www.english-country-cottages.co.uk/cottages/llethrau-barn-of2 and Long Barn http://www.english-country-cottages.co.uk/cottages/llethrau-long-barn-of6. Mel enjoyed the full tour of the land and the lovingly prepared holiday barns, and it was great to see them both so fully bedded into their new place already. We wish them lots of good wishes for their first year there and look forward to visiting again soon xx

It’s nudging up to lunchtime now, so time to bag a bit of the delicious mushroom soup Hilary is making and her wicked quinoa with sweet potato, rocket and feta. Yum!

More soon,

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

 

New friends and the pleasure of returning

New friends and the pleasure of returning

We have just returned from holiday,  taking our new (we use that term loosely!) camper van around the west coast of Scotland.  Had a beautiful time touring around and staying below the Ben Nevis range, on Mull and Iona and above Loch Ness – even got to test-run the van in some unscheduled snow (and survived)!  We found though that even in remote parts of Scotland we had to work quite hard to find places free of electro-magnetic pollution.  We probably could have happily toured round for another few weeks. We loved the wildness up there but Poulstone welcomed us with its vivid greens, gentle landscape and profusion of blossom and flowers and we were also glad to be home. We made a cup of tea before unpacking the van and sat under the apple blossom and felt very lucky to be returning somewhere so lovely (and without wi-fi)! Mel has been around the garden today and taken some photos of the garden which we hope gives you a flavour.

Before leaving, we hosted the second Gordon Moody Association residential (http://www.gordonmoody.org.uk/) for women with gambling problems.  It was very nice to see the group again and we really  hope Poulstone helped support their process in making the necessary changes to improve their lives and overcome their gambling addiction.

We now have Clive Tempest (http://www.bigger-picture.net/) with us with his Conscious Connections chi gung retreat. The weather has improved yesterday and today, and they have been able to practise outside as well as in the barn.  Two thirds of the group are Finnish and we are greatly enjoying the Finnish vibe around the place! We love it when the world comes to us.  Visitors from abroad often bring us little treats from home and we are now officially addicted to blueberry liquorice which is made by Panda in Finland. We will have to track down a source in the UK!

Steve and Gail are out in the garden in earnest at the moment before we get really busy later in the month with some back-to-back bookings.  Steve is potting on dahlias and preparing the soil for our sweetpeas and Gail is busy planting out all the seedlings that are ready for the veg garden. There’s a brisk wind today but all in all not a bad day to be out there.


More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Silly glasses, blossom and lots of yogis!

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 (http://www.tmwtraining.com/ and http://www.soulmoves.co.uk/) 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 (http://theartofmeditation.org/) 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 (http://feelhotyoga.co.uk/) 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 http://shasharishi.grokbox.co.uk/?p=236. 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

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: http://moretolife.org/index.cfm.  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 (http://bristolmassage.co.uk/) 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 (http://feelhotyoga.co.uk/), Clive Tempest of Conscious Connections with his Chi Gung group(http://www.bigger-picture.net/), Joy Hicklin-Bailey of Secret Garden with her Joyful Loving retreat (http://www.secretgarden.eu.com) and Alaric Newcombe (http://www.alaricyoga.com) 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: http://www.poulstone.com/courses.php for full details.

That’s all for now!

Much love,

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Do Not Disturb!!

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 (http://heartwisdom.co.uk/events/) 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

Late autumn news

We greatly enjoyed hosting Jonathan Horwitz’s Death, Life and Shamanism course here last week (http://www.shamanism.dk/).  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 (http://www.spectrumtherapy.co.uk/).  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

Autumn days…

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: www.mandascott.co.uk 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 (http://www.tmwtraining.com/)are 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 (http://www.shamanism.dk/courses.htm).  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

Drizzly day blog….

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 (http://www.tmwtraining.com/and http://www.soulmoves.co.uk/) 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!! (http://www.numerous-aspects.co.uk/index.html). 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

Farewell to our yoga therapists………and to Alanah……

Farewell to our yoga therapists………and to Alanah……

We have just said goodbye to Heather Mason and her group of yoga therapists. We very much enjoyed their stay and were pleased that they had such a lovely return to summer weather for their visit. We were very impressed that their work is geared towards helping people facing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and also specialised areas including work with young people with anorexia and those suffering from post-traumatic stress. They incorporate yoga and mindfulness training with insight from neuroscience and psychotherapy and psychology.  For more information about their valuable work, visit their site at http://www.yogaforthemind.info/about-us/introduction.html.

We also said farewell yesterday to Alanah who has been with us for two years, helping in the kitchen whilst studying for her A-levels. We’ve really enjoyed having her on the staff team and watching her grow in confidence over her time here. After lots of hard work and dedication, she has just achieved her grades to go to Exeter University to become a radiographer. Due to being camera-shy, she never made it into our staff gallery on the website but we did manage to snatch a quick photo in the kitchen for the blog! We wish her very well for her new university career!

It’s a glorious hot sunny afternoon here at Poulstone and the cleaning and bed-making are in full swing. The leaves are just beginning to turn in the garden but the maple at the top of the drive is already a stunning red  blaze (see above)! After a lazy post-group morning, we’ll be out in the garden picking peas, beans and tomatoes and doing a bit of dead-heading to keep the roses in good shape.

That’s all for now!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Comings and goings and the apple season

Comings and goings and the apple season

Great excitement this morning as we saw, from the Bothy windows, a heron sitting on top of one of the fir trees by the tennis lawn!  (Where is the camera when you need it??)! This huge bird perched weightlessly on the uppermost branches of the tree and then took off and glided into the cover of the beech trees. They are so easily disturbed by human activity even down by the river bank so it feels like a great honour to have them around in the garden! What a great start to the day!

Today we are preparing the house for Heather Mason’s yoga teachers’ group arriving tomorrow. Heather is one of the founders of the Minded Institute (http://www.yogaforthemind.info/) and we are delighted to have her back with us after her first visit in 2012.

We have had a couple of groups in since last writing. A fortnight ago we welcomed Judge Choudhry and Michelle Falcone of Heart2Heart Events with their Heart Awakening Experience. This is the start of a series of events they will be running at Poulstone and the students were brimming with enthusiasm for the work as we chatted to them in the shop on the last day. Many of the group we had met from some of Christian Pankhurst’s workshops here too so it was very nice to welcome them back. Keep an eye on our Courses page for more information about their work.

Last weekend we welcomed the Summer Gathering led by Richard Farmer and his teaching team. Richard has led Summer Gathering events at Poulstone for many, many years originally for his Rising Dragon Tai Chi School students.  This new incarnation is open to old RDTC students, to students of Soul Moves (http://www.soulmoves.co.uk/soulmoves.php) and his newer work, Tai Chi Movements for Well-being (http://www.tmwtraining.com/). The TMW training is bringing the benefits of Tai Chi to the NHS and healthcare organisations in the UK and Europe. It was wonderful to see people spanning almost the entire length of Richard’s teaching career working with Tai Chi in different ways and enjoying some of their classes out on the tennis lawn in the late summer sunshine. Wonderful!

In between the comings and goings, we have been collecting all the windfall apples and peeling, coring and blanching them for the freezer for puddings in the colder months. We had a couple of little helpers on Monday, when our friend Vicki, fresh from the Summer Gathering, brought her grand-daughters Freya and Isla over to show them where grandma comes for her courses. Isla, only 3, was the perfect height for collecting under the smaller trees!  Thank you, girls! We also played a great game of hide and seek and musical chairs in the walled garden!

Yesterday, Gail, Mel and Steve had fun spending the afternoon and early evening, preparing the two barrows of apples. We were rather pleased with ourselves as we slipped 33 3/4 kgs of apples into the freezer!!

Today, after the housekeeping and mowing, we are going to make gooseberry & ginger, and blackcurrant jam!  Yum!

Right, time to get on with some office work!

More soon! Don’t forget to look out for the herons if you’re here in the next few weeks!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre