Update: Sadly Geoffrey died last November. Peta will still consider hosting workawayers but only quiet, self-sufficient applicants and not for longer than two weeks at the most. The rest of the profile remains more or less the same apart from the huge gap that Geoffrey leaves.
We are a retired couple aged a youthful (we hope!) 81 and 66. We live in a comfortable old house set in a hectare of garden with a swimming-pool in a small village in south-west France with spectacular views of the Pyrenees. Geoffrey has lived in France for 25 years and Peta for 18. We have a family of four indoor cats and run a 'soup kitchen' for some more vagabonds on the kitchen window-sill!
Peta reads a lot, likes to write and would like more time in which to do both, and also loves cooking all the time and gardening when arthritic hands allow. Geoffrey keeps himself busy in the garden, on his PC following the worlds of wine and finance, watching sport on TV, especially rugby and cricket, 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!
Help in the house
There is some redecorating to be done, both inside and painting outside shutters. 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.
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.
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.
Good-sized guest bedroom on the ground floor of the house with one standard double and one single bed. The shower-room is not en-suite but is on the same floor and is for your personal use. It has a walk-in shower, basin and WC. Cats on the bed are optional!
We cannot provide a car but we do have two bicycles that workawayers are welcome to use and there is a lot of very pretty countryside around. We are happy to provide picnics for you!
There is a regular 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. The Pyrénées 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 some public transport (bus) from Maubourget 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 would normally 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. This is not a suitable placement for people looking for long term stays of several months. However, we travel quite a lot and will consider applications from experienced house-sitters with references who can speak French. These stays would range between 4 and 6 weeks.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
25 hours per week
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