Monday, 15 November 2010

Quinta Dos Melros

Another few weeks has passed, and after our lazy month in Medina soaking up the sun we’ve been quite busy – we had a great week WWOOFing with an old school friend of mine - Chris, his wife Filipa and their lovely daughter Maria in Portugal; and now we are back in the UK and feeling the cold!

It was brilliant to catch up with Chris after a long time (at least 7 years) since I last saw him, and what an impressive place he has been creating at Quinta Dos Melros . We spent the week helping out around the farm, which is currently recovering from a devastating forest fire back in August, which by some miracle the straw bale house Chris has been building survived. There are signs of regeneration around as trees and other vegetation slowly come back to life, but it’s hard to imagine the food forest that was growing here previously. We very much hope that in a few years time we will be able to return and see how everything has recovered from this set back. Chris has just completed a diploma in Permaculture design and we learnt a lot from him about various issues that WWOOFing has been throwing our way, and began to understand a bit more about the underlying philosophy of Permaculture. For free and very interesting documentaries on a wide range of issues check out this website:

We sowed seeds, helped chop wood and stack it for use over the winter, played with Maria, helped lay down some new flooring in the house and spent a fun afternoon moving a caravan (to replace the two that burnt down in the fire and for us to sleep in) and then a morning, with help from several of Chris’ friends realizing that the reason it was now flat-out refusing to budge was that somehow the handbrake had become engaged on the last part of its journey!

We had a lot of fun at Quinta Dos Melros, spent lots of time playing cards, drinking wine and eating fine food cooked up on the wood burning range (delicious lasagne and pizza) as well as having a fantastic evening making music – taking part in a drumming circle in a nearby cob walled round house was a really unforgettable experience. We also had an interesting visit to Chris’ neighbour Joaquin’s house full of cats and for some of us also to his wine cellar (men only allowed!!). We really hope we will get the chance to go back to spend time with Chris, Filipa and Maria again sometime!

After Portugal we flew back from Porto to London, spent a night in Surbiton with Dan and Katy, and went to the pub with Mandy before carrying on to Shropshire where we spent two days building a small section of fencing and starting to prepare for the arrival of our sheep in December…

Now we are in Bampton, then later in the week we’ll be in Bristol before we head down to Devon for two more weeks WWOOFing.