I hadn’t seen Lisa and Vanessa since last spring. Old friends that have been searching for a property in the region for a good three years. They have been renting properties locally and have moved twice since I saw them last. It’s always interesting visiting, as they keep themselves busy with all sorts of projects, I arrive and encourage them a bit and we end up making jam or clearing brambles or having huge bonfires or cross pollinating vegetable plants. We laugh loads, enjoy each others company immensely and have great fun.
The most recent visit was no exception. They have found their ‘dream’ property and got the keys a mere 5 weeks ago. I had no idea how to find them so we met in the local town and shopped for the week at the same time. Both of them were a bit cagey about their new living arrangements and the air bed in the shopping cart should have given the game away. There were no beds in the new house, in fact they weren’t living in it at all. The only room that was used was the old kitchen that still had running water and an emergency electricity supply, there they had plumbed in a washing machine and an old dish washer that a neighbour had given them. All living went on in an adjacent barn and very smart ’70’s camper van that they recently picked up for a song. My room, as it were, was a corner of said barn with airbed on a tarp and a small table, the rest of the barn was well equipped with wardrobes and clothes storage, a kitchen sink, work surfaces, cooker, fridge freezer and, through the week that I stayed, gained a sofa , comfy chair and for my corner a real bed. Unfortunately the air-bed let me down each night so the girls brought the real bed out of storage early so that I would sleep well at night.
There was a massive, archaic crane outside, ready for the builders to repair the roof. This involves taking off al the slates, checking that the structure beneath is sound then covering it with an insulative membrane and replacing the tiles. At the same time the rotten floor in the loft is going to be replaced and several new openings made for additional windows and doors that will connect the old house with the extended section that will be constructed in one of the old barns. It’s going to be a great house when all the work is done and I can understand fully why it isn’t lived in for the moment. The dust, dirt and work that will go on will be huge and can be attacked much easier without trying to keep things clean and tidy at the same time.
During the week we discovered an ancient well that had hidden itself under an enormous pile of brambles and saplings, over thirteen metres deep with a good eight metres of water, at the end of August is a really good find and will supply the vegetable garden as soon as it is up and running. We moved piles of wood that they had already removed from within the buildings, ready for burning during the autumn, dismantled a strange concrete block structure that had been slung up by the previous owners, a couple of afternoons wielding sledgehammers, shovels and wheelbarrows soon put pay to that. It was ugly, it leaked and was very badly positioned for their future plans, so it had to go. Discussed plans of how to use the land around the house for the future, what trees to keep and dispose of, strimmed areas of grass and picked glass and old metal from an old tipping area.
It was great to spend time with friends and to totally relax, we ate well, dined out a couple of times, visited a couple of land propositions for me - there doesn’t seem to be much about to fulfill the needs of the group as a whole. Nothing worth noting, but visiting always gives something to compare the next one too. I got my fill of english TV that’ll last a while and met some more great people who are well installed in the region. Hopefully will be back to helpX with a couple of them later in the year. We didn’t make jam, chutney or harvest vegetables, that’ll be in the future, once their project has progressed somewhat. Until then, it’s a great building project to lend a hand with when I get the chance.