Workaway in the UK – volunteering on home soil

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If you’ve been here before then you’ll already know and if you’re a noob to drunkenpom then you’ll soon understand that I am a massive advocate for Workaway. So far on my travels I have volunteered in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and India. So why on earth wouldn’t I indulge in a little Workaway in the UK?

If you think you would like to spare a little time to help someone else but not sure which volunteering platform would suit you best then read this article that compares the most popular volunteering platforms available.

(I recommend Workaway)

If you’re not sure what to expect while volunteering in the UK then read on and I hope this article will give you a little taste of what its all about.

Why volunteer in the UK?

Why not!?

For me personally, there’s plenty of reasons to spend a little time volunteering. 

  •  Help someone else with your skills
  • Meet new people
  • Get to try new things
  • Have a base to explore a new area
  • Gain inside info on an area from a “local”
  • Be part of a team

Although all of the above bullet points are true, this time the main reason was much more practical than all of that. The weather!

You’re probably thinking: How does the weather dictate when is a good time to go volunteering?

Well. In this circumstance after traveling Asia for nine months me and Agne decided to have a change of travel style.

Long story short is that instead of backpacking around we would now be travelling by motorhome. So the plan was, Agne goes home to Lithuania to visit family for the first time in 18 months until the end of February. The seasonal jobs we had lined up started at the beginning of April.

This gave us roughly 5 weeks to explore the whole Wales coastline.

The plan was good, the Great British weather wasn’t! After 2 weeks of nothing but grey drizzle we weren’t enjoying the Wales road trip as much as we had hoped to.

With nothing but more rain on the horizon we decided instead of burning through our budget driving around in the rain we might as well burn the remaining 3 weeks doing some good while saving money.

WALES WE WILL BE BACK!!!!

So what was the opportunity?

The opportunity was located on the stunning beautiful Rame Peninsula in South West Cornwall. In all honesty, before contacting this Workaway host I had never heard of the Rame Peninsula but take it from me it is definitely a place to visit if you get chance.

the rame peninsula

The host, Sarah had a wedding venue business that she ran with her friend Jeremy. Sarah had owned the 17th century farmhouse for less than 10 years but in that time had been majorly flooded twice and each time had to rebuild.

4 years ago Sarah decided to get the old milking parlour approved as a wedding venue premises. Now the business is up and running and there’s so much to do. 

Everything from grounds maintenance, general repairs to artwork. More about what we did further down.

What actually was the work exchange?

The work exchange at the cow shed was really relaxed. Workawayers could start at anytime they wanted. As long as you worked 4-5 hours per day, any 5 days per week.

motorhome parked next to farmhouse

In exchange for this you could have one of the bedrooms in the farm house and 3 good meals a day. Pretty standard for volunteering.

We chose to stay in the motorhome. Everyone like their own bed….

What kind of jobs were we asked to do?

This Workaway experience was right up my street. The theme at the Cow Shed was upcycling and shabby chic. Basically making rustic looking things out of what every you can find lying around. As well as a little grounds maintenance.

Here’s a few of the things we made/restored:

Chairs:

Agne was tasked with restoring some old metal decking chairs with a bit of a twist. All of the wooden slats had gone a bit rotten, so needed to be replaced.

cutting wooden slats with a jigsaw
Swapping rotten for new, fresh wood

Once new slats had been cut she then covered them in pieces of printed text from an old book and stuck it all down with PVA glue. Once the glue had dried then the slats were covered in 3 layers of yacht paint.

lady vanishing wood

The metal chair frames were left old and rustic for a little added character.

now that’s rustic!

New fence and gate:

This was my project for a few days. Part of the gardens at the side of the main farmhouse were to be made into a private area. I was tasked with making 2 fence panels and a gate out of some new wood and old rusty corrugated steel sheets.

making a fence

First thing was to dig holes for the upright posts and then concrete them in place. After being left go off over night it was time to take measurements for the 2 panels and gate.

I made the panels and gate simply by making two rectangular wooden frames and sandwiching the rusty corrugated steel sheets between.

the finished wood and steel fence

Not too bad to say I had never done anything like this before.

Trying to refit the rose bush:

Another job that stands out in my mind is the rose bush from hell!!

During the time me and Agne were driving around in the gloominess of Wales down South on the Rame Peninsula the Cow Shed rose bush was being attacked by storm Gareth!

rose bush ripped off the wall
Can you tell we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing….

The storm ripped completely ripped off the rose bush from the wall of the house. Leaving it strewn all over the front garden.

4 of us spent 4 hours trying to pull and push the 20ft rose bush back over porch. We even put new steel eyes into the wall and tied a rope around it to try and heave it back up. All that happened was the eyes either ripped out of the wall or twisted open.

We gave up stating that it needed a very strong pruning. It was still there when we left….

Exploring the local area.

Most of the time that we spent volunteering at the cow shed the weather was terrible so we didn’t get around to exploring too much. But the little bit that we did see we really liked.

A 30 minute walk from The Cow Shed is the peaceful little village of Millbrook. Not too much to do in Millbrook but a really picturesque place.

On maybe the nicest day we experienced in March we got the bikes out and headed off to Rame Head Chapel. The tiny little chapel that sits on top of a rocky outcrop is estimated to be over 600 years old.

the view from rame head
The view from rame head

 It is thought that just the priest/watchman would have lived there to keep watch for foreign vessels and light a bonfire as a warning beacon.

It is known that in 1588 a pair of watchmen were paid by Plymouth to warn of the approaching Spanish armada.

All in all

With around 3 weeks spent at the Cow Shed both me and Agne really enjoyed our time there and one day hope to return to see how things have changed. I wonder if our chairs and fence will still be there in another 5-10 years…

There you have it, a little insight into volunteering in the UK.

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man stood in front of farmhouse
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