Julija at the HoBB to design a new Elfland Lamp

Julija with Latvian Biscuits and her Elfland Lamp designJulija, a fellow member of HelpX.net, travelled from Latvia to shed fresh light on Elfland this year in a most unusual way – to design the lamps featured in a new Elf book ( See above picture lower right hand side)

From Elf lamp design to Latvian biscuit baking, Julija was a great help and she is now a firm supporter of the global helpX.net movement. Julija wrote the following (in Russian) about her HoBB Project House adventure and I shall upload the English translation as soon as I find it.

Я Юлия , из Латвии. Я была у Хелен и Гранта в конце февраля. Они живут в красивом, уединенном месте, вокруг горы!Место прям магическое…!Все кажется живым, даже дом! Много зайчиков бегает.Я там просто слилась с природой, после них было так непривычно в городе!
Когда была хорошая погода, мы работали на улице.У них есть необычный огород и необычные постройки!Я помогала садить картошку, делать стенку из камней и т.д.А когда дождь- помогала с иллюстрациями, люблю рисовать :) Обстановка непринужденная, работали примерно с 9 -10 до 16-17. Это зависело от погоды и настроения.
Они занимаются иллюстрациями детских книжек.
Очень трепетно, внимательно относились ко мне. Мы так много разговаривали по душам! Я чувствовала себя членом их семьи!
Они очень творческие и неординарные люди.Все всегда с выдумкой!Каждое утро начиналось за кружкой чая и вопроса Гранта – Как будешь улучшать этот мир? так и казалось, что рамки, в которых до сих пор жила, распадаются, и открывается какой-то новый мир!Вообще, такие темы поднимали !:) Появлялось такое вдохновение!
Да , там можно отдохнуть морально и пересмотреть свои цели, свои взгляды на жизнь.
На заметку иностранцам- У Хелен и Гранта чистое английское классическое произношение, хорошо можно попрактиковать свой английский!
В общем, я многому научилась, и многое узнала.
Бурной ночной жизни там нет ,Ближайший город через 3 км. Живешь по часам природы. если вас тянет матушка природа смело едте, не пожалеете!
Да, и кстати, Хелен прекрасно готовит!
А еще у них была собачка Топпенс, умная, как человек!Только жаль, недавно узнала, что ее не стало в нашем физическом мире.

Заканчиваю свой рассказ,
Всем путешественникам удачи и теплых встреч!;)

p.s. : Никто тебе не друг, никто тебе не враг, но каждый тебе учитель.
И , открытое сердце встречает такие же открытые сердца!

Those interested in www.helpx.net may also like to look at joining www.wwoof.org

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS of “Behind the Scenes at Elfland”

Tales of Personal Development at the HoBB

butthope bunnyTitania at the HoBB

Just when I thought my days as a travelling farmer were behind me, I found myself embarking on a trip to Wales.

The Welsh countryside is lush with verdant vistas where nights are as silent as the beginning of Time and days were quiet enough to hear bumblebees suckling the nectar of a bloom.

By the border of England and Mid-Wales, tucked in a cosy nook behind a maze of single-track lanes, lay the HoBB. It was a place that became my refuge for a short moment in time, a sanctuary from the crowds, noise, and technology that afflict urbanites like myself. I came with no expectations save to do a bit of gardening, construction work, and the usual fare that comes with WWOOF-ing.  And that I did.

Each day presented a new challenge for this city journalist who has barely swung a hammer in her life and who lacks the practicality to deal with any more tools than a pen and paper.

Home to Grant and Helen – never a warmer or more genuine couple will you find – the HoBB provided a space for an individual to find their creative self and discover ways they can etch their own contribution to the world.

These discoveries do not come by chance. Nor do they appear simply by showing up at the gates of the HoBB*. They were spurred on by my hosts, Grant and Helen. He, a constant energetic ball of sparks and popping champagne fizz, while she is of the effervescent laugh and homecooked delicacies. With their background as designers, they have a discerning eye, an unrivalled vocabulary of hues and whimsical natures, yet grounded by their strong connection with and respect for the earth.
[*You have to book your time at the HoBB in advance – They do not accept casual visitors.]

The HoBB is a place of creativity and collaboration between the hosts and their volunteers. Examples of both abound, from the rustic doggie gate I helped finish, that was started by a Spanish volunteer called Sergio, to the home-made bread that we devoured heartily for lunch, from the stone forge that was a feature of the HoBB gardens to the miniature elf houses created out of pebbles, twigs, and empty almond shells.

Grant did not waste a single minute. I was shown the best way to handle and use almost every tool in the garden shed. Learning new things was not always a lengthy procedure. There were tasting sessions, such as the 5 minutes spent learning how to use a lawnmower or the one chainsaw blade I sharpened.

Enlightenment was not reserved for the physical either. I discovered which shade of a Welsh sunset was pale puce and that the intention behind every thing we create as humans, even making something as commonplace as coffee or tea for another person, can make all the difference in the outcome and the product.

Each day, I awoke to new challenges, both physical and mental. Out in the field, I found my mind sluggish. After years of using the mental muscle, flexing the physical and understanding the practicalities of nature and physics did not come naturally to me. My attempts at carpentry and woodwork led to a broken gate hinge, a bent drill bit and many a nail hammered in the most unusual angles. But thanks to Grant’s watchful eye and guidance, I was left relatively unscathed by the end of my sojourn, save for a random wasp sting.

Evenings at the HoBB were a return to old-fashioned homeliness, reminiscent of the days where families still sat around the fireplace, put on their favourite raspy vinyl, and talked with each other. Supper was a home-cooked meal that Helen lovingly slaved over all afternoon  in her sunlit kitchen. I recall one evening, after dining to the zestful strains of Bohemian Rhapsody, we supplied our own entertainment by bursting into song, belting out the hits from My Fair Lady. And another, playing a vinyl LP of The City Waites playing Medieval Pub songs – after hearing the band live in concert playing on Medieval instruments in Ludlow.

In the era of technology and television, it seemed other-worldly but there we were, connecting with each other as human beings and not as humans to a machine as is now the norm. What was the norm at the HoBB was laughter. It was akin to being a child again where days were carefree and cheeky giggles ubiquitous.

Time slowed down at the HoBB. But I did not perceive slowing down as a sin as I would have in the city. I allowed myself to slow down and to literally smell the roses. I could walk leisurely enough to spot a snail in my path and put it out of harm’s way or stick my head up in the highest branches of a tree and see the world from the perspective of a pigeon or dove or owl. I could laze and think about what lay in the thoughts of sheep as they bleated and grazed in the nearby field.

There was no pressure from anyone to quicken the pace. All I received from my hosts was patience and an openness and acceptance I find myself wishing every child can receive from their parents or mentors. If a child were a flower, they would bloom at the HoBB.

So as my train chugged back to London and I left my hosts on the platform, I did not feel sad. I felt grateful. Grateful to have met Grant and Helen, for them to have opened their heart and home to me, and imparted their nuggets of wisdom for me to pocket on the rest of my life’s journey.

My momentous moments at the HoBB …

* carved the “Butthope Bunny” totem out of Hawthorne wood for the sheep post (image above)
* uprooted and replanted “underdog” bulbs
* learnt Grant’s special “fisherman’s knot”
* fixed a sheep gate for farmer Colin and his sheep
* mixed cement
* laid down bricks and insulated a potting shed with re-cycled insulation board, staples, nails, hammer and chicken wire
* drew up a blueprint for a dog bod, complete with electricity points, doors and windows
* finished a rustic doggie gate started by another WWOOFer
* trawled the local pubs with Grant and Helen, chugging down Stowford Press Cider from Herefordshire
* stood inside the hollow of a 300-year-old yew tree and caressed one that was 2,700-years-old
* attended a storytelling session at Bishops Castle
* dined with archaeologists specializing in the Roman period
* went on a Sunday excursion to Acton Scott historic working farm and milked a fibre-glass cow
* learnt to sharpen the blade of a chainsaw, mow the garden, and how to use a pick axe properly
* explored the small market town of Knighton, Powys
* spotted a sheep-shaped measuring tape in Knighton’s one wool shop
* did a lightning tour of Ludlow led by rapid-fire guide, Grant
* had tea and cakes at an old-fashioned English tea house in Leominster
* learnt how to use a manual and machine jig saw, and how to drill a hole properly
* learnt when to use a nail and when to use a screw
* visited one of the oldest fortified manor house in England, Stokesay Castle
* assisted Jan Walmsley in creating a Facebook page of her 630 miles Round Wales Coast Walk to help raise funds and support for the Knucklas Castle Community Land Project
* tasted the most delectable and tender Black Welsh Mountain lamb.

More tales of Personal Development at the HoBB >