Tuesday 2 April 2024

Fateful encounters - good ones!

About two months ago I set about trying to find a useful 'Workaway' (for those who don't know - people that have signed up to said site to help out others while being lodged, fed and hopefully enjoying some cultural exchange) to help out in our scarily rampant early spring garden.

It can be a mixed bag - Workaway; we've found some fascinating, warm hearted and hard working folks over the years, and others who have wished to find themselves (or not) while smoking and sitting on the terrace, the work reluctantly done, without care and timed to the millisecond. 

The last woman, who arrived with allergies, barely concealed anger over her unraveled life and an annoying habit of telling me how everything should be done, gleefully announced after a few days she had contracted covid and would therefore be taking up residence in our almost finished gite, while I trotted backwards and forwards with carefully prepared meals. I consider myself to be a mostly very tolerant person, but I almost revelled in telling to remove herself to wherever she had appeared from. We are pretty sure that the covid deal was an excuse to settle in to our lives and welcome a steady stream of pity and food. We didn't contract the malady, despite her hissing into my face - don't put a comment on Workaway and I won't put one on you as she left.

I almost closed my account after that episode but decided she was just one amongst hundreds of good souls, ands therefore started a search for someone who knew a fair bit about gardening, and or DIY. All these types were well and truly booked up, and this time I really wanted someone with actual knowledge so I could show them the outdoor madness and say -off you go, lunch at 12.

After a week of no replies I was contacted by an enthusiastic young Swedish guy who issued me that although he didn't actually have plant knowledge that he was good humoured, hard working and 'self-propelled'. The latter part of the paragraph made me smile, and encouraged me to hit reply with a yes, why not.

I went to collect Gustav from Tours station late one evening, and despite that he had been on a bus for 50 hours, he was alert, super friendly and interesting. We struck up an immediate friendship as if we had known each other for years; the drive back a melange of discussions over politics, literature, nature, cookery - his next project is to take up chef studies.

After a very long lie in - understandably - he emerged blinking into the early spring sunshine, amazed at the early spring colour after a more winter-bound Sweden, and we continued our conversations over lunch. The next day he started on the work and despite a lack of knowledge was incredibly helpful in the garden especially with things I have rather had to give up on - moving rocks, gravel, reinstating collapsed rose structures, etc. 

Over the week he fitted in more and more with all of us, until it seemed as he was really living with us, and could continue to do so pretty much indefinitely. This is the best side of Workaway, finding someone who shares many interests, wishes to exchange things about their life and culture, and is genuinely enthusiastic about helping out and leaving their own positive mark on their hosts' lives.

I'm sure we will see Gustav again. And I wouldn't mind a trip to Stockholm one day to discover the city with a knowledgable guide. 

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