Yes, we have renamed West Sussex and if you live anywhere in the South East you will known why. Our “jolly” in Münich had definitely given us the feeling that Christmas was looming. It is our favourite time of year because it typifies all the things we value and love so much. No not the food and drink, although that is up there, it’s family, friends and time together. First of all though we had two more house sits in the diary, although the first one was overall more of a visit than a sit.
Return to Southbourne
We had been to Southbourne back in October to look after the house, Clo – the cocker spaniel and Hellie and Rosie – the two cats. Marcus and Ellie had made us so welcome and said goodbye with the added comment that if we were ever “homeless” we could just come and stay (Our Goonies Encounter in Chichester).
As luck would have it we did have a 6 day gap in December and after some messages back and forwards it was arranged for us to stay. They already had a housesitter for the first few days because they had arranged to be in Paris for a few days with family.
A Lass from Nebraska
The housesitter was Brooke and she was from some remote part of Nebraska. She lived on a huge ranch and had left all that behind to have a bit of an adventure in the UK. Being the lovely housesitters that we are, we offered Brooke to head off and explore while she had the chance and that we would take care of Clo and Co. It was the least we could do to repay Marcus and Ellie for their hospitality and basically it seemed to make sense.
Part of the reason Brooke was visiting the UK was to do some research for her book. After a bit of quizzing we found out more. It was a fictional novel about a girl travelling back in time to the 1920s and the twists and turns, characters she meets, and events that ensue. I won’t say anymore – no spoilers here, in case it becomes a best seller.
Jonno was particularly helpful with the social history of that time and it was so clear how easy it would be to make a howler with the unfamiliar vocabulary of both the country, class and era. There was a loose invitation to a book launch so we are keeping our fingers crossed for successful publication. If you are reading this Brooke – keep at it!
Once Marcus and Ellie returned from their trip Brooke made her way to Heathrow and onward to chilly Nebraska for Christmas. The rest of the week was a mix of dodging the rain to walk Clo around the flooded lanes, not dodging the rain so well to do some Christmas shopping in beautiful Chichester and relaxing in Marcus and Ellie’s very comfortable home. We also managed a very wet walk to Emsworth – a lovely village/town on the edge of Chichester Harbour with views across to Hayling Island.
The highlights for me were meeting Jay, Ellie’s horse. It is a Friesan and a very handsome fellow. I had a bit of mucking out and poo picking training but I don’t we will be sitting for horses any time soon. Mild tempered though he was, I felt somewhat dwarfed but him and certainly don’t have enough knowledge to be responsible for their care. It was great to visit the stables though and meet another member of the “family“.
Election Night Special
With political debate after debate avidly watched and discussed, the big day was here. Marcus and Ellie suggested that we eat at a very nice local pub, The Old House at Home, Chidham. It is a charming pub and the recommended fish and chips went down a treat. Even Clo enjoyed her portion of garden peas.
Once home, we decided to stay up to watch as much of the election coverage as possible before the eyes could no longer take it. Not wanting to get too political, I must say that the first shock was the Exit Poll. In what was supposed to be one of the tightest elections in years how could it be such an overall majority.
That hooked us in and we watched in some disbelief as constituency after constituency results flooded in. The virtual maps were a sea of blue south of the Scottish border and yellow above. We managed until the early hours but after realising that there are only so many ways you can say the same thing, we headed to bed.
The rest is history as they say but it is one of those times when you look back and say, “Do you remember where we were for the December 2019 election?”
Final Pre-Christmas Housesit
The time to leave Southbourne came around all too quickly and it was time to make the short train ride to East Grinstead to meet another family who were off on a skiing trip and needed sitters for their fox red labrador called Maisie. She seems to love sloshing around as we wade along the flooded bridleways and is very patient with the obligatory hose down and drying off afterwards.
We have been so lucky with these last couple of sits before Christmas. The welcome and the houses that have been beautifully decorated for the festive period have made us feel very at home. It has also given me the opportunity to do a few homemade crafty bits for Christmas, something that I sorely miss being on the move all the time. Not that it has been a quiet time by any means. The large house is currently being decorated so painters have been coming and going.
Living in the Moment
Here in on the outskirts of East Grinstead we are near to Jon’s Mum, Rose, so we have made regular visits to her which has been such a treat. Being able to stroll for 20 minutes and call in for a coffee is precious. Our eldest son and daughter in law, Katie and Shaun, met up with us there which was a real treat for her and us.
Rose suffers with dementia but to see her and Jonno chatting over a family photo album and the spark of an occasional random remembered name or event is priceless for them. At the weekend we are hoping to meet up with Jon’s brother, David, and his wife Ali there. We will try not to tire her too much but will probably fail…..family gatherings can be a bit overwhelming and noisy but hopefully she will get pleasure seeing us all there even though it may not be a memory she can retain.
The epitome of living in the moment.
These productive Christmas preparation housesits are all very well but we seem to have acquired a few extra bags. We usually travel very light with just a backpack each and one carry on size case but, despite thinking “small” for gifts there are a couple of extra bags to transport for our final leg before the Christmas festivities begin.
Some of those gifts may have encountered a bit of water damage through the deluge that has been November and December and some of the crafty bits that need packing are also of a rather fragile nature so who knows what state it will all be in after a few more train journeys when it all gets handed out at the big Ho!Ho!Ho! It’s the thought that counts right?
07/12 – 20/12/2019