Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Gardens of Abrantes Castle

After many months we finally got to meet up again with our good friends Francisco and Raquel (and baby Manuel) from the lovely old Portuguese city of Abrantes. It's about an hour or so from our place, but always worth the drive to see them. This time Raquel showed us, including new puppy Saphira, around the castle and gardens. Divine.

It was particularly inspiring to see many of the trees we have planted at Moses, and how they will look in 30 to 40 years time. We walked through the gardens catching up with Raquel and imagining the ladies that would have paraded around in long dresses and parasols next to the swans in the days when the castle was the centre of life in Abrantes.

And those flowers. And cacti. And prickly pears. Simply dripping. Thanks for the tour guys. Let's do another one somewhere else later in the summer eh?

Fishing season opened once more in Portugal on Monday. With license in hand (3 euros for the year!), I flew down to the River Zêzere a couple of times with our neighbours this week. Caught a few local tips of how to improve my fishing, although no joy in catching anything to eat, but what a blessing it is to sit and ponder on such beauty. I'm hooked. Will let you know when the fish are too.

This morning we said goodbye to two delightful French Wwoofer sisters, Laure and Emma from Bordeaux. They have diligently weeded and dug and planted and mulched beds for more tomatoes and cauliflowers. Merci! We now have a week alone until Bridget and Alison arrive at the end of the month. And not so long now before we head off to Glastonbury.

The Wwoofers have been fantastically helpful this year. Very much appreciated. And will be again for Olive and Wine harvests later in the year. But we sense that the time has now come for us to open up Moses for a retreat space. I've updated the Booking section on this blog with more details of the gardening, yoga, massage and acupuncture available here from September. If you're interested let us know. It should be a lot of fun and rewardingly hard work. Which is the reason we love gardening so much.

That's it for now. I'll leave with a quick tour of one of my favourite places in the parish of Amieira. The Olive Press. "Today on Playschool, we go through the round window..."

Peace and love as always


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lines written in Early Spring 1798...

William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Thanks to my Aunty Sally for sending through this poem. Wordsworth was a British poet who spent his life in the Lake District of Northern England. Wordsworth, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, started the English Romantic movement with their collection LYRICAL BALLADS in 1798. When many poets were writing about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, Wordsworth focused on nature, children, people, and used ordinary words to express his personal feelings. His definition of poetry was "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings arising from emotion recollected in tranquillity"

"Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science."

Lyrical Ballads, 2nd ed., 1800

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ready to play

We began writing this blog 3 years ago, after our Poop in Europe tour blog had run its course. The whole blogging experience has been invaluable. It's been like a rudder through the meta narrative of the story we find ourselves in. By telling the story to those that drop in once in a while to hear it, one constantly re-orientates oneself. Our blogs are also, obviously, a personal record, albeit in public journal form, of our adventure together since we jumped out of the Matrix of London back in Feb '07.

Walking in Yokes and Chains through England, touring southern Europe in a motorhome, magically discovering the once fruitful and now almost forgotten and abandoned mountain way of life of the Portuguese interior, and some houses nestled in a fertile valley that carried the same name as our dog.

How we bought Moses. How we found such kindness here. Such generosity. Such humanity in the Portuguese people. We fell in love. With the people, the culture, the language, the food, the music, the air, the water, the land, the stones, the roses. The blog is a record of how we also tried our best, although unfortunately unsuccessfully, to set up a yoga retreat together with 3 other yoga teachers from England that we invited out to join us.

After which we threw ourselves whole heartedly into restoring our own houses, with the outstanding help of local artisans, stone masons, carpenters and blacksmiths, who together with our ageing neighbours, have taught us so many things.

Skills we were desperate to learn; how to build in stone and clay and lime and straw and wood, how to look after the land in this valley, how and when to plant everything we need to live in this very particular micro climate and so so much more.

Flicking through the scrapbook of our lives that is this blog, I realised something quite clearly today. We're tooled up. We're ready for the life we have chosen. And we're full of gratitude. For all of it. The ups and the downs. The happy times, which simply could not have happened without those sad heart breaking times. It all had to happen exactly as it happened. That's just the way it is.

Being connected into a land as beautiful, as mysterious, as powerful as this, a human can actually live in harmony with planet earth. Seriously. Life works like this. It's enough.

Yet, if you believe the soothsayers, independent economic analysts and other pesky bloggers, our current dominant global civilisation known as the monetary market economy, finds itself on the verge of pending doom and collapse. I reckon they're probably right. I hope they're right. I can't yet see how it can be fixed. It's set up to keep rewarding the most powerful, the most wealthy, time after time after time. While enslaving millions in debt so they have to carry on earning cash to pay for the life essential food, water and services that we are more than capable of providing for ourselves.

And contrary to the very definition of economy, this current "economy", is anything but. It is the most wasteful, polluting, non sustainable, murderous, species annihilating version of a human civilisation that this old planet of ours has ever seen. If we survive it, which I am certain we will, I suspect history will remember this particular human epoch simply as Democratic Capitalism.

Wake up.

Before it's too late.

If you have any land in your family, however distant in relation or miles, go. Go now. Learn how to build. Learn how to cultivate food. Learn how to live in harmony. Learn how to love the earth. Learn the old ways before we lose them. Convert all you have, it's alchemy. And it is a whole heap of fun.

Do it! Jump! Blog it as you go. What's the worse that could happen?

In peace and in play,

(Just off to pick up a little black Labrador cross German Shepherd puppy from Joshua's friend Paulo. We'll let you see her shortly I'm sure...)