Finishing our sit in Hertfordshire and leaving the blue whippets, Saffy and Tasha, was really tough as we had both grown so very fond of them in our two weeks there. Looking after them had been a delight and they were so easy to care for along with Miami the cat and the assorted ducks that we felt like we were leaving our own pets as we headed for the station (Whippets in Ware).
One of the things that can be tricky when we are organising and booking housesits is scheduling them to fit seamlessly together. Often we have a day or two between that we need to fill and that obviously means that we have to book somewhere to stay, so it’s always a fine balancing act as we want the sits close together but we need time to be able to travel. Luckily our next stay was booked in for 6 hours after we left so a train ride followed by a tube journey then another train ride saw us departing the train in the Kentish city of Canterbury.
The Garden of England
For those of you that don’t live in the South East of England, and that can’t be many as it seems so busy sometimes, Kent is the English county right next to London that stretches across to the English Channel. I think Kent often gets overlooked by visitors coming to the UK as they just fly through on their way to London and beyond but it is a beautiful county. That’s where it gets it’s nickname of the ‘Garden of England‘.
We actually lived in Kent for 20 years before we started this JWalking nonsense four years ago. We brought our three sons up in the county town of Maidstone which is about 30 miles west of here so know the whole area pretty well. We’ve both stood on the sidelines of football pitches all over Kent in almost every town and village you can think of.
Housesitting in Canterbury
Our new stay was in Canterbury looking after a greyhound called Kermit, two cats called Tom and Pandora, and a little blue budgie called Louie. Our hosts, Laura and Darren, were off to New England in the USA for a family road trip with their four children so we were booked in for a three week stay. After an evening of getting to know each other, learning all about the pets, and sharing an amazing family dinner it was time for them to retire ready for a 5am departure.
So by 6 o’clock we were home alone with our new family looking forward to the weeks ahead. It’s always a little surreal at these moments to be in a new house that’s suddenly our home, with new pets that are suddenly our responsibility. Always takes a few hours to settle in and feel comfortable but before long it does actually feel like our home with our own pets. We love it.
It’s a huge house too with 7 or 8 bedrooms and numerous bathrooms. Beautifully decorated throughout and fantastically comfortable this may well be the most luxurious housesit we have ever had. And in Kermit the greyhound we have the most gentle, well-behaved dog that we have ever looked after. He never barks, he doesn’t growl, he is a pleasure to walk, sleeps amazingly well, and loves to play in the garden. So good.
What’s Canterbury all about?
Cricket and cathedrals! That’s what it seems most famous for anyway. In fact the St Lawrence cricket ground was virtually over the road from where we were staying so I managed to wander over a few times to nose about the place a bit. They had a few 20/20 matches on whilst we were here but between being rained off and being sold out we didn’t manage to get to one unfortunately. We did however pop in for a coffee in the Underwood Knott stand the day after a big match.
As for the world famous Canterbury Cathedral, we’ve visited before and it really is well worth a trip if you are in the area. Fascinating.
Daily housesitting life
After the first day or so we all settle into a routine, that includes the pets. They quickly adapt to the new humans in their lives and as long as they get enough food and walks there is never a problem. I know most dog owners think that their dogs miss them terribly and are delighted when they return but in our experience they just take each day as it comes and don’t really notice that anything is different (but don’t tell the owners that obviously).
Our daily routine revolves around breakfast for everyone, coffee for us, then out for a long walk with Kermit. We go out for up to an hour and a short walk away can get onto the famous Pilgrims Way that runs all the way across the south of England from Canterbury to Winchester. We don’t quite go that far of course but the open fields are great to walk and exercise in every morning.
When we’re living in an area for a few weeks we try and explore as much as possible and get a feel for the local community if we can so are always on the lookout for a summer fayre or a fete. The local hospital was holding one such event so we headed over to see the stalls, kiddies games, tombolas, and various events that were going on. The event that took our eye though was the dog show.
Due to our housesitting experiences I am now an international expert on all makes of dog so the dog show was fascinating. We could have spent hours watching all the various breeds and their unpredictable owners prance around. Great fun.
Such a shame we didn’t know in advance and take Kermit up as he would obviously have cleaned up on the awards and rosettes! Wouldn’t he?
Friends and Family
As we were so close to London and where we previously lived we had hoped that we might see a few friends and family members whilst we were so near. Our youngest son Ryan popped down for the day to meet Kermit and friends and we managed a half day out in the city with him.
Another meeting with some of our oldest and dearest friends, Nicola and Keith, followed which was fabulous but not long enough. Lunch in the city at the very healthy Kitsch restaurant/bar was a great laugh and chat that included a bit of food. We need to schedule in a longer stay at their place at some stage, Jo is working on that as we speak.
The Old Gate Inn
We’re not big ones for eating out and much prefer lunch with friends in a quaint pub or cafe rather than posh overblown Jamie Oliver-type meals out! Just not our thing but occasionally we do spoil ourselves and just go out for lunch. Crazy huh? What were we thinking? A lunch-for-no-reason at the local Old Gate Inn which we’d seen on our daily walks with Kermit.
Couple of drinks and the lunchtime deal of two courses for £11 seemed like a great idea. Sneakily the pub hadn’t put out the cheap-menu so we had to ask, then they got our bill wrong which was apparently the fault of the ‘electronic till‘. Finally I had to chase up the desserts and Jo’s coffee which ended up actually being my own fault for some reason! Even with these hiccups it was a grand meal out which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Housesitting in the Garden of England
As our three week stay in Canterbury draws to a close we are actually very sad to be leaving this extremely comfortable house in this lovely area but above all we will miss all of the pets. Kermit has been absolutely wonderful to look after, could be in my Top Five favourite pets ever (may even be in my top one to be honest). We’ll miss him but who knows we may be invited back someday, seems to be happening more often than not these days.
05/08 – 25/08/2019