Sunday, December 8, 2013


Our 2013 yoga retreat season finished in November with a flourish of glorious Argentinian Tango dancing and an Óga Yóga celebration in Irish. A fitting end in many ways to a wonderful year in which we welcomed guests, teachers and volunteers from all over the world to share our family home in the forest.

Since then we said goodbye for the winter to our awesome team of Olly and Spin, Katherine Smith, and Hugh & Kim, the last couple of a whole hard working crew we had the pleasure to get to know this year.

River's been spending her time alternating between prettifying every room in the house and studiously working on her Natural Physician training. I made the most of the last few dry and sunny winter weeks to gather, chop and store stacks and stacks of firewood from the land and river clearing we had done in the spring. Loving being the 4 of us again, retreating ourselves as a family into the cosyness of evenings spent in front of and devouring food cooked in, roaring wood burning stoves.

In between all of that, we've been developing our new retreat program for 2014, which, we're delighted to tell you, is now online and open for reservation on our website and all weeks uploaded to our FB Events page.

As you'll see, we've moved to a Sunday afternoon arrival, Saturday afternoon departure for our retreats next year. We want to encourage our guests to spend a night or 2 exploring Lisbon and Porto before travelling up to us in the forest. A little pre retreat break. And also to give our team Saturday nights off to chill and/or get to chance to explore our local town of Oleiros a bit more often.

Finally, a big thank you to all who visited us this year for all your incredible photos. We've uploaded some of our favourites to a new FB album. Muito obrigado.

Here's wishing you a very happy Christmas, and may your dreams keep coming true in 2014.

Thanks for popping by.


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!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Off to the beach...

We just said goodbye this morning to a lovely group on our Cultivate Contentment retreat. The summer is in full flow here in Portugal with temperatures soaring above 40 in the afternoon sun. We knew it would be hot, so we cheekily planned a couple of weeks off in our yoga season this year to enjoy it as a family.

In a bit I'm driving off with Von and the kids down to one of the most gorgeous stretches of Portuguese coastline, the Costa Vicentina. For a week of yoga, pool and surfing. We'll be staying with out friend Sara Serrão in her stunning Cerca do Sul place down there, and have invited folks to join us. 2 of our guests from the week just gone are meeting us there tonight, along with a few others journeying from cooler climes to basque in the sunshine with us.

To the beach, to the beach, to the beach!!! If you happen to be in Portugal this week, I know Sara still has a couple of rooms free. Come down and join us even if it's just for a night or 2. There's a Jazz festival there next weekend too. We're hoping to see some of it.

Other snitch of news from Vale de Moses to share is that Safira, our little black, blue-eyed forest guide of a dog, is shortly to birth heirs to the Moses dynasty. Safi is pregnant. A good 6 weeks by our reckoning. That means a slight chance she might pop some puppies out while we're away. So we have a fully trained, fully prepared, fully excited ("the puppies are coming, the puppies are coming!" team to look after her while we're gone. Katherine, Alex and Hannah. They've promised to take plenty of photos and vids, and if all goes well, watch our Facebook space for details of the new Royal arrivals (Moses granny won best of breed at Crufts don't you know!). We will be needing to find very good homes for all the little puppies. Give us a shout if you'd like to be considered as adoptive parents. :)

"Saude, paz e amor" as they say round these parts. Hope you are having a great summer wherever you are.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

As Featured in The Guardian!

A pleasant little surprise this week to find The Guardian ran it's first little feature on Vale de Moses. We had no idea. It was only when a guest booked on last weekend and said they had seen us in the travel section of the paper, that we were first alerted.

So now we're officially at "As featured in The Guardian" status. :) We hope the first of many main stream press features to come. You can see all our published articles and reviews so far here on our site.

Other big news is our launch of "Ashtango" this Autumn.  Featuring daily classes of Ashtanga Yoga and evening classes of Argentine Tango, we combine the two disciplines and are playfully calling it ‘Ashtango’.  Retreat dates: October 12 – 19 & October 19 – 26

Tashidawa teaches daily Ashtanga yoga classes and Carla Somer leads afternoon Tango technique classes and evening dance events. Combining the skills of dance and the mindful meditation of yoga, this retreat will explore alignment, balance, acceptance, grace and power.
Argentine Tango is an improvisational dance in which the connection between the dance partners is the most important factor. The dance technique begins with learning simple steps and then exploring these steps with varied expressive, playful, intense, passionate moods. 
Memorising the dance steps is not necessary & you don’t need any prior dance experience to be involved. What is important is the open minded & responsive contact between the dancers. No yoga experience is necessary either, however, a good level of fitness is recommended as the classes can be rigorous.
This retreat is not to be missed, book early to ensure your place…
Retreat price from 550€ includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation, all Ayurveda meals and full facilities
  • 5 morning Ashtanga classes with Tashi Dawa
  • 4 afternoon and 3 evening Tango classes with Carla
  • Massage and Acupuncture treatments with Vonetta Winter from 50€ per hour

It would be so very remiss of me, seeing as we are on the topic of Guardian features, not to also mention how incredibly proud we are of our friends Hannah and Charlie, from an olive farm over the hills from us in Oleiros.  These guys who have been instrumental in bringing the Bilderberg group into the global public eye over the last 4 years. Check out Charlie's hilarious satirical Guardian blog entries from this year's not-so-secret-anymore conference in Watford.

While here in the forests of Portugal we are far away in distance from the rest of civilisation, you guys have helped us feel so very much more connected. You are our heroes. Look what you did!! Feet up next year then?

Thanks for tuning in.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer wherever you are.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Interview with Tashi Dawa

Very sad to say goodbye to Tashi yesterday. We can't wait to see her again in the Autumn. Watch this space for more info of her return. Plus a few more photos from our guests over the last fortnight. More on Facebook.

Mountain View
Lunch Prep
Dinner in Courtyard

Vale de Moses

Farmhouse and Yoga Shala

Yoga Shala

Mung bean Pancakes

Partner Yoga

Safira drinking


Marte and Jordan

Katherine Smith

Jordan on the path
Sr António in Abitureira

Ana with Dona Celeste in Abitureira

Mug and Candle

Josh and Andrew

Moses napping

River in the valley