When you agree to host Workaways and WWoofers you can never know quite how it will work out – how you will all get on, and what skills and experiences people will bring. But so far we have not been disappointed.
Once again we have had a great two weeks getting to know four new people, as we work and eat together. Fran and Andy arrived from Bristol in a van just narrow enough to make it down the lane to our house, Philippe came by train - and I met him at Exeter St Davids, while Nils made it to Chagford using a combination of public transport and hitchhiking, and then walked through the wood and up the field to Murchington in a heavy shower – Chapeau!
Right away it was clear that Nils (from Brittany) and Philippe (from near Toulouse) spoke English much better than any of us spoke French. Although they were keen to improve their fluency there was no difficulty in understanding each other.
Knowledge isn’t everything, but we were immensely fortunate that Philippe was an expert horticulturalist who immediately set about revolutionising our composting practices and generally improving things in the vegetable garden. He also started a small nursery of cuttings and small saplings which we will nurture carefully till they are ready to plant out.
Andy thoughtfully brought a concrete mixer with him which was a great help given the length of wall that needed repointing. But the task was also livened up by Jon interrupting the work to do an impromptu interview on Radio Five Live about his new book.
Weather was very variable over the two weeks, but we still got a lot achieved. Nils and Philippe pruned and mulched three birches while Fran braved the showers to clear nettles and weeds and reveal a lovely waterfall on a stream down by the river one afternoon. But the next day it was so wet and windy that painting the downstairs hall was the only option.
All of us were glad to have a chance to sit round the fire pit in the evening enjoying the changing views of Meldon Hill and watching for bats and owls in the fading light.
Yet the poor weather meant we did this much less than we would have liked. On the final Friday and Saturday the storm arrived, but despite driving wind and rain Andy finished constructing a new gate with help from Jon and Philippe. The old one was too badly rotted to be worth repainting
So, if you have a project that you need help with and some spare room in your house (and round your table) – think about welcoming some Workaways or Wwoofers. We have found it a rewarding way to make friends while getting a lot done quickly.