The Poppy Appeal

During the course of our housesitting we often find that we get invited back for a repeat sit. We’re always delighted and complimented that the home owners were obviously happy with our previous stay and generally agree instantly to any return invitations. Occasionally if dates don’t match or, as is more usual, the hosts leave it very late to ask then unfortunately we have to refuse but we always do everything we can to make it happen.

This is exactly what happened when Sarah and Vince from Broughton just outside Milton Keynes invited us back to look after their lovely house and the even lovelier Poppy, their cockapoo. We had sat for them 2 years ago (Introducing Poppy the Cockapoo) and thoroughly enjoyed the stay so jumped at the chance to go back.

Our very own Poppy Appeal

Leaving Maidstone Again

First though we had a few days back in our home town of Maidstone catching up with friends and seeing our youngest son Ryan. With a couple of jobs to do and some shopping it was a bit of a rest after the previous week of our Bridges of London Challenge. Maidstone has it’s own bridges across the River Medway of course but they aren’t really in the same league.

Return to Broughton

An evening journey up through London on the train, very quiet as the capital was now in a Tier 3 lockdown, and we were met by Vince at Milton Keynes central station. He and Sarah were off to their apartment in Spain and although we had all been a little concerned about cancelled flights it all seemed to be going ahead.

It was fabulous to see Poppy again and she appeared to remember us as we got a lovely enthusiastic welcome as soon as we walked in the door. She was a couple of years older but no less excitable and affectionate.

Great to catch up with Sarah and Vince and hear all of their news which to our surprise included plans to move out to Spain as soon as possible. Their holiday had turned into a househunting trip so it was fascinating to hear all of their plans for the future.

The following morning included a walk with Sarah and Poppy, coffee at the Kuku Coffee House, refresher on looking after the house (electrics, water, bin collection, security, etc), run through Poppy’s feeding and walking routine, and before we knew it they were off.

We were booked for 13 days so were looking forward to having some fun with Poppy, catching up with a few online jobs, and generally spending a lot of time relaxing. The past few weeks and months seem to have been really busy so a bit of a routine and a quiet couple of weeks would suit us fine.

Lockdown 2.0

Within a few days of us arriving the UK government decided to impose another full lockdown on the whole country. As we watched Boris’s speech about shops closing, no unnecessary transport, not mixing with anyone outside your home, we did start to worry how this may affect our current situation. Luckily Vince was on the ball and confirmed that their planned flight home was still going ahead and that they would not be returning ahead of schedule so at least we knew we wouldn’t have to leave early.

However, our subsequent two sits booked through November and December immediately cancelled due to their holidays being off and we were left with absolutely nowhere to go after we left Milton Keynes. Stressful? A little perhaps but we are pretty good together and stayed calm trying to sort out our future movements.

We knew we had to stay in a single location for the rest of November and were unbelievably relieved when Ryan offered me to stay and Jo’s friend Wendy offered her a bed. It would mean that we would be apart for 3 weeks but it was a small price to pay for their kindness. Both back in Maidstone but around 5 miles apart.

Once the lockdown accommodation was settled we relaxed and just enjoyed our time looking after Poppy. She is definitely one of the most lovely, well-behaved, and loving dogs we have ever cared for. Great to walk and so well behaved off the lead. Her only vice is squirrels! She seems to hate them and loses her mind whenever she sees one so you always need to be aware of the possibilities there.

A couple of weeks of long walks and reading, with a few board games and crafts thrown in plus a bit of TV watching catching up on those films and shows that we had missed previously. A really comfortable house too with everything that we could possibly need. Such a shame that we probably won’t return here as they will be moving in the next few months. Perhaps they’ll need sitters in Spain?

Return of the Jedi in MK

On one of our walks we diverted to visit the local Co-Op and as we approached were surprised to see R2-D2 trundling down the path towards us. Standing aside, and keeping Poppy well out of the way, we watched as R2 wobbled past and continued to the side of the shop. Was a new Star Wars movie being filmed in Milton Keynes? It turned out to be one of the Co-Ops Home Delivery robots that were being trialled. Very weird to watch and stranger still when they just took off in different directions avoiding passers-by and even crossing busy roads. The future!

Back down for Lockdown

Leaving Milton Keynes and travelling down to Maidstone was nowhere near as worrying as it first appeared. We had no choice but to travel because of our housesitting work so it was a valid reason but we were expecting a few questions on our journey. We hardly saw a soul and nobody checked a single ticket on three trains. Pleased that it was an easy trip but sort of annoyed that some sort of official checking wasn’t going on.

Remembrance Day at the Maidstone War Memorial. Quieter than normal but no less poignant. This is what the real Poppy Appeal is for!

As I settled in with Ryan and Jo headed off to Wendys we knew we’d be perfectly happy and well looked after. We would undoubtedly miss each other more than we could say as this would be the longest time that we’d been apart in over 35 years but needs must. Jo was looking forward to helping Wendy with the Fat Cat Patisserie (her patisserie and baking business) and I was looking forward to some late nights, PS4, and lots of boys stuff!

27/10 – 09/11/2020


  1. POPPY! So adorable! I am sure you will be invited to house-sit in Spain for them – what fun will that be. You 2 are troopers with your lifestyle…you must be saints. I’d be a lunatic without a plan. lol. Distance makes the heart grow fonder 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a real relief to get somewhere to stay during this lockdown, just hope it doesn’t get extended as we won’t be able to stay any longer. Jo will definitely be sampling the baked goods.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A real sense of deja vu here! This in and out of lockdowns may become a regular feature if something major doesn’t happen soon. Although, that said, I have been totally unaffected by it, still working, still (food) shopping there appears to be little difference to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She is lovely isn’t she? It was so easy looking after her and very sad to leave. We’re okay until the 2nd December but you may get a knock on your door after that ……


  3. Tricky times for everyone, but you both seem to deal with it all so well. Not sure about those robots. What a strange sight that must be , especially if you aren’t aware they are out and about in the area!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aww, Poppy definitely has a lot of appeal! Glad you managed to find somewhere to stay again in the end, even though you have to be apart, though it sounds like Jo might have the better deal with that bakery! One of my good friends is gluten-free, so even though they might be a bit far to deliver to London, it’s always nice to know about different options, and their stuff looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo is loving being involved with the baking but they have dropped off a couple of sausage rolls thankfully. Delicious too. Their food is so good. No idea about deliveries, ask on FB.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Poppy was absolutely adorable. We’ve managed to get ourselves sorted for the lockdown but still not sure what’s happening after that. Strange times.


  5. Can’t take a beast called a Cockapoo seriously. Still, she looks very cute and I’m sure she’s a dog lovers dream. Glad you guys got sorted out for lockdown. Fingers crossed you can get back to JWalking normality soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poppy is the loveliest dog and so well behaved. We’re doing ok in lockdown but it’s not brilliant being apart. Hopefully things start to ease a little in December but not convinced they will.


  6. Poppy is just gorgeous, and reminded me a little of Mr Tilly (must be the poodle in both of them, Mr Tilly is a small Labradoodle). Even the behaviour, only with Tills its butterflies no squirrels. Hope you are both finding some joy in your enforced separation. Seems a vaccine is on the horizon, so hopefully there’s an end in sight. Keep safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Poppy was a lovely little dog, hopefully we’ll get to look after her again sometime soon. Lockdown separation isn’t great but I’m sure we’ll be ok and like you say there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s a shame that these lockdowns are impacting the plans, but nice that you get to spend some time with Ryan! Good to see a few Maidstone pictures in the blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ahh, Poppy is such a lovely dog! We had two golden cocker spaniels (before we had to put them down due to old age a couple of years ago), but they were such a pleasure to have. Sure hope you will be able to housesit her again in Spain – that will be great … hopefully soon 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

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