We are 4 weeks into our caravanning, volunteer tour of Europe and I thought it was about time to let you know what it’s really like being part of a nomadic worldschooling, workaway family. So let’s begin…
Week 1- Casa do Pisao, Azere
We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our Workaway experience. The beautiful Casa do Pisao is tucked away in a secluded valley in Azere. With spectacular mountain views and private access to the Mondego river you couldn’t ask for much more. Our hosts Claudia and Leon offer self-catering holiday accommodation and it’s easy to see how they’ve earned their 5 star reviews.
Our Workaway tasks included building bonfires to clear the land, turning the compost, cleaning and laying 40+ bales of hay in the chicken and duck enclosure, moving truck loads of wood chip and ground tree bark, placing bales of hay in furrows on a hillside which lost 200 pine nut trees in the wildfires of 2017 (in an attempt to help regenerate the arable land), weeding the organic vegetable gardens and planting 20 fruit trees.
In return we learnt about hot composting (a process which produces compost in 3 weeks as opposed to one year), the best way to dig holes when planting trees and the advantages of raised beds for your vegetable garden. We also got to share the most amazing home cooked meals and conversation with the kindest, most hospitable hosts (90% of the produce we ate came from their farm). I would highly recommend Casa do Pisao to fellow ‘Workawayers’ , as well as, anyone looking for holiday accommodation when visiting Central Portugal.
Week 2- Midões
Our 2nd volunteer project was at the property of Tim and Alicia in Midões.
They lost their home and a lot of their land was destroyed in the wildfires of 2017. They are currently living in a caravan (smaller than ours) whilst trying to slowly rebuild what they lost. We were only with them for 3 days but in that time we helped clear the land, build bonfires, planted carrots, beans and cabbage and seeded 700+ Cypress trees which will eventually act as a fire break around the property.
Despite the fact that their living space was incredibly small, Alicia still managed to rustle up delicious home cooked meals which we ate outdoors under the shade of a tree.
Over the two and a half week period we also managed to fit in plenty of sightseeing. We visited the historic city of Coimbra, travelled to the top of the Serra da Estrela (the highest mountain in Portugal, joined in an annual village party with our friends Luis and Nuno in Seia, visited ‘The Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro and stopped off to see the white sand beaches and candy striped houses of Costa Nova. To top it off our last day in the area was spent canoeing and kayaking down the Mondego (for 4hrs) with our lovely friends Will and Kitty.
As I’m sure you can tell the start to our trip has been all we dreamed of and more. The kids have managed to keep up with their homeschooling and on top of that we have learnt things we never would have had we stayed in the UK. Right now I’m sat in our caravan in a beautiful spot in Aljezur and next week I hope to share all we’ve learned and accomplished in the last week.
*Before I go a special mention has to be made to two of the kindest people we have the pleasure of calling friends- Paula and Stu. Unfortunately, both of our projects in Central Portugal couldn’t accommodate our caravan so our friends Paula and Stu invited us to stay at their farm. They went out of their way to make us feel at home, washed and hung out our clothes when we were out volunteering, cooked amazing meals and even offered to adopt the one day old kitten we found on the road. Thanks so much for everything and can’t wait to see you guys again.