Chris and Maggie live in a large house which was renovated a few years ago. We just outside the village of Varen, about 100 kms north of Toulouse. Chris is semi-retired, having worked in UK TV and radio as a drama writer and producer and subsequently as an internet consultant, providing advice to the creative industries on how to manage content online. Maggie is an artist and part time teacher of English and French. We have both traveled extensively in Europe and the rest of the world. Nowadays we still spend a certain amount of time travelling, but otherwise occupy ourselves with gardening, tinkering with this and that, reading. Maggie works in her studio and I have a work room in the house.
The house is surrounded by its own land, with gardens, woodland and a river for swimming and canoeing. There is a railway nearby with direct trains to Toulouse. We are both sociable people, taking great enjoyment from cooking and eating, good conversation. We keep up with friends throughout the world using the internet and we both have a wide range of interests.
We are internationalist in outlook and our family members speak a wide variety of languages - English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. We also have friends who speak eastern European languages.
There is a separate building available for workawayers. It's off-grid with a solar system and composting toilet. It's comfortable and private, suitable for two people and a child.
We are particularly interested in hosting Spanish workawayers because we want to improve our Spanish language skills!
Types of help and learning opportunitiesLanguage practiceGardeningDIY and building projectsCreating/ Cooking family mealsHelp around the houseGeneral Maintenance
Cultural exchange and learning opportunities
As we explain in our profile, we are ourselves well travelled, in Europe, central America, Africa (where Chris was once a volunteer), India, East Asia, including China, Australia and New Zealand. Our outlook is international - as British nationals, we are deeply disheartened by the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the community of European nations. In the past we have hosted people from Estonia, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Anyone who comes here will find a couple more than willing to share their own stories and experiences of travel, pass on advice and even suggest people they might link up with when they move on. We also have modern circus in the family and have hosted jugglers, acrobats and clowns in the past. They are always welcome here but bring your own big top.
Projects involving children
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
There are six hectares of land around the house, which is partly garden, partly open fields. There is also woodland, going down to the river Aveyron. As a result there's always a lot to do. I have a small tractor which is very versatile but keeping nature at bay is always demanding. The house was renovated the house five years ago and there is still painting and decorating to finish, inside and outside. We'd like to host people who enjoy this kind of thing and are happy to join in generally with the life of the house.
Right now the windows and doors on the outside of the house need repainting.
We are both very keen cooks and have a well equipped kitchen, to semi-professional standards. We are always interested in learning new styles of food. We would welcome volunteers with good cooking ability and a strong interest in food, particularly our regional ingredients.
This host offers a language exchange
We are comfortable in English and French. We also speak intermediate Spanish, learned for our travels in central America, particularly Nicaragua, where we have a charity supporting women and children.
We can offer a separate, large double bedroom with its own bathroom. The house has central heating and air conditioning. There is satellite TV and a high standard of comfort. The house is non-smoking inside.
What else ...
The countryside around Varen is very beautiful, with steep valleys. The village itself is medieval, with a huge church and castle. Nearby is the small town of Saint Antonin Noble Val, in the valley of the River Aveyron, where its possible to go canoeing and kayaking. Further away are the towns of Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Gaillac (a wine centre) and Albi (famous for its Toulouse Lautrec museum and enormous cathedral). All these towns have weekly markets which are always popular. If you want to get away for the weekend by public transport, there is a regular train service to Toulouse within walking distance. We he a selection of guidebooks and leaflets to lend.
We normally suggest that volunteers come for two or three weeks only. We are not able to host people for long periods.
A little more information
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Can host digital nomads
Currently we are connected via ADSL at 10mgb down and 1mgb up. But we are awaiting connection to fibre. We have a separate buidling with its own internet connection via ethernet.
Space for parking camper vans
Lots of space to park up here in our big field once the hay has been cut in June. We can supply power to vans.
Can possibly accept pets
Only well behaved dogs and cats.
How many Workawayers can stay?
Five hours per day