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

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