After travelling all Monday, I’ve arrived at Forts de L’Esseillon to volunteer with the restoration of Fort Victor Emmanuel with the Rempart organisation. I found this via the National Trust working holidays so if after reading this it sounds like something you might be interested in, head to their website!
We’re staying in an old farm house that is pretty basic but in such a stunning setting and has a great atmosphere. Nearly all of the volunteers are young architecture students so I’m a bit of the odd one out as a history teacher, as well as the only native English speaker!
We work 9-2 with the afternoons free, and today (Tuesday) I started with working on the pulleys to lift the rubble from the basement battery. In 30° weather, this was such a hard job lifting and then carrying buckets of soil and rubble. I was certainly glad when it got to lunch time and a yummy three course meal sat in the garden!
In the afternoon we walked 20 minutes down the road to a waterfall, which was stunning but absolutely freezing as it was melted snow running off the mountains! I only had a quick paddle but some braver/crazier people went for a swim! We then had a few hous sat in the sunshine chatting in appalling franglais and drinking beer, before heading back to the house for dinner.
Day 2 saw me rotate to the logistique team making concrete to repair the floors and create a water drainage channel. Feeling quite like a builder, this was a pretty good job as someone brought speakers so we could have a sing along as we mixed the cement- the only problem was then wheelbarrowing it down 2 flights of stairs to the battery!
This afternoon I just sunbathed and read my book in the garden, feeling pretty tired after such physical work and such filling meals. The evening saw a campfire being lit and everyone sitting around drinking wine and being sociable which was a great way to relax. Stay tuned for more restoration and exploring of the area in my next post!