Successful Natural Building Course

Last week Barbara taught another of her marvellous 8 day Natural Building Courses, at Keela Yoga Farm. The participants were an international bunch from South Africa, Portugal, UK, Italy and Holland. The team learned a variety of techniques and quickly got the chance to get their hands dirty and practice their new knowledge! Straw bale, wattle and daub, cord wood – earth plastering, just some of the variety of skills they learned!

Some of the photos below are from one of the participants – Damien Walsh, the others from Barbara’s phone, so the quality is not the best, but you get the picture (pardon the pun!)

and they sum up the fun, as well as the work that group practiced.

On the day off, mid way through the course, the group came to Mount of Oaks. We prepared a meal, and Barbara gave a tour of our natural buildings. A great way to relax.

I was grateful for the help from Tatum and the girls in preparing for the guests!!

Alexa, Sven, Stephan, John, Damian, Clara and Ugo. WELL DONE!!!!!! We look forward to seeing what you will do with what you gained on this course! Please stay in touch!

Special thanks to Kimberly and Laurence their super hosting at Keela, and for their fantastic volunteers!! The pizza night on the final night was really special.

News and Dates for Natural Building Courses taught by Barbara will be shared in the Autumn.

New Moon-‘Seed Cycling’ Workshop

We were utterly blessed to have the wonderous Dearbhla Reynolds leading a super workshop on the powers of syncing the woman’s moon cycle with benefical gut cleansing foods and seeds.

The preparation of a kombucha based tonic drink, a recipe of Dearbhla’s called ‘Madam Tonic’ took place in the Mount of Oaks kitchen the previous day – to give time for the herbs and fruits to infuse and do their magic.

And then as the workshop began, all the ladies present got a shot of the good stuff!!

In total we were 21 ladies of different ages and stages of life. The information that Dearbhla shared applied to us all because whether we are pre or post menopausal all women have a cycle that can link with the moon.

When it came to attending to our gut health, eating foods, especially seeds, in seasons to help the balancing of hormones seemed to make so much sense.

Within the circle of women there were folks with all sorts of knowledge of health and healing, those with issues that Dearbhla addressed, and many of us keen to have more harmonious cycles.

Half way through we paused for a delicious dinner, inspired by the theme of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – foods to eat at different times in our monthly cycle. Before heading for food, we tried one of Dearbhla’s ‘Digestive Bitters’ – a squirt into the mouth to get the gut going even before food enters!!

And afterwards, we heard from each person something of their experiences. Thank you so all who attended and for our special Irish guest. For me personally, the evening ended with a sense of great empowerment. Knowing that there are simple changes that can be made to diet and weekly practices that means I can flow with my inner rhythm for the benefit of me and others around me!

For details of the work that Dearbhla does, check out ‘The Cultured Club’ where you can find recipes, and a link to her book ‘Funky Ferments’.

In Autumn we will host more fermentation workshops, keep an eye out for dates!

Chopping and Chatting

An amazing bunch of women gathered at the village hall kitchen in Povoa de Atalaia to prepare scrummy food for the Spring Gathering. Many thanks go to the creativity and care that these women gave to the preparation of the food.

But first – where did the veggies come from? LOCAL producers!

This is Vasco. He grows organic vegetables in our neighbourhood. It was a pleasure to visit him with Kevin and to harvest cabbages and select the salads we wanted.

Now, back to the ladies and our chatting and chopping…..this is about the 5th time we have cooked for large gatherings at the local village hall. Every time we seem to have more fun, create more elaborate dishes and make deeper friendships!

Nicky took charge of the Indian Spiced cauliflower rice…..yum yum!

Kimbo became the humus queen for the day – transforming chickpeas and fresh fava beans into pastes that tasted even better than they looked!! (and they looked scrummy)

Tyra, Tina and Kirsty were busy with preparing the roasted veg – chopping and chatting all the way!!

And then there was the limed onions…..

Anne had a recipe for mini veggie burgers. With the help of Kate and Suzy, together they prepared about 120!

The industrial kitchen is perfect for huge quantities….

Having a laugh and breaks were all part of it…

homemade oat cakes….

endless washing up….

Over lunch break we spoke about how social and fun it is to come together to cook together and swap recipes and tricks. Following this one of the ladies started a group to propose doing this more often – not just for large events, but more of a monthly thing.

Many many thanks to this team of incredible ladies who have made this region their home. Kate, Rena, Linda, Kimberly, Anne, Tyra, Tina, Suzy and Nicky – and our amazing volunteers Kirsty (who we are encouraging to come live here too!)


Seasonal local roasted vegetables

Mini burgers/fritata

Beetroot/fava/lemon hummus

Oat cakes

Fresh celery pesto

Spicey black bean stew

whole grain and white rice

Indian Cauliflower rice

Green and mustard salads

Linda’s tortilha wraps


Under Renovations

Transforming the communal kitchen!

First steps in any renovation project begins with designs and dreams – the hope to transform the communal kitchen has been germinating for close to 11 years for Barbara. FINALLY work began to remove the current roof……

The outside washing dishes area needed to be dismantled too before tackling the main roof….

We were really blessed to have good weather while we were undertaking the dismantling and erecting of the roof!

Carefully they began to removed the heavy and cumbersome concrete sheets….

And before too long – the roof was gone and the wall exposed to the elements.

Next steps included brick and cement work. We asked help from a very experienced local builder Carlos to come and guide the process of raising the walls and preparing for the new roof to go on….


To bring the cement and the bricks from the ground the lads set up a great system…

We are raising the height of the roof and adding windows to bring in more natural light…..


Carlos, and his helper Marco came for 2 days and then left the rest of the work to Barbara and Eric to complete.

After the brick work the wooden structure to support the roof needed to be created…and then one lovely sunny Friday piece by piece the roof went on…..

Danny and Stuart came for lunch and were on hand to encourage the process.

We celebrated the fact that we got the roof on and sealed before the rains. Currently while northern Europe experiences a severe cold snaps and snowy conditions, we have RAIN! Lots of beautiful, necessary rain.

And so the kitchen is on it’s way….many more snaps to come detailing the progress of the interior to come….

Kitchen Renovation

For those of you who have visited here, the common kitchen will be a familiar sight and the center of much of the activity on the land.

As it stands today, it is in much better shape than when Barbara, and a group of other pioneers found it in the winter of 2006!

Then it had a hole in the roof….Eddie was able to poke right through!

the floor was a mud bath and it needed a chimney…..which they made from an old oil drum banged by hammers into shape!

shelves and storage was improvised in the more creative ways….

All of those things were sorted and if you go look at the old blog posts from the ‘old’ blog, posts from the early days, you will find images of what it looked like in different seasons…..

However the NEWS is that we are working on renovating the inside and putting on a new roof! Work started last year, taking everything out, and make a temporary kitchen outside the building. Then the plastering of the walls, with cob, for which we had some french female help!

Barbara worked on many versions of the design for the inside – and came up with ones, she and we are happy with. Work on the roof will hopefully start next week.

The plan is to have a pantry area, as well as storage for bulk items, a sink inside and tiles on the floor! It will be a massive transformation for the space, and the uses it can have.

If you would like to contribute towards the costs of the building materials, please drop us a line, or follow the instructions here. We are using as much reclaimed materials, building with pallet wood for the doors of the cabinets (which Ba will make), and bits and bobs we have picked up on the way – however the wood we need to buy and the roofing materials are not cheap – so every little helps!

We will keep posting updates on the work to keep you up to date!

Thank you, much love, all at the Mount of Oaks!