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!

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

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 (http://www.freefallwriting.com) 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 (http://mandascott.co.uk)and Chris Luttichau (http://northerndrum.com) 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: http://mandascott.co.uk/book_item/into-the-fire.

Next week we say hello again to the Gordon Moody Association (http://www.gordonmoody.org.uk).  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

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

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 (http://www.lydiakiernan.co.uk/).  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 (http://theartofmeditation.org/) 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

Flu, Spring, masseurs and rabbits…

Well, we haven’t got to the blog for a few weeks.  Mel had several weeks of flu last month and was out of action.  Still, there are silver linings to most things  – she discovered she wasn’t indispensable and also lost a few Christmas pounds!

Despite the nocturnal bulb eating forays of the local rabbit population, we still have at least some lovely bulbs bursting into colour – the snowdrops are coming up amongst the dogwoods and around the place, and crocuses and daffodils are beginning to appear.  There should be lots of colour in a week or so.  We also planted some bulbs in rows up in the veg patch for picking for the dining tables, and as we wait for the group to arrive today, the tables look lovely with daffs and helibores on them.

We’re starting to get busy in the veg plot.  Gail’s bringing up manure from the compost area and has been planting onions this week.  Steve’s mowing the lawn today for the first time this year which always smartens the garden up after the winter.  After weeks of mainly greyness, it’s a lovely Spring day here today.  Hilary is on Iona having a much deserved rest and so the lovely Ellie, who some of you may have met last year, is cooking for us for the next few days.  We have two shamanic groups coming in this week back-to-back so we should be busy.  Since last writing, we’ve had a large group of lively masseurs (and masseuses!) here doing the residential part of their training and we’ve had a seven day silent meditation retreat since then.  Quite different energies – which is one of the pleasures of running the place!

Gail’s also quite an accomplished seamstress and has recently made roman blinds for most of the bathrooms, recycling some old curtains that had been languishing in the housekeeping cupboard for years.  She’s also adding thermal lining to existing curtains which should make things cosier after stepping out of the shower in the winter months.

That’s all for now.  Time to meet and greet!

With love

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre