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Castelo Novo
All Year: Yes
Area (ha):
Persons: 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 50114
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: August 3, 2016

My name is Tim and I am British and I am married to Nic who is half Scottish and half Australian. We have had numerous travel experiences which we hope to continue and be able to share with others.

We have both spent many years working overseas from inside the Arctic Circle (in winter) to Northern Kenya, and many countries in between. Our philosophy is simply "life is too short". We are resilient, resourceful and are told we are great company. We have been happily married for the last 9 years.

We also have a black Labrador and a cat.

We are qualified and well practised first aiders!

Type of help:

Gardening
Building
Cooking / shopping
General Maintenance
Help with Eco project
Language practice
Art project
Other

Help

Our current project is to renovate a very old ruin in Central Portugal. It is situated in lovely woodland, on the banks of a river, overlooking a Roman weir.

The area is very rural and we are totally off grid. We have solar power for lights and recharging phones and laptops but NOT for hairdryers/vacuum cleaners/microwaves etc! We have a composting toilet and drinking water is either collected when it rains or has to be collected from the nearest village spring which is about 15 km away.

In summer, work usually starts at about 8am as it is often too hot to work after noon. In autumn, spring and winter, timings are much more flexible. Currently, We are clearing paths through the woodland, making steps, clearing out the rubble from inside the house, and preparing the walls so we can put the roof on! There is also plenty of gardening work to be done as we try to grow a lot of our own produce organically. All the terraces have been over grown and many of the walls that hold them back are in need of repair.

Languages spoken

English, basic French, basic Spanish and learning Portuguese

Accommodation

There are a number of accommodation options for you;

We have a tepee and several other tents and if you have a camper van, there is space for you to park it at the top of our track. Alternatively, the night sky is amazing with no light pollution so feel free to sleep under the stars!

Washing is done in the river and we have a couple of solar showers which you can use so eco soap/shampoo is essential. If you do not bring these, we know a few shops that sell them but they are expensive.

What else ...

Food: We will provide plenty of food for you so you wont go hungry and although we do eat meat, it is not on a daily basis. Breakfast is usually fruit, cereal and toast; lunch is often just help yourself to bread, cheese, salads, pasta and we always try to cook a hot meal in the evenings, taking it in turns. Alcohol is not provided but we are happy for you to enjoy a drink after work if you wish to bring some.

Shopping: We try to limit our journeys into the main towns (Castelo Branco or Fundao) to a maximum of twice a week however this rarely works out! We are happy for you to join us on these shopping trips and always grateful for the help.

Time off: The area is remote but there are tracks and dirt roads throughout the area, surrounded by stunning scenery, which you are free to explore. There is a multitude of wildlife including deer, wild boar, pine martins, Egyptian Mongoose and enormous wild foxes not to mention Golden Eagles and other birdlife. Sometimes we will take a trip to explore some historic villages or just drive to the top of the Serra da Estrella mountains for spectacular views. You are free to do as much or as little as you like on your afternoons and days off. The nearest village is Atalaia do Campo which is about a 20 minute walk has a small shop and numerous bars.

Internet: We have satellite internet connection but it is slow and not suitable for downloading/streaming films or for uploading dozens of photos. We do not turn it on every day but you are free to use it when it is on for checking emails and browsing. There is a café nearby which has free unlimited internet (provided you buy at least a drink) and we are happy to drop you there on our way to town should you need to upload all you travel photos!

We also have a wood burning hot tub which is wonderful to unwind in after a hard day!

Weather: From October through to May, it can get cold both at night and during the day so please make sure you have warm clothing. It can also rain and very occasionally we get frost! There is always heavy snowfall on the mountains around us but not at our level. There is also a small ski resort which is usually open from December to March. During the summer, temperatures can exceed 35 degrees. When it rains, the ground becomes quite muddy so please make sure you have shoes suitable for outdoors and indoors!

Onward Travel: The nearest train station is Soalheira or for mainline services, Castelo Branco. Both have trains to Lisbon. There is also a daily bus service from Madrid to Guarda and then a local bus to either Fundao of Castelo Branco

THINGS TO BRING: A torch is essential. If you want to use our sleeping bags, please bring a sleeping bag liner. As we try to recycle grey water, eco soap and eco shower products enable us to do this and without them, you will not be able to wash in the river. And most importantly, please don't leave your sense of humour at home or at your last hosts!


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