So, after returning to London to find my tenant still resolutely hanging on in my flat, I was left effectively homeless. I still have to pay the expenses on my flat, plus the legal fees to get the tenants out, and I really can’t afford to pay additional rent to stay in London. In desperation, and really not wanting to spend another night in a 33-bed dorm room sharing with a pile of East European workers, I found myself a Workaway volunteer placement in the English countryside, down near Bristol.
The job is easy enough, simply looking after two children and the accumulation of work that they entail. I get up and supervise breakfast and getting them out and up to the local school. Then I come back and clean up the kitchen and the bathroom, fold washing and that type of thing. This normally takes me to midday or so and then I am free until around 3.30 when I have to get the kids back, cook a meal, get them into the bath and into bed, which takes to 8pm or so.
I possibly do a little too much work for a Workaway, since it is unpaid, but it’s ok. It’s not like there’s a lot else to do outside the house; it is just a small village. I get the weekend off, however there are no buses on a Sunday so really there is only Saturday when I can go anywhere. If I don’t go anywhere, they find me jobs to do.
On my first Saturday I went to Bristol. This involved two buses and cost £17 there and back (for reference, the Megabus from London to Bristol, if you book in advance, costs £11 return). Once again I ask: why would anybody want to live anywhere in the UK other than London?
Other nearby places I had thought of visiting, such as Glastonbury or Frome, involve multiple buses, an even heftier expense and take a ridiculously long time (2-3 hours) to get there. Glastonbury is only 30 minutes by car, but nearly three hours by bus. A taxi would cost £60 (there’s no Uber out here).
So Bristol then.
Bristol Fact: It was recently voted UK’s best city to live (not sure by whom, somebody from Bristol probably). It has also been named best place to study in the past too, and it does have a very vibrant student population, which is never a bad thing.
Great news for anyone who enjoys street art: the Stokes Croft area is very close to the city centre/bus station and offers an abundance of street art, charity shops and small, independent cafes, although many say it has become too touristy now. Think a smaller version of London’s Shoreditch.
The Harbourside area is newly developed and nice for a wander.
There were a lot of other things I was eager to explore, however my last bus back left at six, so that was it for me. These past two weeks I’m kind of like Cinderella, except instead of having to be back at midnight I have to be back for half-past six.
As for the whole Workaway thing, I’m not so sure. I really like the concept and I’m sure there are some great jobs on there. There are also a lot of jobs where they expect too much (both in terms of hours and what a volunteer will be capable of). It is not going to be possible to walk into a household as a stranger and organise two unruly kids that you’ve never met before in just two weeks; I (and this probably applies to most of the other potential volunteers) am not Mary Poppins.