A cultural exchange, helping us to be more green and sustainable near Selkirk, Scotland, UK


United Kingdom

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 Min stay requested: 1 month or more

  • Description


    Updated November 28th 2020:

    PLEASE NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently operating a careful self-distancing policy and will be for the foreseeable future.

    For this reason, please get in touch only if you are already in the UK, you have been in a location that's had low numbers of cases, and/or you've been staying in your own home or with a host who has been operating careful social distancing.

    Ideally you will not have been using public transport for the 14 days prior to travelling to us.

    If we invite you here, you will need to continue to follow whatever social distancing policy we're operating while you are here (which isn't that difficult because we're in the countryside) which means you will be leaving the property only for local walking, cycling or running, or in the car with us to either to go food shopping or for outings locally. For the moment we won't permit the use of public transport but we will take you out with us in the car. We'll make sure we give you the opportunity to see the local area.


    We are a professional couple in our 50's and we moved with 2 horses into our small holding in the Scottish Borders in April 2017. We are at in the process of setting this up as a facility for ethical, sustainable horse keeping, organic food production for ourselves, and we have a small holiday cottage for visitors to the Scottish Borders.

    We have 10 acres of grazing, which includes some very wet land with natural springs, and a large garden which is divided into several areas and includes a polytunnel.

    Max has a background in IT strategy and vast experience of programme and project management and business process improvement, but her day job now is teaching people about ethical horse keeping and force-free animal training and running the project that is our place!

    Bryan is an expert in business solutions testing. He works as a consultant for a large IT solutions and service provider.

    He is also a part time hypnotherapist and loves talking to people about psychology and music.

    We have a grand plan to make the place functional, safe, clean, green and handsome, and literally everything we do is with those things in mind. Being green means conserving resources like water, electricity, heating and food and being respectful of insects, animals and plant life - watching where you tread for instance.

    Because we have horses, safety is paramount, whether that's being careful to make sure each horse gets the right food, that the stables are clean, ensuring gates and doors are closed or that tools and equipment are put away.

    We are very organised, we have a long list of tasks, and we are fairly particular about how we do things, at the same time as being open to suggestions for better ways of doing things. You will get clear instruction on how to do any task and a chance to input your own ideas for improvement if you have them.

    Personality wise we are both fairly extrovert without being loud, we love lively conversation while we work or at dinner, whether that be deep or light hearted. We like company and we’re never more happy than when we have a house full of chattering, laughing people who enjoy what they are doing and who make an effort to get on with others.

    We like talking about horses and horse training. We have a BMW GS1200F motorbike and we love motorbike touring. We've been as far south as Morocco and as far north as Sweden and all over the rest of Europe on the bike and ridden bikes in Peru and Cambodia. We love being outside in nature, watching wildlife and birds and identifying wild grasses, flowers and fungi. We often take a moment to look at the scenery when we're out working on the land. Living on the side of a hill makes for lovely views out of every window. We have binoculars in the kitchen for watching birds in the trees outside the window.

    We abhor the hunting and killing of animals so you won't find us shooting or killing anything on our land or anywhere else. We have resident hares and badgers and moles and despite their determination to dig up what was a lawn, and their taste for strawberries, they are all welcome.

    We’re very kind but direct people. If you do something we don’t like we will tell you immediately, we’ll be clear about what needs to change, and then we’ll move on and expect you to do the same.

    Before you apply, please read our profile carefully, be honest with yourself, and make sure you are confident you fit the bill. It's particularly important given that we're not able to go out very much at the moment, that you particularly fit the personality profile we describe.

    We will reply to you quickly. Please try to do the same!

    If you meet the above criteria then we would like you to apply by submitting a short video explaining about yourself, where you are now, what you have been doing, why you want to come here and what you hope to be able to offer us in exchange for the opportunity to visit this beautiful part of Scotland.

    Because you are going to live in our house as part of the family, we work hard to get to know you, to give you chance to get to know us and to get a feel for whether we think we would be a good fit for each other before you come and live with us. For that reason, when you apply we will send you a short video explaining more about what to expect and we will ask for a short video from you to explain your motivation to come to stay with us, what you think you have to offer and what you hope to gain from being in our home. We aren't interested in your technical ability to produce a video, we are interested in your resourcefulness. We also like to chat via Whatsapp for a bit to get to know you, but we won't take long to do this so that we can all make a speedy decision.

    Thank you for your understanding in these exceptional times!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    We can help with language skills (but you will need a reasonably good standard of English to start with), positive psychology (personal development), and we can teach you practical skills such as horse-care, training, dry stone dyke building and repair, hedge trimming, weeding, planting, construction, fencing, sewing, decorating, woodwork. There would also be opportunities locally for people who want to learn how to use chain saws or other machinery through local colleges.

    We nearly always offer to take you somewhere if we are going out either shopping or for leisure. Sometimes we have a day out on the bike on our own but that's mainly because it only seats two :-)

    We are one mile from the main road between Carlisle in Cumbria and Edinburgh - the capital of Scotland and about halfway between the two. This is a really good place in the Scottish Borders from which travel both to further north and into England is easy and cheap.

    We are also one mile from the main X95 bus route from Carlisle to Edinburgh and in 20 minutes you can get to Galashiels from which buses run all over the Borders, or to the railway station there that will also take you into the centre of Edinburgh.

    So we are a good base from which to go exploring on days off. We are on or close to several long distance walk paths and there is a LOT of opportunity to go hiking and biking from the door or using public transport. We can lend you a bike.

    The Borders consists of a number of small towns, each of which is on a river. Each town has it's own character and special things to see and do. They are all easy to reach.

  • Help


    We hope to welcome positive, cheerful, sociable, energetic, lively, fit, genuine, extrovert, resilient, flexible people with a sense of humour to come and live here and help with tasks in exchange for great plant-based food, improving your English, learning about positive psychology, horse care and animal training and enjoying the opportunities to explore Scotland. It really matters to us that you fit that bill personality wise so please make sure you are honest with yourself about your personality.

    In terms of practical skills, then our ideal at the moment would be to find people who either have or would like to get some experience of looking after horses and are happy to lend a hand with various projects on the land and in the garden.

    We are also happy to have people with no experience of any of those things but with a genuine interest to learn skills they can use in their own life.

    Our current development projects include tree planting, pruning, weeding, dry stone wall repair, interior and exterior decorating, tree pruning and firewood preparation.

    In winter we may do indoor decorating / refurbishment projects if the weather is really bad but mostly we try to be outdoors in all weathers. We really flexible about hours. We will discuss your start and finish times and days off with you on arrival and on a day to day basis they may be determined by the weather forecast!

    In accordance with the workaway guidance you could expect to help about 4-5 hours a day for 5 days a week. On top of that we will ask you to help with cooking and clearning up after meals and helping to keep your own room and the shared areas of the house clean.

    The length of the day can vary depending on the weather and the project we're doing. What we ideally want are people who are happy to keep doing a task until it's done and aren't expecting too fixed a timetable.

    We also offer student placements for people wishing to learn more about horse behaviour and training where you would receive education in the basics of animal training and practical opportunities to learn how to train horses in exchange for additional hours of help. This does not include riding.

    We are really flexible about days off and we try to ensure that helpers get the chance to see the local area and experience the culture, if they want to.

    What matters much more to us than skill or experience though is mindset. We can teach you the skills and give you the experience - provided you have the right attitude.

    We welcome fit, strong and healthy people with common sense, determination and stamina who will like helping as a team outside in all weathers on heavy, dirty and sometimes repetitive tasks. If you think you will enjoy turning over a compost or muck heap, gathering and processing firewood, raking over big areas of ground to collect loose stones and rocks, painting walls or getting dusty sanding down window frames on a wet afternoon then you're going to love it here. You'll work hard, have a good appetite, have time to enjoy nature and sleep soundly!

    We mostly tell people that what we do consists mainly of moving horse poo, compost, wood and stones from a to b with the light relief of a bit of painting and decorating!

    You need to be confident to attempt practical tasks even when you don't have the skills yet. You need to be able to listen carefully and follow simple instructions, have a good go at something and ask for clarification if you aren't sure exactly what to do or want to check you are doing it right.

    Because we are all living together in the same house as a family, personality and attitude matter to us a great deal.

    You will be someone who finds it easy to focus on the good in people, the learning opportunity in situations, the joy to be had from doing simple tasks well and the “what I can learn from this?” when things don’t go to plan.

    You are someone who is doing workaway to use your muscles and make new friends and really experience the culture, not just to have somewhere to stay and do a bit of light help while you travel. You want to meet people and get to know them and to get to know the local area.

    You are the kind of person who builds rapport with people easily by being actively interested in them and by sharing information about yourself. Your friends would describe you as chatty, open and honest and genuine.

    You're someone who finds it easy to actively show gratitude by saying a direct “Thank you” to people for their kindness, their company, their time, the opportunities they offer you, for cooking with or for you, for redirecting you if you're not doing something quire right, for noticing when you do.

    You’re a natural volunteer. You don’t stand around doing nothing while someone else is working, or wait to be asked to do something - you offer or you ask what needs doing next. If you don’t know how to do something, you are likely to say “If you show me how you want this done, I reckon I could do that”.

    You don’t feel resentment if someone in the team seems to be doing less than you. You don't often find yourself feeling taken for granted.

    You will offer to help or even take the lead to make lunch or dinner for everyone and if someone else is cooking, you’ll be first up off your seat or out of your room to offer to help or to clear the table after dinner.

    You have broad shoulders (English idiom!) and don’t find yourself feeling criticised, “told off” or micromanaged if you're given feedback that you haven't done something as asked or if you're asked to change how you are doing something. Doing things that are for the horses is a big part of what we do and requires attention to detail and commitment to high standards of quality. Anything else could be fatal for an animal. You will see feedback as an opportunity to reflect on what you could have done differently or whether you could have asked for more information, or paid closer attention to instructions up front.

    You don’t stand around watching or wondering what to do while others are helping. You ask them what you could do to help or you pro-actively look for something that might need doing and suggest it. That applies as much in the house as it does outside.

    When asked to do a task you’re likely to respond with “I’d love to” and a big genuine smile, and you will set about it energetically. You aspire to be able to do things carefully, quickly and efficiently.

    When you’re asked how you got on with a task you’ll be a person who is likely to say “I loved it! I got a good workout today” or “It was great being able to do it and listen to a podcast at the same time” or “It was fun doing it together with you because I feel like we got to know more about each other.” or “It kept me really warm!” or “I felt like I really achieved something today!” or “I learned something that will be really useful for me later on.” or “I was listening to the bird song while I did it, and it was amazing”.

    A positive enthusiastic attitude to help and play, and a collaborative supportive attitude to other team members will be very much appreciated.

    You are interested in nature, wildlife, plants and trees and of course horses.

    You are at least curious if not yet actively interested in plant-based living.

    If you have a previous injury, or any condition that could be made worse by repetitive tasks using your hands, arms, back and legs, such as lifting, carrying, sweeping, sanding down woodwork or working on your knees, or bending up and down a lot, then please let us know in advance and we can decide if we can work around that. We don't want to cause you injury or aggravate a pre-existing condition!

    Please don't apply if you take recreational drugs or you smoke or use a vape. We don't permit any of these on the property, and we prefer not to be around people who smell of smoke.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Intermediate

  • Accommodation


    Sometimes you will have your own room but usually you will share an en-suite room. The rooms are large and the house is modern, well insulated and warm.

    Food is provided for 3 meals a day while eating at home, and you would pay for yourself if we invite you to eat out with us, so that you can have anything you want, if you're missing meat, fish, eggs or dairy produce.

    Breakfast is DIY and sometimes lunch is shared or DIY depending on whether we are in the house. Since we all use the house and have to eat, we all share the work of preparing and cooking food and washing up, loading and emptying the dishwasher, emptying rubbish and recycling, and house cleaning. Cooking, cleaning and washing up time is part of living with us as part of the family and in addition to your 5 hours of help time.

    That might mean that we all share the food prep and washing up some days or that you are asked to cook for everyone on one day and have others cook for you on another.

    Come prepared to take the lead on preparing food and making meals sometimes. We have lots of recipe books for those who need to broaden their repertoire of dishes.

    We eat vegan food. You will be able to come with me to the shops to buy any additional food you want such as chocolate, snacks and so on at your own expense. We enjoy wine and beer and we can get drinks for helpers when we go shopping for which they would need to pay for themselves. A glass or two of wine or a couple of beers is our limit. We do not allow excessive drinking and we have a strict no-smokers and no drugs policy.

    What we tend to do is to involve helpers in food shopping so they can influence the choices of meals.

    For breakfast you can choose from home made bread, bagels, cereal / muesli and fruit. Lunch tends to be things like soup and bread, salad and vegan sausage wraps, beans on toast. Evening meals tend to be pasta, rice, curries, vegetable stir fry, that kind of thing. We use wine in our cooking a fair amount, and we also like a lot of garlic but the food is not too spicy. If you are willing to try new foods and recipes you will like it here. Provided you eat more or less anything plant based, you will enjoy the food. If you are gluten-intolerant, on a low-carb diet, or dislike or are allergic to several different foods, we are not for you. We try to eat organic produce but we prioritise local over organic.

    We do not have a TV and since the purpose of workaway is cultural exchange then we prefer volunteers who want to join in with social activities. We like to play Scrabble, dice games, join in village social events, go to the cinema or theatre when they are open, and to sit and talk in the evenings. If you are more likely to be found behind a laptop screen, or to be on your phone on social media we are not for you.

    Under normal circumstances we regularly have friends and family over in the evenings and you would be treated as one of the family on those occasions too.

    Ask yourself how you would feel if your first evening here were to be spent having dinner with 4 people you didn't know, who would be asking you lots of questions about yourself so as to get to know you. If you're happy with the prospect of that, you will fit in well here. If you find that idea daunting, or it makes you anxious, you may not feel comfortable here - and we'd prefer to have people who will feel at home in that kind of environment.

    In order to encourage cultural exchange and pro-social behaviour with us and our other helpers and guests we do not allow the use of mobile phones at the dinner table or while helping. For one thing your phone can get damaged! If you're doing a task on your own though, then it's fine to listen to a podcast or music on your phone or to borrow a radio.

    Consider a stay with us as an opportunity to detox from social media or phone addiction!

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are about a mile from the A7 midway between Hawick and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. It's easy to get here by train from Edinburgh to Galashiels, or by bus. The bus stop is about a mile from the house. We are happy to give helpers lifts to places locally on their days off. There are leisure centres, cinemas, cycling, hiking opportunities and loads of interesting historical sites.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We have good Internet Access available all the time.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    We do have flat ground where a vehicle could be parked but for us the point of workaway is to have workers live with us as part of the family, sharing meals and leisure time. So while we could accommodate a vehicle we wouldn't really want to host workers who want to live separately.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    4-5 hours a day 5 days a week

These are extra optional ratings when members leave feedback. The average rating left for each option is displayed.

Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (5.0)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 359988293938