I have been planning to move abroad for years, and in 2020 I came to France to look around some options. This house in Merdrignac was one of the last properties I saw, and I was immediately enchanted.
It is going to take an enormous amount of work to get it back on its feet again, and create the environment I want to live in. I have been living here since last August and while I’ve certainly made a good start, there is still miles to go…
The house hasn’t been updated for decades, so I have had builders coming in to do the major works of securing walls, re-wiring and updating the ancient plumbing.
Once they’ve finished the real work begins! Every room has a long list of things that need attention: from fixing cracks in the walls, from plastering to painting, fixing windows and sewing curtains for insulation, sanding and polishing the floors, replacing lights, up-cycling furniture, finding things in brocantes/charity shops, fixing cracks and plastering the walls, and all the other things I haven't even thought about yet. Basically the whole house is just one giant to-do list!
And I have big plans for the garden: building raised beds and a chicken coop, completely renovating the ancient greenhouse, installing a rain collection watering system, planting an orchard and a wild flower meadow, reinstate the pond… and all of that after the wilderness that is now the garden is brought back under control! So as you can probably tell, the garden is also a giant and every growing to-do list!
So there are lots of projects to be done around the house/gardens that suit all skill levels and would be perfect for a few workawayers to sink their teeth in to.
The house itself has heating, hot water and a fully functioning kitchen. The bedrooms are set up with beds and bedding, and the bathrooms are also functioning (well, the ones that have been built are…).
There are bikes here if you want to go exploring, and there is a bus stop… (although the schedule is still an indecipherable mystery to me). There is more information about the house and amenities below…
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
I am a Londoner, living in France. When I lived in London I was a theatre production manager. I have experience in set-building and scenic art. Over lockdown, mostly to stave off boredom/insanity, I bought, designed and built our camper van TangaTanga, and I redecorated my sister’s flat in London. This house is by far my biggest challenge yet. I am obviously more than happy to share any know-how when it comes to building and designing with anyone who comes to help.
My garden will be wholly organic and natural so workawayers will be able to hone their green fingers in a pesticide free zone, I have been learning all about different ways to compost, shred garden waste and create a green space that fits in with the landscape, so my garden is a welcome home to all the creatures of nature.
There is a lot of DIY/ simple building and gardening jobs to do around the house and grounds. If you are familiar with basic power tools, that will be very useful, but there are tons of jobs that won’t require any particular skill except enthusiasm! The house has wonderful bones, but has been left to decline over the years, so is very dated and in need of a lot of TLC.
Some items on the list:
-Removing wallpaper and fabric from the walls, pulling out fixing staples
-sewing and hanging curtains
-Pulling up carpets
-Sanding and treating the wood floors
-plastering the walls, and filling in cracks
-lining the loft walls with paper
-Priming and painting the walls
-fixing in skirting boards, cornices and ceiling roses
-Repairing and repainting the external windows and shutters
-setting up the rooms as they are finished
The garden is currently very overgrown, and needs a lot of work. I have made a start in some areas, but there’s masses more to be done!
The previous owners left all sorts of tools in the shed so it really is a case of pick up a rake, pair of sheers, spade, fork or even strimmer and have a crack at taming the wilderness.
-clearing the choked flower beds around the cottage
-building a chicken coop
-making some raised beds for vegetables
-clearing and organising the potting shed
-digging and mulching a planting bed along the walls of the back garden
-watering the vegetables and maintaining the veg beds
-harvesting fruits and chestnuts as they are ready, and preparing them for preserving
-cutting back Laurel hedges and clearing overgrown paths
-Digging out thistles from the lawn
-collecting and storing rain water in the water tanks.
This host offers a language exchange
My conversational school level French isn’t cutting it out here!! So I’m hoping to improve my speaking and comprehension skills while I work on the house. If that is something you can assist with, that would be fantastic.
You will be staying in the main house, there isn't much furniture and it is basic for now but you will have a bed to sleep on. There is running water, working showers and toilets, and a brand new wood pellet boiler that heats the radiators and hot water. There is plenty of space in the garden should anyone prefer to camp, you would need to bring your own tent or camper van though!
We can work out a schedule for collecting breads and croissants from the boulangerie in the morning, and there is plenty of tea and coffee for you to help yourself to throughout the day. I will provide dinner. The local town is a 5 minute walk from my house with little bars, boulangeries, creperies, a large supermarket and a few restaurants, so the opportunity is there should you want to venture out.
There are lakes near the house that feature sailing and paddle boarding. There are terrific forests for hiking and foraging. Saint Malo is an hour north of me, with great shopping and food, as well as daily boat trips to Jersey, and the historic town of Dinan is about 40 minutes away. The south coast is about an hour and twenty minutes away by car, and the capital city Rennes is 50 minutes east, buzzing with shops, and a terrific weekend market that I usually head over to. I have two London Town bikes and two french bikes available, so you can borrow these to explore the area as much as you like. They are in no way mountain bikes though, so be warned! I have a car and can pick people up from the nearest station, which is Caulnes, about 25 minutes away. There is a bus route running through Merdrignac, which will take you either to Rennes or Loudeac/Saint Brieuc, though as I mentioned, the schedule is a little tricky to figure out, so depending on how much you’d like to explore, your own means of transportation might be useful.
I have been a workawayer myself many times while travelling in Nepal, Japan and Indonesia and had wonderful experiences every time, I met some awesome people, fellow travellers like myself and locals alike and learnt some new skills, one being how to milk a buffalo! I am opening my new home up to anyone who is keen to help me make this place an amazing space and get creative with the garden.
I am an early riser myself but I don't expect others to be, I love cooking and entertaining and look forward to meeting some fabulous people!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
I have WiFi here, it’s strongest downstairs and on the first floor, but I’ll get it boosted to cover all floors. I believe the town is installing fibre optic internet at the moment, so it’s speedy!
I have a back gate that is 2.4 meters wide, the back yard will have space for a camp Evan that can fit through! No outdoor toilet facilities at the moment but the house facilities will be available.
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week