Quinta das Abelhas

tentWWOOF Central Portugal

Jul 22nd 2007sophieblogging & webstuff & wwoof

As we have far more WWOOFers and other volunteers applying to come to Quinta das Abelhas than we can accommodate, we’re finally gotten around to setting up a new website (an idea we’ve had for ages) to bring together hosts and volunteers. The aim is to provide a useful resource for host farms offering volunteer work placements, and volunteers who’d like to visit this region – a kind of “one stop shop” for volunteering in Central Portugal: www.wwoofcentralportugal.org

Obviously in its very early stages at the moment we’re encouraging everyone to join in and contribute!

The website offers a free page to each host to describe and publicise their volunteer opportunities and contact details, plus a blog for hosts and woofers to write their thoughts, ideas, experiences, news, ask for volunteers/volunteer placements, etc….

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eco-living project update

Jul 18th 2007sophietechnopeasant

so … our neighbour’s land actually has TEN owners!we’re now waiting on the paperwork to come through giving the one owner that lives in our village the legal power to sign on behalf of everyone else ….

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Yurt report

Jul 6th 2007bandittechnopeasant

We’ve recently bought a small quinta in Santa Ovaia and hope to move out to Portugal in a couple of years after we have finally built a house to live in!

On our most recent visit to Portugal we thought we might try and find somewhere slightly more exciting to stay than the usual guest house, B&B etc. – how about Pure Portugals new Yurt? After a few emails to Sophie it was all arranged, we’d stay at Quinta das Abelhas in the (yet to be erected) new Yurt.

With a week to go before our visit I thought we should just check with Sophie all was well with the Yurt – the reply came back… it isn’t erected yet but we’re working on it!


A week later we arrived in Porto and after an uneventful drive down to Quinta das Abelhas we arrived a bit earlier than planed. We were met by a slightly panicked Sophie! We were the first guests staying in Sophie & Andy’s new Yurt and because it had only just been erected the poles still smelt of new paint. To help clear the air they had left the top open the night before. Naturally this year’s bad weather had conspired against them and yes, you guessed it, it rained like never before all night. We were greeted with the words “we’ve had a bit of a problem, would you like a cup of tea?” So while Sophie rushed about solving the problem we were very ably delayed by the rest of the family – Charlie, Sid and Tom as well as their lovely WOOFER Claire. Charlie made us some tea and then Claire gave us a tour of the quinta which is a little piece of heaven with great views. What more could you want? We also met the dogs, cats, chickens and Sophie’s three horses.

The Yurt Inside

During the tour I asked Claire what the small building at the top of the slope was and she told us it was the composting toilet. We had read on Sophie & Andy’s web site about the “loo with a view” and they weren’t joking. It has a huge picture window and a great view of the local countryside. Luckily the ground falls away steeply in front of it so no one can see in unless they are on the opposite hill with a telescope. Mind you, you never know!

When we got back, Sophie was ready to show us the Yurt. To be honest, if she hadn’t of told us we would never have known there was a problem as everything was completely dry! There was a comfortable double bed and electricity was laid on. We even had fairy lights on the wall which looked lovely at night. We had seen pictures of Yurt’s before but we were still impressed by the comfort. If you’ve ever been camping then this was luxury! There was even a settee and bookcase!

Charlie and Tom helped us to get our suitcases from the car which had to be parked a little way from the yurt. After unpacking a few things it was time to try out the solar shower. The one next to the Yurt wasn’t plumbed in yet so we used the family’s shower instead and got to see Monika’s lovely mosaic floor. It was really nice after our long journey to have a hot shower. The shower next to the yurt was plumbed in by the next day and our next shower in that revealed just how hot a solar shower can get!! It was almost too hot.

We had a couple of evening meals with the family during our stay. Andy is the cook and most of the food had been home-grown by them. On the first day Andy came in proclaiming that he had just read the book and all parts of the evening primrose plant were good to eat – so he was putting some of the flowers in the salad. Well the book was right (thankfully) and they tasted great – slightly peppery. All the food & wine we had during our stay with Andy & Sophie was delicious. A special thanks also to Sid who seems to be the cake maker and to all of them for their great company.

We really enjoyed our stay at Quinta das Abelhas and were made to feel welcome by the whole family. It was nice too, to meet some people near the place we one day intend to be living. On the Thursday at the market in Arganil we also met Andy’s dad and his wife, as well as their friends, so we are beginning to feel a little less like tourists. We also met some more of our Portuguese neighbours in Santa Ovaia and although our Portuguese isn’t that great yet, we were able to converse a bit which is just as well because they don’t speak a word of English. It was a good chance to practice though, and with the help of a bit of sign language, I was amazed at much we could understand and how much they seemed to be able to understand us, so perhaps all those lessons are beginning to sink in at last.

Judy & Nigel

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Eastern wisdom

Jul 3rd 2007sophiewwoof & self-sufficiency & food & friends

This appeared in this month’s issue of the WWOOF newsletter “WWINDY NEWS”

From: Vinod, India.

There was a farmer who grew superior quality, award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the State fair, where it won honour and prizes.

A newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. He discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours!

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours, when they are also entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior, sub-standard and poor quality corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”

The farmer gave a superb insight into the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbour’s corn also improves.

Success does not happen in isolation. It is very often a participative and collective process. So share the good practices, ideas, new learnings with your family, team members, friends and neighbours.

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siamese twin courgette

Jul 2nd 2007andyself-sufficiency & food

our courgette glut has started, courgettes/zuchini in every meal, and i’ll have to start bottling and freezing them soon.

and then yesterday we found this one: