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I'm Sarena, a 39 year old Brit following my dream of living in the Med, refurbing stunning properties and renting them out when finished as holiday villas. Right now I'm working on villa number two, Villa Shardana on the beach (the Mediterranean sea is right at the end of the garden) near Pula in South Sardinia.
The work is only part of Workaway for me. We'll be living, working and socialising together and when the social side works, it's amazing... It's hard to describe the fun and buzz from a really great group so that's just as important to me as getting work done. My feedback will give a good idea of what I mean from the perspective of workawayers so if you're not up for laughs, hugs, in jokes and a lot of wine, read no further. This is not the place for you.
I believe that Workaway is so much more than a straight exchange of work for food and a room. If you want to come over and give the bare minimum, both socially and during work time then I can tell you now, you will get the bare minimum from me... And neither of us is going to enjoy it all that much. If you give 100% and throw yourself into the work and social life and general Villa Shardana vibe like so many have, you'll get it all back and more... And I can't wait to host you.
The work includes painting, refurbishing furniture, sanding, turning the jungle back into a garden, laying floors, demolition, retiling the roof, plastering, turning flea market finds into fabulous furniture and artwork, building bathrooms and a kitchen, creating stunning living spaces and generally turning a bit of a wreck into a stunning luxury beachfront villa. From April to November I'll also be asking you to help with the weekly cleaning and gardening in my other property between groups of guests. This will be for six hours, generally on a Saturday.
Qualified or experienced DIYers, plasterers, builders, carpenters or other trades would obviously be my absolute ideal but there is a lot to do so as long as you are willing to pick up a paintbrush, shovel or sandpaper and have a go I'd love to host you. Some of my best Workawayers in the past have been the "if I don't know how to do it, find an online tutorial and have a go" types. Some of the work will be messy, some will be creative, some will be mind numbingly boring but there will always be a cup of tea/glass of wine ready (whichever you prefer) and the right kind of people for this place are the ones who have fun whatever we have going on.
I prefer a slightly older group so only accept volunteers aged 25 and older. I know there's loads of wonderful, very mature younger folk out there but for me personally I find I have more fun and get more out of exchanges with people with a little more life experience under their belt.
I have two adorable Devon Rex cats Bowie and Blue. Booze the 5 year old Pointer/Setter cross and Baloo the 2 year old spaniel cross. All four of them are just about the sweetest, most affectionate souls you will ever meet and are ALWAYS looking for a cuddle or a game of ball so you really do need to be an animal lover to stay here. Seven ex-battery chickens also became part of the family in April 2018 and supply us with fresh eggs every day.
I'm totally flexible on the hours you help and offer 3 meals a day in exchange for 25 hours help a week. Volunteer for longer hours some days to have more days off to go and explore the island, volunteer a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the evening... however you want to do it is just fine with me. I don't count hours and leave it up to you guys to manage your time.
I am on a very tight budget but I eat the same food as my workawayers so I make sure it's tasty and nutritious. Cheap wine is included and abundant. Life is too short to worry about where your next glass of wine is coming from! Beer and other alcohol isn't provided for free but you're more than welcome to buy your own. Breakfast is DIY but I provide cereal, bread, jams, eggs, yoghurt etc. I like to try and get everyone eating together round the table for lunch and dinner though. I provide big portions at meal times and tea and biscuit breaks but other snacks are not included... Not because I'm stingey with my money, i just genuinely don't have a lot of it so need to watch the budget.
I generally cook unless someone else fancies doing it but I love, love, love it when somebody else is happy to take over kitchen duties. Maid service is not included though, and I do expect everyone to do their bit in keeping the communal areas (kitchen, living room, bathrooms) clean and nice and to tidy up their workspace/equipment at the end of the day. I'm your host and friend, not your mother.
You will have your own room unless you want to share and I have plenty of double and single bedrooms. The house is basic for now and work will obviously be going on around us so if you're looking for luxury this isn't the place to be... Yet. The beds are comfy, we've created a great living/dining/kitchen space with a fireplace for chilling out and socialising in, and although there is only one functioning bathroom at the moment and it's right out of the 1970's decor wise, there's tonnes of scalding hot water. If you don't mind a bit of chaos and want to be living right on the beach though, I'll make sure you have fun here!
I'm no stranger to Workaway having spent 12 months from July 2015 to July 2016 fully renovating my other beautiful villa in Sardinia, with the help of a team of Workawayers and had a new team in to help me get the villa ready for the first guests from Feb to April 2017. I've been hosting Workawayers at Villa Shardana since September 2017.
Help in the house
I've been hosting workawayers since early July 2015 and can host up to 8 people at a time so it's really important to me that volunteers value community living and the social side of meeting, living with and forming friendships with the other volunteers. We've got a great family vibe going so you'd need be prepared to dive right into that. I host volunteers from all over the world, and although I speak a couple of languages, volunteers do need to be reasonably fluent in English to be able to join in and have fun with the rest of the group.
I have hosted a LOT of people with Workaway over the last couple of years. Some have stayed 24 hours, others up to 9 months! One thing I have found is that there are two main types of Workawayer. Those who are travelling because they genuinely want to explore, experience, meet new folk and lend a hand. And those who are travelling to escape from some unhappiness in their "real" lives. If you're in the first group then... Welcome! You really will fit right in and we will have a blast. If you're in the second group and bring more emotional baggage than smiles then please do look elsewhere. If you aren't happy with yourself that won't change wherever you go... You won't be happy here either and I much prefer hosting people who want to laugh, smile and dance around the kitchen... I have a shamefully low reply rate on here because I am only interested in folk who I honestly think I will enjoy living with and spending time with, people who can teach me and be open to learning and who will genuinely enrich my life and are looking to enrich theirs. This is a work project but it's also my home and life is too short to live and work with people who make you unhappy. Please be honest with yourself before sending me an application message. If you're very introverted, depressed, lack a sense of humour, are a drama queen or carry lots of negative emotional energy you won't fit in and won't last long here.
I tend to be very focused on the work I have going on and work long hours every day so I'm afraid I'm not great at being a tour guide. This means I would definitely prefer independent folk who are happy to do their own thing in their downtime. Having said that, there should generally be lots of other Workawayers around to have fun with. In the evenings though I love to have a glass of wine (or two or three), chat and laugh over dinner, hold impromptu kitchen dance parties and play silly games.
Please don't enquire if you are travelling with children. Sometimes it will be more chaotic here, sometimes less so but fundamentally this is a building site and I just can't host children.
I honestly don't care about your nationality, race, sexual preferences or religion. All are welcome. I do however have an issue with racism, homophobia and intolerance in general so be prepared to live openly and acceptingly with a very mixed bag of people.
I get several requests a week from people who are doing workaway just to declare residency in the villa and obtain Italian citizenship. I don't reply to those requests so if that's your reason for applying, please don't bother.
I also won't respond to the many people who try to cheat the system and contact me outside of workaway to save the subscription cost. Workaway is a brilliant platform that has brought so many amazing people and experiences into my life. They deserve the subscription fee, so please don't bother spamming my website, email and Facebook with your requests. Contact me through workaway or not at all.
English (mother toungue), Italian (fluent), Spanish (fluent but rusty!)
You'd have a room to yourself and a bathroom shared with me and other Workawayers. It certainly ain't 5 star accommodation, but is friendly, functional and fun!
The local beach is at the end of the garden and the local marina, bar and pizzeria are less than 10 minutes away on foot. As most of my Workawayers don't have a lot of cash, we tend to stay in and socialise here... Although that can get quite wild sometimes :). During the spring, summer and autumn we spend a LOT of time at my friend Bobo's beach bar a 5 minute walk away. He organises regular, delicious lunches and dinners which are always fun and a good chance to meet the locals and tourists. He also does party nights if you fancy a dance and organises loads of well priced outings on the boat checking out stunning beaches and generally getting pretty drunk on the way.
The buzzing town of Pula is within easy reach by car or bike. The famous beaches of Nora, Santa Margherita and Chia are easily reached by car. There's kayak hire within walking distance of the villa and the area is great for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. I've also got bicycles so you can be a little more independent and explore alone if you want.
Nightlife isn't exactly buzzing in the village. Think more dinners with friends, long walks, swimming in the sea, mushroom hunting, wild asparagus foraging and bike rides. Cagliari is within easy reach by bus though if you're in need of a proper night out at any point.
If for any reason things aren't working out for you here please do come to me and chat about it so we can find a way to make it work better for all of us. If it still doesn't work, I do ask that people who are unhappy leave as soon as they realise it's not the place for them. As a host, it's pretty horrible living with someone who doesn't want to be here and it tends to have an impact on the whole group vibe. Drama queens, trouble makers, unpleasant, unhappy or lazy people will also be asked to leave. The overall happiness of the group is much more important to me than any individual who upsets that. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but if somebody can't be bothered to be nice to be around, I can't be bothered to put up with them 😉
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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