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FIRSTLY: COVID - I stay fairly isolated, and am very careful, but I still welcome volunteers. Of course, I shop, have trips out together: visit castles, go hiking, make boat trips, have meals in outdoor venues, picnics - and helpers go away for a few days - but we all remain careful. I don't go to pubs and bars. Of course, in these times myself and helpers, are finding it hard to make definite plans. Helpers are tending to stay longer (recent helpers stayed four and a half months), and even when they want to go can't find hosts, and/or flights, so plans keep changing - it is hard for everyone. And I can no longer do what I used to enjoy, and have helpers overlap in their stays - which further affects planning. BUT I DO WANT YOU TO COME!
I live in a 1902 Arts & Crafts house on Loch Lomond, about 25km west of Glasgow city centre.
I am looking for people to join, share my home, make it your home, as a cultural exchange.
The help exchange element is around helping to restore the 'lost' 1902 garden and house: DIY projects, for example, with helpers, I have laid garden paths, built bridges and decks. Indoors we have repaired furniture, joinery, crafts, and generally share normal housework.
This is a long profile, because I have been doing this for a while and think it is better for us all to know what we are about. If you come, you will hopefully be here a while, so it may be worth taking the time to read this.
I typically host one or two people at a time, all year round, and usually for at least 4 weeks, longer is possible if we all get along. This is so you can get involved in some of the bigger projects.
As a host, it is hard coordinating the helpers, waiting for replies, managing dates. I get a lot of requests and I will reply to everyone, but please be patient. (And please read the note at the bottom...).
I live 2 minutes from Loch Lomond and my home has excellent public transport links with the train, CityLink and local buses. There is a half-hourly train service into Glasgow.
Help-wise I follow the guidelines of 5 hours, Monday to Friday, but I am flexible and need you to be too. Occasionally I may ask you to help a day at the weekend, and take another day off in the week. But there is a house calendar so you can see the key dates for the forthcoming weeks and work around them. It is no problem for you to plan your time around the calendar to get away for a few days.
My home is an Arts & Crafts house by architect J J Burnett, a contemporary of Rennie Mackintosh, built in 1902. There is a smallish wooded garden leading down to the river that was totally overgrown, but is now largely cleared. It was laid out by a renowned landscape architect with quartz-lined paths and bridges over the burn (stream). All the paths and features were lost in undergrowth about 40 years ago so this project is a little like an archaeological dig. Over the summer and autumn of 2013, the first paths were dug out and restored, a stone circle and a paved ‘eye’ created, and a new bridge built. Since then we have been laying paths, building bridges, and dead hedges. It has been wonderful, thanks to some amazing volunteers, to see the garden come back to life and be a space to relax in. But there is always more to do, including planting.
Depending on the projects there is a chance to learn plumbing, electrics, woodwork, crafts. Lots of helpers use our workshop to make things, carve spoons.
In 2020, with helpers, I completing clearing, landscaping, and planting the garden on the other side of the burn (stream) that has been impenetrable for 30-40 years. Most of what I am currently doing is more like civil engineering and landscaping than gardening: firstly, clearing, then tree felling, bridge building, path laying, chopping and stacking logs for the fire, building a ‘dead hedge’ with all of the branches, and have just completed the Yellow Brick Road.
I have replaced the original bridges from 1902, building three bridges, and last year completed the third, and biggest, high-level suspension bridge (10m span, 3m over the stream/burn/creek). But there is more to do.
In 2021 I am keen to focus on some of the art projects that have been neglected, a sculpture to go on the fairy path, to complete the machine for bringing back the dead...
I am very keen on re-use and up-cycling of materials. I got huge piles of new yellow bricks and mono-blocks left over at a large building site so built a ‘yellow brick road’. There can be heavy tasks, recently I completed laying a hard standing with monoblocks dumped by the same building site, but I try to break such heavy tasks up, by perhaps doing something in the garden.
Many of these tasks I work out as I go along, but there is a lot of opportunity to learn, and share skills. Special knowledge and skills are welcome, but not required - common sense and a good work ethic go a long way.
I have been hosting for about 10 years and it has been an amazing experience, and so many helpers have returned either as helpers or friends. And real friendships have been made here between helpers.
I am active and love the outdoors. I try to keep the tasks fun and play even more so. I applaud and support programmes like this. I treat everyone with respect and care, and expect volunteers have the same ethics towards others, and my home, that I share with you. I try hard to make sure that this is a two-way exchange of experience and opportunity – not a pool of cheap labour. The more you are open to try things, the more things that you will find to try.
Even if there isn't a chance for you to volunteer if you are passing through the kettle is always on [for socially-distanced] tea...
(HOW TO GET MY ATTENTION: I get a LOT of requests so thought I would share my side... I generally always say no to cut and paste requests like, "I need a place to stay to improve my English" from people with profiles that say, "I need a place to stay to improve my English".... I like just a few lines about why you would like to share my home having read the profile, what skills you have, what you'd like to learn – but not an essay. And please have a photo of just you/both of you, not a group of people at a party.....)
PS. In the past Nolwenn was here, but she has left to travel and find herself, and I asked for help to look after an online holiday rental, but I no longer have this - in case you wonder about mentions in older references.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Although I am English I can share my learnt Scottish culture: words, language, culture.
I have a good knowledge of Scotland and it's scenery, places to visit, hike, and camp.
I can share lots of ideas for days out in Glasgow.
Generally, there is a variety of tasks to do based upon priority, weather, availability of materials, skills of volunteers (have & learn!), and our time to do some tasks together.
There are a few things to be getting on with here, depending on priorities, and the weather.
• An ever-changing list of projects in the house and garden. There is a good opportunity to learn / share skills in
decorating, painting, woodwork, plumbing, electrics, gardening.......
• Cleaning, and gardening
• Completing the ‘lost garden’
I usually work at home so can tackle bigger projects together, around our work.
I also like to see what skills you bring: I've had some great help with WordPress, computing, creating art...
I love art projects!
This host offers a language exchange
This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
Please contact them directly for more information.
I offer good clean accommodation. There is a single room with an adjacent bathroom with a good shower, or a double if there are two of you. You will be sharing my home and I expect your room and the bathroom to stay clean and reasonably tidy.
I am vegetarian. I provide all of your food and have a well-equipped kitchen and are keen to share and learn new dishes. But this is not a place for picky eaters. Cooking together and sharing food around the table is an important and fun part of life here. I cook from fresh ingredients and eat little processed food. I often tackle new and exciting recipes together, that have included some of the MasterChef challenges.
I provide all bed linen and towels, and there are washing and drying facilities for your clothes.
I have a lot of working clothes, outdoor clothes, gloves, and wellington boots for you to use when you are helping.
I have a cosy sitting room with a log stove and TV with Netflix and Prime.
My home has a lot of books, and spaces to sit quietly and read.
There is fast WiFi throughout.
There are endless opportunities for adventures here.
I live right on the river at the bottom of Loch Lomond. Outside of helping you can enjoy the loch: swimming, walking, hiking in the wilderness, or camping.
There are loads of walks and cycle routes from the house - I have bikes that you can borrow. Or you can kayak from the bottom of the garden to the islands on the loch, including one with a pub in the summer! In winter there is skiing at Glencoe, just over an hour away by car or CityLink bus.
I live very close to the train station in Balloch with a half-hourly service to Glasgow, and Balloch is on the CityLink Glasgow > Fort William/Oban/Skye bus route.
Although my home is tucked away in a small wood, I am located in Balloch - a small town of 5 000, but it is the main tourist town for Loch Lomond and has a good supermarket, shops, and bars within a few minutes’ walk.
Depending on the weather and the work, I can take you boating on the loch, trips to islands with castles, camping, and BBQs/picnics – all year round.
I enjoy trips out and of course will invite you to join. Also if I am going somewhere interesting on business, such as Stirling, I will try to arrange to take you to a castle or whatever.
My home is a great base for hopping on the train and sampling the culture of Glasgow and Edinburgh: the many (free) museums, food, people, architecture, or even shopping.
There is live music in local pubs and bars, lots in Glasgow (much free), or we often make music here.
To give you an idea of the likely weather Google "loch lomond average weather".
NOTE: ALCOHOL AND SMOKING
Alcohol is not provided but you are free to buy your own. I enjoy wine or a beer with meals at weekends but I am not big drinkers, and if you are this isn’t the place for you.
I am not only ‘no smoking’ but will only host non-smokers.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have fairly fast WiFi (35Gb), LAN connections, and professional hubs so there is coverage in the house and garden, with quiet places to work.
There is a parking place well off the road, with power hook up. There is also an outside toilet.
5 hours/day, 5 days a week. Not usually weekends.
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