Passive Housesitting in the Garden of England

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.

How Lockdown Two ripped us apart and JWalkers Reunited

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 cosy annex home

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 FennellAmichien 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.

Jo having a go at Dutch shuffleboard, otherwise known as Sjoelbak. Good fun but difficult and very very noisy!

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.

The 900 year old St Mary’s church in Nonington

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.

The lovely Millie in her favourite place ……………. bed
And here’s Pippa looking as if she knows something that we don’t!

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.

Forever optimistic.

03/12 – 13/12/2020


    • The house is amazing and so interesting and the dogs so easy to care for. Still working on Christmas and New Year accommodation but it’s not proving easy in these difficult times.


  1. Interesting! We have 19 solar panels on our roof down here in Texas, but we still need some power from the electric company. I thought it was pretty cloudy and rainy in England – not really good for solar. But it sounds like they have it figured out. Good luck finding your next stay – you can always come to Texas! Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to both of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doesn’t rain as much as you think, in fact London gets half the rainfall that NY does. South of England made for solar power, lots of sunshine. Not sure we could get to the states anytime soon with travel restrictions and the extreme covid issues you have.


      • That goes to show how little I know about England! I just remember hearing that English women have beautiful skin b/c it’s so damp there! LOL. Don’t believe everything you read. I don’t personally know anyone who died of Covid and only a very few who have had it and recovered. You have to remember that the feds pay the hospitals $22,000 bonuses for every covid case treated. It is not unusual for heart attack victims, car crash victims and suicide cases to be classified as ‘covid related’ so they can get the $22K boost. The best of intentions are always corrupted. Does England pay a bonus to their hospitals for every case? It really skews the numbers and no one believes them anymore. At any rate, hope you find someplace soon! Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Both are fascinating subjects, things we never knew previously. Christmas could be a challenge but I’m sure we’ll get something sorted. Difficult year for everyone though.


    • Didn’t notice the picture, very observant. I’m sure we’ll get by and find somewhere but unfortunately it could start to be a bit expensive. Tough times for everyone though.


  2. The house sounds fascinating and I’m totally intrigued about the community…research coming up. I’ve travelled quite extensively in Kent and have been to so many many places, but I’ve never heard of this community. That Pippa definitely looks like she knows something and she’s not telling 😁😁 cute dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just clicked through on your link to the Bruderhof community. How fascinating, and a completely different way of life. It sounds incredibly peaceful and relaxed. Not sure I’d enjoy not having social media, but we did before and managed perfectly well without. I’m definitely going to visit there once we get out of any tiers.
    All the best for your accommodation search. I’m in much the same boat really, trying to find a decent place to stay between jobs without being bankrupted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a Bruderhof community at Robertsbridge, which I was interested to look up as it’s one area we might eventually move to. I wonder if you watched the same documentary I did, on the BBC this year, essentially following one of the Robertsbridge community members moving to London.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like a very interesting housesit for a variety of reasons. I lived within an hour of various Amish communities when I was growing up in Ohio, so was pretty used to seeing them out and about and was familiar with many of their customs, but have never heard of the Bruderhof community before. I’ll definitely have to read more about them! Lovely dogs too, of course. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was full of interesting bits and pieces Jonno – I wasn’t sure what was going to be ‘passive’ about the housesit! Our house has solar panels on the roof for hot water and we have more panels in the paddock collecting sunshine which we transfer back to the grid. We get a reduced rate on our electricity bill as a result but I’d really like to be off-grid more than we are. Our water is collected from the roof into two big tanks and we have an electric pump system that brings it from the tank to the inside. Our drinking water is crystal clear!
    The nearby community does sound very interesting! I hope you can get sorted for the next few weeks, I admire your attitude in dealing with the restrictions and setbacks. Take care and all the best for the Christmas/New Year period.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a fabulous way to live and so interesting to experience the house. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people could live the same way? I think you may get a little more sunshine than we get here …..

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Amazing stuff Jon and so close home. The house sounds brilliant but I’d love to know how much had to be invested in the tech to get it to where it is now. Ros watched that prog about the Bruderhof. On paper it’s an idyllic way of life but it must be very hard to go into and make such a dramatic change if you weren’t born into it. Not for me mate.

    Liked by 1 person

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