Thursday, 10 June 2010


I have been a customer of far too much public transport these last few weeks...this might have something to do with my penchant for taking the word ‘travel’ to the extreme and deciding that to truly see the country I must trek from one end to the other in a single trip. In short, I am terrible at the logistical side of planning. But amid all this travel, I have also had some interesting experiences which made all the cramped, night time bus trips worth it.
I decided that a month in Great Britain on a budget like mine was an impossibility without getting creative about my accommodation. There was no chance of spending the month in hostels which, at 15 pounds a night minimum (that’s about $25), were not suitable for ‘bank balance lite’. So I decided to have a go at WWOOFING (worldwide opportunities on organic farms). I can’t remember where I first heard about it, but a couple of people I met in Canada had done it and said it was a pretty good way to see some different places and score some free accommodation and food. Sounds good!

My first stop was up in the highlands of Scotland, way, way up, in a tiny village which was a 1 ½ hour walk from the nearest town. Probably the most isolated I have ever been without camping. Although my accommodation in a tiny green caravan was reminiscent of many trips into the bush. I had a great week though. I have never felt so satisfied with my accomplishments! I worked for about 6 hours a day, mowing, weeding, painting, sorting...just doing everything that needed to be done really. I stayed with a lively old German woman, who had been in Scotland for some 30 years. She was a great cook. Everything home-made...honestly, the only packaged things in her house were yoghurt, milk and butter. It was incredibly refreshing after eating pub and cafe food for the last month.
It was a beautiful area too. Way up in the hills, on the coast. Although the water was so cold it actually chilled you to the bone, it was so pretty that just sitting looking out to sea was satisfaction enough. It was crystal clear. I know that is a terrible cliché, but clichés are around for a reason, and there really is no other way to describe that ocean. With the sun shining across it, the many shades of blue and green were glinting and was like when you see a beautiful person and you can’t help just staring at them for way longer than is acceptable. After my week with Ingrid and her veggie garden was up, I jumped on one of my second homes and began my journey south. My journey which would see me board 6 buses and a train, all in two days. I arrived all in one piece, if a little travel weary, in the little, coastal Welsh town of Aberaeron to begin my second week of farming life. This time it really was. I had placed myself on a Welsh cob (a breed of horses) farm; a whole 200 acres, with 30 horses that were bred for riding and horse shows. As far as country farms go, this was on the wealthier end of the spectrum. Concrete yards, stables, sheds, a farmhouse with a little flat for students and WWOOFERS, all kept immaculately clean.
It was easy to slip into the comfortable routine at Derwen Stud. Breakfast at 8.30, work for two hours, tea break, work for two hours, lunch break and work for half an hour and you are finished. The work was simple and easygoing too. On my first day I got to know the ride on mower, and we turned out to be great friends. Together we mowed the back lawn, around the pond, along the drive and in the guest house yard (yes, there was a guest house). We did a wonderful job of it too...only two fences got in our way and with some quick manoeuvring we were mowing once more. Also more weeding. And I began to live out my childhood dream of being on The Saddle Club, when I helped feed the horses and muck out their stables. 10 year old me would be so jealous!

The town was also gorgeous, with ice-cream coloured houses bordering the habour and a local green right off the main road. So all in all, my stay with Ifor and Myfanwy was rather successful I think and I have been promised a bed when I return, working visa in hand, in a couple of years.
WWOOFING turned out to be about more than free food and a bed (I had slight suspicions it might) and I ended up meeting some very generous people and learning about a simpler, slower pace of life...and also getting my lazy bum out of my chair in the local cafe and doing some actual work for once! It was great...definitely have a go if you want to travel lightly (or just plain don’t have any money).

No comments:

Post a Comment