So it’s all happening down here on the farm. Not lambing like the proper farm over the road who now have their lambs bouncing about in the field opposite our kitchen windows (poor little unsuspecting mites) – but we are busy spring cleaning, repainting and creating new bits of the place for visitors (and us) to enjoy this year.
I returned from Australia in mid March where I spent time with my downunder family and felt very loved, did some lone bushwalking and felt very intrepid, and did some abseiling in the Blue Mountains and felt quite sick. I also spent two weeks as a workawayer at a fabulous house near a beach north of Sydney. As a workawayer I got my bed and board free with my own room and balcony overlooking the ocean, in exchange for a morning’s work, so after a few hours cleaning each day I was able to laze around on the beach watching the surfers in the afternoons. One day, as I contemplated my return to the UK, it occurred to me that I could do with a workawayer myself so I signed up to the website www.workaway.info and fairly quickly found a willing volunteer.
Heiko has been with us nearly three weeks now and has been a great success. Not only is he a good worker, he has been great company, his English is near perfect (he is German), he has a lovely sense of humour and an interest in, and encyclopaedic knowledge of, everything. He has cleaned all the windows and repainted the front window frames of the main house a lovely dark blue (I get the fun bit of choosing the colour, he does the painting which is marvellous) He’s repainted the front of the Hen House weatherboarding as well as the windows and doors. He has scrubbed all the algae off the picket fence, dug out a new path that runs alongside the brook and shifted four tons of soil and four tons of gravel in preparation for the garden for the newly converted Hoppickers House.
When I was in Oz my friend Margaret came to stay to look after the animals and while she was here she drew up the perfect design for the new Hoppickers garden – splitting an awkward area into three different raised beds. By the time I got back Willy had installed the old wooden sleepers and the garden was already taking shape and he’d also built the raised beds for the herb garden that I had asked for before I left.
The Hoppickers itself has been transformed in my absence from old travelling hoppickers quarters and latterly pig pens, to a really beautiful holiday cottage by our wonderful builder Tony Whitney. Everyone who has seen it so far has gasped at how lovely it is – and I haven’t even done all my pretty bits and pieces yet! Tony has a feel for these places and totally gets my desire not to over-smarten it, though he will step in and say “No Sarah that is not lovely and old, it is just rubbish and falling apart.” He now just needs to finish the fireplace for us and then we can get the woodburner in and start letting it at the beginning of May, although it is so nice in there I am seriously considering moving in myself and letting the main house as a holiday let. However, this may cause problems with B&B guests expecting self-caterers to share their beds and make them breakfast so I guess I will have to stay put for now.
Heiko’s wife Hannah has now joined us for the Easter holidays. She is studying fine art at Newcastle University so for her bed and board she is doing some painting for me and creating a builder’s mark in the Hoppickers to commemorate the year it was rebuilt and who ‘fecit’ it.
So, all in all, great progress has and is being made and I’m feeling very lucky to be surrounded by such helpful and talented people. Delegation is a wonderful thing.
(You can contact me if you would like more info about the workaway organisation or if you need a good garden designer or a builder!)
Here is a pic of Heiko and the new brook path he has made.
Here is a pic of Hannah’s builder’s mark on the stairs incorporating the Olympic rings