My name is Debbie and I am a 52 year old woman who is renovating a barn in Lower Normandy in a location near to Saint Hilaire Du Harcouet. I am not running a business of any kind and this is currently a renovation of what will become my permanent residence. Being a keen equestrian I had always dreamed of having my horses at home yet such a property was not affordable for me in the UK. So also being an adventurer who really aims to get the most out of life I began researching properties abroad and soon made my dream become true after I made the huge leap of purchasing property with land here in France. The particular area where I am in Normandy had been voted as being the biggest area for equestrian development so that pretty much made up my mind along with my interest in the french culture, the history, the people, the landscapes, the buildings, the beaches, the food and the wine. I'm learning more and more each day.
In previous years I had a very challenging career in a uniformed service, where I held some rather demanding roles but these days I definitely enjoy a more relaxed way of life. In the past I had also developed and managed a Childrens Entertainment Company, which offered therapeutic aid to children with behavioural issues. I helped many children who were disabled, blind or deaf, which was very rewarding indeed and in fact this was a life-changing experience for me and I was proud to win an award as an entrepreneur. I would like to set up something along these lines again here in France and so I am currently working through ideas by spending time doing research to make this happen in whichever way I can.
I live alone here in France, which has been very challenging at times, but it has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I do have a partner however we are currently both living and working in different countries. We are both rather independent as well as career-minded so we are happy to follow our own paths until we retire. I have made some wonderful friends in France and some happened to tell me about the workaway scheme as they use it themselves. Thinking it was a brilliant idea I decided to place this profile because I would like to also give people who like adventure the opportunity to visit this part of France so they can enjoy some of what this beautiful country has to offer. The accommodation here is modern and comfortable. The building was simply a shell when I bought it back in 2014 and with blood, sweat and tears, I am close to having a pleasant home to live in.
Now I would simply appreciate some help to enable me to complete my renovation project and at this time I need this help as soon as possible. I need people who can help lay gravel paths, erect a fence, hang metal gates, cut some trees, fit a sink and do a few other simple plumbing jobs. I could also do with a little help with carpentry, fixing a log burner flue, painting, laying tiles, household chores such as cleaning to a high standard and if I'm really lucky I may even find someone who might be able to link up the satellite cables from all rooms as they are presently all hanging in a cupboard! I've clearing of a few areas to do and there are also a few trips needed to the dechetterie(skip). In addition I am about to start a business providing workshops for children and would like some help to put in place all of what I need.
Aside from the hard work I do ensure I take time out to relax and wind down. My list of interests grows every week. I enjoy being creative in different ways and used to do some photography. I enjoy gardening and need to prepare my plot for planting this year so keen gardeners are most welcome. I enjoy improving my knowledge of the french language and am about to enlist on a course. I am an animal lover and have three dogs, as well as a horse and a pony that I both ride and drive. With an interest and previous job in archaeology I have started to metal detect and although I am a beginner I have had one rather interesting find outside of the 17th century bread oven building which sits on my land, so I would love to meet some more enthusiasts to hopefully grab a few tips. I enjoy food but am a bit of a 'can cook, won't cook' type so if you enjoy cooking then you'd be more than welcome here too, where along with a glass of good wine we can relax and I will thoroughly enjoy hearing all about you and your life. To be educated about other countries and cultures is important to me and I would also be extremely pleased if it becomes possible in the future for me to also visit some of you in your homes, where I would be more than happy to do some work in return.
So if you have any questions, please do get in touch!
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Having spent quite some time in France since 2014 I have gained a lot of experience about life here. I have explored many areas and visited some wonderful tourist attractions, including Mont Saint Michel which is only 35 minutes away from my home. The history within this entire area is vast and I would be happy to explore further with guests in order to learn more. Locally there are some very interesting places to visit. There are also many places to visit for shopping and to experience some fabulous food. There is a local market on a Wednesday, which is interesting.
I have many friends here and would be able to introduce you to some of them. Many have their own interesting knowledge of France and interesting stories to tell about their times here.
In addition to this, I have plenty of valuable experience in relation to renovation should any of you be thinking about doing such a thing in the future and need advice. I have a 17th century bread oven building that I now have permission to renovate however currently it still contains pieces of history, such as the original oven, peel and a few other articles.
Also being English, I can give you information about this culture in great detail and would be more than happy to cook some traditional English dishes.
DIY - Please see what is included in my profile above. An experienced builder would be great but also general tasks like sanding, painting may be of interest to any DIY enthusiasts.
Manual workers required.
Housework - tidying, cleaning, cooking to enjoy hopefully some different recipes(I'm not a big meat eater but don't mind if you are) and to enjoy the experience of dining with guests, sharing experiences along the way with the accompaniment of some good french wine.
Equestrian help - to assist with stable duties including grooming. Riding would be at your own risk and only available to those who have plenty of experience. You would be welcome to enjoy a trip on a carriage with me around the quiet village.
Language tuition - help to improve my french.
*️️️️️*️️️️️*️️️️️I am also looking for help with house-sitting for when I return to the UK to visit family and friends. This would involve looking after my property, cleaning, caring for, watering/feeding/exercising my dogs and the same for the horses excluding exercising. Some gardening but there will be plenty of free time for you to explore the area too. If my animals are happy then so am I! In this case I would like you to visit for possibly two weeks so I have a week with you to show you the tasks before I go on vacation.*️️️️️*️️️️️*️️️️️
Next required date for this is March 2019.
The property offering accommodation is to a modern design, It is rendered externally and is not a traditional stone building however there is a more traditional 17th century bread oven building on the land, which is also being renovated shortly.
The old barn that offers the accommodation has some character internally with apex ceiling, hay loft door and beams and this open plan kitchen/dining/living area used to be the cow byre where they were milked. The utility room used to be the garage where the tractors were worked on andwhere the cows medication was held. The bedroom area used to be where the cows were fed and where they sheltered.
The accommodation is all on ground level at this time yet there is access via a staircase to the next floor ready for further renovation later on this year.
There is a double bedroom available for workaway guests with an electric wall heater. Next door to this room is a new bathroom incorporating all facilities. I have my own ensuite shower room. There is a tv with dvd player, clothes rail, drawer units, bedside cabinet and a large wooden box for storage.
All utilities are connected. The fosse septic is brand new.
There is currently only electric wall and free-standing heaters available generally throughout the ground floor however these seem to be doing a good job at keeping most areas warm. The log burner needs to be fixed, which is a priority on my list of things to do.
The large open plan area consists of the kitchen with modern cons, a dining area with table and chairs, and a living area with new sofa, which can also serve as a sofa bed. English tv via satellite, sound bar, cd player. Loads of DVD's and a small collection of CD's. Also a selection of games. Some reading material.
There are still some floors needing to be tiled, which I am currently working on.
There is a utility area with brand new washing machine and also a drier as well as other necessary equipment.
There are three friendly dogs; small, medium and slightly larger.
For better periods of weather in the spring and summer seasons I have 3 acres of land, therefore if a group of people wish to come and stay to help and also relax in the summer sun then I even have a tent available for the adventure. You would be welcome to use the facilities within the barn.
There are bus services, which I would have to check out for you. I have a new bicycle availabe for use.
There are some beautiful views on walks locally. There are also villages closeby, such as Reffeveille, Mortain, Brecey and Juvigny, where you can pick up emergency supplies if needed however I will make sure that you have all you should require.
St. Hilaire Du Harcouet has all amenities including a travel information office, cinema, swimming pool, and all other shops. Avranche is about 30 minutes away by car and it has all of this as well as places of interest. A train from Vire, which is about 45 minutes away will take you to the outskirts of Paris in about 2 hours.
I have plenty of leaflets here detailing places of interest.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week