Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Swimming in Rivers and Puppy Love!

We're having a scorcher folks! It's hot. Regularly up into the 40's and sizzling. So glad we were able to put in a couple of natural river pools this year. Has really helped all of us cool down in the late intense heat of the afternoons. We live on the edge of wilderness in the forests of central Portugal and as such we experience the elements of planet earth a tad more intensely than we used to in our old London life.

When the wind blows, the wood in the forest roars and dances. When the rain falls, the rivers' waters rage white. When you fall on a stone, you know the immovability of earth. As well as it's healing properties when we bathe in mud by the river. Now in summer, the fire from the sun in the sky sure does heat you up and everything around you. Thank God we're in the mountains so the evenings and mornings are fresh, enough for a jumper. And grateful that our houses here are bermed deep into the rock, so keep deliciously cool.

While the team are keeping cool inside, our guests are obviously making the most of the weather. This is one of the new irrigation tanks just completed below our guest house. It is fed directly from the river and rejoins it straight after.

The best thing about the tank isn't the squeals of delight we hear wafting up from the valley as people take a plunge into the refreshing cold, but the knowledge that all the big terraces below this tank can now be irrigated plentifully in the years to come. Big relief.

Water levels in this heat are running low as you can imagine, so everyone has kindly been careful with their water usage, quick showers, no running taps etc etc. As a back up we also just hooked up 3 outdoor showers that are run from an old Moorish water mine and heated on the way down by the sun. Means the showers are fresh in the mornings and evenings, but perfect shower temperature between 11am to 9pm.

For those who love a bigger swim we go to this magnificent natural river swimming pool called a Praia Fluvial, in Oleiros now and again, and once a week we all go to the River Zêzere for a decadent mud bath in the isolated wilds.

Mud baths are such a rejuvenating and elementally connecting thing to do, as any of our guests will attest. Always followed up with refreshments at the local cafés in Abitureira to meet the locals and chat under the shade of grapes, orange and olive trees. The kindness and advice of our neighbours here has often sustained us over the years. A precious anthropological experience that we can't let folk leave Oleiros without sampling. One of their highlights of the week.

Other news is we finally got the tipi up. Josh, Olly and I went into the forest a few weeks ago to cut some tall straight young Eucalyptus trees, de barked them immediately and dried them. Olly and Ernst put it up ready for its first guest, the wonderful Holly, a couple of weeks ago. There's also a 4 man tent next to it. Both have handmade Portuguese futons on frames and glammed up a little inside. Most cosy and already useful additional this year for those who ignored our fully booked sign on the website and enquired if we had somewhere to stay anyway!

Josh and Eloise are spending August, before they return to school mid September, visiting their grandparents in Barbados. This is Eli's new FB shot just to rub it in. While Vonetta and I are working through the heat of the summer, they are chilling with cocktails by tropical beaches. I'm wondering if these roles reverse anytime in the next few years. Where we put our feet up and they work to keep us in a manner to which we are still yet to be accustomed to! I suspect not so much!

So apart from swimming in rivers, in mud, in lovely guests, and the kids in the Caribbean sea, we're also swimming in puppies. It was Vonetta's 40th back in July and Eloise baked one outstanding cake to celebrate the occasion. Seriously peeps, these photos don't do it justice. Simply divine taste and texture, ingeniously sculpted and perfectly iced. I can still taste it. What a baker!

Fitting for the grandeur of the moment. Particularly as the day had already started with cries of "THE PUPPIES ARE HERE!!" screeching through the dawn over the valleys at 7.15am as Safira our dog began giving birth to 6 gorgeous little blind and wet heirs to the Moses dynasty.

We're thinking of keeping a couple of them and are currently talking to a few lovely peeps about whether they would like to take care of 4. One of the 2 black girls and three of the 4 boys. I'll leave you with a few pictures of Puppies below, cure enough to warm the hardest hearts. They are socialised beyond belief thanks to everyone who's stayed here and taken advantage of regular one on one puppy love therapy sessions as often as they could.

There's a lot of love around Vale de Moses this summer. Bursting at the seams with it. :)  We even had honeymooners Emily and James from Lisbon with us too (twas a grand excuse for more cake!). Plus a happy birthday sung in 6 different languages to Avril from Ireland. Surely this is the season to be jolly? Tra la la la la La la la la!

Only a few more retreats left this season. Still one or two spaces left in September and October. Reserve your place on Vale de Moses and we'll be seeing you later in the Autumn. And if you want to be first to be notified when our 2014 retreats are online, do like our FB page. Barbados retreats next Easter too. New schedule and dates should be up online in a month or so.

Peace and all good things to you. Wherever you are, we hope you're having a wonderful time.


"And they call it, puppy love...."

First week
2 weeks old
Always sleeping in piles
Man and Dog!

Known as Cosmo or Ice

Ice leaving his cage

This is Burrow

Safira: Stamina and Patience
Too sweet!

Eloise in Puppy heaven
Josh and MiniMoses
Regal and proud already!
Eat, play, poo and sleep!