Some golden days

Finally! a couple of glorious sunny autumn days in which to take some photos of the trees around Poulstone changing into their autumn colours.  Mel sneaked out yesterday while the group were in their session to take a few shots around the place, especially the shining yellow maple along the driveway which was positively glowing in the late afternoon sun against an iron-grey sky.

We have a group of psychotherapists with us this week and they have been shrouded in mist all week which they tell us has been perfect for the work they are doing on the “shadow” side of our nature.  For us, it has felt very cosy and internal, the beginning of that hibernating feeling as winter approaches.  However, as the course comes to a close tomorrow, they are finishing in wonderful autumnal sunshine!

It’s been a busy time with the course this week and we now seriously need to get out there with some rakes!  Steve has been also starting to put together our “new” recycled greenhouse which is looking great.  It will have to live without its roof for a while but otherwise is looking really good and sturdy.  Gail and Steve had some fun putting it together and it will make potting up and growing tomatoes, peppers, aubergines (and perhaps the ever-elusive melon…) a much nicer proposition.

Also, on an autumnal note, we’ve been harvesting our squash before the frosts come.  A rather diminished crop compared to last year but enough to have made the effort worthwhile.  The garden is full of wonderful greens which are coming into the Poulstone kitchen – Swiss and rainbow chard, leaf beet, kales and cabbage.

We’re also now the proud owners of about 5000 Spring bulbs which we’ll be putting in next week (starting to wonder if we have bitten off more than we can chew there!).  We’re hoping the daffodils, tulips and other bulbs will give you an even lovelier array of  colour if you visit in the Spring.

Since our last post, we’ve been busy with a Tai Chi group, a seven day meditation retreat and two shamanic groups.  We’ve also been joined on a part-time basis by Nicky, Alanah and Emma who have joined the team since Charmaine departed.  Everyone is learning the ropes and fitting easily into the team.

That’s about it for now except for a few more autumnal pics!


More soon!

Love Mel & Steve x

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre


A final burst of summer?!

We’re having a last little burst of summer sunshine here before the autumn sets in properly.  This month we’ve had a seven day silent meditation retreat here with Burgs and a Tai Chi-based long weekend with Richard & Marigold Farmer.  Both groups were blessed with some lovely, warm sunny days and were able to do exercises outside and enjoy being in the gardens.

There’s still a fair bit of colour in the garden, most notably the yellows, oranges and pinks in the circular bed by the box hedges, the sweetpeas and cosmos.  We’ve just noticed that more butterflies seem to be belatedly appearing as the rainy weather has taken a short break, and they are especially enjoying the last remaining buddleia flowers.

The wildlife is so abundant here.  We’ve had the pleasure of encountering a few hedgehogs recently around the place at dusk and we also managed to get a sighting of the kestrel that is spending its nights tucked up in the recesses of the front porch.  The swallows and martins are all intensifying their flying activities during the day ready for their migration.  Flying school is in full swing and it’s a delight to see them all lined up along the guttering outside our kitchen window preening their feathers before swooping away for another practice run!  All rather wonderful!

We now have Jonathan Horwitz’s shamanic group in for the week.  Each marvellously sunny morning this week, while we were doing our morning practice at home, we were treated to the lilting, magical sound of Jonathan playing his flute in the garden.

A beautiful start to the day x

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre


A bit of catching up

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword when groups cancel.  After the initial “Oh no”, very quickly follows the “Oh yes” of a bit of less-busy time.  So we’ve just had a couple of weeks to catch up with some pressing jobs in the garden and take some nice long walks around the area to counteract the middle-aged spread!  We spent about five hours on the Wye Valley Walk from Poulstone to Mordiford on a blazing hot day.  It was gorgeous – a lot of the walk was through the dappled shade of woodland as well as blissful little sections along the Wye, amongst pink flowered hog weed, clematis and dragonflies of the most exquisite electric blue, turquoise and metallic green.  Beautiful.

In the garden, Steve has been tackling the yew and laurel bushes by the Buddha which badly needed pruning, having gone rather bald in the middle and ballooned out on the outside, swamping the poor walnut tree.  As you can see, he applies a high degree of health and safety considerations to his work……!

We’ve also been trying to catch up with the fruit-picking which is getting away from us, as other things have had to take priority.  Sometimes we just have to say we didn’t have time and the birds will be grateful for the food!  Mel has been picking loganberries and redcurrants, and the blackcurrants are starting to need picking now.  The loganberries are already featuring in berry trifles and other puddings.  We’ll also freeze a lot so groups across the year get to sample them.

And Poulstone has been given a new greenhouse!  Some clients of Dave (our once-a-month gardener) very generously offered us their old greenhouse if we were willing to go and dismantle it.  So we went off to their home on the outskirts of Hereford and took it down and lashed it to the top of the trusty van and brought it back to Poulstone.  Amazingly only one pane of glass got slightly cracked during the whole mission!  Steve’s been spending time dismantling the dilapidated old greenhouse here, ready to install the replacement.  We’ll be able to go back to growing tomatoes, peppers, basil and so on in the greenhouse without Gail feeling she should be wearing a hard hat in there!

Since then, we’ve had Alec Jones’s Dragon Spring Tai Ji School’s Summer Retreat here.  The sunnier weather held for them so they were able to play Tai Ji in the gardens.  It’s lovely sitting in the office seeing people playing the form on the lawn!

The day after they left, we were joined by Marianne Murray with her Holotropic Breathwork group.  Marianne is an annual Poulstone regular and we had a great week with her and the group.  They rounded off the week with a fire outside in the walled garden on their last night.

So we now have a couple of days to get organised ready for the start of the work retreat – time to walk round the garden and house and look at the jobs that need doing, check all the tools are where we thought they were (!) and so on.  It’s always a lovely week, hanging out with old friends and new, and we’re looking forward to it.

More soon!

Mel & Steve x

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre                                     P.S. These heleniums are our favourites of the moment – and the bees love them!