We’d set the alarm for an early start this morning so that we could join Anna for her yoga session, but the alarm buzzer wasn’t greatly received, plus I didn’t fancy Yoga, I fancied a stroll around the farm. The morning was beautiful, fresh and warm, the grass was full of dew and the suns rays were peaking through the tree branches showing the cast of spider webs that had spun up during the night. I took the river path via George – obviously, it’s impossible to avoid a pig this adorable – and then past the chickens who were happily cooing away. It’s really peaceful here in the morning and the sounds in the valley carry, I could here Olof jogging along the country lane in the distance, his feet hitting the gravel. I had noticed a book in the communal kitchen called the Money Less Man, a true story about a man, Mark Boyle, who had decided to live for a year without money, I felt we could take some learnings from this book that would be useful for our travels, so I got stuck in over a couple of breakfast coffee’s. Before the class Anthony had returned from the River where he had been washing his clothes with a very handy washing machine. If only we had a miniature version that we could attach to our backpacks, I’m sure it would come in handy, they just don’t seem to make things like this anymore!!
Today’s class started with making Tinctures – plant extracted in alcohol, which turned out to be quite mathematical, not only ensuring the plant to alcohol ratio is correct but also ensuring that the volume of the alcohol is reduced to meet the recipe. Needless to say pens were out scribbling the mathematics all over our note pads. We made our tinctures with alcohol from the fruit of the Madroño tree. Chris had several of these tree’s growing on his farm which he had harvested and distilled last year. I love the fruit from these tree’s, Olof and I first discovered this tree in Madrid a couple of years ago and we ate loads of the berries whilst we walked down the street that was lined with them. Until today I had always referred to it as the Strawberry tree as the fruit looks like strawberries and I never knew the tree’s name.
Olof made an Arnica tincture, which is used for sprains, broken bones, joint/muscle pain and sore/swollen veins. Only Arnica is poisonous and it stinks so special equipment needed to be used!
Kris produced yet another amazing lunch, really healthy and fresh produce. We also got see Kris’ design plans for her house that she is planning on building, the designs were great and Kris was starting to get excited, soon a volunteer would be coming over to Portugal to help Kris to build her house. Lots of inspiration had been taken from various natural builds from around the globe that had been published in several books.
For the afternoon we were moving onto Essential oils and learning how to extract them. The mathematics got more complicated and the equipment more sophisticated and I learned to appreciate why real essential oils are expensive. We carried out a Rosemary extraction and whilst we waited for the distiller to do it’s job we went through the various essential oils to learn about their medicinal properties. It was another fantastic class which closed with Chris giving us a full and detailed tour of his permaculture farm.
Tonight was going to be the convivial evening, which would consist of Pizza and Beer. Beer was purchased from the store but the Pizza’s we made on site. I helped Daphna and the kids make the pizza bases whilst the guys got the pizza oven going. People from the community joined us for Pizza and I lost count of how many I must have eaten. Just as the evening was starting to lull, Serine and Anna suggested to play a game, something called Werewolf, I had never heard of it, dubious of the “free love” community they had just left I decided to opt out of the first game, but it wasn’t long before I was on the floor in the circle playing an extremely social and psychological game. It was fantastic and we talked about it afterwards for hours. I won’t go into the rules of it now as it would take a blog in itself to detail, but if you are ever in a large group of 8+ people this game is bloody good fun.
Whilst apologising to Olof for my lies and deceit (it was only a game), Anthony makes an announcement. “At first I thought I could hear the German Neighbours on the other side of the valley having sex, but I think she is having her baby!”
Before you know it, at least seven of us are stood outside the pit, listening into the night, it wasn’t long before we heard the first scream from the pregnant lady on the other side of the valley, then another one and another. We all stood listening, it felt a little odd at first but soon she stopped and we could hear the new born baby crying, just as a shooting star shot across the sky, like the opening clip of a disney movie, you really couldn’t make this stuff up.
It was a very strange but special moment and pretty much put an end to the night. Tomorrow there would be no cake for our class, Daphna would take it to her neighbour instead by way of congratulations.
If you want to know more about the werewolf game and learn how to play, click here