Michael Warwick, 61
from United Kingdom
Email: click here
Present Country: United Kingdom
Join Date: August 7, 2009
Last Updated: August 13, 2019
Last Signed In: August 18, 2019
Agreed to go to Alsace (France) for 2 months but was lied to by the
host regarding the work, and so left after four days. Am now in
Normandy. Must return to the UK for a house-sit (28 Sep-25 Oct).
Iím an English civil engineer and self-employed builder (specialising in renovation), with interests in many other things, especially writing. A recent back injury limits what I can lift and so put paid to building as a career, so Iím now concentrating on writing, and possibly teaching English. (Because of this, an Internet connection is vital.)
I'm currently working on two writing projects that occupy my every waking minute, so HelpX doesn't really help me other than giving me a change of scenery and getting to meet different people. I like doing both, so I'm still here - but have to be a bit more discerning these days, because I am the archetypal starving artist. I'll explain...
I joined HelpX years ago in order to travel around France, but now have a base in Richmond, N Yorks, UK; friends in France with whom I can stay; and I also do housesitting. HelpX by its nature takes up writing time, but I still consider stays if they're interesting, fair, and also provide the time and solitude I'm looking for.
If it's all work or if it's a short stay and a long haul from where I am at any moment it's just not feasible. (Travel costs render many HelpX invites financial suicide (for me, not for the host.) I know that sounds terribly mercenary, but I've saved some hosts hundreds if not thousands of Euros - and it costs me to get to you. And no, I don't want paying - I just want an equitable exchange. All the hosts who have added a review here were wonderful and gave me just that, but several others didn't.
For example, my current trip to France - that I planned meticulously and on a very tight budget - has now gone woefully pear-shaped on account of the unconscionable deceit and behaviour of my host. I've decided to explain what happened, to make it quite clear that there's 'roughing it' and then there's outright disrespect.
I arranged this (2500km round trip!) after many HX and Facebook messages, emails, and even a lengthy Skype call. The host was a French woman in the Alsace who (incredibly) runs her place as a hotel. The arrangement was that I would do the plans for a huge renovation project, in exchange for which I could stay there for two months to work on my writing.
When I arrived, however, I learned that she had chosen not to tell me that she was already having the renovation work done; and that her 'tranquil' establishment was thus a building site; and that she had two chihuahas that barked constantly; and that my (disgraceful) bedroom would not be the one promised; and that I'd have to feed myself (I lived for the four days I was there on food I'd brought myself); and that I'd have to clean my own bedroom (on arrival!); and that I'd have to dip my hand into the toilet cistern to operate the flush syphon (because the lid had disappeared); and that I'd have to wash dried food off my supposedly laundered duvet; and that the food I was supposed to help myself to was left out in the open in a kitchen infested with flies; and that the promised ethernet Internet connection was non-existant (so I couldn't even source an alternative hosting); and that my bedroom was adjacent to the laundry room that housed an unbalanced washing machine that kept me awake all night; and that I would have to give up my room to paying guests at 2 hours notice and move into another room that resembled a junkie's squat. That last straw was when I left...having driven 1200km to get there, at an overall cost of some £350.
On reflection I reckon the reason she was so obtuse and inhospitable was that she'd lied to get me there - to help out in the hotel rather than do the plans - and then took umbrage when I didn't kow-tow.
The enforced change of location and an unplanned 500km drive across France has taken a huge bite out of my fuel budget, left me more or less stranded in Normandy with a two month food bill to face, and left trust very thin on the ground.
Such shameful behaviour beggars belief and ridicules the very concept of HelpXing. HelpX ought to have rules for its users and bar them from the site if they break them.
Anyway, I have to say that if your work requires heavy physical labour (digging, lifting sacks of cement...ironing) then sadly I'm not for you. If it requires problem solving, design, calculation, surveying, innovation, Building Regs work, plumbing and heating installation, drainage, insulation, ventilation, damp-proofing, electrical work, bathroom or kitchen fitting, roofing, glazing, double glazing, decorating, tiling, artistry, carpentry, cleaning, cooking, computing, research, house-sitting, teaching you (or your kids) what I know...or anything else requiring more brains than brawn, then please get in touch.
If your place is very boisterous - TV, dogs barking, radio blaring, noisy guests/neighbours etc, I'm afraid it won't suit me. Same goes for sharing a bedroom. I'm very sociable, but need quietude when I'm writing.
Thank you for reading, and good luck if Iím not for you. :-)
Mick 13 August 2019
PS I prefer an ethernet connection to Internet, because my laptop's wifi no longer works, and phone tethering is fraught with problems of its own.