Sure enough, the summer I decide to spend in England happens to be the wettest on record. It quickly put a nail in the coffin as a permanent place to reside. Yes, this sunshine girl needs heat. The trade off was the most stunning English gardens, bumper crops of farmers market produce (which I greatly partook in), and rainy afternoons lost in a good book. A "cuppa" tea- always just a slurp away.
My arrival was one of those "lemon to lemonade" situations. Stepping off the bus, I looked around for an Uber, a taxi, anything to get me to my home for the next 16 days. Nothing! Stepping into a real estate office on the central town square, I was informed that here in Wantage, they don't exist. With my hosts already away for vacation, the sun starting to set, and a depleted phone battery, I had to "foot-it" to the house. When you have to physically carry your life in the form of a backpack (aka the turtle), you get a fresh appreciation for Monkeys, Opossums, and any other creature that lumbers around with children clinging to their spinal cord.
TRAVEL TIP: Don't arrive too late in the day at your destination. Leave yourself plenty of time to navigate new surroundings, pick up some food, and get settled.
Upon arriving at the house, it was encouraging to find the key right where the owner said it would be (fwehh), and be greeted ever so "Britishly" with a welcome basket from my host with soaps, British Biscuits, lotions, and chocolate. There were some heat and serve meals in the frig to make my first night easy. I just love caring, thoughtful hosts who welcome you to watch over their homes and 4-legged babies. A helpful home/pet binder is a must so you can figure out foreign appliances, "rubbish" day, and general house quirks.
My charge was Lilly; a feisty, full of herself Smokey Himalayan. She made sure I knew her favorite toys, and somehow every trip up or down the stairs resulted in a race that she-just-had-to-win.
My host requested that I check on the neighbors Guinea Pigs-glad I did. The "other" pet sitter was MIA! Nothing like a quick lesson in Guinea Pig care. How do you pick up these little balls of wiry fur? 😳
It's a detail I love about this life; you have to jump in and figure it out. Plus, a little Google action! Another critter surprise were the Hedge Hogs. Every night, they would nibble on cat food and splash around in their water dishes. They're shy, adorable little bundles of waddling around joy. Of course, Lilly didn't approve of me spying on the Hedgehogs, thus neglecting The Queen.
Mornings were spent doing Yoga in the sunroom, feeding Lilly, the Guineas next door, cleaning out cages/little box, and giving cuddles. Tutoring English happened at a small desk. Then, the day was mine to explore this village.
At this pet sit, I didn't do very much; sometimes you just need to relax. As with every location, there are activities I'd love to do, after dark, but just don't feel comfortable in a foreign country, alone, going out at night. So, I'm home with Lily and Netflix.
TRAVEL TIP: When house/pet sitting, it's important to keep your host updated. After all, they're trusting you with their home and fur babies. I like to send short texts with photos or videos, usually every 3rd day, or as requested by the homeowner. It provides the them with peace of mind, which is our job.
If you're doing a "sit" (as we say), I always plan for the last 2 days to be free from activities as I take this time to CLEAN the house, wash bedding, and make sure the house looks immaculate for the owners return. Often, I'm already gone and want them to come home to a fine looking home with happy pets. Also, I purchase some nice pastries and fresh fruit. This has come in handy many times when hosts arrive home and they're a little hungry from their travels. I also replace anything I use from the refrigerator or cupboard. Show your gratitude with a thank you note. I never leave fresh flowers; it's too tricky with curious pets and toxic plants.
So, while this visit didn't include too many wild day trips, it was just as splendid. Walking barefoot in tender English grass, stretching out my compressed spinal cord from The Turtle Backpack, cooking, picking flowers, and exploring this village were all food for my soul. I did an incredible day trip to Oxfordshire. WATCH THE ADVENTURE VIDEO.
Wherever you're at, please take time to maintain balance in your life. Whether it be chasing around Guinea Pigs, racing a kitty up the stairs, or just sitting in the park, nursing an English Pasty; fight, demand balance in your life. I'm not joking-go, right now, do it! You can thank me later. See you on the next adventure.