Holly and Callum arrived after many weeks nursing their ancient campervan around France, Portugal and Spain, and it was a minor miracle when they made it up the long and winding road to the Freedom Farm.
Tell us about yourselves:
Two people escaping plague island in an ancient van.
Length of stay:
Season of visit:
Warm and sunny November.
What were you doing in the weeks before you arrived at the Freedom Farm?
We had had enough of being stuck in England. Up until we left we had been dry stone walling and staying in the countryside away from everyone. This was coronavirus year, 2020, so I personally had been stuck in England for the longest I had been since I was 5. There were no festivals or seeing friends so I decided WE ARE LEAVING. Next minute we were booking the ferry!
Callum only wanted to go to France for 2-4 weeks because he had stuff to do, but France was quite cold and the van broke in the middle of nowhere and we got towed to (and stranded) in some rainy spot called Souillac for 5 days. While the mechanics basically ignored us, we ended up learning how to fix the van ourselves because they were so useless, and left us in a tow/scrapyard without barely speaking to us. On the bright side, we ended up with a hire car and explored cool caves, woo!
So, after the initial disappointment, we kept going further south til we were in Spain where it was nice and warm driving round the coast south to Portugal where it was actually hot, where we spent loads of time at the beaches, visiting friends at their land and then back to northern Spain again and to our last stop The Freedom Farm!
Taking the 38 year old ancient campervan out was a bit of a gamble. I convinced Callum to buy it and it kept breaking because it hadn’t had a good run in years but it didn’t let us down, at least not entirely. We had a very relaxed time just driving around stopping at places, meeting up with friends on their land, bumping into people we didn’t know in parking spots and having fun times with them even if we couldn’t speak a word of each other’s language, swimming in the sea next to surfers in the big wave spot in Nazare, watching the giant waves. We spent Halloween trying to surf without surfboards next to surfers. It was a good escape from England.
How did you find out about the Freedom Farm and what attracted you to it?
I joined the facebook page Diggers and Dreamers and saw Max post that someone hadn’t shown up for them after they prepared all their food and made them a nice place to park. I was thinking to myself how much I would love to go and do that and then I read people’s comments about how Max and Nick don’t treat people like slave labourers and I decided: we are going to do this! Next minute we were planning our trip!
The thing that drew me to want to go there the most though was THE GOATS, who were pregnant at the time and as soon as we left they gave birth, damn!
I saw Max’s post about volunteering when we were near Barcelona and wanted to go, so not too far of a detour to get there from Barcelona maybe two or three hours, but Callum thought it was too far. It took me til we were in Portugal to convince him that we should go, I think it was like a 9 hour detour to the farm on Google Maps from where we were, so in the van probably about 15! Hahah
What were your first impressions of the place and how was your first night?
It is really cool how they have the whole valley to themselves, it’s like a little bowl of privacy. I loved that we got to park on flat ground in our own little private spot, and the dogs are really friendly and all have funny little personalities especially Reggie and his little cardigan.
Everyone who visits the Freedom Farm experiences unique challenges, what have been some of the challenges you’ve overcome?
Learning how to build Nick’s giant shed! I really enjoyed it and loved helping to make it as I like becoming more handy and useful, and when I do something like this it gives me more confidence for other tasks.
What accommodation did you bring with you and how did it go?
We bought a campervan with us, and Max and Nick provided water which was AMAZING after having to hunt for water most of the trip. We would just wheelbarrow the washing water to our tank and pour it in and the drinking water was sooo good.
It was pretty cold though at night time and our fire doesn’t work so next time I come (if we’re allowed) we will definitely get the fire fixed haha! Also we would bring a solar panel because our battery only charges when we drive so we had no lights and it got dark at like 6pm haha.
How would you describe the place to a friend or family member back home?
A lil friendly small holding & olive and almond farm in the middle of nowhere.
Can you describe what a typical day on the farm is like *or* tell us about a memorable day you had?
Hmm I don’t think there was a typical day because we weren’t there long, wake up, feed the animals, maybe do some gardening or help build something, Max makes an amazing lunch for everyone, then we carry on with our task for the day, play with the dogs, sometimes go to Tom and Lauren’s camper or hang out with Max and Nic in their house, then go back to the van and make some tea and try and keep ourselves occupied.
I was falling asleep about 8pm though and waking up at 6am! I became in tune with the sun.
Who did you meet during your visit?
We met so many people! Max, Nic, Luke, Erik, Heidi, Lis, that guy that came on a bike from Holland, Tom, Lauren, Elliott and Doug.
Animals: Pluis, Reggie, Molly, Babs, Skip, Scully and Mulder, the big fluffy bear dog Mike. Goats, guinea pigs, Winter the cat!
What have you learned from your visit to FF? Have you changed in any way?
I feel more handy after helping with the shed and seeing how they grow their food using raised beds in order to not have to dig into the ground.
If you had a magic wand and you could give a gift to the FF, what would you give?
Unlimited water, maybe some gravel for their path, a tractor or something if they needed it, something to help them with harvesting olives and almonds. A magic machine that gathers all their firewood and chops it. But if it was just one thing, an unlimited well for fresh water.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about coming to the FF?
Do it, go there!
What advice would you give to someone coming to the FF?
Have things to keep yourself occupied in the evenings, maybe come with another person. We spent the time collecting and smashing almonds. If you come in autumn it gets cold at night so bring warm things!