A winter full of housesits!
This blog post was originally published on the 31st December 2018.
Over the winter months, we set out to find long sits in the south of the U.K. that would mean less travelling around if the weather turned bad. However, we ended up breaking this rule when we were given the opportunity to sit a sweet dog and two cats in Wales and we just couldn’t say no! Our weeklong sit in Llandudno began our last four weeks of housesitting around the U.K. for 2018. Here’s what we got up to…
Llandudno is one of the classic British seaside towns. The town is full of B&Bs and our sit just so happened to be in one of these B&Bs! Our hosts had just bought it and were in the early stages ofrenovations. The previous owners clearly hadn’t touched it for a long time – it was very 70s themed – but this added to its charm. Our week here was spent looking after a Cockapoo named Dora and two cats; Patsy and Eddie.
Dora’s playfulness and cuddly personality made us fall in love with her immediately! As the hosts had only just moved in, the cats were still being kept indoors to acclimatise them to their new surroundings. Patsy in particular was very eager to get outside and kept waiting and meowing by the door when we were getting ready to walk Dora, hoping we were going to let her out! Eddie however was much less keen and would happily sit with us.
Llandudno has a beautiful promenade along the seafront, and this was a perfect place to walk Dora as there was plenty of space and lots of seagulls for her to try and chase! At one end of the promenade is the longest pier in Wales and this gave a beautiful view looking back at Llandudno.
On the opposite side of the town from the promenade is the West Shore beach. Dora absolutely loves going to the beach and as soon as we started heading towards it – she knew and was pulling us there! Along the way to the beach we met a few of the Llandudno locals – more specifically the local goats! These goats roam wild on the hillside and are so majestic looking with lovely curved horns. Dora seemed unfazed by these intimidating creatures and was fully focused on getting to the beach. When the tide is out, a long stretch of sand is uncovered which was perfect for walking and throwing a ball for Dora to fetch – although we had to keep two balls on hand as Dora was far too clever and would keep one ball safe in her mouth at all times!
One of the biggest attractions in Llandudno is the Great Orme – a hilly headland on the western side of the town. Famous for its cable car and tramway we decided to explore what it had to offer – but of course being off season the cable car and tram were closed. Not to be deterred we went for a blustery walk up to the top with Dora where we thought we would have a nice tea break in the cafe… which once again was closed for the season. Doh! On our walk down we were battling against the elements – we came down on the exposed side of the hill and the wind was blowing against us. As soon as we managed to escape the wind by heading around the other side of the hill, it began to pour with rain! Typical British weather! Dora didn’t seem bothered one bit by the weather, but once we were back at the B&B she was very knackered from the long walk! She happily snoozed on the sofa for the rest of the day whilst we all recovered!
When our sit ended we had a couple of days free before our next sit began, so we decided to explore some of the local area. We left Llandudno early in the afternoon and took a short road trip to see some of the sights in Snowdonia. We stopped off to take some photos at the picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed, before driving through the Llanberis pass to see Mount Snowdon from the roadside (while marking it as a stop for a future adventure!). The last stop on our short road trip was the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll or to use the full name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! It is the longest place name is Europe and the second longest in the world. After a few obligatory photos outside we headed to our hotel, which itself was a treat as it was a beautiful chateaux on the river in Anglesey. With a Christmas tree in every room and traditional decorations hung over roaring fires, this place was something from another time and we enjoyed snuggling in for an evening of drinks and talks about Christmas!
After our Welsh adventure we began our journey to our next housesit. As we still had a couple of days free, we stopped off at Chester and if you know us then you know we can’t resist a good zoo! After years of watching Secret Life of the Zoo on TV we finally had the chance to see what the zoo was like first hand. We also had time to see the pretty Chester town centre, and Chris sampled some of the local beer!
Our next winter housesit was a short weekend in rural Chichester with a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever called Baloo. Baloo was a very clever dog and her owners helpfully left a guide of commands that she knew, including high fives and rolls, which Baloo was very keen show off – especially when she got a treat for doing so! Baloo LOVED frozen peas, and it was very amusing watching her scurry around to eat them off the kitchen floor! The housesit backed straight onto fields where we walked and played fetch with Baloo each day. The area was so quiet and peaceful, we wished we could have stayed longer!
Our next housesit took us to Shaftesbury in Dorset. Here we looked after an energetic Cocker Spaniel called Samba, and sweet cat Olive. The house was set in a wonderfully rural location – when we arrived the farm next door was herding cows across the lane! Most days here were spent walking out the back of the house, up the hill and into National Trust land, where there were several lovely walks to choose from.
Samba was full of energy and would love to run around in the fields, but she was as good as gold and would always come back as soon as we called out to her. Olive would also try and come for a walk with us, following us to the back gate most days! But it was a bit too muddy for her and she would soon turn back to wait for our return at home. One of our longest walks over our week in Shaftesbury was climbing up Melbury Hill to Melbury Beacon, which gave us a wonderful 360 degree view of the Dorset countryside. We loved this sit and we’ve already been booked to return in March next year!
Our last housesit of the year was in the Surrey town of Haslemere. Keeping us company for the week were affectionate border terrier Tangle, and a cheeky cat called Rumpus. This was also the first housesit where the house had been decorated for Christmas, which was a welcome sight as we hadn’t been feeling Christmassy before then!
For our first full day in Haslemere we took a trip to Brighton. Not only was this a good chance for us to catch up with friends and also do a bit of last minute Christmas shopping, but we’d also been invited to visit the TrustedHousesitters head offices and give some feedback to them about our experiences with using the site. Tangle loved all the attention she got from all the staff at TrustedHousesitters, and it was a brilliant chance for us to speak with them and help shape the future of the site!
Rumpus was a very independent cat, but he also had some very funny moments. There were times when we wouldn’t be able to find him, but the electronic cat flap would tell us that he was in the house! It turned out that he loved to hide inside duvet covers – so all you could see was a small lump slightly shuffling about! Rumpus is also supposed to stay indoors overnight, but every time we went to let Tangle out for her night time stroll in the garden, Rumpus would also try and get out and would try to slip past us!
Our hosts left us their National Trust card when they left for their trip, which meant we could take some trips to some of the nearby NT locations. The first we visited was The Devil’s Punchbowl in nearby Hindhead. We took Tangle for a walk along the Hidden Hindhead Trail, which showed off an incredible view of the Punchbowl, and we could also see where the old road used to wind around the edge of the Punchbowl before the road was replaced by a tunnel.
On another day we visited Petworth Park on the South Downs – another of the nearby National Trust properties. Tangle enjoyed walking around this 700 acre deer park and meeting lots of other doggies! Tangle wasn’t put off by the deer at all and happily walked around the whole park at our sides.
All this walking in the day meant that the evenings were perfect for relaxing, and there is no better way to relax in winter than being snuggled up in front of a fire and watching Christmas films! Tangle would always snuggle up under a blanket with us, whilst Rumpus sat in a warm spot behind the curtains with just his tail poking out.
Like a lot of the housesits we’ve completed, this one was quite rural and just a few minutes from the house there was a footpath that led to acres of open heathland and woods at Bramshott Common. There were so many different routes for us and Tangle to explore that we never took the same track twice, and walking these endless winding paths gave us plenty of time to reflect on our year of travel and what the next year might have in store! Keep a look out for our 2018 review blog post!