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FARMSTAY ECOLODGE OPENING SUMMER 2021

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Today, 3 March 2021, is World Wildlife Day, an opportunity to honour the rich variety of wildlife we can encounter in Portugal. (Note: This is not a sponsored post! We don't stand to gain anything if you book any of the activities below.) Located in the ancient Côa Valley, the Faia Brava Reserve, known for birdwatching among other things, is the first and only private protected area of the country – and is less than 1h30 from Casa Beatrix. The natural environment consists of a mix of gorges, dramatic cliffs,

The Serra da Estrela - the “mountain of the stars” - is the highest mountain range of mainland Portugal, two hours away from the vibrant city of Porto. As the largest conservation area in the country, the Serra da Estrela is well known for its wild and raw nature. This extends to wool making, artisanal products, the shepherding tradition, the abundance of wild rivers and vast green pastures. While summers are hot, averaging from mid-30s (centigrade) with a few days in the 40s, winters can be rough by Portuguese standards.

Recently, I came across the #homesteadfavorites February photo challenge on Instagram, with a prompt for each day of the month. One was “How it all started”, and I realized that was a story worth sharing beyond a mere Instagram caption – especially because in the case of our journey culminating in the Casa Beatrix Farmstay, there are five such “beginnings”… A Childhood Dream My first recollection of a childhood dream was the desire to become a vet, but not only. I wanted to live on a farm, a big house

If you've been travelling in Portugal, you probably know that three main can be found in any random village: a café, a pharmacy, and a padaria. A padaria is a bakery, while a pastelaria is a pastry shop - not to be confused. And if you stay long enough in one of these villages, you might even start recognizing the different delivery "soundscapes". The gas man, the meat and fish man, and… the bread man! Several times a week, the baker does his rounds. A honk (or two or three), and

As I sit on my Pilates ball and look at my big belly, or look at the calendar where January 31st is circled as my “due date” (quotation marks are because – as anyone who has been pregnant will know – this date is a ballpark, and the baby can come two weeks sooner or later while still having matured to his or her full term), I thought now might be a good time to share some reflections about 2020 and projections for 2021. Lessons & updates from the

I used to hate the rain. Now, I don’t just put up with it – I appreciate it. For years, I associated rain with cold, grey, depressing, endless days. That’s probably because when I lived in Switzerland, from September through to April it was dark when I made my way to work around 8am, and it was dark again before I even left work, typically as of 4.30-5pm. In-between wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, but gloomy weather more often than not. Then, when I lived in New York City, rain made

It seems obvious (that a donkey is not just a horse with long ears)… and yet. As an avid horse-rider since as far back as I can remember (which means it has been some 30 years, and now I feel like I’m a million years old), my first experience with donkeys dates back to the 90’s (yep, that didn’t help). At the barn where I learnt to ride, they had a big field used for occasional jumping lessons and the annual horseshow. On every other day of the year,

My high school math teacher, Mr Brown, always said that a picture was worth a thousand words. With that in mind, here is a mostly visual update on how Casa Beatrix renovations are progressing:   Old sheep shed, aka La Bergerie This space was decrepit, dark and smelly with the roof partly collapsed. The existing building was renovated into a living and dining room. It is gorgeous, except it doubles as my summer office (in winter, I use my laptop from the tiny house as that’s more energy efficient than a

Somehow, even though "write a blog for Casa Beatrix" is often on my to-do list, it just as often gets bypassed in honor of other commitments and to-do's. I am working on changing that, but in the meantime, something else that is preventing me from posting blogs is the feeling that there is so much I want to share with you (ironic, I know). So, to take the proverbial bull by the horns, here's a quick and dirty all-around update to reset my feeling of guilt on not sharing

Imagine finding the most delicious, crunchy, slightly tart yet still sweet, apple. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a tree that produces such fruit? The trouble is, apple - and many other fruits - seeds are a genetic gamble - no seed will ever produce the same fruit as it came from. This is why fruit producers use often grafting to reproduce winning fruit. Grafting is both a simple and surreal concept. You cut a branch off one tree (the "scion"), and stick it on another tree (the "rootstock"). Done

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