At Workaway, we absolutely love getting to know you all whether it’s meeting on the road, hearing stories through emails or by actually going on a Workaway trip ourselves. We couldn’t be prouder to be involved with such an inspiring community of travellers! So we just had to share some of the stories you tell us!
And can you believe it’s been over a year since we first started interviewing Workawayers from around the globe. What a beautiful experience to be a part of! Make sure you check all our inspiring interviews here, and without further a do let’s jump into this months, and Celeste a photographer who has just returned from Scotland!
Hey Celeste, we are super excited to interview you this month after hearing about your photography mission around Scotland. How did you pick this Workaway?
Thanks for having me! I’d been dreaming of Scotland all year after I started reading the Outlander series. When it came down to choosing a Workaway, I was so intrigued by a farm I saw on Workaway that was a farm home for llamas, alpacas, goat, sheep, and pigs as well as a restaurant. In addition to taking photos of the food, farm, and beautiful Loch Lomond scenery.
Is photography a big reason why you travel? How did you get into it?
Photography was actually a byproduct of my travels, though it definitely fuels most of my travels these days. I’m very sentimental, so capturing memories (whether journaling, taking photos, etc) has always been second nature. I started with a disposable camera at 13 years old, graduated to a point and shoot at 16, then saved all of my waitressing money to buy my first SLR in high school. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Greece, Italy, and the UK during university that I found my niche in food, travel, and portraits.
Had you volunteered at all before this Workaway project?
This was my first Workaway but growing up, I’d volunteer with my church in local communities. I stopped once I started university but volunteering again with Workaway was so heartwarming. I love that you can meet such an array of wonderful, kind-hearted people no matter where you are in the world— volunteering really fosters those connections.
What was your daily schedule while volunteering at the farm?
Every morning I’d wake up and immediately look out my bedroom window onto the farm with Loch Lomond in the distance. I made this a personal ritual and still miss those misty mornings.
When I finally dragged myself away from the window, I’d start the day by bottle-feeding Mac, our littlest goat. After feeding and checking in on the other animals, I’d make tea and help get the restaurant ready for opening. Once customers started coming in, the middle of the day was a blur between taking orders, running food, making tea then forgetting it, restocking, trying to understand the charming but heavy Scottish accents, resisting the urge to sneak a piece of cake, then finally sitting down to drink my then-cold tea.
Once things slowed down and we cleaned up, I’d feed the animals one more time then have the early evening to myself and would catch up on my own freelance work. One of us would eventually make dinner and we’d all sit and eat together, like a family after a long day. At the end of every meal we’d make an enormous pot of tea and eat whatever dessert wouldn’t be good the next day. I loved it.
Did you ever find it hard or find anything you couldn’t get to grips with? How did you overcome that?
As someone who values movement, it was challenging feeling confined to the farm at first. The neighboring towns were lengthy walks away and I was too short to use the bikes the farm had available. For a while I felt trapped because even the buses felt limited and infrequent.
I came to find the locals to be so sweet and generous– on more than one occasion I’d start a random conversation and by the end of it, they’d offer me a ride to wherever I needed to go. I’ve never experienced anything like that anywhere else.
What is your best memory of the experience?
One morning I was bringing tea and scones to an elderly woman. Upon hearing my American accent, she asked where I was from, what I was doing here (aka who would choose Scotland over California in October?), and how old I was. I told her I was 26 to which she exclaimed, “Oh! But you’re just a wee lass yourself!”
Take your time. Don’t rush through an experience like this.
What’s your best advice for our aspiring Workawayers out there?
Be genuine! My hosts, Rebecca and Wayne, told me that they receive tons of requests from potential volunteers and I wondered how I slipped through the cracks. They said they felt a good sense of who I was through my intro email and before I knew it, I was at their doorstep.
Where can we follow you? What are your next plans? Will you be doing another Workaway project?
I post most of my adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter but also share photo essays and projects on my blog, Wanderlogue.
Next year I’ll be back in Scotland as the Wigtown Artist in Residence and to also teach a creative writing course (I really can’t get enough of Scotland!) After that, I hope to keep traveling as I take on more freelance projects and weddings around the world. Crossing my fingers I’ll find another Workaway along the way!
Do you want to be our next Workawayer of the month or Host of the month? We are always on the lookout for inspired workawayers and hosts who have a great story to tell! Email us over at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be in our next feature!