First firing in our pottery!

Over the last few months we have been slowly converting our cellar into a working pottery. Michaela works in partnership with our friend Pauline Beautyman to provide craft workshops and the pottery is the next part of this process. Soon we will be offering pottery workshops, so watch this space!

Here are a few photos of the pottery;

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Pine Marten on the prowl…

This morning, around 5AM Emily came into our room to say that the chickens were making a fearful row in the back garden.

Yesterday we got two new Chickens that we introduced to the hen house overnight. They often fight at first, until they have established their pecking order, but they have next to no sight in poor light, so it is very unusual for them to be active when it is still dark.

I confess I turned over and tried to sleep, while Michaela and Emily went to investigate.

They found the new pair of chickens still in the roosting box, but the two older ones out in the garden shouting their beaks off.

Then they saw a sleek shape move easily over the ground, up onto the wall where it trotted off along the lane. There is a streetlight on the lane, and so they had a good view of the animal against the light.

As far as they can see with research, it was a Pine Marten. The other options- Stoat, Polecat or Mink were all discounted by the intrepid pair as a result of being too small, too short of tail, too dark of face.

Now we have a bit of a dilemma. It is so exciting to have such a lovely wild and rare creature in the garden.

But we also know that they are perfectly capable of taking chickens. And we love our chickens.

For now, all we can do is shut them up at night (we have been letting them go to bed when they are ready and not shutting them in as we have never had any problems before.)

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Wilderness retreats, 2012…

Now that the New Year is with us, lots of us are looking forward into all sorts of busyness. It could be also that you are seeking to plan in some periods of retreat, and if so, you might like to consider this…

We are planning a new venture for this year- along with three of my friends from Aoradh, we are organising a series of ‘Wilderness Retreats’. These retreats form part of several micro enterprises that have grown out of what we do – a way of integrating faith with life which I am finding very exciting and hopeful. The ideas and activities have emerged from yearly retreats that we have been doing as a community for many years now – usually with invited ‘guests’ – and also from other forms of worship using wild locations that we have been experimenting with.

The retreats have been special experiences for us, for some of the following reasons-

The amazing locations- tiny Hebridean islands, part of a rich Celtic tradition of retreat
The ‘noisy’ silence- away from mobile signals, e mails, facebook
The wildlife- otters, eagles, seals, a thousand sea birds
The company- the lovely experience of sitting around a fire side and dreaming dreams together
And perhaps most of all the chance to find inner stillness
If the possibility of being part of something like this excites you, then please get in touch!

It might be possible to make this trip part of a bigger trip up to Scotland, or even part of a trip to the UK! If you want some advice as to options- again feel free to get in touch.

These retreats are not intended for just for hard core outdoor fitness types. You do not need to be ultra fit or prepared for the north face of the Eiger. If you can hop around rocks, and can cope with the possibility of being cold and wet with stoicism, then this is enough.

Here is some information from our publicity shot-

Do you love wild places?

Are you looking to find time to rest and reflect?

Are you hungry to make a deeper spiritual connection?

If so, we would like to invite you to come and be part of one of our wilderness retreats…

Wild places do something to the soul…

Here in Dunoon we are on the fringes of some of the most amazing wild places; lochs, mountains, forest, seascapes and small uninhabited islands. Opportunities for being immersed in wilderness – with all the glory and all the vulnerabilities of this – are everywhere.

Following an old Celtic tradition, we have been looking for ways to allow the shape of the landscape to become the means by which we might approach the divine; caves, rivers, mountain tops, small islands.

There is no better place to do this than here – the west coast of Scotland, and the small Argyll islands in particular, are marked everywhere by the passage of other pilgrims, for example the many monastic sites from the time of the missionary Celtic saints.

We invite you to journey with us into this generous tradition. All are welcome – from all faith backgrounds, or none.

There is information about some of our previous trips here-Jura, Eileach an Naoimh, Scarba, The McCormaig isles.

How does it work?

Our retreats typically take place over a long weekend – Saturday to Monday.

They involve creating a small temporary community on one of the small uninhabited islands of the Inner Hebrides. These are stunningly beautiful places, rich in history, wildlife and the kind of peace that has to be experienced to be believed. All of our locations are well off the beaten track – they can only be reached by boat charter.

They are WILD places- exposed to the elements, with no amenities or comforts. Participants on these trips need to be prepared for this! Please have a look at the kit list and general comments.

We will do the organisation, put together a programme and itinerary, charter a boat and provide spiritual exercises and activities to use together and alone. Each retreat will have at least two retreat leaders.

We will then lead you through the retreat, using a combination of times of sharing, times of silence and led meditations. Activities can be tailored to the needs and interests of the group- including varying degrees of challenge.

Retreat dates and costs

For the year ahead, we have two weekends fixed for retreats-

June the 22nd-25th The Garvellachs. Cost £180 per person.
August the 17th-20th The McCormaig Islands. Cost £150 per person.
(Deposit of £50 payable on booking. Full cost will be required if participant cancels later than four weeks prior to the event.)

If you are part of a group who are interested in another weekend, it may be possible to arrange a trip for you.

It is also possible to set up ‘mini expeditions’ for small groups/families. These would be typically for a day, or an evening. Contact us for details.

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Winter arrives…

We have had some dramatic weather up here over the last few days. First, a massive storm that rattled the whole of the west coast of Scotland.

Then- snow.

But finally- deep peace…

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Latest news!

We have had lots of positive feedback from our holiday guests, and have very much enjoyed meeting you all. See our guestbook for recent comments.

We are in the process of creating the pottery in the cellar space and hope to be running workshops through 2012 – watch this space!

Craft workshops have been much fun and a lovely day was had by all on the poetry and word art day – we hope to repeat this in 2012 so if you are interested do let us know when you are hoping to visit the area.

We will however be hosting a poetry workshop as part of the Cowalfest week – see here for more information, and all the other activities happening that week in our area – many lovely walks, dramas and art events.

We will also be setting up and running some ‘meditation walks’ with some of our friends from ‘Aoradh‘- check out Morag’s Fairy Glen all week, or come along to Pucks Glen on Saturday the 15th October- details and booking information here.

Here is a photo taken in Pucks Glen today as a little taster…

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Cowal- listed as one of the worlds best under rated holiday destinations!

…according to travel writer Nikki Bayley writing for yahoo travel.

Cowal is placed alongside The Azores, Newfoundland, the Falkland Islands and the West Coast of Australia. If this seems like a piece of hyperbole- then you need to come and check us out.

And if you do- perhaps you might like to make use of our cosy annexe!

If you are looking for a great value summer holiday we still have some spaces- or if you are looking to organise something for later in the year- check out the calendar on the website here.

Here is a photo we took looking over towards Sgath an Tighe from the middle of the Clyde…

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Our first annexe guests!

So- our annexe has had it’s first holiday makers- they said some lovely things in the guest book. It means so much to us that they had a good holiday- despite some mixed weather.

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Self catering accommodation now available

Our annexe is now available for holiday rentals.

Details, photos and availability are here.

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Welcome to our new website!

However, at present it is a work in progress.

Over the next few weeks we will be building a portal here of information on activities, accommodation and creativity based around Sgath an Tighe.

Thanks for your patience…

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