We are Gary & Amanda, living in a 400 year old house (a former pub) in a large village in rural south Devon, near the coast. Gary works from home and helps me with daily tasks. I do the admin for my husband's business, amongst other things. With our houses, business commitments and many commitments, we always have too much to do.
Gary had a bad accident 3 years ago and can't do anything too physical. He's well, fully mobile and has retained his sense of humour; he just has to be careful. Unfortunately, I badly broke my right upper arm 9 months ago and that still isn't healed, so we need help! I can't move it much or lift anything, which is frustrating.
Our house is pretty big, we've been here 27 years and it's still not finished. We also have a cottage next door we are working on (probably to sell) and a family holiday home (by the sea, 2 hours away), which we visit to work on every few weeks.
There's always a LOT of cleaning & tidying and everyday chores to do (inside and out) + there's general maintenance, decorating and gardening. Much of the work here is repetitive and not very inspiring but that's life! All part of running a large house(s) but we try to make things enjoyable. There's always music to listen too and, when we work together we chat a lot. Great for anyone wanting to improve their English!
I spend a lot of time organising, tidying and moving stuff around whilst we redecorate (difficult with1 arm). There's furniture to move from room to room and house to house as we reorganise the properties and there's old furniture to paint. We are planning on downsizing in the next year or two so there is also a lot to sort out and get rid of.
As well as the everyday chores, there are a kitchen & 2 bathrooms to fit at our house so if anyone is skilled in plumbing, tiling or carpentry there is plenty to keep them busy!
We have a large, very friendly dog who is sometimes lively but is very obedient. He loves Workaways as he thinks they all stay just to fuss him. To keep him company, we also dog sit another large dog (3-4 days a week) and she is the softest dog ever. Much as we love dogs, we hate a house that smells "doggy" so washing their beds and hosing the back yard is a regular job! No-one, however, is expected to pick up their mess. We do that!
We have 4 grown up daughters - 2 work locally and live nearby, 1 is married and lives in New Zealand and 1 travels around, coming home occasionally. She has a very sweet, medium-sized dog who sometimes stays with us too. Volunteers who stay with us DO really need to like dogs!
We visit France often and speak French (I well & Gary quite a bit). We have hosted 6 French 18 year olds over the years (children of friends) who have stayed for a few months to learn English. For the last 4 years we have hosted groups of French schoolkids (and now their teachers) for short stays in the spring and summer. I am now co-ordinator for those visits too.
We love having a house full of people and enjoy the cultural exchange of Workaway very much. During the last 3 years we've had about 36 Workaways, for varying lengths of time, many of whom have become friends (despite us being older). We had one come back for a 2nd visit, for longer, which was lovely and some we've had the pleasure of meeting up with again after they left. We keep in touch with quite a few and hope to see them again, either here or in their home countries.
We've also had a few who didn't seem to get much out of the experience. When we work, we work hard, and otherwise we like to relax and chat, listen to music, watch movies/box sets on TV, walk our dog(s) or to go out somewhere interesting locally. We like to take our Workaways out to see plenty of the area and maybe learn a bit of it's history and culture. If people choose to stay in their room every afternoon, watching TV on their laptop, they aren't going to get much out of being here and aren't going to learn much English.
Sadly, we've had 2 very bad experiences, but that hasn't dented our appreciation of Workaway. We would emphasise though, if someone arrives and we are obviously not right for them, or they for us, we would rather be honest and say so straight away than have someone persevere and be unhappy here.
We ran a pub/B&B for 7 years (20 years ago) where I was the chef. More recently I cooked for a local pub, making desserts and vegetarian meals, until I had to give up when my husband had his accident. I'd like to get back into catering when my arm is better.
Everyone in our house gets fed well and I enjoy cooking dishes from all over the world; we have travelled a lot and love food. We can cater for vegetarians but sadly not special dietary requirements or vegans as it just gets too complicated.
All we ask is people are clean and tidy, decent and honest. We are a non-smoking house but we don't mind smoking outside. Just please let us know if you do smoke.
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
We are well travelled, friendly, sociable people with good senses of humour. We have hosted many, many French people over the years and now other nationalities (including Spanish, Italian, German, Belgian, Czech, Estonian, Swiss, Danish, Uruguayan and South African). We speak French so if anyone comes to improve their English we will certainly help them. We have lots of interests and find new people intetesting so we like to chat... Gary's interests include music, films/TV and sport and mine are books, antiques, history, art, crafts, cooking and music & films/TV too. Gary loves people picking out records to listen to. We have broad musical taste, from blues to techno, from punk to rap. We know a lot about our area, it's history and also what's available to see and do locally. We have a couple of bicycles Workaways are welcome to use. We really enjoy showing people around, playing tour guide + going for walks and to our local beaches. We are easy-going, flexible people who work hard but like to have a laugh. Our aim is that our Workawayers have fun and have a memorable stay as well as help us work!
Lots of cleaning and helping with daily chores, sorting and tidying as we redecorate and reorganise our houses + sometimes moving furniture around, painting furniture, cleaning brass and washing the car or van. Gardening, cleaning and general maintenance outside the house. Decorating, tiling, plumbing, general DIY, some small building tasks & carpentry if anyone has those skills.
English & French
Volunteers have their own bedroom and shared bathroom (bath & shower). Everyone shares our living room, kitchen etc. There is always plenty of food in the house for 3 meals a day. Workaways help themselves to breakfast and often get their own lunch. I usually cook in the evenings. If anyone wants to help me cooking they are very welcome! Everyone must help clear up after meals and keep their own bedroom and bathroom clean.
PLEASE NOTE. My husband and I often eat only twice a day so we may not always eat with you. For medical reasons, I follow a low carb diet so we may not always eat the same food as you (eg. I can't eat bread, pasta or rice). We also don't always eat at the dining table; I work long days and so, in the evening, we often like to relax in the living room, watch TV & chat while we eat :)
We are in a big village, in a rural location in the South Hams (in south Devon) a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village has a shop/Post Office, a pub/restaurant, a doctor's surgery, a hairdresser and a bakery.
We're a few miles (about 5 km) from the coast, beaches and Coastal Path (30 minute walk or a few minutes by car/bus). There are good beaches for swimming nearby (5/10 minutes drive) or there is good surfing at Bantham (20 minutes by car). Our village is surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful, unspoiled countryside, green lanes and coastal paths to walk along.
Our house is on the local bus route and buses run 7am to 7pm. Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes and Plymouth are all easily accessible. When we aren't busy working, we're happy to take people out & about, showing them our area. We also often have to go to local towns or Plymouth on errands so we can give lifts to those if anyone wants to tag along.
Totnes (15 miles away) and Plymouth (25 miles away) have train stations and there are buses from those to our local town or we can pick people up. The national coach station is in Plymouth.
The area is rich in history and is also a popular (but unspoiled) tourist destination so all the towns mentioned are worth visiting and exploring. We're also about 1/2 an hour by car from Dartmoor, a huge National Park, famous for it's rugged moorland and wild ponies.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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