Yes, I know, it should be “Ebony and Ivory” but the title sort of summed up our house sit in Kent and neither things are what you may think. Before heading to the sit we had arranged a few get-togethers which we love. No matter how far we travel, for how long or what amazing things we see, meeting up with friends and family is always top of our list of the best way to spend time.
How patient and welcoming are our friends and family? In their eyes most of the time we are swanning around, yet turn up on their doorsteps intermittently for a long overdue catch-up. We are not that demanding, we do actually let them know in advance that we will be in the area and would like to see them! The family get-togethers included seeing Jon’s Mum and her partner, Norman and staying with both our youngest and middle sons. We even managed a great JWalking day in London with Sam, Tabitha and Ryan (Ella was flying to some European destination but I am sure would rather have been pounding the streets with us).
Meeting with friends from our dim and distant past is always a highlight of any return to Kent. Tim, Caroline and their new additions to the family. “Mr” Fudge and Ben their foster dogs.
Then it was onto Keith, Nicola and their son Jake and an introduction to his girlfriend Gaby. We go back nearly 40 years with both couples and it always seems like yesterday we were last together. Not being a lover of inspirational quotes generally I usually ignore them but a long time ago I read this one and it is true. “There are friends and there are family but there are also friends that feel like family“.
A Kentish House-sit or a House-sit in Kent?
It was time to get back on the road to our next house sit. Not very far this time only to a little hamlet near Tenterden in Kent called Ebony. We met Tim and Marylyn, the little Jack Russell Shihtzu cross called Toffee and the two independent cats Treacle and Crumble.
When we arrived we saw that Toffee was wearing a pet cone and were giving the sad news that a few days before we arrived she had walked through the embers of a bonfire and had badly burnt her back legs. She looked so sorry for herself and was quivering in discomfort. She could hardly bare to put her paw on the floor and had to be lifted out into the garden. The vet had prescribed some antibiotic cream and painkillers and it was just a matter of letting everything heal. She was so good letting us apply the cream to her legs which were obviously so painfully raw. Within about 48 hours we could see a difference in her and she even ventured out into the garden unaided.
The cone of shame had to remain on to stop her licking and opening up the healing blisters even though she kept bumping into everything and is scraped on the ground a bit because she was so short. Poor thing!
Once we knew she was comfortable with us and was in less discomfort we started to explore a little. Although I was born and grew up in Kent and we lived there for over 20 years bringing up the children there are still pockets we have never seen and this was one of those pockets. Ebony is part of the parish of Stone-cum-Ebony which has less than a hundred residents. Ebony is in what is called the Isle of Oxney. This is an area of Kent that was originally cut off from the rest of Kent by the River Rother. Over the years the river silted up and changed direction so the “isle” as such no longer existed but the area retained it’s name. Despite only being a few miles from Tenterden and Ashford it feels extremely rural with no noise pollution and fields upon fields of sheep.
Belated Birthdays and Long Overdue Reunions in Tenterden
How could we resist arranging a few visits to the restaurants and coffee shops of Tenterden when we were so close to our former home town of Maidstone? After 18 months of sending dates back and forwards, we eventually managed, with only 48 hours notice, to meet up with more long term friends. This time it was Trevor, Sharon and their son, Barnaby. We had long enough for a walk around the market, a few shops and a bowl of yummy soup in Peggotty’s Tea Shop.
The belated birthday outing was for one of the Pink Ladies, Becca, at Prezzos. It also gave me a chance to take a look at the beautiful wedding album Becca and her husband Dan had put together for Lydia and Nigel whose wedding we all attended in October. It was a book of happiness and joy and perfect record of the day. A bargain Prezzo’s outing courtesy of Becca’s 2 for 1 compare the market deal meant we could natter and eat our way through a lovely evening but we won’t forget the advice from the waiter on the cheesecake!
‘Just looking for a top’
The Bluebell Coffee House was the meeting place for a day of “just looking for a top” with my friend Wendy. Wendy knew the owner of the coffee shop so it was a really friendly welcome and natter before heading off to the shops. Tenterden has many good clothes shops but, after pitstops in Laura Ashley and Phase Eight, we popped into Mint Velvet for a browse. It was at this point that Wendy exploded with delight at a leather biker jacket. Little did I know that she had been hunting high and low for one such jacket. The explosion took on a whole new level once she tried it on and saw that it fitted like a glove. “Just looking for a top” turned into “buying a leather jacket” but it did look great and she obviously felt a million dollars in it. SOLD! After a disappointing quiche experience in Judges Bakery, we had one more shop to go in Elizabeth Rose, a rather nice “ladies” shop that Wendy had spied from the car park. There were some lovely items in this shop but far too good for me to dog walk in but I have banked the location for future reference. Wendy reverted to “just looking for a top” mode and fell in love with a beautifully embroidered white linen blouse. SOLD! A disappointing quiche was worth the hit for two great purchases and a day full of laughter.
Kentish Places Old and New
This has been such a great house sit because of the socialising and the mix of being able to see parts of Kent that had fond family memories. A wintery walk along the beach and visit to the Village Cafe for a bacon sandwich at Dymchurch for instance. It was something we did for a few years on New Year’s Day with our sons and a place that for many years Jon would visit as a child with his family. Then onto places that we had never seen Appledore, Wittersham, Peasmarch and Iden.
How’s the Patient?
Despite what sounds like one long list of socialising and roaming around, we did to care for Toffee and aided her recovery. The cone of shame could be removed during the day as long as we kept a beady eye on her and she even joined us on the tennis court as ball girl for the odd knock about session that we had.
It was lovely to see her true personality emerge and she was obviously feeling so much better. It reminded us what a great thing TrustedHousesitters is because Tim and Marylyn would probably not have been able to leave Toffee in a kennel with her injury. Luckily, chief nurses Jonno and Jo were on hand and, although it was a huge responsibility, we were only too pleased that the trip could go ahead and we could care for Toffee, the most patient patient.
29/10 – 08/11/2018