House maintenance in South west France
Peta reads a lot, likes to write and would like more time in which to do both, and also loves cooking and gardening when arthritic hands allow. Geoffrey keeps himself busy in the garden, on his PC following the worlds of wine and finance, and doing Sudoku and other puzzles. He also loves music and the opera.We are both very interested in food and wine of all kinds.
Apart from doing quite a lot of travelling which we enjoy, we live a quiet and peaceful life. We are always cheerful, don't take life too seriously and anyone with no sense of humour need not apply!
Type of helpGardening,
Help in the house
We have a cleaner who works a limited number of hours a week and do not expect our Workawayers to do everyday housework though some help with specific tasks is always appreciated. As with any large old house the maintenance is on-going, much of which, in years gone by we would have done ourselves, but due to advancing years is now beyond us! The garden is large and needs constant attention all year round. Other than in winter, this is probably our priority.
There is some redecorating to be done, both inside and out. It is not overly complicated but does require someone with at least a basic knowledge of decorating, particularly proper preparation. We both have a lot of decorating experience that we are sadly no longer able to use, so are in a position to raise your skill levels if necessary. There is also always general maintenance work to for which we have (most) tools available.
If there is anyone out there who is a trained upholsterer/furniture restorer, please do apply! We have somevery nice, old furniture that needs a lot of TLC. We have a lot of tools but you will probably have your own specialist ones and would prefer to use them. We have a large garage/workshop where you can work in peace!
The work is not 'routine' but more in the form of projects, so we are happy for workawayers to make their own hours up to 25 per week. For example, if you want to pack 25 hours into 3 days (if the task allows it) and have the rest of the week off to go exploring etc., that is fine with us.
What else ...
There is a daily bus service from our nearest town 5kms away (Maubourget) to Tarbes where there is an SNCF station and a bus terminal. While our workawayers will obviously want to 'do their own thing' during their time off, we will also be happy, if time allows, to take them on the occasional excursion to places of interest such as Auch with its amazing cathedral or to the Pyrénées which are less than two hours away and good for hiking in summer and winter sports from mid-December to end of March. Please note that while we are happy to make the occasional excursion to the mountains, we neither ski nor hike so skiers and hikers will need their own transport although there is limited public transport to the mountains.
We are also close to Spain, both the Spanish Pyrénées and the Atlantic coast where there is good surfing. On the French side of the border, Biarritz and St Jean de Luz are easily accessible by train. We can help with advice about transport, where to stay/eat etc.
In summer workawayers are free to use the pool as much as they like. There are some golf-courses nearby and we have clubs available which they are welcome to borrow.
Peta is a smoker but Geoffrey isn't. Both smokers and non-smokers are welcome but there is NO SMOKING in bedrooms or during meals. Ash-trays to be regularly emptied especially at night.
For workawayers wanting to improve their French please note that we speak English at home and in the village itself there is little opportunity for visitors to speak French as there are no shops, cafés etc. so little social life. Maubourget, at 5kms away (downhill on the way there, uphill back if going by bike!!), offers more scope for practising French.
Please be aware that the village is quiet and relatively remote and we are not overly social. Also, our friends tend to be in our age-group. If we know of workawayers among our friends we are happy to effect introductions. However, this is not a placement for people who want entertainment or a lot of company during their off-hours although there are good cinemas in nearby towns showing up-to-date fims (in French!) and Opera direct. This placement is probably more suited to a couple who enjoy country living or single people who enjoy the country together with their own company. Obviously we will have all our meals together (unless our Workawayers are early risers which we are not, in which case they are welcome to help themselves to breakfast) and we thoroughly enjoy lively company and conversation, but not all day long and nor into the wee hours!
Wifi is freely available in the house but we do ask that Workawayers bring their own lap-tops or Ipads.
We are happy to agree to an initial stay of two weeks (or less) with the option of a further week if the work is there and we are all happy in each other's company. However we find that after three weeks, no matter how much we like our Workawayers, we rather want the house back to ourselves for a while! This means that we are not a suitable placement for people looking for longer term stays.
A little more information
Volunteering hours expected
25 hours per week
Feedback left by and about host
Work-wise, we couldn't fault them. They approached every task efficiently and with great enthusiasm - including clearing brambles the size of small
The work overall was enjoyable. We spent all of our time outside gardening,
We didn't find him to be a naturally helpful young man in that he always had to be asked to help with everyday things like washing
All I can say is that it worked out perfectly, we couldn't have asked for better hosts! The work was mainly outside work which we wanted so it fitted us very well, nothing was too strenuous and all very rewarding. Peta and
They were cheerful, open, friendly, incredibly willing, worked fast while being meticulous in everything they did. Most
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