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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): .56
Persons: 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 56204
Country: Spain

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Last Updated: May 1, 2020

Hello, we are a family living in rural Spain, trying our best to transform our home and land into something even better than it already is. It is a work in progress and it is teaching us patience and adaptability. We have made so much progress through the hard work of our volunteers. We are so grateful for the positive experience helpx has provided us with and the friends we have made through this great exchange. However it hasn’t been without some issues and so we realise that being really clear about our expectations is the way forward so here goes…

Who we are
We are Susan, Hazel and Tyler. Mother, daughter and son-in-law.
Oban - rambunctious 2 ½ year old and baby Connel.
We have 3 dogs- a cuddly one, a needy one and one in constant need of a run. We also have 3 cats who are mostly outside catching mice and climbing trees. We have a pool, bbq, lots of hammocks and a view that you can stare at for hours.

We have lived here a couple of years and are starting to get the hang of it... but we struggle with the practicalities sometimes- often we are learning alongside you (or from you!) the best way to make or break or plant or fix something.
We love knowledgeable skilled people, we love patient people, we love practical people, we love people that say “hang on a minute, let me write that down so I will remember”.
We have difficulties with people that need to be handheld through tasks and whilst we don’t expect you to have all the answers… Common sense combined with the confidence to ask questions or voice your thoughts are essential for us. We love self starters.

The work
We are looking for helpers that can muck in and help with whatever needs to be done at the time.
The work is varied, depending on the season, the weather, what projects we have, what money we have at the time, the kids and of course what you can do. It is general DIY, possibly helping our builder if he is here working on something, gardening, painting, wood cutting, pruning, digging, moving, etc.
We have some bigger projects that we need a stonemason, carpenter and tiler for but they are those sort of nonessential projects that can wait til time, resources and the right helper align. Sometimes we are all free of other commitments and so want to push to get a job done that day - which would mean working more hours that day. On such occasions we are happy to adapt the week accordingly.

We also have helpers who help us out with general stuff… pool maintenance, animal maintenance (feeding, topping up water, brushing, catching -we have a runaway dog- and everyone's favourite…. poo pick up! We very much prefer people that enjoy the company of animals…) cleaning and general house stuff. If you see something that needs doing - do it! Whilst we have a plan for the place, we are so open to ideas and inspirations. We love making do with the things we have but equally if you know a 10 hour job would become a 2 hour job with the right tool we will try to make this happen.

The kid.. Oban is 2 and a half and he is obsessed with motorbikes, diggers and being outside getting into trouble. All of our best helpers have developed a relationship with this chatty little fellow and if you’d consider yourself “really not a kid person” then don’t come stay with us as Oban is relentlessly friendly. Sometimes whilst chopping wood or painting a wall you’ll be asked to keep an eye out for him and that basically means making sure he doesn’t fall down the hill, choke on his pizza or jump in the pool. Connel is a chilled out little baby, he is a mummys boy to an annoying degree but is happy to accept food or pushes on his swing from anyone!

The expectations and schedule

The kids have a routine, they also equally like to throw their routine out the window sometimes. Sometimes we eat dinner with them at 5.30 but sometimes I try to get them in bed and have a peaceful dinner at 8. Everyday is different and generally speaking they are our priority…
So if you are not ready to be adaptable when it comes to your schedule you are going to struggle.
We equally welcome helpers that work online etc and need fixed hours off- but please do just let us know, we have many schedules and plans and people to consider so just be clear - even better… write it down. We rely on lists and calendars and reminders!

Tyler works late sometimes and Susan is sometimes not here so again sometimes things are different. On days like that (even days off) we ask helpers to stick around in the evening to help out with dinner and animal feeding and watering as its all a bit much for one person along with the kids.

Additional to your practical working hours you are asked to be up early to feed the dogs and cats and start your day with us. With two young kids this is the time of the day we make or remake plans, discuss what we might need from the town etc. Equally in the evenings it is generally your responsibility to water the plants (turn on and off a few sprinklers) either help with dinner prep, setting table or clearing up and feeding the animals. These are easy jobs but much harder with a toddler and baby… so help with this is much appreciated.

During summer it is better for everyone - especially you- to get up early, get some work done and then enjoy a siesta in the height of the heat of the day.

Days off can either be away from our place independently (we can drop you at train station etc or sometimes Tyler is driving past somewhere cool) or joining in with us on a family day out, hike or trip to town. Or hanging out here around the pool or in a hammock reading a book… however if you are choosing to relax here just remember this is still the home of two small kids and cats and dogs so don’t expect peace and quiet :)

The rules
Hate the word rules but after 2 years of hosting people here I find its better to be super clear…
1. Respectful smokers are welcome… so outside, not around the kids and keeping your cigarettes, tobacco and lighters away from the kids.
2. No additional guests without prior agreement (you'd be surprised...).
3. Whilst we are very liberal in general we have found that people that need to smoke or eat marjhiana to get through/or enjoy their day are not people that we currently want in our home. If this is you then sorry but its not going to work.
4. Equally if you have a heavy reliance on alcohol or like to drink to excess regularly we are not the home for you. We love a few beers and wines, we are happy to stay up late and drink socially but we have had helpers become aggressive, steal from us and spend most of their days hungover so we are trying to be clear from day 1 that this is not acceptable.
5. We ask that you keep your areas clean and tidy and respect communal areas.

In general we want to have fun and accommodate your lifestyle but this is our home and we have small kids that we want to keep safe so we need people around us that can respect that.

Other stuff
Sometimes I might say “oh no I forgot to hang the laundry out, but now we have a doctors appointment, would you mind doing it?”- if that sounds like a reasonable request then you are very welcome :)

If you have a vehicle (campervan etc) we can probably accommodate that here.

Length of stay is totally negotiable so please ask but generally we ask for 2 weeks +

Where we are and sleeping

Our house is a couple of miles from Cocentaina which is a lovely little town and we usually drive into town a few times a week so are happy to drop you in. For those who like hiking there are plenty of amazing places within easy access of the house. We are 45 minutes away from Alicante airport and an hour from the sea. There are buses coming from Alicante daily. We are close enough to Valencia to go by train for the day.

Accommodation will either be in the camper - comfy space that some helpers have preferred to the main house since it offers more privacy and has access to the outside kitchen and private bathroom and toilet. In my mum’s lovely small house, if it is available. Or in our spare room/office. Like everything with our home all of these options may require some adaptability - you may be asked to sleep on the sofa for 2 nights if we have friends visiting but equally you may be asked to move from the spare room to having the entire little house to yourself. Upgrade :) !

We eat mostly vegetarian and love to cook. There is always plenty of variety on the menu; Mexican, Italian, Indian, Thai, good old British roast dinners and the occasional takeaway from town- you are very welcome to cook for us! You are welcome to cook meet on the BBQ. Breakfasts are a do it yourself affair but there is always muesli and bread and jam etc - if they are getting low just let us know! Lunches are sometimes everyone sitting down together, sometimes I’ll bring you a sandwich or sometimes you just need to help yourself.

We are happy to accommodate certain levels of allergies or food intolerances or things you might just hate. Just let us know and we can see what we can do. Equally if you just love some specific food, we are happy to get you that (within reason;) )

Our first language is English and Spanish is a work in progress... We would prefer helpers who have a reasonable standard of English so that we can converse but please also use this as an opportunity to improve your English (Hazel and Tyler are both English teachers)...

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