Browsed by
Category: General

A Years Reflection

A Years Reflection

It’s been just over a year since we took over custodianship of Poulstone. Cannot believe a year has passed by, almost seems we have been in a time warp. When I think about it though, it does not surprise me as this is the “Poulstone effect”. It lives in its own time zone where time itself seems to be suspended and all there is, is nature reminding you of change.

When we took over Poulstone there was a level of apprehension, particularly in ensuring our guests’ expectations were met but there have been no regrets in the decision taken to run Poulstone. I fell in love with Poulstone when I first came to Poulstone. In fact, I even fell in love with the journey to Poulstone; the grazing cows in the orchard, the trees, the width of which still leave me in awe and if you are lucky, the peacocks guarding the gates and welcoming you into Kings Caple, the winding lanes and the magnificent views of rolling country. We still love Poulstone even though its personality requires a lot of care and attention. What has made this all worthwhile, though, are the guests and friends of Poulstone and their affection for Poulstone. We hope that we continue to meet your expectations and more.

Our recent apple harvest from the gardens has produced quality apple juice which is now on sale at Poulstone shop. We had many friendimage1s who volunteered, in what proved to be a fun packed day harvesting apples and preparing them for juicing.

Poulstone’s Facebook page is also now live and we have begun posting. Our new website will go live in Mid-December. I hope you visit and if you wish to have Poulstone newsletters, please let us have your email.

We also welcome Kirti (and her daughter Shriya) who has joined the team at Poulstone as the Business Administrator.

Again, thanking you for helping us through our first year at Poulstone. You really are the heart of Poulstone that brings out its soul.

 

Rajesh Rai

24 November 20161 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

February Reflections!

February Reflections!

I think of January and February as hibernation months. A time when nature restores itself making way for the vibrant activity of the Spring and Summer months. I expect January and February to be cold and look forward to wrapping up warm, for snow to fall and preparing, in the event of a heavy fall of snow, for guests of Poulstone to arrive at and depart from the retreat centre with relative ease. I planned very little outside work and most of my time planned for staying indoors, catching up on administrative tasks and preparing the house for spring.

Well, we have had a big surprise, the predicted cold winter never arrived at Poulstone and marched directly to the east coast of the USA. Poulstone has had incredibly windy days, particularly in January, with significant rainfalls in Herefordshire but no snowfall, or cold weather.

The excess rainfall has brought its own idiosyncrasy to Poulstone. The view from south of the house towards the River is nothing short of enchanting. The river has broken its banks and flooded the surrounding plains.

I take great delight in standing next to the Wellingtonia tree, to the front of the house, looking across the fields towards the River Wye as morning begins to break, taking in the vitalising morning dewy air.

I now have a picture imprinted in my mind of the views from Poulstone towards the river on a January morning. It is made up of bright orange skies, clouds stretched out like dough allowing the morning sun to peep through the gaps. A blanket of water over the front paddock reflects the overhanging trees and clouds. Birds and rabbits playing on the green beach of paddock touching the spread of the river.

This vista is completed by ancient trees, whose wisdom lingers in the air. This must be what one of the Guardians of Poulstone, the Wellingtonia Tree, sees and experiences every morning in the beginning months of the year.

Nature must be bewildered by the warm start to the year. Its February and the grass has started to grow, maybe it never stopped growing. The garden has required more attention than anyone planned. The mower has been out for the first cut of grass in 2016. The smell of cut grass in early February has confused our senses, as has mowing grass whilst having to avoid budding snow drops and daffodils.

We are grateful to Malvern Bhavan group for volunteering to do some work in the garden for a few hours as a part of their retreat. This has helped Poulstone catch up on the outdoor garden work and turned out to be a fun and rewarding part of their retreat. If any retreat would like to spend some of its time helping in the garden, please let us know. We can prepare a small schedule of outdoor garden works for your group.

We also organised massage therapy on behalf of a Cultural Leadership retreat. We had to temporarily convert the shop and the overflow dining room into massage therapy rooms. Our therapists, all qualified at the Bristol School of Massage, ended up providing eleven massage therapies. Again, if you wish to have massage therapy during your stay at Poulstone, please let us know in good time and we will do our best to organise a therapists.

A big thankyou to all the groups who have used the house in January and February. It’s been a very pleasant start to the year and spring, it seems, is already upon us. I do not wish to count “my eggs before they hatch” and ever mindful of the fickleness of English weather; my overcoat is at the ready, I am still making plans for guests in the event of heavy snows but doing so whilst “on the mower” in readiness for the next grass cut.

With much love

Rajesh Rai

22 February 2016

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings!

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings!

Wow, I cannot believe two months have gone by since taking over Poulstone!

Getting to know Poulstone has been a steep learning curve and has taken up most if not all of our time. The house, the gardens, the people, the surroundings and three retreats later, we are beginning to understand what it takes to run Poulstone. Mel and Steve did this so seamlessly and theirs will be a tough act to follow. We take this opportunity to wish Mel and Steve well in the next phase of their lives in the Pyrenees and thank them for their efforts in looking after Poulstone over the last eight years.

In June 2015, I ran a retreat at Poulstone for Malvern Bhavan. In July, Mel and Steve asked whether I wished to take over the running of the retreat centre and by the 9th November, I took over the management of Poulstone Retreat Centre. It’s been a rollercoaster journey and if I was told this is what I would be doing in a year’s time, I would have completely dismissed the idea.

Life ceases to amaze at how beautiful it is. It really does give you what you ask for. A year is a very long time and anything can happen, including the fulfilment of your hopes and wishes.

I am assisted by my wife, Divya and James. James now lives in the Bothy where Steve and Mel used to be. Together, we hope to continue acting as guardians for the space that has been created by your work and practices at Poulstone Court.

For those who do not know Poulstone, it’s been running as a retreat centre for over 25 years and one can sense the whole space at Poulstone to be pervaded by the spirit of many years of practice. This was the predominant reason for the decision to take over guardianship of Poulstone. I wish to honour, preserve and add to the energy created in Poulstone by over 25 years of work and practice by its guests. Poulstone’s guests really are the custodians of Poulstone and we look forward to getting to know you all over the coming months.

We will continue to maintain the high standards of service that you expect from Poulstone, retaining all staff. We do not intend to alter much in the running of Poulstone although in 2016 we hope to paint some of the rooms, change some of the carpets, purchase fresh bedding for all beds, update the website and also undertake some long overdue works on some of the windows. In the walled garden, we hope to introduce a rose garden and build an outdoor havan kund. We have already started on some of these works. The key in our minds to any change is to maintain Poulstone’s charm whilst improving the experience of your stay. We will be guided by you in this endeavour and your comments about your stay will always be valued.

We are grateful to our first three “retreatees”; Bill Wood who ran a Yoga retreat, Tim Bartlett a massage retreat and Sally Bogle, a Mindfulness retreat, for allowing us to serve and thanking you for enriching the space at Poulstone by your work.

2015 has been filled with generosity and opportunity, I hope this continues and hope and pray that 2016 brings love and joy to you all.

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings.

Raj

Poulstone Retreat Centre

 

 

Signing off for the year-end

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 (www.theartofmeditation.org) 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

A busy January

A busy January

Well, January has been unusually busy this year.  We enjoyed meeting Dutch trainers Thomas and Alet de Neve (http://www.parabole.nl) 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 (http://www.soulmoves.co.uk) 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 (http://bristolmassage.co.uk) 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 http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CloverFourteen.  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 (http://www.kevinkimber.co.uk/):

   

More soon!  Hope you’re staying dry!

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Happy New Year!

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: http://www.cafeatallsaints.co.uk/).

May 2014 be all you wish it to be.

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Quiet and golden

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 (http://theartofmeditation.org/) 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

Swans and things

Swans and things

Yesterday was the most golden, blue-skied day we’ve had for a while.  After the snow thawed, there came more flooding, but one of the wonderful things that happens here when it floods is that the swans from the river start landing on the flooded fields and when the water recedes they often stay for weeks.  Yesterday was so lovely, Mel went out for a walk with the camera and took some pictures including some of the swans.

    

We’ ve also recently been having some amazing cobwebs in the Poulstone meadow.  Thousands of tiny spiders lay their webs in drifts across the grass and when the sunlight illuminates them, it looks like a shining path of silver to the sun!

 

Beautiful!

Hope you’re getting a little sunshine too?

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre


Rabbit tracks in the snow…!

Rabbit tracks in the snow…!

We’ll, we’ve just had a wonderfully snowy week and were lucky enough to enjoy it without having to worry about guests travelling on icy roads. In fact, the timing was very good – all our deliveries had come and we had a week before our first group arrived.

So we just enjoyed being snowed in and went for lovely walks down by the river.  Steve had a fascinating time tracking in the snow the movement of all the rabbits that are currently decimating our bulbs!  We’d put up some barriers to the walled garden and could clearly see where they had tried to get around them.  In fact, it’s a good job everything has thawed as it could have become something of an obsession!  We may just have to stick to daffodils which they don’t seem very keen on…..We mainly stayed cosy up at home but Mel made occasional forays out to the rather parky office to check the phone and emails.

Fortunately, the roads thawed in time for a rare opportunity to get all the staff together in one place.  Because of the part-time nature of the work, we can all be a bit ships-in-the-night, so it was lovely to have an all-day staff meeting up in the facilitator’s flat to be together, talk about things, and share lunch (Steve’s wildly experimental but very good spicy aduki bean shepherd’s pie which was wonderful teamed up with one of Hilary’s home-grown cabbages!).

We now have a new yoga group in this weekend tutored by Suzanne Jevon-Hughston who is a local teacher.  The sun put in its first appearance for a while this morning.  So it was lovely, fresh and bright for their mid morning walk.  Next week we have a group of shamans coming, who have been working at Poulstone for over two decades!!  Some of them come from west Wales in very rural locations so we are hoping that the thaw will continue and they can get to us easily.

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from everyone at Poulstone!

We hope you had a peaceful and relaxing time over the Christmas break?

Ours was quiet and cosy and spent with family.  We did have to remove a flock of sheep from the veg patch on Boxing Day morning (!) but otherwise it was a wonderful opportunity to unwind…

We’re looking forward to receiving our first guests soon and hope we see you here some time in 2013.

Warm wishes and love,

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre