Hey, it's us, Lin and Alef. Ah, and let's not forget our two kids Indi and Jona (7 and 5 years old). And of course Toma, our 2 year old slightly over enthusiastic Rhodesian Ridgeback dog.
We're a happy family of 4, originally Dutch living a rich life close to nature on the Normandy coast close to the Mont Saint Michel. We're renovating an old stone farm house, bringing the fields near the house back to life, creating vegetable plots and generally turning our piece of land into a paradise for plants, animals and people. We have a lovely forest with a little stream right next to us and in just 10 minutes we're on the beach.
We're just embarking on this project but we're not new at this. We used to live 10km East of Amsterdam and here too we turned an old abandoned farmhouse into a vibrant place full of life. We did this in close cooperation with the local community and many Workaway'ers (the feedback is mostly from that time). Together we set up vegetable plots, made cider, baked sourdough bread, raised sheep and pigs and did a fair amount of construction work.
In The Netherlands, we had the most amazing time and cherish all the wonderful moments of joy and sharing of stories over home-cooked meals with fresh food. Due to asthma we moved to France about a year ago but we took all lessons learnt and memories of a great time with us. The move worked out, the family of fit and sporty as ever ;-).
Before moving to a land-based life we were stuck in the fast lane. Lin was a scientist in the field of (how timely) infectious diseases and with her double MSc. and PhD. degrees she compensates for what I don't have, titles and perhaps also brains. Myself, I am entrepreneur, started several business in various fields.
At some point we took a temporary sabbatical and had our first baby. After some traveling we decided that we really liked the simpler lifestyle and being able to spend time with the kids so we we settled down in Muiden close to Amsterdam where the land, the people and nature have supported us and our family for so long and in such a good way.
Now in France, it feels like a fresh start, but at the same time it's the continuation of a journey that we'd like you to be a part of!
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
As we are originally Dutch but now located in France, you'll be immersed in a nice mix of cultures and we hope you bring your own to the table too. For us, having people over is like traveling ourselves a little bit ;-).
We've completely moved away from life in the fast lane. Going from hi-tech and science to homesteading, we can offer you some unique perspectives and ways to wean yourself off of the consumerist society. There's many practical skills too, ranging from construction to making sourdough bread, ginger beer and apple cider and from setting up chicken coops to starting veggie beds, there's lot to learn.
One is never too old to learn so we're eager to improve on many fronts, some of which you might be able to help us with.
We speak Dutch, English and Italian so if your idea is to improve either one of those languages, that's also something you'll take away. As for French, we're still improving that language ourselves, so don't expect to leave as a fluent speaker ;-).
Last but not least, if time permits, we'll take you out to some of the sites around the area that are not very well-known to tourists and if you feel like if, the Mont Saint Michel is not too far away either.
Sharing the local and simple life, that's what we've been up to so far and with the start of our new project, we'll continu to do just that.
There's a huge list of things we'd like to do over the next few years, with different priorities and timelines. First up is getting the basic accommodations ready for ourselves, family, friends and volunteers.
Having said that, although we're pretty structured when it comes to setting goals, we are also flexible so if you feel you like to add something to the list, feel free.
Here's just a random list of things we'll be doing over the course of the next few years:
* Building solar dehydrator
* Renovating the chicken coop and getting chickens
* Building a small veggie patch to start with
* Getting a hoop house and starting our tomatoes and peppers
* Building a treehouse
* Renovating the entire stone house (in stages of course)
* Setting up a nicely organized workshop and install all equipment we have
* Scything the field
* Designing and implementing a medicinal forest garden
Apart form that, there's always some chores available, weeding here and there, removing brambles (there's plenty of those), cooking, cleaning. But don't be afraid, we'll always stick in a big project to get that sense of achievement by the end of your stay.
This host offers a language exchange
This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
You can contact them directly for more information.
Starting Spring 2021 we'll start to work on some sort of guest house, which we'll most likely have ready by Summer 2021. That'll be used for family and friends but also to accommodate volunteers. In the meantime, you're more than welcome to join in a motorhome or campervan.
We try to live a healthy life, spent lots of time in the kitchen, bake our own (sourdough) bread, cook from scratch, always using fresh ingredients. We're still busy setting up our own veg beds, so for now food mainly comes from organic stores and farms around the area. It'd be great if you can add to our healthy lifestyle and bring your own recipes, tips and tricks!
In terms of surroundings, we're immersed in nature but not too far away from tourist hotspots such as the Mont Saint Michel (15km as the crow flies). The beach is 10 minutes away and the cities closest by are Granville and Avranches, both at about 10 minutes by car. Walks and short hikes long the forest stream and to a beautiful old water mill can be done right from our home and the long-distance trails GRR 223 is running close to our place too.
Getting to our place is best done from Rennes, where we can pick you up. Depending on where in Paris you are, Rennes is anywhere from 1h40m to 2h20m away by train.
We have bicycles available for you to get to the beach or to town (if you like mountainbiking, take some shoes with SPD cleats, there's wonderful trails right next to our home) and we're heading into town almost daily to drop off the kids at school.
Last but not least, if you're inclined to get in touch with us please mind the following:
1. On diet; while we have a very health diet, I have to mention that we are NOT a gluten-free household (the freshly baked sourdough bread has lots). Breakfast is porridge with some added fruits, lunch varies, sometimes simple sandwiches, sometimes a nice long hot 3-course lunch and occasionally we'll treat you on a 'menu ovrier' (worker's menu in a nearby restaurant). We do try to eat as local as possible, so there's no avocados every day ;-). Do let us know if there's any dietary considerations, that way we can accommodate.
2. We take on people for a period to 10 days to 4 weeks. We feel this works best for us and alternate having people over with relatively quiet periods in between.
3. If you're interested in staying at out place, we do a Skype/Zoom call to get to know each other a little bit and only then confirm a stay. We feel this makes all the difference in making the right decision, not just for us, but also for you.
4. We have an absolute zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs. Also, we are a non-smoking household and cannot host smokers.
5. We will ask you to leave a copy of your passport upon arrival (we have a printer so can make one for you). We like to have some info on hand in case of an emergency.
6. We have two kids almost 5 and almost 7 and there's usually more visiting throughout the week. 80% of the time kids are happy and smiling but occasionally things are not moving along smoothly for an hour or so. Kids are grumpy and loud occasionally. We just want to let you know that our kids are too :-).
7. We will welcome you as part of our family and we expect you to act like that too. This means we try to share meals as much as possible but if you're out for the weekend or evening, that's of course fine.
8. On cellphones; we try to limit cellphone use in the house as much as possible. No cellphones and screens are used in the entire house, except in private quarters and when the kids are not around. Why? Well, we can talk about that when you're here.
9. We have spent time on presenting ourselves in as much detail as we can on workaway.info. We expect you to do the same, so if you consider getting in touch with us please make sure you have a complete profile that tells about yourself, your interests and your motivation to do what you're doing. Also tell us why you want to volunteer at our place specifically. We very much appreciate a personal message.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Our place has plenty of space for you to park your motor home or campervan. Winter 2020/21 we are still living in a rental house a few kilometers down the road while we renovate the house to make it ready for us moving in. So if you're joining before say March or April, you'll have the place by yourself during the night ;-).
More than two
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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