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WWOOFers who visited us in 2009

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So, you recieve your jeans from Cotton Traders, but there's a bleach mark in an embarrasing place; get on the phone to complain. The voice at the other end reassures and placates, you will get a replacement. Q:"And who have I been speaking to"? A:"Daniel Jones". During his year out after A levels, Daniel was in training as a diplomat before he packed it in to taste rural life. He came to us in March from Manchester, UK, and his youthful energy and enthusiasm helped us plant numerous trees around the 10 acre property, ornamentals and fruit trees for the orchard. We wish him well on his chosen career path; perhaps settling Arab-Israeli disputes will one day rest on his shoulders.

Feedback from Daniel
In the month of April Heather came to us from Alabama via Belfast. She was ambitious in academic life, in recreation, and for life experience. Despite many competing interests pulling in different directions, she made the time to share our life in the foothills of the Pyrenees. She helped plant out young trees in nursery beds: maples, flowering ash and gingkos among others. On rainy days she helped make pasta and cracked walnuts for us. And if there had not been snow on the Pic du Cagire she would have taken off up there, for she loved to be in the hills. By way of consolation, she sampled the local rock-climbing.

Feedback from Heather
Also in April, Robin was our first visitor ever to come from Prague, Czeckia. You might have called him a professional wwoofer, for he had been on the volunteer path for a year, sharing experiences with wwoofers and wwoof hosts right across the Pyrenees. He helped us plant out many trays of seeds and in wet weather, glued cork insulation to our house walls. His presence will especially be associated with the donkey, for with Karen, he escorted Daisy during the 3hr trek which relocated her chez-nous. He was the first visitor of the year to snatch an ascent of Pic du Cagire, before spring snow once more whitened the summit.

Feedback from Robin
In May Dave Mason broke off his routine life in Vancouver, Canada to come wwoof with us in France. He had been heading up a marketing team for a travel adventure company, but hoped to make a move into teaching and knew exposure to the french language would be helpful. As he had good experience in construction, we were glad to have him work on our Tower construction project. He engaged with work on the wall and floor systems and we saw good progress for his efforts. In his time-off Dave challenged me on my forest runs and during wkd breaks hitch-hiked east and west to the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, boasting record transits and making new friends along the way.

Feedback from Dave
Home for Rebecca was in Sacramento, California where she graduated in Social Sciences. France called and she accepted a job in Paris as an au-pair, before travelling south to share our company here during June in the Pyrenean foothills. June is the month busy with potting, re-potting and planting as we establish crops in our market garden. Rebecca helped us with these things, and notably the establishment of an experimental carrot bed; this bed was created with a 20cm isolation trough surround to minimise crop predation from the voles. I'm happy to say we're still getting carrots from it.

Feedback from Rebecca
These guys made a first here in our wwoof history; Eleni & Jesse are brother and sister, and as Eleni was the elder of them but the smaller, I was intrigued to work out who was looking after whom! They come from a culture steeped in plant science as their parents collect plants and so we shared ideas about plants valuable in agroforestry. During their visit in July, they helped keep the weeds under control, harvest geen beans and potatoes, and look after the hens. When not working they explored our forest trails or absorbed knowledge from our humble library.

Feedback from Eleni & Jesse
HelpXer Scott Wagner came to us during the heat of mid August; for which he found an antidote: swimming in the lake at St Pe d'Ardet. It's length of 500m is useful for triathlon trainers such as Scott. In working hours, he helped us with weeding, harvesting, and evacuation of The Hazelnut Room; its an odd terrace-ruin which will one day make a splendid sheltered garden after the help from many volunteer hands. At the age of 49, Scott's many-faceted career experiences put him in a strong position to help review our projects and business plans. We approach the future with a few degrees more certainty after his valuable input.

Feedback from Scott
'Quite small and with blonde hair' was the description Rachel tagged herself with. But her capability defied null sterotypes; the result of Territorial Army training, perhaps. Her career choice in accountancy had been forsaken for journalism which she expected to take up in China shortly after her visit in September. While here, she helped with fencing, making chutney and weekly harvest: beans, courgettes and the potatoes. In spare time she ran our forest trails and stretched her limbs rock-climbing. And she was very sociable with us all, including Rohan who will remember how she kept company watching Bob the Builder!

Feedback from Rachel
We are rarely able to accept wwoofers immediately upon request, but Brian Morgan got that lucky break after appearing spontaneously in the yard one day. Just as we reviewed the need for another pair of hands with construction, Brian presented his considerable experience and filled the gap. He sets another age record for us at 68; I hope I am as fit and adventurous as him at this age! Working hours had less importance or definition for Brian as he spotted and took on little DIY projects at fancy. His departure was almost as sudden as the arrival, and he left politely but abruptly to continue the wwoof adventure in the Ardeche.