We live in a seventeenth-century farmhouse a couple of miles south of Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre which sits secluded in three and a half acres, part of which is a wooded ravine with a beautiful waterfall running through it.
Surrounded by pastureland, The house is the first house built by Thomas Telford under the apprenticeship of a master stonemason in his early teens (when he was known as ‘Laughing Tam’ due to his joyful disposition :)
I live here with my characterful and young-at-heart cat, Tashi. And outside (though they nip in when they can) are a happy but bossy little band of chickens: Anka and Anoushka, and Henrick who looks after them. The whole farmhouse has been lovingly refurbished in a rustic, earth-friendly way, with many unique features inside and out ~ from organic woodwork to original art, antique shrines and hand-printed prayer flags. I see it as an ever-evolving artwork!
I’ve been an artist all of my life and have two studios here ~ one for ceramics in the house, and one for glass in an outbuilding, while the front of the nearest barn functions as a wood workshop. An ongoing project is the construction of a timber framed roundhouse (‘Altair air Abhainn’ ~ temple by the water) with cast glass windows and plunging pool out back.
The grounds are 100% organic ~ and, as long as I’m around, always will be.
In effect, it’s a bio-diverse 3.2 acre nature reserve, home to a wide range of wildlife.
There’s a newt & frog-filled pond and a meadow planted up with hundreds of young native trees, along with a badger-filled established woodland, through which a stream and waterfall runs down a mossy gorge. (Our double-filtered water comes from a different spring up the hill.) Outbuildings provide a haven for bats, swallows and a barn owl, a heron and red squirrels visit frequently, and buzzards are often wheeling overhead.
Ayuda en proyectos ecológicos
Proyectos de construcción y bricolaje
Ayuda en una granja
Cocinar para toda la familia
Having Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre just up the road is a special aspect of life in Eskdalemuir. It’s finally re-opened after a long lockdown, and has a temple and shrine rooms visitors are welcome to meditate in, and lovely grounds.
I’m happy to offer any workawayers who’re helping out here a free workshop each week, in either glass fusing or casting, ceramics, or quite a range of other mediums!
You’re also welcome to use the tools and materials here in your own time to carry on exploring creatively if you like, as long as you clear up after yourself :)
There’s a big library here too, with a strong focus on matters of the spirit.
It’s hard thinking of anything I couldn’t do with a hand with here! Outbuildings are all in various states of disrepair, and sorting them has to be the priority, so anyone with solid traditional building skills like pointing with lime & fixing cast iron gutters would be best beloved. The main house usually needs some kind of upkeep.
The woods, young trees in the meadow, wild garden, veg. beds, berry patch and polytunnel nearly always need weeding & other work.
I try & make all the hot water we need by stoking the woodburner with logs, so cutting firewood is always needed too. (Solar power is hopefully getting installed imminently).
There are always non-essential projects going on here as well. Building Altair air Abhainn is one of them, as is making another pond overlooking the waterfall…and channelling some water through the small walled garden that’s also under rennovation…and making a composting toilet…and adding a lean-to to the wall with a roof made from fused glass panels…and so on :)
I’d prefer people who are happy to take a turn cooking ~ I’m happy to (I’m vegan & gluten free) but it’s always nice to have a break.
There are a few possibilities for accommodation. There’s one very spacious room on ‘my side’ that I’ve currently offered up to Ukrainian refugees through the government scheme. Your guess is as good as mine if/when that offer may be taken up. And if they’re not here by mid-May, my mum’ll be in there for about three weeks, up from London.
The other room in the house is a small room, that does still have a double bed in it. It’s likely to be available unless refugees get here soon, in which case my mum would be there for the three weeks mentioned. Otherwise, accommodation could be in outbuildings or camping, in which case you’d of course still be using all the inside facilities.
My idea with food is that we individually get our own breakfasts, then take turns cooking lunch for everyone, so we’d all eat together mid-day-ish. Hopefully, whoever’s cooked will have made enough for supper to be largely sorted too. I’d leave you to have supper when you like, as I eat unusually early…because I like being up super early.
It’s okay if you eat meat/fish in moderation (my cat does, after all!) but if it’s a core part of your diet it may not be a good fit here as I really don’t like the smell of cooking meat or the residue on everything.
Everyone who stays here eats very well. The kitchen is stacked with a huge range of wholefoods, and I buy organic wherever possible. As well, of course, as hoping to grow increasing amounts of veg here once I have more help!
If you’re a bright lights-big-city kinda person, Eskdalemuir probably isn’t for you. Although, having said that, a day trip to Edinburgh or Glasgow is totally do-able with public transport; both take under an hour on the train from Lockerbie, with Carlisle a fair bit closer. There are lots of lovely places to walk & wild swim locally, and there are buses to & from Langholm and Lockerbie, the two local towns, every two to three hours (not Sundays). I have a couple of spare bikes here you can use too.
In Eskdalemuir, there’s a wee shop in the community centre Hub; they also have a café and gallery and a regular programme of events like yoga, writing & singing.
We are right in the middle of the Eskdalemuir Prehistoric Trail, which includes Bailliehill Fort overlooking the lovely Meeting of the Waters, where the Black Esk and the White Esk merge and become the Esk, then flowing on to Langholm. The Loupin Stanes, an ancient stone circle is five minutes walk down the valley, with the much larger Girdle Stanes fifteen minutes further along.
Up past Samye Ling is an observatory, sited there because of the absence of light pollution here; on a clear night, the valley has breathtakingly starry skies.
In terms of life, it’s pretty quiet: I enjoy connecting with people but also like spending quite a bit of time alone. So if you similarly relish time to yourself it’d probably work well! We do have wifi, but no telly.
I realise that to talk about expectations, it might help to describe the experience I had several years back when I took in WWOOFers. I met some great people and had some invaluable help too. But also I realised that:
*I took on way too many people (I didn’t like to turn anyone down!) and most of them didn’t stay that long. This meant when I had WWOOFers I was run off my feet, and I was spending a lot of time showing new volunteers how things worked.
So, this time, I’m planning to only take one or two people at a time. If it works well for us both, it’d make sense if you were here for a longer stay.
*I didn’t set clear enough expectations, just hoped people would be motivated to help without being told to. This meant working days were unpredictable and chaotic, and often not much got done.
This time, I’m setting clear hours, meaning everyone knows when they’re stopping for lunch…and when the day’s work ends too.
*I also wasn’t clear enough about what I expected in terms of how things were done, a major part being that things need to be tidied away afterwards. So I ended up doing a lot of that. (And doing all the worst jobs myself as I felt bad asking anyone else to do them!)
You get the idea. These were all faults in how I organised things (or left them unorganised) rather than being faults of the volunteers themselves, which I like to think I’ve learned from.
I’d love helpers who feel, and act, like they live here rather than being guests. That means helping yourself to whatever food you like without feeling like you have to ask me (just don’t eat the last avocado ;)
It also means noticing things that need doing ~ overflowing compost, an iced up freezer ~ and sorting it out rather than waiting to be asked.
So, people who are good at taking instructions and then being self-motivated would be great. Sometimes I’ll be working alongside you, but other times I’ll have admin-y or other things to do. And, of course, a major reason I’m seeking help is to free up more time for myself to do artwork.
I look forward to a creative year with like-spirited people getting into a place of greater harmony and abundance!
Acceso a Internet
Acceso a Internet limitado
Puede alojar familias
I have a few websites myself and update them & upload videos etc, as well as streaming the odd film! This works fine, though uploading can be slow since we're rural here. If you're using the internet for anything that needs a lot of bandwidth, or have a zoom meeting, etc, I'd make sure to be offline myself at that time :)
We are a farm, and has a big walled courtyard with a concrete floor that's perfect for parking up.
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week