We are Richard and Olga, in our 40s and 30s. We moved to Catalunya from the UK in April 2015. We absolutely love it here. At the moment we maintain links with our business activities in the UK but are very much becoming as local as we can, learning the language and looking to stay here for the long term.
We also dream of building a sanctuary for wolves and other Iberian wild animals, such as the Lynx, that need protection in this part of the world, and are keen to meet people who might be able to advise us on any ways to make this happen as we make the plan. Right now, whilst we do not have yet our final terrain finalised, we are in the process of forming our foundation and have already received commitments of support from biologists, canine experts, local business leaders and other wolf sanctuaries.
Now, we need help to make this dream happen from people who share a passion for ensuring that Iberian wildlife should be seen in a positive light and safeguarded. As an idea, this is the kind of help that we need:
- Are you a professional in the sphere of conservation? Could you share your experience with us?
- Are you a biologist? Can you help us with environmental studies and helping us set the policies for our sanctuary?
- Are you a veterinarian? Could you help advise us on the best practices we should follow?
- Are you a legal professional? Can you help us with things on this side?
- Are you a business, marketing or operations specialist? Can you help us grow the sanctuary idea with your expertise?
- and of course, we need the help of so many other areas of knowledge that we're sure you can help us if you have an interest in preserving the wonderful wildlife of Europe.
Aside from the above, we can also use some help in the garden, cooking and odd jobs around the house, so please don't ever feel you have to be an expert in keeping wolves in order to come and stay with us here!
Aside from this wonderful project, we enjoy good conversation on many topics, hiking, sightseeing, cooking great food and entertaining. (We think) we're good natured and fun to be with. We hope you will too.
WHAT IT'S LIKE TO STAY WITH US
People tell us that our place is great as a retreat for work-awayers who have been working really hard and want to spend a few weeks in a more relaxed, quiet environment. We have a large house and a large garden to be maintained, but there is never any urgent or particularly hard work involved. You’ll also have plenty of space to unwind in your spare time.
What we ask of everyone in return is to be mature and self sufficient in terms of entertainment, and enjoy having a relaxed lifestyle. If you know Spanish or Catalan, then it’s a bonus for us, as we’re learning and would love all the practice we can get! The only thing that’s tough for us is to be very involved in providing lots of our own time, aside from during meal times and some evenings and weekends.
Anyway that’s it for the intro - below are the details if you’re happy so far.
The place you’ll be staying in is a beautiful house which was originally built as an inn back in the 16th century. It has been excellently maintained by generations of owners, and we intend to keep it that way. We have a large garden. It’s mostly forested, with a couple of small garden patches and a swimming pool.
Richard is a computer programmer who works from home. He really enjoys spending time outdoors, as well as being deep in conversation about physics, astronomy, human behaviour, technology and finding out things he does not already know.
Olga runs a technology business for which she sometimes travels, but thankfully not very much. However, when she’s around the house, she loves to cook, discuss the same topics as Richard and also takes a huge interest in being able to help people grow the ideas they have for businesses into real projects.
We have two extremely friendly, characterful husky dogs called Caesar and Spartacus. They are usually the centre of everyone’s stay as a focal point, since most people instantly fall in love with them. They need a lot of walking and exercise, so we often take work-awayers on walks in the hills together with the dogs (they will happily help to pull you up the side of the mountain!)
The house is located in the very first foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. We also have the extinct volcanoes of the Garrotxa close by. Close by you have the very touristic towns of Besalu (5km), Figueres (15km) and Girona (30km). The house is surrounded by lush woodland where we often pick herbs, asparagus and mushrooms, depending on the time of year. And, just a little further, you have the wonderful coastline of the Costa Brava.
From the house it does require a car or bicycle to get to any commerce. We’re usually happy to go into Besalú at relatively short notice, and drop you to other places you might want to see.
We can happily pick you up from bus or train stations in:
A little bit further away, and hence a little more difficult for us to make it any time, we can also come and get you from Girona or Girona Airport.
If you're travelling by your own car, perfect, we can give you very detailed directions.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Volunteers would join us in our large country home not far the from the town of Besalú. We've recently moved to Spain and are looking for help to learn the languages (Spanish and Catalan).
If you’re going to stay here, the following is a list of the activities we tend to ask people to help us with most:
Helping with some aspect of the wolf and wildlife sanctuary project
Cleaning the house
Tending the vegetable patch
Cleaning the pool
Help with cooking or preparing fruit gathered from the garden into jams, when it’s harvest time
Cutting down ivy from the trees around the garden
Chopping down trees for firewood
The above is just a sample, but it reflects the fact that you don’t need any special skills to help us out - just a good work ethic and attention to detail :) If there are any jobs we propose and you don’t feel comfortable doing, that really is just fine.
We’re also flexible about exactly how long you spend working on any tasks, or even what time you want to do them.
We have a big bit of land (7 hectares) consisting of forest, olive grove, lawn and vegetable gardens. If you love gardening and horticulture there's plenty for you to get stuck into. Anyone who knows how to get the woodlands under control and is willing to put the work in would be very welcome!
There is a swimming pool which needs a little bit of cleaning each morning.
The house is also large (700m2). It's easy to clean but there's so much of it! Any help keeping the dog hairs under control will be welcomed.
English, Spanish, French, (and Russian - just Olga)
You will have your own room during your time staying with us. We have three rooms that guests stay in and, when possible, there's a choice of where you want to live for your time here.
If you want to get around without relying on us for transport, you might need to be creative or hire a car. Another option is to cycle - there is a route to Besalú from the house. Having said that, there's almost always someone here who can give you a lift if its local. We can collect you from the train station in Figueres or from Girona airport if you're arriving to one of those.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4 hours a day, 5 days a week