Mossy Bum

Ohhh boy, the weather in France has taken a turn for the chilly. My body is a bit confused, after spending a month in the glorious heat of Spain then reverting to winter weather. Thunderstorms, hail, rain, cold nights… But it’s secretly kind of nice, because it means we can LIGHT THE FIRE. And I love a good fireplace.

I have taken to wearing 70 percent of my wardrobe to bed, leaving 30 percent of my clothing for daytime usage. Needless to say, there’s not a lot of variety going on. Basically I just wear yoga clothes, a chunky jumper and some borrowed gumboots (or should I say, Wellington boots). But we watched a Ted Talk last night and the man giving the talk sagely noted that if all we do is follow fashion, we will never catch up with it, so we might as well not bother…..Right?

As I’m writing this I’m sitting by the fire in our little wooden chalèt, drinking some hand picked mint tea. We have had to do our yoga indoors for the past two days, because it is so gosh darn cold out. Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of baking and indoor work, like cleaning the gités, shifting books, helping with meals.

Over the weekend, whilst housesitting for the family while they were in Holland, Izzy and I made a delightful array of natural cosmetics, some practical, some not so much. Our toothpaste turned out a little funky, and Izzy is convinced it’s making her teeth go brown, which is sort of the opposite of what we were hoping to achieve. Our lip balm is a little bit solid, probably because the standard room temperature at the moment is much lower than average. Therefore the coconut oil is like rock.

We washed our hair with baking soda, made a nettle tonic (to promote hair growth and thickness), then conditioned with Apple cider vinegar. It actually worked really well in my hair, and is a whole lot cheaper than buying real shampoo. Apparently you have about two good hair days in the space of six weeks when you start doing this, after which your hair is MAGNIFICENT. Eyes on the prize Rosie, eyes on the prize. I feel a bit weird doing it, because I quite enjoy that lather effect that you get from shampooing your hair. With baking soda and water, you just kind of mush it around your scalp. It will take some getting used to. I added some essential oils to my nettle tonic to make it smell better. Because nettles don’t really smell that sexy.

We did naked yoga. Naked. I’m just gonna leave that sentence there. Take what you want from it….

I love this place, it’s like a haven of information and terrible jokes and shouting in Dutch and accordion playing and naughty escaping ponies. I love it when Ron makes a joke in English and laughs for a good five minutes at his own wit. Yesterday, when Izzy and I were moving shelves, he cried from the other side of the room “Easy does it! Oh! Oh! ……IZZY does it! Haha! Ha!” That man is hilarious. I love how Mariken calls asparagus ‘Aspergers’ and nutrients ‘nutritions’. I love how Igor farts so much that nobody even says anything anymore. He just lets one rip and everyone continues around him.

Izzy leaves tomorrow, after which it will just be me in my little wooden cabin, doing my strange breathy meditation all alone and sipping tea for one. I will miss the delightful outbursts of song and enthusiasm that happen whenever Izzy is in the room. She is like an excitable child who buzzes around doing a million things at once and is so inspired by everything and everyone, then exhausts herself and has to lie down for a while. Her enthusiasm is contagious, her art is amazing, I will miss that little chipmunk! She is so remarkably comfortable with being naked. Today we went for a walk in the forest, took off all our clothes, climbed a tree that hung over the river, and meditated… Oh what a sentence that is. Very nice indeed, aside from the extremely mossy bum.

Here are some pics of our weekend of housesitting and our very potent wheatgrass juice from our half day juice detox (we got hungry at lunchtime and there were pancakes, need I say more…). As Mariken says, there’s no point in juicing when it’s cold and you feel deprived. It will make you unhappy, and you want to feel happy. Wise words from a wise woman.

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Shots!
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Izzy, unimpressed
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Buckwheat pancakes, red cabbage coleslaw, dal
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Izzy and feast
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Eat the rainbow

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Raw vegan lasagne

Brenazet

I am all settled into my home for the next 3 weeks; Brenazet, a camping and gités site run by a delightful, energetic Dutch family. It always takes me a few days to adjust into anywhere- figuring out what goes where, who does what, what is expected of you and how to make the horses go into their stables at night…. But I think I’m going to fit in just fine here.

I am sleeping in a little wooden cabin with another helper, Izzy, who has been here before and returned for a little while after a slightly disastrous helpx in the south of Spain. She calls this her home away from home, and i can see what she means, it’s so cosy and homey! Ron, Mariken, and their two sons Igor and Nikola have brought a touch of Dutch into the French countryside.

Our cabin has a log fire, a terrace with little chairs to sit in and read our books, comfy wooden bunk bed type sleeping quarters and a little kitchen to make tea and things….

It is a lot colder here than it was in Spain, I had to borrow a jumper from Ron to keep me warm. My first afternoon we took a trip to La Bosse, an amazing lake somewhere near here (so disoriented, who knows) and did some al fresco yoga. The last two days have been filled with gardening, tea, amazing organic food (including chocolate avocado mousse which is so good) , cleaning the gités, walking the dog, doing yoga in a paddock amongst the bugs and the animals, and reading my book. The yoga class was taught by Mariken, all in French, but I feel like I understood most of it- I knew ‘left, right, inhale and exhale’, and that’s pretty much all you need. I did find myself bending into awkward shapes to be able to see what she was doing on occasion. But yoga is a pretty universal language, and it’s always nice to see how different people teach. Outside yoga is the best, even if we did get a bit of hay fever.

Happy to be here, grateful for the peace and quiet of farm life, it reminds me of my childhood! And I have realised my fear of chickens pecking me to death has not lessened…..Mariken is the best cook, everything is so healthy but hearty and satisfying! Today for lunch we had vegetarian burgers, fennel salad, greens and herbs from the garden, and a curried cauliflower dish. We just had supper and she made a sugar free almond and rhubarb cake, so good!

Today we went foraging for flowers and for the lunchtime salad, I learnt all about the edible plants and flowers that grow amongst the grass. So if i am ever lost, I know I can just pick some plantain and I won’t go hungry! My mum would be so proud – yesterday I weeded a flower bed and a vegetable garden, wore gardening gloves, got stung by nettles, ate nettle soup, wore her giant purple jumper and then picked some mint from the garden to make tea. Mother, I am becoming you!

In the morning I’m doing my own yoga on our terrace, with Izzy for company. I missed it for a day and I could feel it in my bones!

Anyway, it’s probably about time I showered.

,

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Gités
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The stables
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Yoga with child
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Vege Garden
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My cabin
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Cosy (Hyggelig?)
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Bunk beds!

Bean there…

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Lunch by the casita

I may be becoming a chickpea…

For lunches here we tend to forage in the garden, raid the retreat shop or scavenge from food that has been left by other guests. It’s delightful, but ingredients are limited so we’ve been eating a lot of beans. Lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, you name it. It gets a little repetitive.

So we’ve been getting a bit creative with our resources, and today for lunch we made chickpea burgers with salad from the garden. They were astoundingly scrumptious and healthy so I’m going to share…

2 garlic cloves
1 red onion (we used white onion because we are scavengers)
1 jar chickpeas, drained
1 handful parsley
Juice of one lemon
Handful of spinach
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
Pinch of salt

Chop all of the vegetables up finely, add in the oats, chickpeas and egg, squeeze in the lemon and add the salt. You can either pulse it a few times In a food processor or just mash it aggressively with a fork, like we did. Make into four balls and fry in a pan of olive oil (we used the olive oil made at the retreat). Serve with pita breads or by themselves with some hummus and salad.

You like?

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Chickpea burgers!

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Zoe and Megan
Zoe and Megan

Last night we made daisy chains and drank some local red wine by the pool. Wine here is so cheap yet so good, it would be rude not to!

Megan gave me a poor travellers haircut of a remarkably high standard, we were both quite pleased. Just don’t look too closely…

In other news, in the last two days I have seen two snakes, and I genuinely had nightmares about snakes last night. They were everywhere I walked. Today I came across one basking in the sun in the courtyard, then it slithered into some bushes. It has made me think twice about weeding… Yesterday we went hiking and saw one on the road, I squealed loudly and probably interrupted it’s nap. I’ve never seen a snake in the wild before, it was alarming, and now we make sure to keep our tent firmly zipped…..

 

 

Beached.

Saturday was my first day off, but like a good girl I arose early to do yoga, only to be told it was too windy to do yoga outside, and that we would do it in the evening.. Not a wonderful start to the retreat, but we can’t control the weather, and apparently the wind is the one thing they dislike about living up in these hills. They call it ‘The Big W’..

So we took the guests on a trip down to the beach in L’Ampolla, a fishing village with lots of tapas bars and holiday shops. You can automatically tell the difference between the Spanish people and the holiday-makers; the Spanish women lie sprawled topless in the sun (even when with family, which I find super awkward), and the foreigners are pasty white, and wriggle around on their towels trying to get their swimming costume on whilst revealing as little flesh as possible. Myself included… Although I do wonder what it would be like to just strip off and lie there, completely confident in my right to lie nakey in front of strangers. Makes me squirm just thinking about it!

I nipped into a cafe to use wifi with some of the guests (got to grab it when I can), explored the little town and then basked in the sun for a while, applying sunscreen whilst trying to ignore the fact that a massively overweight hairy man was lying on his stomach directly in front of me,like a beached whale, playing with his beard, surreptitiously staring at me behind his tinted shades. His umbrella blew away but he was too fat to get up and chase it in time. Ha.

That evening we did our yoga, followed by a paella cooking workshop led by Cherry who is our host Sarah’s mum. Cherry is an Ayurvedic teacher and a paella expert, and cooked us up a vegetarian and a seafood paella for dinner.

Traditional paella spices are saffron and pimiento, which is a very popular spice particularly in Catalunya, the region we are in. The reason that saffron is so expensive is because of the manual labour it requires to produce it. Stems of saffron come from tiny fragile plants that only grow in one region of Spain, by individual farmers who then have to pluck the stems one by one from the flowers, which is especially difficult in typically windy weather….

The difference between paella and risotto is that you do not stir paella. Once you stir it, it’s no longer paella! We used local seafood from the bay; mussels, clams, king prawns, and all the vegetables used were grown organically by neighbours or by Cherry herself.

Originally this dish was a sustenance dish for people working on the land during the Spanish Civil War; they would shoot rabbits (they all had guns during Franco’s time) and take whatever vegetables they could find, cook it up in the morning then let it increase in flavour over the day. They ate with their hands, scooping from the inside out. We ate with gigantic wooden spoons which was exciting. We also got to sample a vast amount of local red wine from a giant vat, which pleased us all tremendously.

Yesterday we did an Ayurveda workshop, which was quite enlightening. Ayurveda means ‘the knowledge of life’ and is all about the different mind-body types (Doshas) and how each person has a unique combination of the three Doshas. Vitality and health require your dosha to be in a balanced state, which can be achieved through diet, exercise, yoga, meditation, and massage. We did a little test to find out our dosha, discussed what this meant about us, and learnt a little about Ayurvedic diet and massage.

The three Doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I am quite a strong Pitta, but I have little bits of the others in there too… The unique balance that each person has determines their constitution, body type, and mental and emotional strengths and weaknesses. It tells you a lot about why you are the way you are, why certain things irritate you , why you like the foods you like and also gives some insight into your relationships….. And it also gives you the tools to keep yourself balanced. It’s useful for looking at other people as well, and for understanding that they are that way because of their dosha.

So many fun things are being learnt! Today there is a bit of a storm, so we are hiding in our tents reading books. It’s hard work getting into the routine of doing yoga every morning at 8, and the classes are fairly intense so my body is a bit achey at the moment. I couldn’t even push myself up into wheel this morning, my arms are so fatigued!

There’s not much to do here when it rains….. I will use my allocated internet time then possibly do a sleep.

Buenos nachos!

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Ma Weird Green Gunk

Howdy kids!

So I thought I would share with you all two recipes that I take great delight over.

One habit from the yoga retreat that I have not been able to shake is the delightful green smoothies! I drink them most mornings and my darling Aunty Sue grimaces when I slurp down a glass full of green in the morning. I can understand how she feels – its how I felt before I started drinking them regularly….

But now I am a teensie bit addicted. I luff dem. So I thought I would share the recipe I make most mornings, because it involves ingredients that aren’t too hard to come by and you don’t have to spend an hour preparing, which is something nobody wants to do at 7.00am. Obviously you could get all fancy and add in chia seeds and maca powder, but that shit is expensive.

1 apple (granny smith is quite delish)

1 generous hand-grab of spinach or kale

1 cup water

a chunk of root ginger

juice of 1/2 a lemon

You could also add for fun: a few inches of cucumber, half a pear, half a banana, seeds, or some nutty butter for all you nutty butter lovers out there (I personally love Pic’s natural peanut butter, all the way from Nelson, New Zealand – its 100% nuts, none of that palm oil crud.. get some here: http://reallygood.co.nz/

Do the ol’ whizarooney and there’s your breakfast! You could even take it in a flask and share it out amongst your co-workers, and spend the rest of the day pointing out the spinach in each other’s teeth. I often need some substance with it so I have some nuts or a piece of toast. Because a girl cannot exist on liquids alone.

My next recent fave recipe is so easy you will not know what to do with yourself. I stole this from my yoga teacher’s newsletter, because I felt the deliciousness needed to be shared.

Flourless banana pancakes! 

One ripe banana

Two eggs

1 tsp cinnamon/ allspice

Mash up the banana in one bowl, whisk the eggs in another, combine, pop in the cinnamon and any other goodies you want, mix together, pour batter into a hot pan etc etc.

Makes about two small pancakes. Serve them with some yoghurt/ creme fraiche and berries, or whatevz really. Maybe peanut butter. You can tell I just really love the stuff. You could eat this for breakfast, for dessert, for midnight…I hope you all make these and thoroughly enjoy them.

Anyhoo, it’s Sunday night and therefore time for a gin and tonic and my orange hippie trousers.

Cheerio pumpkins!