The second less severe lockdown in England is over and we have stayed in Tier 3 Kent to begin a house sit which we should have started back at the beginning of November. Most importantly though, we are back together after 24 days living in different locations. Is it really bad of me to say that, despite missing my partner in crime, the time went really quickly??
My temporary home was in Bearsted on the outskirts of Maidstone with Wendy and David and their hilarious cats Wilma and Mabel. Mabel, being younger, is a particular bundle of mischief.
I cannot thank them enough for making me feel “at home”. Wendy and I got into a bit of a routine. Cup of tea, shot of coffee then off around the lanes to get our daily walk in. On our walks ranging from 4 to 10 km, I saw parts of the area I had never seen before despite only living a mile or so away for over 20 years. Sometimes it was a walk to Spout Farm to say hello to the goats get fresh eggs. I accidentally called it Sprout Farm one day and for me the name stuck.
On the way we passed a large manor house that was called Cordwainers, which is the traditional name for shoemakers. Our daughter-in-law, Tabitha, has her own footwear design company (Tabitha Ringwood) so some hastily taken photographs were pinged off to her.
Stepping Out in Bearsted
Of course, we spent plently of time admiring properties and noting the ones for sale so we could do our “Guess the price” game. We had a few frosty mornings and a few damp and gloomy ones but always got back home feeling ready for whatever the day would bring. The first thing the day brought was a bowl of warm porridge with fruit, nuts and seeds. Central heating in a bowl ……..
A Helping Hand
Wendy runs her own patisserie business, The Fat Cat Patisserie so part of my plan was to help out a much as possible, following that philosophy that many hands make light work. Trying not to be a hindrance more than a help is the balance I was trying to find. Luckily Wendy has a large kitchen so we could do a shimmy around each other when we needed to. Wendy specialises in gluten free products so are much in demand and the orders, day by day, kept trickling in. As with all self employed business owners who take a pride in what they do, she finds it hard to turn away orders especially for regular customers. Frangipan mince pies, pepper and mozerella sausage rolls, her signature macarons and birthday celebration drip cakes were filling up the order book.
I particularly en;joyed helping make some sugar paste roses, leaves and ivy to decorate the celebration cakes. I hope I did end up being more of a help than a hindrance but how lucky was I to be lockdowned with all those flavours and smells? Of course they had to be sampled too just to be on the safe side.
Mote Park Rendezvous
About two miles away from me was Mote Park. This was my regular rendezvous location to meet up with Jon once a week for a catch up. The get-together usually involved the delivery of a couple of freshly baked sausage rolls.
After heavy rainfalls, it was flooded in a couple of locations but it didn’t stop us having a lovely walk in the Autumn leaves. The heavy rainfalls would be those we found ourselves in on the one occasion when Jonno decided to explore some of the lanes of Bearsted with me. We walked down one lane and caught sight of the beast of a house that won the Royal Institute of British Architects Award back in 2017.
It is called Caring Wood and the project tried to recreate an English country house with a nod to the oast houses of Kent. It was planned to be individual family homes for three generations of one family with a large communal area for joint gatherings. Since the original build, we think it may have been sold but, from afar, I’m afraid the design was a bit lost on me. It was huge and unfortunately right in the eye line of a very traditional cottage but each to their own.
Slightly damp after this walk would be an understatement but a takeaway coffee at the end helped to thaw out the bones. It was all worth it to have a get together even though Jonno said it took 2 day for his coat to dry. Rub it in or what? All too soon though it is always time to say goodbye and head back to our respective homes.
Fears for Tiers
With the Lockdown coming to an end, we eagerly awaited Boris‘ top tiers update. Predictably, Kent is straight into a Tier 3, as is most of the country. As always, our optimism glasses are almost full. How could they not be when we have had a few challenges this year but nowhere near what others have had to encounter.
The Million Dollar Question
We have been asked a couple of times about whether we would have embarked on this lifestyle if we had known that the pandemic was a part of it. If its not this, it’s as travel and housesitting is almost off the cars are you going to hang up your backpacks. The answers, in brief, are yes and no.
Yes, we would still have gone ahead, for every cancellation and tricky situation of 2020 we have hundreds if not thousands of unforgettable experiences. No, we are not quite ready to hang up the backpacks. The news on vaccines is positive and we know that once we have a permanent base just setting off on a whim is less of an option. Fate, if you want to call it that, usually plays a hand in our future as in the case of having friends and family so selflessly homing us for Lockdown 2 2020. We just hope we reciprocated their kindness. So we will roll with it for a while and do everything we can to keep ourselves, and those around us, safe.
So what now? A train ride within Kent to a postponed house sit and lots and lots of cuddles to make up for three weeks marital distancing. I missed my Jonno so (too?) much!
21/11 – 03/12/2020