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help exchange   Host 40306
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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 7
Persons: 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 40306
Country: Spain

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Last Updated: August 9, 2015

We are Richard and Olga, in our 40s and 30s. We moved to Cataluña from the UK in April 2015. We absolutely love it here. At the moment we maintain links with our business activities in the UK but are always looking for new things to do to make our lives more Cataluña-centric. We also dream of building a sanctuary for wolves and other wild animals that need protection in this part of the word, and are keen to meet people who might be able to advise us on any ways o make this happen as we make the plan.

We enjoy good conversation on many topics, hiking, sightseeing and entertaining. (We think) we're good natured and fun to be with. We hope you will too. Olga works 10 days out of every month in the UK so there are times when Richard is working (on his computer) at the house alone, or sometimes with a colleague who visits us.

Having someone around the house at those times will help to break the monotony of programming, running a project, sunbathing and swimming in the pool - it's a hard life... :)

Our place is one people tell us is great as a retreat for those who have been working really hard and want to spend a few weeks in a more relaxed, quiet environment. We have a large house and a large garden to be maintained, but there is never any urgent or particularly hard work involved. You’ll also have plenty of space to unwind in your spare time.

What we ask of everyone in return is to be pretty mature and self sufficient in terms of entertainment, and enjoy having a relaxed lifestyle. If you know Spanish, then it’s a huge bonus for us, as we’re learning and would love all the practice we can get! The only thing that’s tough for us is to be very involved in providing lots of our own time, aside from during meal times and some evenings and weekends.

Anyway that’s it for the intro - below are the details if you’re happy so far.

The place you’ll be staying in is a beautiful house which was originally built as an inn back in the 16th century. It has been excellently maintained by generations of owners, and we intend to keep it that way. We have a large garden. It’s mostly forested, with a couple of small garden patches and a swimming pool.

Richard is a computer programmer who works from home. He really enjoys spending time outdoors, as well as being deep in conversation about physics, astronomy, human behaviour, technology and finding out things he does not already know.

Olga runs a technology business for which she has to travel quite a lot, so can often be away. However, when she’s around the house, she loves to cook, discuss the same topics as Richard and also takes a huge interest in being able to help people grow the ideas they have for businesses into real projects.

We have two extremely friendly, characterful husky dogs called Caesar and Spartacus. They are usually the centre of everyone’s stay as a focal point, since most people instantly fall in love with them. They need a lot of walking and exercise, so we often take helpers on walks in the hills together with the dogs (they will happily help to pull you up the side of the mountain!)

We also have chickens and a cockerel who keep our supply of eggs tasty and constant!

The house is located in the very first foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. We also have the extinct volcanoes of the Garrotxa close by. Close by you have the very touristic towns of Besalu (5km), Fingueras (15km) and Girona (30km). The house is surrounded by lush woodland where we often pick herbs, asparagus and mushrooms, depending on the time of year. And, just a little further, you have the wonderful coastline of the Costa Brava.

From the house it does require a car to get to any commerce. We’re usually happy to go into Besalu at relatively short notice, and drop you to other places you might want to see.

The closest train stations to us are:
Figueres Vilafant

And the airports that are close by are:

We tend to eat the food that is most fresh and seasonal at any point in time. Usually this means we get fresh fruit and vegetables from the vegetable patch and local market. We get fish and meat locally too, since the quality here is just great. We’re more than happy to cater for vegetarians.

Whenever Olga is at home, she is the one in the kitchen trying out new recipes and generally being quite obsessive about cooking food that makes people say “wow” When Olga’s away, the menu is a bit less exciting, but we can go to get everything you might want in order to take over the cooking as part of your work-away contribution, if you want!

Once or twice a week we like to pop out to one of our favourite little local restaurants and will always bring you with us, if you want, as part of the stay.

On the whole, we do not have a huge time to entertain as we both work full time and Olga travels a lot. But, we are very sociable at meal times, some evenings when we can find the time, or at weekends. We often like to take people to some of the great hills here that have amazing views, or to one of the local tourist attractions. It’s not always possible for us to be as generous with our entertainment time as we’d like and, with the house being quite remote, it’s worth repeating that if you are happy staying here to enjoy the surrounding nature and pool on most days, it’s the ideal situation.


Volunteers would join us in our large country home not far the from the town of Besalú. We've recently moved to Spain and are looking for help to learn the languages (Spanish and Catalan).

If you’re going to stay here, the following is a list of the activities we tend to ask people to help us with most:

Cleaning the house
Tending the vegetable patch
Cleaning the pool
Help with cooking or preparing fruit gathered from the garden into jams, when it’s harvest time
Cutting down ivy from the trees around the garden

The above is just a sample, but it reflects the fact that you don’t need any special skills to help us out - just a good work ethic and attention to detail :) If there are any jobs we propose and you don’t feel comfortable doing, that really is just fine.

We’re also flexible about exactly how long you spend working on any tasks, or even what time you want to do them.

We have a big bit of land (7 hectares) consisting of forest, olive grove, lawn and vegetable gardens. If you love gardening and horticulture there's plenty for you to get stuck into. Anyone who knows how to get the woodlands under control and is willing to put the work in would be very welcome!

There is a swimming pool which needs a little bit of cleaning each morning.

The house is also large (700m2). It's easy to clean but there's so much of it! Any help keeping the dog hairs under control will be welcomed.

Our ultimate aim here in Spain is to find a way to create a wolf sanctuary. We are in love with these beautiful creatures and would like to do whatever we can to ensure their survival in Europe. We are right at the beginning of this idea at the moment, so if you have friends, contacts or experience in animal conservation projects we'd love to hear all about what is entailed.


You will have your own room during your time staying with us. We have three rooms that guests stay in and, depending on whether anyone else is staying, we’d usually put you in the room furthest away from us simply so you can have a place that feels as private as possible to you.


If you want to get around without relying on us for transport, you might need to be creative or hire a car. Another option is to cycle. Having said that there's almost always someone here who can give you a lift if its local. We can collect you from the train station in Figueres or from Girona airport if you're arriving here.

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