Old Fool’s Blog – Home Exchange

Must look after our chickens!


Taken from Switch, the monthly Home Exchange  Newsletter by Ed Kushins, President of HomeExchange.com.

“Home Exchange partner must look after our chickens.”


You might think that would severely limit your options, but for Victoria Twead, a long-time HomeExchange.com Member, it has opened doors to exchanges around the world. She has compiled her adventures into a book well worth reading, a funny, warm retelling of their 5 Year Plan relocating from England to Andalusia. “Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools” (available on Amazon.com) was awarded the HarperCollins’ “Gold Star,” and I recommend it. Here is what Victoria has to say about HomeExchange…

“What if they break everything? What if they steal the family silver? What if..?” These were the kind of questions fired at us by doubtful friends when we announced we were going to exchange our UK home with an American couple.exchange

exchange02But we’d done our research, joined Homexchange.com, and were confident that all would be well. And it was. In fact it was perfect. Joe and I had posted our not-very-special, but clean, comfortable modern house in England up on the site, and sat back. We were inundated by offers from all over the world. We chose South Carolina and stayed in a wonderful home on a private island. We love wildlife and were in paradise as the island was a nature reserve where we could watch alligators, deer and unusual birds to our hearts’ content.

A year later, I nagged poor long-suffering Joe into leaving England and moving to a tiny mountain village in Andalucia, Spain. Our new location was very different! Nestled into a valley, the village was so pretty it made one gasp. Little whitewashed houses, a central church and square, olive trees shimmering in a heat haze, swallows wheeling above in an endless blue sky… It was like stepping back 500 years in time.

It was a shock to discover that there were only six permanent residents in the whole village. Uncle Felix, a retired goat-herd, who shared his two-roomed cottage with his beloved mule and two chickens. Old Sancho who strolled around the village with his black cat every evening. Marcia, 80 years old but sharp as a pin. Geronimo, a gentle football-crazy alcoholic with his three moth-eaten dogs. And us. More people came on weekends, but usually the village was almost deserted.

We were understandably nervous about being able to exchange homes in the future.

We loved our new life. Somehow we became reluctant chicken farmers and ended up owning probably the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Every day was an hilarious adventure and I began to write a book about it. When we had installed two bathrooms in our ancient cottage, stopped the roof leaking, created the garden and two roof terraces, we decided we were ready to offer our home for exchange. We were not hopeful. Who’d want to spend their vacation in a remote village with no proper shops? Exchange their own comfortable home with our quirky one? Live with our unusual neighbours? Look after our chickens?

exchange03“We’d love to experience Spanish rural life in an unspoiled village,” Australians Glennys and Ken wrote. We exchanged numerous emails before the exchange when we moved into their beautiful home with swimming pool, overlooking a golf course near Brisbane, Australia. They moved into our crumbling 500-year-old village house. What a time we had! We saw humpback whales, watched turtles beach to lay their eggs, drove to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkeled and went sightseeing every day.

Glennys and Ken slotted into village life effortlessly and the villagers welcomed them into their homes. They explored neighbouring villages, cared for te chickens, and even entered the annual fiesta Pudding Competition, and won! (Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe here.)

That is the beauty of HomeExchange. A choice of hundreds of equally perfect little villages just waiting to be explored. Everybody can find their own special village or location and every exchange is an opportunity for a fascinating, comfortable experience.

We’ve never experienced any problems, never a hint of family silver going missing, only wonderful, unforgettable, affordable holidays.

Thank you Homeexchange.com!

Victoria Twead

December 2009

 See the whole Home Exchange Newsletter here