Thursday, 24 December 2015

WWOOFing with the Croppers in Hastings!

So our hosts this time around were James and Penny Cropper. They had two kids, Ben 6, and Cara 4. Ben had a slight learning disability so he was rather challenging and misbehaved at times and I actually think he has put us off having kids haha. Cara was cute though and totally clued up for 4years old. They were an amazing family though and everything they have is self-made. Pizza oven, decking, Veggie and fruit patch, tennis court - they did it all themselves and now they were building a swimming pool and jaccuzi.

It was the week leading up to Christmas and over the festive season they rent their house and their Bridlebain house (holiday home) which used to be Penny's old house before she met James. So our jobs this week would be helping to finish the pool and decking area and also get both houses cleaned and sorted ready for renting.

The pool was a massive project that mainly James had been working on since may and they needed to get it finished and health and safety checked ready for the people renting it. There was still alot to do so our first day we worked 6-7hours and this meant we would get Sunday off as its normally 4hours a day work in exchange for breakfast lunch and dinner.

So a little background, Penny had lived in France for 5 years so spoke very good French and both have travelled Europe and Asia. So it was nice to meet some Kiwi's who have interests in common too. Also James' brother lived in America, he works on a Vineyard owned by Frances Coppola the famous Hollywood director which is pretty cool!

So our first couple of days, Pierrick was doing alot for the pool, so digging holes for pipes and water filters etc and doing some gardening in the Veggie patch. I was waterblasting the tennis court getting rid of all the dirt on it so it was safe to use. The meals they provided and Penny cooked were amazing, lunch was mostly homemade colslaw and tuna or fresh eggs from the chickens and salad from the Veggie patch, fresh strawberries from the fruit patch. Dinners were things like slow cooked roast lamb from her father's farm, homemade pizzas, Asian chicken with veggies from the Veggie patch, pasta etc and it was lots of it, we never finished a meal hungry I can tell you that! We had our own to in the house and free range of everything, living room, bathroom washing machine and even the pool when it was finished!

We then had Sunday off and James took us to the local farmers market where we had food and drink samples gallore, we also went to a huge famous local winery and did some wine tasting and got a bottle for Christmas and we sat on the beach for a while. We went for a walk the day before to the next village.

The next few days were then preparing the house in Bridlebain for rental so I cleaned all the windows inside and out and Pierrick did more weed removal and digging, poor man haha. Then we also did the same back at the farm. Pierrick also did the plastering on the side of the pool and some painting, got to use the quad to get rid of a load of rubbish and wood waste.

Once the pool was finished we also got to use that and it got the all clear from the council as safe for children. The water was super cold though so they decided their next project was to make it solar heated! I also cleaned the windows and walls in the house while Penny tidied and cleaned it all. James was doing the pool around work so he would wake up early, do some work, go to work, come home on breaks and lunch and work on the pool, go back to work, then come home and work on the pool and gardens/farm until 9pm he was super dedicated! Penny as well was cleaning the house from wake til sleep, looking after the kids, cooking for us and everything, they were such a hard working couple so they were really looking forward to a break at Christmas up in Paihia where they had a holiday home.

They went out on a couple of evenings so we enjoyed a couple of evenings to ourselves and without the kids waking us up at 5.30am screaming out Frozen songs haha. But all in all it was a wonderful experience WOOFing with them and we learnt alot from them and from the jobs we did. It's made me want to try and become self sustainable in the future and rely less on supermarkets etc. On the 23rd we said our goodbyes and got a bus back to Taupo where we would spend Christmas eve and Christmas day morning. We re-met with the group (Chloe, Leo and Guillaume) from when we wwoofed at Tapu Creek in the Coromandel as they were all there. And we spent Christmas eve shopping for food and alcohol - it was our Christmas treat - Mussels and chips, surf and turf in garlic sauce and homemade chips and some chicken curries for over the Christmas period before we would have to start the noodles bread and pasta cheap backpacker diet!

Christmas eve we had our Moules Frites and we drank with two Israeli guys and a German girl until the early hours of Christmas morning. Then it was time to start another leg of our Stray Journey!

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