Happy in North Pickenham

Exactly a year ago we were exploring Arizona and beginning the American stage of our little JWalking adventure. It seems at first glance to be so much more exciting than what we are doing currently. Not a chance.

This time last year we had never heard of Housesitting or Helpx and here we are in 2017 doing one housesit of volunteering stay after another. It’s almost as if we’ve stumbled into a completely new world and we’re seriously enjoying every single day of it.

Leaving Thelnetham and our first Helpx Experience

All too soon our two weeks with Andrew and Sarah were over and we packed our bags ready to move across the Suffolk/Norfolk border and on to a new housesitting stay near Swaffham. We took a last wander around the gardens at Thelnetham taking in all of the areas that we’d enjoyed working on before accepting a lift into Thetford where we had arranged onward travel. A fabulous couple of weeks working in the wilds of Suffolk left us feeling fitter and healthier and grateful to have spent so much time in the company of our new friends Andrew and Sarah. Hopefully we’ll get back there someday.

Happy Housesitting in North Pickenham

Some of the strangest things about our constantly changing life are the moments when we’re waiting at train or bus stations to meet the strangers that we are about to either housesit for or live with. We love those moments. So exciting and full of apprehension and intrigue. Waiting at the supermarket in Thetford was one of those moments. Our hosts in Swaffham would be Diane and James but Diane’s sister Lyn had offered to pick us up on her way through. So we met, filled her car with bags, jumped in, and drove off. Always surreal.

Our new housesitting booking is in the village of North Pickenham just to the east of Swaffham. We met up with Diane and James and their son Reuben and spent a lovely afternoon and evening with them all. And the star of the show and our real reason for being there is ‘Happy’ the little cocker spaniel who we have the pleasure of looking after for the next 10 days.

The family are off to North Wales for a week on a canal boat so fingers crossed for the weather but I’m sure they’ll have a brilliant time. So lots of walks and lots of fuss for ‘Happy’ is the order of the day, she seems to love being pampered and having a fuss made of her. Follows Jo around like a shadow and likes nothing more than curling up in her lap on the settee for a long cuddle. I do get the occasional bit of attention if I make a real effort though.

North Pickenham isn’t a huge village, no shops or pubs again unfortunately, but Diane very generously put Jo on her insurance and has allowed us use of her nippy little Fiat 500 for the week. Jo seems to think she’s some sort of star now with her sunglasses on zipping around the lanes of Norfolk. The village itself is an old Saxon settlement from the 5th century but is probably best known for RAF North Pickenham which was an American bomber station in the last couple of years of the second world war. Once the US squadrons had left in 1945 it reverted to the RAF and interestingly housed three Thor thermonuclear ballistic missiles in the height of the cold war in the 1950s and 60s. Scary stuff eh?

‘The Warrior’ – North Pickenham village sign

Return to 1983

Back in the good old days when I was a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force we were posted to RAF Marham for a year. It’s only a few miles from North Pickenham so we decided to get in the 500 and head out there to stir up a few memories.

The village of Marham is completely different now with more houses and new development but when we drove up the hill into the married quarters it was as if we’d gone back in time. Our old house in Windmill Road looked exactly the same as it did in 1983, incredible. We were so excited back then to be moving away from the south east of England up north into Norfolk and felt so grown up that the memories just came flooding back.

Of course we couldn’t go onto the base as it’s still a frontline operational station but it was great to revisit. Strangely we drove a little Fiat back then and as we left we were also driving another little Fiat this week.

Happy Go Lucky

So lovely village and nice house but especially cute little dog. We’re really enjoying looking after ‘Happy’ this week and have been on a few walks along the Pedlars Way and out into the local countryside with her. She’s a delight to be with, so well behaved and looks like she’s smiling constantly. Jo has become all soft and protective of her and they seem to be joined at the hip. Nice to see. We’ve got a few things booked for the rest of the week including an incredible high-rise, scary, unique experience to tell you about next time.


 08/04 – 11/04/2017


  1. We are remembering your time in RAF Marham. Wasn’t that one of the coldest houses that you lived in! Glad to see you are still enjoying your travels Nicola & Keith xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is that dog real? My Nan had a door stop that looked exactly like that. The village sign is a cracker. Looks like something out of your favourite Lord of the Rings movie. Must be like going back in time for you guys. Bet it feels odd.How come Jo gets to all the driving Mr Daisy?

    Liked by 1 person

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