Posts Tagged ‘WWOOF’


Irene has what she calls the “WWOOFer’s Walk”–she has each WWOOFer make a cement tile with an image made from tiles, broken ceramics, rocks, etc. She’ll have these tiles be the stepping stones from her backyard patio to the vegetable garden. We started ours today, smashing plates and a vase and organizing the material into piles by color (:



Plates!! Gorgeous Colors~



Having WAY too much fun with this ;)



Nice lil’ piles!



Hopefully next week we’ll have a completed tile to show you! We have a really nice design in mind…we’ll see if we can effectively accomplish it.




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We are halfway through the month. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be leaving in just over 2 weeks. A sobering thought, as we’ve fallen in love with the Hook of Ireland.

Leaving Ireland, and moving on, was on our minds during our morning walk. The foggy daybreak mirrored our cloudy thoughts, but the beauty of the morning dissipated any scrooginess and took us into a highly productive, exhilarating day.




misty layers


Dewey webs~


We accomplished a lot. Finished Kate & Ray’s stawberry bed, worked on more steps in the garden, finished organizing the polytunnel, relocated 5 loganberry bushes and, finally, made a mushroom tart supplemented with wild blewits we foraged before sunset.




Before — Update coming soon…


Before! So disorganized!


After we swooped in & saved the day~


An unbelievably gorgeous mushroom tart.









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Today Loran and I busted away on clearing Kate & Ray’s strawberry bed. Have you ever seen a strawberry bed at the end of the season? It’s a tangled mass of confusion–every single plant has reeeeeeeally long arms just running away from their parents as fast as they can!– sticking roots down every which way, attempting to multiply as quickly as possible.

It makes a mess. And looks a bit like this:


We tackled it anyway. But it took a couple of hours–a couple of thinking hours. And I was thinking about how we are strawberry runners!! Loran and I have been running around Europe (slowly & steadily) for nearly 6 months now. We may not have been multiplying everywhere we go…but every place we’ve set down little roots before shooting off to the next destination and depositing new roots– in the form of a friend we continue to keep in contact with or simply hard work we’ve left behind to nourish and grow into something beautiful and practical.

Our Irish rootbundle will be pretty hefty. And I’m proud of that :)

This is how much I love my job, my life~


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Cozy weather, cozy work.

It was certainly a baking day. That cloudy feeling when the skies are grey (and threaten rain) just screams “bake!”. But our weekend was over, too, so after two successfully risen & baked loaves we braved the gusty misty day to mulch Kate & Ray’s border in the backyard. Bobby followed us, of course, and so we had to alternate between shoveling mulch and throwing toys to the three dogs. It was great fun, really, and mulching is the sort of work that is hugely enjoyable; you actually see the results afterwards.

Secondly, we had our woodworking class tonight. The before and after pictures, I know, don’t look as if there’s much of a difference. Both Loran and I do, however, feel that we’re finally starting to get the techniques down, and as Tommy (our instructor) told us: “Do not see the spoon as the object of the class, just the byproduct. Understanding the techniques and mastering them is really what this class is about”.

Well said.



After~ Nearly there!


Thirdly–and most importantly–Loran and I confirmed with our next WWOOFing farm!! We are SO excited, we really have a good gut feeling about this place. It’s a tree restoration center with a polytunnel and outbuildings needing some work. The woman who sent us the confirmation email sounded really sweet, very accomodating, and very much like a happy people person.

So our December–& our Christmas–will be spent in beautiful Mid-Wales near the coastline.



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One of our favorite places to visit here on the Hook Peninsula has been Tintern Abbey. It’s absolutely stunning. There’s something about the surrounding woodland that puts one’s mind at ease. It is one of the most peaceful places I have had the pleasure of visiting.

The Colclough family owned Tintern Abbey until recently, and their ownership was granted after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and went Protestant. Their walled garden was built in the 1800’s to accomodate their lordly desires to show off their wealth and enjoy exotic fruits and vegetables year-round.

The garden was abandoned for ages–was completely run-down–and the community received funding in 2009 to revamp it. It really is looking fantastic, and the team is doing their best to utilize the methods of the Victorian-era gardeners.

Some photographs, of course:


Modest Entrance


Autumn Cozy~


It is a simple garden so far…but elegant and welcoming nonetheless


Fruit trees ~ Less than half of the total garden area is shown in this photograph


A quaint, gurgling stream runs throughout the length of the garden~


A still-colorful border


Today was a really, really hard day’s work. Lots of weeding, topping off hand-made steps with gritty gravel, and hours of splitting logs. Hopefully we’ll have some more “before-and-after”s up again shortly.

Until tomorrow!

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To mix things up a bit, I’m writing out of chronological order. Forget Rome: some things just really need to be said.

1. We are soooo happy. Happier than we have been throughout these past 6 months.

2. We only have 3 weeks left.

3. We. Don’t. Want. To. Leave.

4. We want to steal their dog.

To clarify: We have been, for a month and a half, absolutely delighted with Ireland. Not only are the people here genuine, friendly and fascinatingly rebellious, but the emerald landscape is exactly as beautiful, if not more so, than anyone could ever imagine. We’re treated to breathtaking scenes everyday, even if it’s simply a dewy blossom. More often than not, the sunsets are sweeping displays of color, the hazy crisp mornings are hauntingly beautiful, and flocks of pesky magpies flying overhead keep us company throughout the day.

Our week consists of 3 1/2 days outide in the estate’s vegetable and fruit gardens, with the rest of the week to spend as we please. The BEST thing about this place is easily our boss-lady, Irene. She is such a doll, so sweet, sincere, and a downright gardening encyclopedia. The main reason we don’t want to leave….

But we must also remember that this is exactly what we were hoping for when we committed a year of our lives to WWOOF. Loran and I wanted to make these honest connections with people, to immerse ouselves in their cultures and different practices to gain a new appreciation for the world we live in.  And with that comes a need to get used to moving on even after falling in love with a place, with a community.

Would you like to know a little bit about our everyday lives? I think so.

We start our work days at 9 am and make our way up the hill to the vegetable garden where we meet Irene for the days’ work. We’ve had such a varied experience. We have weeded (of course), transplanted kohlrabi, lettuce, and leeks, collected loads of seaweed from the local slip-way, collected chickenshit and horse dung to mix with yard waste for compost, repotted dozens of neglected plants, squished hundreds of cabbage-eating catepillars, organized a tangle of loganberry brambles, and tried our best to soak up all of the garden knowledge Irene dishes out every single day.

10am is our coffee break which almost always lasts too long because we get lost in conversation, and lunch is between 12 and 1. We work until 5.

Irene has taught us the lasting method of weaving baskets traditional to the region; we can’t thank her enough and we fantasize coming back to Ireland someday to have a sort of apprenticeship with her (just an idealist dream!). She has invited us to meitheals, a friendly gathering in which you call people together to help with somewhat intensive labor in exchange for an enormous, delicious lunch. Meitheal is Irish for “community” or “work team”. We’ve been to two now! The first was participating in adding a layer to the neighbor’s (the lovely Kate & Ray!) pizza oven. It was a frenzied 2 hours of mixing sawdust, clay, and water to a malleable, but firm, consistancy. It is applied in a 4-inch layer and left to dry. We’re hoping will be able to participate in the final layer, plastering, before we leave in three weeks.

Our second meitheal was at the home of one of the other ladies of the group. She had an overgrown vegetable plot; the ten of us cleared it in less than three hours and were duly rewarded with a scrumptious lunch. The really, really wonderful thing about meitheals is that it is so efficient. Instead of one or two people having to spend three weekends to clear a patch of garden, a gathering of friends do the same amount of work in a fraction of the time. And it’s a wonderful excuse to get together with the people you love but may not always be able to make plans with otherwise. Loran and I were doubly rewarded: the ladies were trying to clear their garage of rubbish and urged everyone to go in and take nearly anything they wanted. Irene found a perfect door for her future outdoor composting toilet aaaaaand…! Loran stepped in the garage and was greeted by a ray of sunshine illuminating the perfect backpack of our dreams. No, but really, we had been discussing THAT morning trying to find some backpacks for the rest of the trip. Mary had two. One for Loran. One for me. It was absolutely meant to be, we still can hardly believe it. They offered them up to us with no fuss, a simple shrug of the shoulders and tut-tutting over our gushing thanks.

Loran and I are selling our bikes. In fact, they’ve already been sold to said pizza-oven neighbors mentioned above. We definitely enjoyed rolling around on them throughout the East Coast, through Italy, around France and this little bit of Ireland but…honestly, they are a hassle. We had a bit of a romanticized notion of cycling around the world; we still love the idea, but until we are more seasoned travelers we are trading bikes for fluffy winter coats and hiking boots to stay warm through our northern winter. From this point forward we have a new travelling label: backpackers!

Anyway. Certainly there will be some more details later. A few pictures, now.

PS! Yesterday Loran, Irene and I went to a mushroom foraging course! It was great, never having done anything like it before. I can see how foraging will have the dangerous potential of becoming addictive. The tables were absolutely laden with mushrooms you would not like to eat, but there were a few gems. The group collectively found a stash of chanterelles, puffballs, shaggy parasols, and amethyst deceivers. All edible. Mostly delicious. Today the three of us will be venturing out to Tinturn Abbey to forage around in the local woods, wish us luck.

Collecting Seaweed; Fethard-On-Sea

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Since you’ve last heard from us, we have explored the ancient ruins of Rome, strolled along the cobbled streets of Verona, relished sunset swims of Tuscany, milked Norman cows and made our own wheel of cheese, survived a hoarder’s palace in the Bay of Mt St Michel, traversed the English Channel (trying our absolute best not to hurl over the rails), cycled the emerald hills of Ireland, toiled on a lavish estate and, finally, pored over the worldly treasures of Ireland’s capital city.

Visiting Children at Play; Galbusera Bianca


Musei Vaticani, Roma

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome


Baratti Bay, Tuscany


Flax Harvest, Baratti Bay, Tuscany

Kitty! La Denée Earl, Céaucé

Hard Work, La Denée Earl, Céaucé

The Hoarder Queen’s Palace, La Jaunière, Vezins, France

The Bay of Mt St Michel, Normandy, France

Planting Kohlrabi, Dunbrody Park Estates, Arthurstown, Ireland

Daddy! Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Anyway, we apologize for the hiatus. Now that we have a fully operable laptop charger (thanks, dad!) updating with posts & pictures is again possible. Also, a sincere thank you for the lovely birthday wishes. You all are missed.

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