We’ve done quite a few housesits now and every single one is very different. Some however are unlike any others that we have experienced. Our next housesitting stay down in deepest, darkest Kent was precisely that.
On the road again
Leaving both Ryan and Wendy was bittersweet for both of us as we were delighted to be back together again but sad to be leaving our happy places in Bearsted and Maidstone. I am sure we’ll be back sooner rather than later so it was more of an ‘au revoir‘ than a goodbye.
Ryan kindly drove us to Chatham where we caught the train down to Shepherdswell. We have both lived in Kent for most of our lives but neither of us know the area to the east of Canterbury and the tiny spooky empty train stations with crazy names didn’t help much. We’d never heard of Bekesbourne, Adisham, Aylesham or Snowdown.
Whole new housesitting experience
What’s so different about this sit? Well for one thing the owners were not leaving for 4 days and then due to be away for a variable amount of time. Not our usual ‘start date’ to ‘end date’ type of thing at all. Carol and Malcolm were fitting a new kitchen for clients up in Croydon so would be away for as long as that took. We were staying in an annex to the main house but would move in once they had left.
Our responsibility as always was to care for their beloved pets, in this case two wonderful little cocker spaniels called Millie and Pippa. A new experience for us was the fact that they were trained in the Jane Fennell ‘Amichien Bonding‘ method which we would need to get to know and use during our stay. After watching a few videos and researching online we found it easy to understand and action and the dogs flourished.
Our Passive Home
Our other responsibility was to look after the house and this house was completely unique. It’s a ‘passive house’. This means it relies on the sunshine for all of its heat. It’s off grid for water using only rainwater which is automatically treated for bathing and drinking via special filters, including a UV filter. The majority of its electricity is generated via the Photo Voltaic cells on the roof. The house is incredibly quiet and feels very calm and peaceful. Lots of new ideas and gadgets to get used to but fascinating.
Millie and Pippa have been so easy to look after due to their training and so well behaved during our long walks through the Kent countryside. The weather hasn’t been great unfortunately, it is December after all, but we have been out every day several times. The dogs obviously don’t care one bit!
The house is very remote and sits alone surrounded by open countryside on all sides and the nearest village is Nonington, around two miles away. With no shops or pubs it’s very quiet but the most interesting thing about Nonington is the Bruderhof community.
Who are the Bruderhof?
Just outside the village is the Beech Grove Bruderhof Community. We had seen a documentary recently about this christian organisation with self-contained settlements all over the world, a little like the Amish in the USA. Around 250 people live at Beech Grove living their simple community-focused lives and we passed a big group of ladies in long dresses and headscarves out for their Sunday walk. Fascinating stuff.
There are a lot of rumours and theories about the Bruderhof that we won’t go into here, you can research them yourselves if you wish. From our point of view it seems that they have a simple, family-orientated way of life that harks back to days of old. No TV, no mobile phones, no internet, no outside influences. Seems like a lovely way to live and bring up your children to us.
Millie and Pippa
Once Carol and Malcolm had headed off for kitchen-building we moved into the main house and have been here a week now enjoying Millie and Pippa’s company. We have a couple of days until they return then strangely we will be back in the annex for another week as they kindly offered us to stay through to before Christmas.
So we’ve had a week full of spaniel-time and looking after the passive house, along with trying to organise our lives for when we leave. Our New Year housesit cancelled a couple of days ago and our Christmas Airbnb didn’t work out so we have desperately trying to book somewhere to live from the 23rd. Not easy with Tier 3 restrictions in place but we’re not losing heart yet.
03/12 – 13/12/2020