Having designed, built and maintained gardens in the UK for 12 years I am now retired and am part way through creating what I hope wil be a really exciting flower and tree filled garden at our house in South West France. Doug still works in his own business - internet services. He hates gardening so won't be helping me! We are very sociable and often have friends to stay as well as friends visiting for lunches and dinners and regular parties. Our four children and three grandchildren visit regularly too, in the summer lazing around the pool and in the winter for the skiing and snowboarding, and in between times because its such a lovely area.
In 2013 we had our first workawayers, Paula and Simon and Kat and Rachel, and Adrien thank you so much for the work you did and the fun times we had. The garden and house looked beautiful for our son's wedding thanks to you guys!
Pip and Simon continued the transformation in 2014 and helped settle in our new 'lawnmowers' - 4 soay sheep and 3 geese. Thank you to Silvia , Martina, Lucia, Hannah, Pip and Martin for all your ideas and efforts. We have fond memories of you all.
We have a gite which we rent out for a few weeks each summer and that needs some maintenance along with the house, so if the weather works against us we can find indoor activities, although a little drizzle doesn't send me running indoors. We are always very welcome to anyone with some DIY skills as Doug hates DIY even more than gardening! There are often little repairs to be done.
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The region we live is beautiful. It is a wine growing area and is surrounded by chateaux and domains with their extensive vineyards. The local wines are Madiran a wine rich in tannat, strong and heavy and for some a wine to learn to enjoy. The other wines are St Mont, lighter, but equally as delicious. Degustation is offered in all the vineyards. Duck is a gastronomic delicacy and it we were amused when we first saw fields of ducks when we came to live here. The area is great for walking and cycling, it is very flat in the valley that we live in and there is a great deal of beautiful countryside to explore. There are horses to ride too.
In the winter the mountains offer skiing. Doug goes quite regularly, its just under 2 hours by car. Walking in the mountains is breathtaking in the summer, the lower slopes have herds of cows, the pasture is rich in wildflowers. For the adventurous go river rafting or climbing, there are caves to explore or spas to relax in.
Closer to home their are markets to visit and sample the local delicacies, restaurants and bars to try, galleries and regular exhibitions of art and photography by talented locals to admire.There is a growing literary presence, with two published authors in the village, (I write children's books and am about to try to find an agent). A regular Sunday pastime for many locals is to visit the Vide Greniers, the french equivalent to car boot sales, when you can see an amazing array of different items that you could spend a day guessing what there use is and probably never get near the truth!
We have three large rivers in the area, wonderful to wander down but there is kayaking on offer too.
We are keen to know about your life and culture and learn about the area you live in. We enjoy supper time conversations exchanging information and ideas about lifestyle. At weekends we have always taken our helpers to places of interest if they have been interested in doing so, but you may wish to explore alone.
We live in a very rural area, there is a shop and bar in our village but its no bustling town. Buses can take you to other areas and we are happy to take and collect helpers to bus stops. We are about 7 kms from Maubourguet and 10kms from Plaisance, 35kms from Tarbes and similar from Aire sur l Adour.
Work in the garden is varied. From maintenance to different projects. I have lots of ideas that I would like to incorporate. My current wish list includes a moon gate to form a walkway between the pool and the pond garden. I am unsure how it should look so design ideas would be welcome, construction welcome too!
We would very much like to speak French, so a French speaker would be great but no problem if not. We are happy to help with English of course.
No experience is necessary but a good work ethic is. We start between 7 and 8 am, the earlier time in the summer, to try to beat the heat. We work through for 5 hours(Monday to Friday) and then have lunch. After that you are free to relax, sleep, explore the wonderful area or whatever else you wish to do. Our main meal is at around 7pm. I do the cooking but may ask help with some of the prep and certainly you will be expected to help with the clearing up and washing up, we have a dishwasher though.
You will be expected to keep your rooms clean and leave them in a similar state to how you found them on your arrival.
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We have a gite and Doug's office next to the house. The gite is completely separate and has two bedrooms, bathroom and lots of space upstairs as well as a kitchen area downstairs and lounge. Workawayers can stay in the gite or in the house, we have one spare room with an ensuite bathroom. In the winter we would want workawayers to be in the house as we don't want to have to heat the whole of the gite.
We have a 12 x 6m pool which is open all year, we try to swim from April to November, depending on the weather but it is open all year for those who wish to brave the cold! There is a kitchen beside the pool and a covered eating area and we use both as often as we can. In the summer we rarely spend time in the house.
Wifi is available in most areas of the house and garden. We have plenty of books to read but all are in English, we have lots of board games, we regularly play Articulate and Settlers of Catan with groups of friends.
We can't take pets, we have our own animals and have to consider them. Smoking is definitely not allowed in any of the indoor areas but as long as cigarette butts are well disposed of in the outside bins, smoking in the garden is okay.
We had an extensive vegetable garden for lovely fresh veg but this has been downsized, my passions are for plants and flowers. We have some chickens and two cats, Orly and Charlie who came to us as rescued kittens. They live outside and are good hunters and once they get to know you they are affectionate and love a cuddle.
I used to love cooking, not too keen now but I love to eat and will enjoy making dishes for volunteers. The majority of our family are vegetarian so I am used to cooking meatless dishes, and we enjoy almost everything there is to eat.. We all eat together, its a time to be sociable and share a glass of wine whilst learning about other peoples ideas, culture and lifestyle.
Acesso à internet
Acesso à internet limitado
Pode hospedar famílias
Doug's customers are all in the UK so he works online all the time. A word of warning ... In rural France the internet can be horribly slow. Sometimes patience is necessary
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5 hours Monday to Friday