Since I moved here almost 5 years ago I’ve had ‘helpers’ from both Wwoof and Workaway. Wwoof is an acronym for world wide opportunities on organic farms. Workaway is less specific and is just general help in return for bed and board. With Wwoof you pay to be a member, the applicants don’t. With Workaway it’s the reverse.
I’ve had American, French, German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish and Finnish helpers. By far the best (so far) are the Germans. There are racial stereotypes for a reason. The Germans are superb and I’m not the only host to say this. Another bonus is they all have almost fluent English. The French have the worst English. Both the Spanish and Italians are personable but flaky.
And in case you think I’m being superior here, I know what is said about the Irish and for the most part it’s true. But with every race there are exceptions. However the stereotypes are there for a reason.
But this post is about the funny experiences. For the most part I’ve gained from hosting them and I’d like to think they have as well. As my father in law once said on radio ‘the proof of the pudding is in the looking at it…….’ (not the eating of it). Most of them have kept in touch so they must have enjoyed being here. I will start with the most recent. I regaled my Facebook friends with her escapades. I will only say her. I won’t identify her nationality but suffice to say she was mature and well-educated.
From her initial application I thought to myself this one is going to be trouble. I’m very intuitive but I’ve honed it to a fine art at this stage and am able to deduce what they will be like from their correspondence. But I always am prepared to be wrong!
She wasn’t here long when on a rainy afternoon I heard the vacuum cleaner going like the clappers. When they arrive I show them their ensuite room and tell them they are responsible for keeping their bedroom and bathroom clean and returned to me the way they got it. I wondered had I cleaned it sufficiently. Had I forgotten to dust the skirting board behind the bed….but I was secretly impressed.
I had forgotten about this but a week or so later I was rooting in the freezer one evening for something for dinner. I’d just moved the contents of a huge ‘dead body’ freezer to this smaller one so was pretty familiar with it. I noticed a strange plastic bag. I picked it up and tried to untie the knot. Took me a while but eventually I opened it. Inside there was a wallet in a zip lock bag and a glasses case. I stood there looking at it in shock thinking Jaysus she’s robbed someone and hidden the spoils in my freezer…..
I knocked on her room and asked her were these hers and what were they doing in my freezer. She replied they were, she thought she’d got bed bugs where she’d stayed the previous weekend. Suddenly dawned on me what the obsessive vaccuming was about. I asked where she’d stayed. She replied Travel Lodge. ‘Ah here’ says I, ‘you didn’t get bed bugs there!’
I reversed out of her room thinking to myself this one is barking.
For the two weekends she was here she planned to be away. I love when they go away because let’s face it, we all need our space. The first weekend she headed off but reappeared at the door on Saturday evening on time for dinner. The following weekend she told me she was going away. Then she wasn’t and at the last minute she was. It was a beautiful Friday evening so I opened a bottle of rosé and was stretched out enjoying it, loving having the house to myself. Suddenly got a text. ‘Can you pick me up between 8-9pm, I can’t find anywhere to stay?’
That would be a firm no!
Weekends where she’s from must only be one day long!
But the best of all was she planned on staying another weekend. I said absolutely no way. I offered to drop her up on the Friday to the village for the bus at the crack of dawn. She could have walked but had a huge backpack. I came down the stairs half asleep to run out and feed the pigs and poultry, dogs and cats before we left. She was stood at the bottom holding her pillow. There are 4 on the bed. She was waving it in my face telling me she had found something ‘concerning’ on it.
Needless to say you can imagine my reply…..!!
Then she proceeded to stand watching me run around like a blue arsed fly feeding all before we left. I got back and saw she’d left her coat and scarf on the hall stand. Normally I’d have driven back up with them but this time I thought to myself ‘no way, she had stood looking at me while I ran around before doing her a favour.’
I almost forgot, the day after she arrived I had started dinner. Left it on the hob and went off. Later came back to finish it but it was gone. She was stood at the sink washing up? I said ‘where’s the dinner?’
In the fridge she replied. I opened it (an under counter one so small). Where says I? There says she pointing to a small breakfast bowl. It had been in a large cast iron casserole.
Where’s the rest says I?
I ate it says she.
It was enough for 4 and the broccoli thrown on top wasn’t cooked. And it’s only 4.30pm.
Is that not dinner time says she.
No, it isn’t says I.
I should’ve given her her P45 there and then.
The only scary incident I’ve had and it wasn’t really scary, more weird. I left this particular chap one evening to go out to a beach party with a neighbour. Before I left I asked him to leave an outside light on so I’d be able to get in.
I arrived back at 2am in the pitch dark to darkness. No light. Plus the door was locked and I had no key. He had locked me out. I walked around the house having hammered on the patio door. Looked in the sitting room window to see him slumped over his phone. The phone light was the only one in the room. I banged on the window for several minutes before he responded.
When he eventually let me in I was less than pleased and a few choice words were exchanged. Next morning he left. I came down to see him all packed up and ready to go. I offered to drive him but he declined. Good riddance I thought.
And then there was this one. My bad goat is named after her. She was barely 18 but liked to go to the pub. The local (which I’ve never even been in) is rough. But that didn’t deter her. One evening there was no sign of her and it was getting dark and starting to lash rain. She’d gone off on my bike. Understandably I was worried so was just getting into the car to go look for her when she appeared. She was very much the worse for wear. She had no light on the bike or reflector and had come down a dark country road.
I left it until morning to talk to her but also decided to contact her previous hosts to ask had she done this with them. They had Wwoofers staying in separate accommodation so didn’t really know what they did in their spare time but the owner of the business had been told ‘she was fond of the men’…..
I decided I better contact her parents just to inform them and cover my arse if anything happened her. I told them no 18 year old daughter of mine would be let drink in this particular pub etc etc. They didn’t seem too worried but I thought it best if she left. She absolutely begged me not to force her to leave so I relented. She then really pulled her finger out and was a great help.
I remember I went off for the afternoon somewhere with a friend after she had faithfully promised me she would never darken the door of that pub again. I came into the village on the main road just on time to see her skulking in the side door of it. At that stage I just laughed and she arrived home intact. She was wetting her dead grandmother’s head apparently. I’ve had a few dead grandmothers. Mostly given as excuses to leave early but they were the few who were useless but unremarkable.
She left but wanted to come back the following year and sent me a Christmas card but the pandemic blew that notion up. She was going on to study to be a nurse. I have to say I was very fond of her in the end but she put the heart crossways in me with her carry on.
For the most part they come here with varying levels of English but communication is almost always possible. I’m impressed at their standard of English and their willingness to learn. But the most recent arrival has almost no understanding. The most frustrating part was her written communication in advance was top notch but it transpired it was her teacher I was corresponding with.
I have to admit at being ever so slightly pissed off. The thing that annoyed me most was the dishonesty. If she had said ‘listen I’ve no English but I want to learn’ it would be one thing. But to pretend she had fluent English and just wanted to improve.
So it’s been very frustrating because I have some French (and lots forgotten) and now I’m surprising myself with what I’ve come out with. But I don’t want to improve my French……
The outcome is a friend said to me why don’t I investigate taking foreign language students and getting paid to have them. It would make more sense because I’m effectively teaching this one English and animal care and cooking for not much more than some odd jobs in return.
Overall it’s been a positive experience and the good have more than outweighed the bad. I’ve also got a huge amount of work done here that would have been virtually impossible to have done in the same time scale waiting for the professionals.