We're looking for help to bring a gracious old building back to life in Poitiers, South West France




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  • Description


    January/February 2022 - we are now looking for workaways for the year. Please feel free to contact us; we are especially looking for keen gardeners and generally anybody who is willing (and able) to 'get stuck in'. Working mostly consisting of getting rid of the brambles, weeds and helping to generally tidy the place up as we are looking a bit like a builder's yard at the moment.

    We, Donna and Keith, your hosts, are an English couple in our 50s. We are easy going and share our life with our 5 year old Beagle - Max and our 2 year old beagle Margot as well as our 2 year old rescue kittens, Indie and Tigs and the latest addition to the family, Monty..... oh and a flock of sheep and now lots of chickens! We searched for the right house for a couple of years and have now taken on this project which will take years to come to fruition! However we are 'holding the faith' and hoping you are the right person to come and help us and hopefully enjoy yourself along the way! We are working on a renovation of a beautiful old French house with a view to one day being able to live in it! We’re in a small hamlet on the outskirts of a small village, situated on the local river, half hour from Poitiers airport and town, in South West France in an area of outstanding natural beauty. If you love the simple life and nature, this is the place for you as all you can hear are the trees swaying with the wind, the birds singing and you can even hear the trout jumping in the river next to us. The house is a large project, the outbuildings an even bigger project and although we've been able to tame some of the gardens, there's a lot of work to do along the riverbank which one day we hope to actually be able to fully access! We have started our bid to become self sufficient and now have sheep as well as 2 large vegetable gardens which we only started developing last Spring. We would appreciate some guidance on progression of this if that is something you happen to be knowledgeable about. As mentioned, we have 2 wonderful Beagle dogs - Max and Margot and they both love to get involved with everything we do so ideally you would need to like dogs too!. They do take up a lot of room on the sofa too!

    At present (January 2022) we are mostly looking for help with gardening, weeding, clearing leaves and help cutting wood, as well as getting the land and vegetable plot ready for the spring. This is quite labour intensive, so please note! That being said we do still have ongoing projects that we need assistance with.

    In general we are looking for help in the house, that being either helping Keith do the renovations, i.e. installing our downstairs bathroom and kitchen, taking old plaster off, replastering walls etc.. etc. Also I'd like help in the house generally getting to clean the place and get things in order (we are over 3 floors). Outside we are getting the outbuildings in some sort of order, that consists of a general tidy up and ensuring floor boards etc. are safe. We are working on the outbuilding roofs as well. On the land, we are looking to get self sufficient as well as tame a very wild area along the river. So as you can tell, a lot of work is required and any of the below skills selected below would really, really be appreciated! We occasionally help our neighbours out with gardening etc., so this may be something we will do during your visit.

    Please note! The house is not yet fully livable though during the winter months we do spend our evenings in the dining room. At present we do not have central heating though we do now will have an indoor shower which we are happy for you to share and have use of! We have an open fire in the dining room and a Rayburn in the kitchen but there is no heating in the bedrooms (which is quite normal for France) though we do plan to install radiators in the future (late 2022/early 2023). We have now managed to set up 2 bedrooms for guests in the main house - though nowhere near finished I hope you would be able to appreciate how they will look once fully completed. Please note we also have a temporary inside toilet (fully flushing) as well as an outside toilet and sink which is handy when working outside !

    The summer months are glorious - often too hot and we end up spending time indoors! We are more or less finished building a boules court (traditional French bowls) and we have a table tennis table outside; we have lots of board games and puzzles too.

    We will provide your food - which you can cook yourself or we can cook together; breakfast can be something simple like toast or porridge though the weekends tend to be a bit more varied. Lunch is normally a sandwich, soup or cheese/bread and dinner is normally a cooked meal in the winter or salad/light dishes in the summer.

    We can discuss the finer details or anything you are unsure of or want to know more about. We really hope you find our project interesting - please do drop us a line. PS we now have a home phone as well as internet/Wi-Fi.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    The river is right next to us, so should you like fishing - it's available on your doorstep! It’s quiet and relaxing; all you hear are the sounds of nature - in fact my sister used to use the grass area by the river to meditate early mornings when she first visited (however we've now put a vegetable garden there!) We don’t have wild parties as it’s an area of tranquility; if you're looking to party, then this may not be the right place for you. Ideal for 2 people travelling together or at a push singles who are happy to occupy themselves......the reason being there is no nightlife in our village and we tend to spend evenings quietly just relaxing or reading. During the cold months we tend to go to bed earlier….. we are able to supply lots of hot water bottles!

    We’re in an area of extensive nature trails, so there are lots of walks with directions to guide you. Cycling is also big here and we have bicycles should you wish to use them. We also currently have 2 kayaks/canoes which are perfect for exploring the river.

    We have extensive wild life and it’s Ideal for bird watching. At present we have a family of 18 bats residing in one of our outbuildings! Should you like to draw or paint, this is definitely the place for you.

    Our neighbours are both French and English and all with good humour, so if you wanted to practice either your English or French, this is a good place to be. We are more than willing to pick you up and drop you back to Poitiers airport.
    We have a small network of friends, they are all fabulous and living their dream and we'd be happy to introduce you to new people and ventures where we can.

    We try to be as fair as possible and include our Workaways in our social life. However this may not suit everybody and we are more than happy if you'd prefer to keep your own company.

    Again, anything can be discussed and ironed out before and during your stay with us as we want it to be a positive experience both sides!

  • Help


    Primarily, we are looking for volunteers to help with the work which will mostly be outdoors, physical and hopefully rewarding.

    Inside the house we will be removing the old plaster and re-plastering almost all the walls, getting them ready for final decoration. Putting in new plumbing, new floors, putting up stud walls. Stripping wallpaper.

    We have a rather large kitchen space that is completely sitting with units ready to be fitted. The walls have the original stonework and need to be re-pointed - this will require removal of the old mortar and replacing with lime mortar - great if you've any experience in this! We had a workaway do a fantastic job.......and then we had a flood so still work to be done on this!

    Another large part of the project is the rebuilding of a very long dry stone wall which we managed to get started on, but which is currently awaiting some TLC to get it sorted! We hear there are some experts out there that do this work - not really expecting to find somebody with these skills but hey ho, you never know!

    We have a vast amount of garden ‘wilderness’ that needs taming, so anybody green fingered and willing to get stuck in would also be appreciated. We have a LOT of trees along the river, so anybody with tree surgeon skills would also be great.

    Additionally, there will be general maintenance of the house and land to attend to as well as helping Donna in the house getting things in the right place and giving it a general clean up on a regular basis as the place gets covered in dust with plenty of cobwebs; the outside is very adept at getting inside, especially during the winter months.

    Hopefully you are a dog lover and would be happy to take Max and Margot on the occasional walk if you were going out yourself; it's not a requirement but they are great fun and will be your friends forever! This would be in your own time (i.e. outside of the 5 hours per day we ask). They are great company and will definitely lift your spirits - but this is NOT a requirement of you.........just if you fancy taking them on a walk with you.

    I suppose main requirements of Workaways are 1) willing to get their hands dirty and be able to help with manual work 2) somebody with some ‘green’ knowledge if at all possible as our veggie patch is large though at present (January 2022) needs to be getting ready for the this year's planting 3) most importantly a Workaway who is hard working, self motivated and trustworthy! Despite one piece of feedback, we do not clock watch but appreciate and do expect Workaways to use their time efficiently and effectively.

    Obviously, we appreciate that you may only be able to tick a couple of the above boxes, so to speak; we are not expecting one Workaway to do all of the above....unless of course you happen to be SuperPerson!

    We are happy to provide and agree a list of jobs needing to be done and general chores ahead of your arrival. That way we can iron out anything that is not suitable for both sides.

    Lastly we can provide overalls, working outfits, wellies and gloves. We do ask that you look after anything we supply you with and ensure we get them back! Especially any gardening tools which often just get left behind during the course of the day and consequently lost and then need replacing!

    Should our 3 meals not be enough and you like to snack, you will be required to provide your own snacks.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent

    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.

  • Accommodation


    Accommodation is in either in our caravan or in the guest bedroom in the main house. We do have in inside toilet and a rather posh outside loo with sink. The only shower at present (Janurary 2022) is in our ensuite shower room. Obviously when you want a shower, please close the main bedroom door so nobody walks in on you! For the summer months, the caravan has an outdoor living area with table and chairs, microwave and is linked up to the electricity which we are happy for you to share. In colder weather we tend to sit in the dining room in the house where we've managed to open the fire which is lovely and cosy and where we often eat and have people over every now and again. It's a nice space which you are welcome to share with us. We've also hundreds (if not thousands) of books - you are free to peruse and select something to read which you are here. We've also lots of indoor board games.
    If you would prefer to camp, we also have a tent or you may wish to bring your own. We have an excellent open area overlooking the river, protected by the trees and can also provide you with a portaloo. There is also a washing machine and fridge freezer in the main house, which you are welcome to use. Apologies we cannot accept smokers, simply as Donna suffers quite badly with asthma. We are happy to share a glass of wine or two with you, but again please bear in mind this is not a 'party' area so no loud or excessive music please. If you are not drinkers, please don't be offended if we have the odd drink!
    As your hosts we will provide food for all your meals, which hopefully we will share together, unless you prefer your own company. We often get invited out for lunch/dinner at friend's houses and more often than not, you would be invited too, though obviously we cannot guarantee that. Should our 3 meals not be enough and you like to snack, you will be required to provide your own snacks. Breakfast is usually either porride/cereal/toast. Lunch usually either a sandwich/soup/salad/bread & cheese. Dinner is usually our main meal of the day, though sometimes we do mix it up depending on what's going on and if Donna is having a 'cooking day'.
    The working week is usually organized from Monday to Friday with all evenings and weekends free. However if you prefer to work one day during the weekend and have a day off during the week for any reason (i.e. you use a working day to vist somewhere), we can work that out too. We do ask our Workaways to help clear away and share washing up/putting away of dishes after meals. We now have a dishwasher, so would ask that you put your dirty plates, cups, cutlery, glasses etc. directly into the dishwasher! We would expect this to be done in your own time, i.e. not part of the 5 hours' work we require, again on the basis you would have to do this if at home and we are merely asking for you to tidy up after yoursleves. Should you be part of a couple or alongside other workaways we would expect you to share this chore and work out a routine between you. If you are on your own we would ask that you assist. Should you need clarification on anything above, please do ask.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Beside the nature walks and cycling, we are also fairly close to a large swimming lake, which has very reasonably priced tele water ski facilities, along with toilets and refreshments and we’d be happy to drop you off and collect you (closed in Winter).
    We are about half hour from the airport and the main town of Poitiers which is beautiful and well worth a visit. Again we’d be happy to take you and collect you later in the day as long as the visits are planned into our day. As previously mentioned you are welcome to use our bicycles.
    We are between two towns, about 10km each way which you could either cycle to or again we could drop you. Or you may just find you are happy pottering about the property which you are also welcome to do.

    Covid allowing, we also travel between London and Poitiers on a regular basis, so travel/pick up may be a possibility depending on our schedule.

  • 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

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    You can park next to the river or on our top field

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Not at the moment as our female beagle is coming into season.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours a day 5 days a week (each person)

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Accuracy of profile: (4.4)

Cultural exchange: (4.8)

Communication: (4.8)

Host ref number: 578193973335