For a long time now, I have thought how lovely it would be to base the way we live our lives, in a more sharing way.
That is to say, on an exchange basis rather than monetary.
How wonderful if we could provide the environment, a comfortable bed, good fresh, home prepared food, an occasional glass of wine and laughter in return for help we need with various projects.
Materials provided by us of course!
However, my husband has always had his doubts!
"How could we expect people to work without being paid," he always argued!
A few years ago in fact someone informed me, during a similar conversation, that indeed such a scheme already exists............ it is called HelpX.
I talked again with my husband, who still couldn't grasp the fact that there are people more than happy to offer their skills in return for a place to stay and eat, enabling them to see something more of the world!
So I shelved my thoughts until earlier this year.
If I am honest, our situation here is more than difficult at times, with Jim constantly away working long hours in different parts of the world, providing for our life here in this wonderful haven that we can only share fleetingly for a number of weeks in the year.
We have desperately needed to make improvements, finish outstanding work to the house and enhance the land with planting further, providing a vegetable garden............ a place for everyone to enjoy the serenity of this very special place ......constantly to a huge financial outlay and emotional cost.
Still encountering a fair amount of challenges on the way!
Our last project was to plaster the apartment in the lower part of the property to make it a habitable area.
Sealing against the elements during the very cold winter months.
This vital work was carried out last year but again, at a huge cost.
So, back I went to the HelpX website, this time reading very carefully through a great many profiles and reviews that had been written about Helpers.
This wasn't just for transient individuals looking for a place to stay for a night, happy to do a bit of weeding or cook a meal perhaps, all fine but,........... here was a wonderful melting pot of individuals, couples and friends offering terrific skills and trades, a colourful group of artisans of all ages and backgrounds from all around the world enthusiastically offering their time, in order to travel...........planning routes around the planet for longer periods of time!
Nothing, not even my lovely Jim could stop me now......this was far too exciting for words, we had to give it a go!!!
So, here we are.............. our first HelpXer arrived in May!
Benjamin came to us for a week, he painted a couple of rooms for us very well and rescued one of our hens when she managed to get stuck under the henhouse!
He even cooked supper one evening!
The exchange worked so well on both sides, encouraging me to trawl further through the thousands of Helpers finding some more.
Some directly approached me, offering their help and skills.
Charlie came to weed the lavender garden, but also painted hens and ducks around the henhouse and cooked a tasty Creole dish for us!
I wanted Morag to come and teach me how to take cuttings and carry plants over to the following year, build a compost heap and prune.
Morag was everything I imagined she would be and more! We immediately warmed to one another and, as it turned out, shared a great many interests.......as well as laughs!!!
Her help extended beyond, ever mindful of what was needed in the kitchen Genevieve always offered help where it was needed most with a good heart.
We shared interesting conversation and Genevieve passed on some of the sustainable living ideas she had picked up in Spain.
Everyone was offered a comfy bed with scrummy white cotton sheets, en suite shower room and delicious home cooked locally sourced food.
A seat at our table where stories are passed on, a glass of Prosseco or a cold beer and much laughter!
We genuinely are interested in where in the world these lovely people have sprung from, their ideals experiences and what has motivated them to travel.
We have strived to provide a true taste of the real Italy and life here and give them a memory or two to take away, as they indeed leave us with their own.
So enamoured have I felt that I have experienced an overwhelming sense of wishing them to leave a footprint of themselves.
This place, for me has always felt like it should be shared......a special place of tranquility I have wanted others to benefit from.............. this magical aura on Torre Di Monte Vignale.
With this in mind I have encouraged helpers to create something......painting, sculpture......whatever they feel they want to leave behind, something from their imagination.
As you will already know from previous postings, sharing of food is high on my list of priority for life.
I have also encouraged helpers to cook and enter their recipes in our kitchen journal!
Everyone seems to have loved this and we have certainly enjoyed tasting dishes from around the world!
Food is to be shared and good recipes passed on in my mind!
Beyond this, the HelpX experience has taken me along another route entirely, one I have always wished for, a sharing of skills and exchange route, I now feel has materialised.
In experiencing another journey for living, I am questioning so much more ever more mindful of paring life down to the minimum, going back to basics for a life far richer than money can ever offer.
Getting rid of unnecessary frills being more thoughtful of what we are doing to Mother Earth and indeed, each other!
It is possible to lead a life with the greatest simplicity, with an emphasis on sharing.
Simplicity in running our own lives, growing our own food, going back to some of the old fashioned ways, sharing what we have and spending more time with those we love who are important to us.