Friday, November 30, 2012

Yoga Retreats Portugal 2013

Thanks to the great team at Seegno for updating our Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat website ready for our 2013 season here in Portugal, including an online booking system. Top job guys. We really appreciate all the extra time you put in to make it work.

Cinco estrellas Seegno!

And thanks also goes out to the lovely Andi and Olly who have spent the last 3 weeks planting in half of the garden centre that we bought last month for our anniversary present. We'll show some pics of the grounds around the houses next week. It's lush.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Kitchen Garden, Road and River Pools

As promised here are a couple of update videos showing the progress of the new kitchen garden makeover (take a peak at what it used to look like here for comparison), meet Fanny and Felipe, and take a first glimpse of the new road leading to the river pools at the bottom of the valley.

Enjoy.  Memphis.

New kitchen terrace garden makeover

Introducing Felipe and Fanny

New road down to the rivers

Natural river swimming pools

Friday, November 2, 2012

We bought a Garden Centre!

Last week River and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Felt proper grown up. Almost. We nipped over to Sertã for a little lunch and, as we normally do when we go there, popped by the lovely garden centre run by a Brazilian family. Only to sadly find that they had closed down. We drove round the back to find a charming young man, Luciano, who explained he was looking after the house and grounds while the owners were back in Brasil. They'd be back but not for a while.

We noticed a few plants still in the front and inquired if they were still for sale. How delighted were we to find that they still were, and at very low prices too, even for the mature palms, yukkas, cactii, succulents, roses, hedges, olives and trees. I looked at River. She at me. Then I asked the guy for a price to buy every plant they had left and some of that good soil and chicken poop round the back.

It was our anniversary. We felt a rush of blood to the head. A 'once in a lifetime' price offered and agreed, delivery date set, and lo and behold, just like that, we had bought the whole stock of this wonderful little Garden Centre. 900 plants plus soil. Love is such a crazy thing. A garden centre's worth of plants seemed so much more fitting to our 18 years of marriage than a ring or watch could ever be.

To give all these lovingly grown and cared for plants the very best of homes at Vale de Moses. What a thing. The plants will be together forever! As we hope we will be too. Now all we need to do is figure out where to plant them all!

On the drive home:

"Memphis, do you think we are ever going to start living a little more sensibly one day, a tad more sanely?"

"I hope not babe. We only get one shot at this life. Might as well make the absolute most of it, não é."

"Feared you might say that.", with that oh so cute smile of hers as wide as the ocean.

Drove all the way back to Amieira dreaming of the fecundity to come.

We're just finishing our last retreat of the year today. A wonderful week to end an incredible 2012 season. The lovely Paul and Sally celebrated their 20 years of marriage here along with the amazing Georg and Amy, Aussies from Saudi Arabia, the sweetest Rosie, florest from England and the enigmatic gardening astrologer Alea from California. Felipe from Brazil and his girlfriend Fanny from Sweden celebrated his 31st birthday Portuguese styley with cake and brigadeiro on the day our good friends Bill and Becky arrived on their travels round Portugal.

14 of us in total. Felt like a week of proverbial fireworks going off. Rounding off our retreat season with a marvelous bang topped indeed by being constantly surrounded by such beautiful plants in pots sitting in every available space around the farmhouse. Simply glorious. Thanks guys for making it such a special finale.

Tomorrow we head off to Gois for Eloise's second horse riding lesson at a stunning little family run riding school and holiday centre, followed by a hack through the forested valleys there for River, Felipe, Fanny and Rosie. Last weekend Eli and I drove the 90 minute road across the mountains with jaw droppingly stunning views to the stables run by Steve and Sandra with first class lessons given by their daughter Mella. They've been here in Portugal 18 years now, arrived about the same time River and I were getting married, and have created a charming riding holiday spot next to a river with 7 horses and a menagerie of dogs. "Too sweet" as the Bajans say.

It was an emotional day for Eli's first lesson. It had been a long long time since her last sit in the saddle at her 6th birthday party with her friends in London. We'd been looking for stables near us for the last few years and talked to the one or two people who own horses around here but nothing ever got going. Eventually, we looked further afield and decided the 90 minute drive over the mountain was worth it and booked in her lesson with Mella and a tall elegant mare called Puff.

To see my daughter trotting confidently, hands free round the sand school, with an ever constant beam of pure joy on her pretty face, actually brought a tear or two out of her proud old Dad's eyes. A sério.

She had waited patiently for 7 years to have another go on a horse. And there she was grooming Puff, tying on her saddle, becoming friends and learning to ride her. Too incredible for words. She'll be exploring the valleys and villages there in no time at all. "Awesomeness" in Eloise's inimitable own word.

There's more. 2 weeks ago our 15 year old Joshua arranged his first job. Check this out. Playing a baby grand piano in the lobby of the newly built 4 star Hotel Santa Margarida in our local town of Oleiros, while their guests dine on Friday and Saturday nights. A bit of pocket money for the lad plus a lush dinner prepared by a wonderfully talented chef and waitress served on his own table in the restaurant.

And there is nothing better to improve one's playing than live in front of an audience. Gives great inspiration to practice and learn more pieces. The sound a baby grand produces in that lobby is delicious. Music fills the hotel. Lifts the ambience to life. Keeps people a little longer, for just one more drink. We hope he gets to play there as often as possible. Maybe start a little band, who knows. What a first gig!

Will try to take a video this weekend of the new kitchen gardens. Lawn is sown and the grass is already 2 inches high. Beds are ready for the influx of new flowers and the smaller herb garden ready for seedlings through the winter. We've also cleared and built a new access path down to the river ready for restoring the little stone dams. That'll need a video too. It's magical along the river. Timeless.

And finally, our Vale de Moses yoga retreat website should be ready for making online bookings for the 2013 season in a week or so. You'll hear it here first.

Thanks for tuning in peeps.