One of the sources of inspiration for our voyages has been John Marshall’s book “Wide Open World,” the story of his family’s “voluntourism,” volunteering in six different places around the world. While we hadn’t exactly planned to dive into the concept upon arriving in Europe, we are compelled by the kindness of the Nyssens in putting us up for a few days to help them with the numerous tasks necessary in managing Pemsey Farm.
Thus, for the last few days we have helped clean paddocks, muck out stalls, move hay bales, pick apples and tidy up the orchard, build new horse jumps, help around the house, and participate in several other small jobs that contribute to the myriad responsibilities of running a farm with an active “yard” (stables rented by others for boarding horses). Libby, a trained horseperson, is the yard manager, and each day we’ve tried to make her job easier so that she can continue to improve the operation, and to train a project horse, “Minstrel.”
In the meanwhile, our kids have learned about caring for horses and have been able do some riding. We also have enjoyed meeting folks involved with the farm, in particular John who gave Charlie and I a ride in his Bentley. Being able to stay in the house, which dates back over 500 years, before the discovery of the New World, in addition to rambling from green pasture to green pasture, along footpaths, across hedgerows, under drifting clouds and breezy trees, it was been a lovely introduction to England and gentle start to our travels in Europe.