A Warm Welcome at Newbold by Steve McHugh

Steve McHugh preparing applesI was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks at Newbold as a short term volunteer and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. As soon as I arrived, I was made to feel totally at ease by the warm welcome everybody there gave me and that soon helped me settle in.

The funny thing that struck me when I came there was, how efficiently run everything is. From the staff work rota and timetable of weekly events, to which new guests were due to arrive or the number of people having lunch or dinner. The attention to detail meant that the whole house ran like clockwork so that I always knew what was going on or where I should be at any given time.

During my stay, I mainly worked in three departments, the kitchen, garden and homecare, where I learned something new each day. Be it trying a new recipe to cook for lunch in the morning to, say, learning a technique to train tomato plants to grow up a string suspended from a polytonal ceiling. Even though I was a novice at some things, everyone around was very helpful in ensuring I was comfortable with each task I was given so that I never felt under any pressure whilst I was doing them.

One of the best things about Newbold was that it encouraged me in such a way that I felt comfortable in trying new things that are normally outside my comfort zone. This even extended to me attending the daily Taizé singing session even though I can’t sing! To me that’s a testament to how relaxed and nurturing an environment it is, to both live and work in.

Some other highlights were the delicious daily meals (mainly incorporating homegrown fresh veg from the house’s organic garden), an impromptu baking session, where copious amounts of cakes and biscuits were made for an up-coming garden day event or a group film, complete with freshly made popcorn. Newbold was my first experience of community style living and it’s a way of life I’d wholeheartedly recommend for anyone to try. You’ll meet some great people, share some wonderful food and take away a lot of happy memories. Thanks one and all! Steve McHugh

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