Jun 7, 2014

Silence, Music and Shared Stories....

Welcome back to the Mount of Oaks!

This blog post is WELL overdue. Apologies!


Much has been happening and we have been neglecting to keep on top of recording it all.....we have been honored to have been visited by people who have made our last months really special. 


We have been busy in the garden, with construction and enjoying the daily life here on the land. Hope you enjoy the pictures and little description of the last months.....

click link below to read more........



SILENCE as we entered EASTER

Our first Spring Silent Retreat went really well as a communal activity. The programme had a simple structure with time to read, sleep, go for walks and garden alongside our daily rituals. 

In the days leading up to Easter we chance to be silent and reflect together. To take time to listen to ourselves and the sounds around us was really special.

 Nina making a new bed in the garden.....silently meditating as she worked...Nina here was working with a technique known as bio intensive gardening - click here  for the link.

Marcia gave Indian Head massage in the common space - if you have never had one before do try it!

On Good Friday, again in silence we painted eggs. Eric's family had sent us the colouring and stickers needed to allow us to enjoy a German tradition. 

Eric wrote us out helpful instructions and then we had fun being creative together. 

Thanks to Mathilde (chicken) leaving a bumper stash of eggs we had lots to colour and decorate. 

We closed our silent time together with a simple ritual at the pond on Easter Sunday morning. We shared delicious chocolate and shared our highlights and lowlights from the retreat days. 

Afterwards we joined the village for Mass and then the Pascal Parade following the Priest and the host - singing and wishing 'feliz Páscoa'.

What waited us at home was a delicious lunch followed by singing and dancing - Irish style!

It was super to celebrate after the silent retreat - we look forward to hosting more. Get in touch for more details. 


Learning new skills 

 Rarely a week will pass, nevermind a day when we are not learning something about ourselves or a new skill. Sometimes it feels like living here is like one giant trade/life school.


Here is Marcia with the strimmer!  

Thanks to instructions from Barbara - Eric, Marcia and I are trained up to use the strimmer, complete with safety equipment. 


Barbara has been working on creating a shelter beside the pond entirely made with wood from the land. 


The roof will be a reciprocal roof - below are the pictures of the roof Barbara practiced to make on the ground.


As work continues we will post more photos. 




Brian and the Building of the Chicken Houses


 Brian Donkin and his daughter Louise came for a week earlier this month. Louise was taking time out to retreat and kindly stayed at our neighbour, Sr. Aquiles wonderful house up the hill. Louise we know from our SPEAK days.

Brian came on a different mission - to build and to make us laugh! 

He succeeded at both....along with Shane they tackled the construction of the new chicken house. 


Brian would rise early and be down at the chicken house while we were still waking up - determind to finish as much as he could on this trip. It was not the first time Louise and her Dad had visited the Mount of Oaks. The last time they came Brian made the table and benches for the common space!!


While Shane entertained us with his voice, guitar and harmonica - Brian shared his stories from years of medical practice. We were finding ourselves laughing A LOT after meals. Thank you Brian for all your help and generosity - including taking us out for dinners!! 

MONSANTO Medieval Festival


  A gang of us headed over to Monsanto on the Saturday evening of the Medieval Festival - there we met up with friends and enjoyed the atmosphere. A few walked up to the castle to see the beauty of the sunset and moonrise....


Finishing the Chicken House...


Brian did a lot in the week he was with us, but it was Barbara with the help of Eric and Shane who completed the chicken house.


As I write this Fleaky is sitting on 6 eggs - we are awaiting the arrival of the chicks any day now. Fingers crossed all will hatch......




We said goodbye to Shane after a month of him being here. We sang along to his tunes on many days, we were grateful for his help and look forward to welcoming him again in the future. All the best with the rest of your travels Shane!

My mum, Rosemary Cowan came for a week early May. It was super that there was one evening when Brian and Louise were still with us. The dinner table was a riot of laughter and story telling, not to mention white wine galore!


While mum was here we had a great time. One of the things we did together was to make some elderflower cordial from flower heads we collected while on a road trip.


Our neighbour Tyra advised us on a good recipe that included rose petals.


The end result is a delicious refreshing drink that we dilute with fizzy water! Yummy!


If you would like the details - drop us a message!







Kevin arrived a week after mum left. Another Northern Irish person! 


This, like mum was a return visit for Kevin - so he knew what he was letting himself in for! 


Last year Kevin came for two weeks and was present for the anti GMO walk to Fundao - this year he came with the specific task of putting together a video 'Snap Shot of the Life at the Mount of Oaks'....more about this in the next post!

Along with Xico we visited the local Festa in Atalaia do Campo. The picture above shows Kevin in control of Xico as we waited for the villages' kids to get on board for a donkey ride! It was so much fun for the kids and us!! Xico also seemed to love being the center of attention. 

Local traditional music band

here is Joao, a neighbour and friend at the Tasca his family was running - selling food and drinks. 






Constructed with earth bags, plastered with clay and finished off with a layer of lime and white wash. There have been MANY hands that have helped with various stages - you know who you are - THANK YOU! As for now - here are a few snaps of the progress the last weeks. 


Since last year we have been working little by little on a dog house that would rivial a palace - it is more like a bunker! 






Here is a picture of what the Dog House looks like today - nearly finished. Well done Barbara and team who helped. Ba says she has learned a LOT from this process and that it was really worthwhile to experience building with earth bags on a small scale - before trying anything more grand!! 







With warmth and water, good organic seeds and lots of love and care - we can proudly say that the garden is looking great and producing lots! 




Not only have we been planting future food, but flowers too - flowers to attract bees and provide joy....



Up by the pond Barbara created a Shantii Garden overlooking the water, complete with hand made seat.... here she is putting the final touches of mulch around a transplanted red rose.


Talking of mulch - Eric was busy with the stimmer, cutting our dry and spiky grass on the top terrace to bring as mulch to the garden...here he is at work!! 

And here is Kevin at work, not a power tool but a machette in his hand as he prepares the canes! 

Thank you.....


That is enough for now! This was a long post - sorry for the time lapse since the last update. We will try and be a little more regular... 


Thank you for reading!


Many blessings from the animals, plants, trees and those of us who live at the Mount of Oaks.


emma, baba, marcia and eric




Mark said...

Thanks for the update and all the lovely photos. The dog house looks amazing! You're really cracking on with the building work. We can't to come back some day to see all the new developments. Shalom! Love, Mark and Adrian.

Mark said...

Thanks for the update and all the lovely photos. The dog house looks amazing! You're really cracking on with building stuff. We can't wait to visit again to see all the new developments. Shalom! Love, Mark and Adrian.

Unknown said...

Thank you Mark for the comment!! We look forward to having you and Adrian back. Thinking of you both!