Who is that handsome beast? Jon,of course, and the dog is Latika the oh so intelligent border collie that we are looking after on our second Trusted Housesitters assignment.
I am getting a little ahead of myself here so lets just roll back to assignment one which was completed sans problemo on 2nd January. The owners gave us a glowing review which is great because we hope to continue this for a while and, to be honest, we do take the responsibility seriously. It can even be a little stressful at times when you are getting to know the pets habits, sounds, attitude and personality. Some would say it’s just like being married (but not me!) Before I say any more about what we have been up to, we have tried really hard to give you a flavour of where we are, what is going on and how we are finding it but details will be brief to respect the privacy and security of each housesit host. (Here endeth the disclaimer and T&Cs.)
Reuniting with old friends
So after our first successful official housesit, we spent a few days in Maidstone and then headed to Kemsing to spend two nights with our very good friends Caroline and Tim and not forgetting Holly the adorable Westie. We first met Caroline around 35 years ago when Jon joined the RAF and whenever we get together with her and Tim it is as if we have never been away. Our stay involved an afternoon exploring Sevenoaks, tons of remedies for my incessant cough, a wonderful long bubble bath and a lovely meal at their local Indian restaurant (Tamarind Fine Indian Dining). In light of the amount of complimentary dishes and alcohol that came our way, we think they are more regular patrons than they admitted. Of course, it would be rude not to partake! Despite what seems like an exciting lifestyle, family and friends are what we miss most and our visit to Caroline and Tims shortly after spending time with family at Christmas only reinforced these thoughts.
Assignment two is fairly local both the first booking and Caroline and Tim. We did not know before but strangely the two housesit hosts know each other. No doubt they will compare notes over coffee at some stage. We joined them for a long dog walk to get an idea of some of the footpaths we can use and we are certainly not spoilt for choice up on the North Downs. The views are stunning from the top and worth braving the sticky claggy clay footpaths. We joined the family for supper before they headed off the next day full of holiday excitement. Thankfully these first two sits have left detailed instruction manuals about the pets and the houses so we always have that to refer to and it only takes a day or so to get to grips with the routine and then it is like second nature.
Not a morning or afternoon walk goes by without me thinking how lucky we are to be doing this. Out in the fresh air for 2 x one hour walks each day rather than heading through commuter traffic to a claustrophobic office. These thoughts are even more prevalent when the news is full of tube and southern train strikes. How do these poor commuters cope?
Otford Village and Duck Pond
Today I am heading down to Otford village via a couple of footpaths to meet a friend in the local charity tea shop. We are definitely currently leading the quintessential English village lifestyle. Otford is famous for its duck pond which is a natural roundabout in the centre of the village. It is so unusual that is has been listed as a Grade 2 structure. The village itself dates back over 3000 years and the pond is thought to date back to Anglo Saxon times when it was probably used as a drinking hole for livestock. The village itself includes antique shops, pubs, a restaurant, two cafes plus the Hospices of Hope excellent charity shop with lovely tea shop at the back. The soup and home made scones are definitely recommended.
One of our Latika walking routes takes us past Otford Manor which has stunning views over the Weald of Kent. It is now owned and run by a holiday company but was, among other things, the former home of Mr Lyle of Tate & Lyle sugar. Friends referred to it affectionately as Treacle Towers. It is an impressive manor house in an even more impressive location. (By the way, I forgot to say that Latika is evidently the name of the female lead character in the film Slum Dog Millionaire)
The JWalking Snooker Championships
After a full on day of dog walking, being a lady what lunches, watching the gardener and keeping out the way of the cleaners we felt we deserved a bit of relaxation. So we challenged each other to a snooker tournament. It took us so long to clear the table that we only ended up having one game but it was a giggle and nice to take advantage of the offer to make ourselves at home. I lost by one point but I am sure the table is not balanced correctly.
So far, as long as I am in charge of the poop bags, house and pet sitting is working out well. It’s early days of course but our next assignment, after a long overdue visit to more good friends- this time in Leicester, is a month on the Suffolk coast in Aldeburgh. Plenty of long walks on the beach with Ed, the English Pointer for me with Jon probably off somewhere digging a hole.
1/1 – 9/1/2017