We always look forward to a return visit to any of our housesits and HelpX locations and our stay in Thelnetham in Suffolk would be our third. Andrew and Sarah, and not forgetting their little dog Betty, are always so welcoming and hopefully they feel as comfortable as we do working and living alongside each other. They fit the HelpX ethos to a T. The variety and balance of work, free time and socialising is perfect and that’s before I mention the cute little cottage and hamper of food waiting for us.
A Time Team Experience
Andrew and Sarah had messaged before we arrived to say that they had been clearing the garden in an area adjacent to a large workshop and discovered a very old brick floor. The house and land were previously a farm so the theory was that it was possibly a stable or farmyard floor. It was rather a challenge to get to the brickwork because over the years it had been covered with soil, a couple of layers of carpet (yes carpet!) which had been very inconveniently secured to the soil and brickwork by ivy, nettles and tree roots.
Armed with Stanley knives, forks, shovels, shears, pruners and then soft brooms and trowels for the more intricate part of the process of exposing the cobbles and bricks, we set to. It was fairly disappointing to see how slowly the job was progressing but, as ever, Andrew and Sarah were just pleased that it was coming on.
A Workshop Makeover
To add a bit of variety to what we were doing, the adjacent workshop, which had been the subject of many a debate about what to do, was covered in ivy and looked fairly sad but internally was an excellent storage area. The plan was to clear the ivy off and give the masonry a fresh coat of paint and then see if that gave it a new lease of life.
Sarah, the ivy destruction queen, wasn’t to be messed with and Jonno tackled the higher tentacles of ivy that had threaded it’s way into the roof. After a wirebrush and wash down we were good to paint. Over the course of 2 days it was transformed, if I do say so myself, to something that would now be an excellent backdrop for climbing plants. See what you think.
The Wet Weather Plan
Being very well organised HelpX hosts, Andrew and Sarah had kept an eye on the weather forecast and spent some time planning and organising a wet weather plan of action. So we switched from outside painting to painting a bedroom ceiling and walls while Sarah and Andrew tackled some tiling when the weather turned. Once again it was satisfying to know we had made a difference, even though we didn’t quite get to finish the second coat or the woodwork it had pushed the work on a bit.
All work and no play?
Once we have completed the day’s jobs (about 4 – 5 hours), the time is our own to enjoy the beautiful countryside and cottage. We love a walk through the footpaths to the local village of Hopton where there is a little coffee shop, pub and corner shop. It is a beautiful area and the slower pace of life really suits the way we do things.
Another favourite of ours is to relax around the little summer house in their garden. The perfect place to set up the laptop for a bit of JWalking post writing.
Field of Dreams Farm
One afternoon Sarah and I headed for the Field of Dreams. What a great name for a farm which has the aim of creating a rural, calm environment for volunteers to achieve a sense of wellbeing. The farm is near Thurston, about 25 minutes away, and sells both their own and other producers fruit and vegetables, eggs, logs, kindling and there are a couple of polytunnels full of plants.
There is also a field which from the gate we could see had pigs, alpacas, sheep, ducks, geese, rabbits and rabbits. Access to these is only available on their event or open days. Field of Dreams Farm. A field of dreams for the owners and the volunteers. Love the concept and Sarah and I both picked up some great organic fruit and veg.
Invitation to a Garden Party
To finish off what had been another great HelpX experience, Sarah invited me to a charity garden party that she was going to. It was being held in a friend’s garden in Hopton and when we arrived it was in full swing. Tea, coffee, cakes and savouries in plentiful supply under gazebos in a very pretty garden. But there was a bit of brain work required for two quizzes, tombola, auction and raffle.
We sat with members of Sarah’s art group and she took along some Guinness cakes cooked in little glass jars, they looked great and tasted even better (and yes Guinness was one of the ingredients). The event was supporting Breast Cancer Care, one close to my heart, and I am sure the total figure raised was a credit to the organisers
Giving the Boots “the Boot”
Jonno gets a certain sort of satisfaction out of putting clothing and possessions in a dustbin once they are too badly worn to continue wearing. Separation issues? Potentially but there is no point carrying stuff that is unusable and they were beyond donating to a charity shop. It was time for the well loved and much used boots to become part of Suffolk County Council’s refuse collection round.
Four years travelling and three pairs of JWalking boots down, whereas I am on pair two. He will tell you that it’s because he works harder. Not too bad though when he only has one other pair of trainers and some rarely used beach shoes. Our time to leave this East Anglian gem came around all too quickly. Thank you to Sarah, Andrew and Betty (aka Fuzzy Felt) for a great stay and now it is time to hit the road with maybe some boot shopping along the way!
04/07 – 12/07/2019