So! We have just finished our first 2 week Helpx stint in Asturias, Northern Spain. Helpx or Wwoofing is basically an exchange scheme where you 'work' for so many hours a day & in return get free board & food. Great! The people who host are often like-minded folk who are trying to create a more sustainable, low-impact lifestyle and so it is also a great opportunity to learn about that kind of stuff from people who are really putting it into practice.
Our last couple of weeks were spent with Astrid & Thomas on the land they have been converting into a campsite over the last couple of years. They've still a way to go (and a whole load of bracken to get rid of before then) but we've had a great time helping them out where we could. Our main achievement (which we are still very smug about) was building the donkey shelter for their soon to be first guests. Although it seems to be missing a few walls as our first ever construction I think we did a good job :-)
Evenings were spent around the campfire with long discussions, beers & toasties. I thought I'd get sick of cheese toasties by about day 3 but it turns out the possibilities are endless, especially when combined with Thomas' amazing array of home-made chutneys! Although we were blessed with a few sunny days, I do think we may have found Manchester's biggest competitor for the Rainiest Place In The World Ever title – it rained so much over the last few days that it took us nearly 2 hours & a whole load of muscle to get the van back up the steep & muddy driveway on our last day.
Yesterday we arrived in Leon after an amazing 3 hour drive over some very steep mountain passes – Roo was really put to the test but did a stirling job and got us there without a hitch. We had a really fun evening exploring the lovely city - not telling people we were from Manchester while watching the champions league final and testing out the local watering holes. John's head is paying for it today & so we're staying put until tomorrow before heading south to Salamanca & then into Portugal.
Oop and before I forget (apologies to anyone who couldn't care less), my 2nd biggest achievement of the past few weeks has seen me climb a knitting mountain to create my first ever picture – of the van! It's really scrappy on the back but I actually think (or hope!) you can tell what it is! :-)
As laura has said, we were fed and beered very well at Fontebona, although she did not mention the box of melted/reformed/melted many times over eurosweets, that kept us swinging hammers and lifting logs. generic chewy sweets with fruit symbols on the wrappers that remind you of being on family holidays in the back of the car when young. YuM! We are both tougher and stronger for all the hard work, which is exactly what I was looking forward to. Though of course I still got grumpy and tired sometimes with some of the hot work, its been a very cool time being left alone to make fences and the shelter and whatnot. PS running water is defintely a very welcome luxury we should not take for granted should we! PPS now we are out from under the trees, solar panel is back up and doing well, i need to fuse it as anything over 10a will pop the charge controller and we dont want that. this means lights etc are back online. [end of my boring PV update]not our van, but obviously from the same aerodynamics school