February – Two weeks in the New Forest
This blog post was originally published on the 22nd June 2018.
Our third housesit took us all the way back down south to the quiet town of New Milton, situated on the edge of the New Forest. We spent just over two weeks looking after Bramble (a Jackapoo), Barnaby (a Schnoodle), and two cats Tilly and Oslo. This housesit was more what we called ‘normal life’ – a terrace house with central heating, a small garden and just a ten minute walk to the shops. Bramble and Barnaby were used to only walking for twenty minutes a day, which was a shock to us after our previous two housesits being so active! When we did walk with them we often ended up walking for longer than twenty minutes, which neither of the dogs seemed to mind and would happily go for multiple walks a day! Tilly and Oslo were both quite shy and kept to themselves, perching on the edge of the armchair in the lounge or basking in the heat of the conservatory in the sunshine.
Walking with the dogs
As there was a beach not too far from our house, we took a couple of trips there for short walks with the dogs. Chris also spent one evening taking photos of the beach at sunset. From the clifftops of Barton-on-Sea you could see all the way out to The Needles on the west coast of the Isle of Wight.
Though we’d been told that the dogs didn’t like walking for long, we quickly realised that Barnaby had limitless puppy energy! He loved to run around the back garden, chasing his ball or trying to get more reserved Bramble to play with him. Even after heavy snowfall towards the end of our sit he would still want to go out and play, investigating the cold, snowy path as he went! It was so bitterly cold that the snow on roads and pavements outside our house froze over, which made walks around the local area difficult as it was treacherous to walk even five minutes to the rugby field by the house! Most days we stayed inside, playing fetch with Barnaby and Bramble and giving lots of attention to Tilly and Oslo, who barely left the house over the snowy days. One quiet afternoon, cabin fever sneaking up on us, we decided to make the journey to the rugby fields to give the dogs some proper exercise. Barnaby seemed excited, though Bramble as always was more suspicious! They both looked adorable in their tiny winter coats, though after a brief walk around they were more than happy to go home and get warm!
In the New Forest
During our time in the New Forest we went on several walks in the national park. There were miles and miles of open heathland and woodland to explore, unfortunately we didn’t see as much as we wanted, so we will probably have to come back again! We did get to say ‘Hello’ to some of the New Forest ponies whom roam the New Forest. It was a great sight to see them wandering free – even if they did get a bit close to the road sometimes!
One of our days in the New Forest we took Bramble and Barnaby to Beaulieu to have a walk around the town. Somehow we got a bit lost trying to get into the village and we accidentally found ourselves in the grounds of the National Motor Museum without paying the entrance free! Once we realised our mistake we left pretty quickly, and found the correct way back to the village.
Beaulieu is a lovely, quaint village with lots of little local shops and cafes along the high street. After walking down the road a bit further some of the New Forest Ponies had decided that they wanted to come into the village too and were blocking half the road. Here in the New Forest they have the run of the town and everyone else has to make their way around them!
Another place that we visited was the village of Burley. When we parked our car some of the New Forest ponies were out on the village football pitch, lined up as if they were about to play a match! The village of Burley is famous for its witch and dragon folklore, so most of the shops sell wares dedicated to this with tiny fairy doors dotted around the village. There is one last thing Burley is well known for, and that is the local fudge shop. We decided to visit Burley after a friend’s recommendation – we were sold when we were told that the fudge shop was amazing! After tasting a few samples we were hooked and we ended up leaving with a selection of different flavoured fudge to share, as well as some to give to our friends and family.
This housesit was a lot less adventurous than we thought it would be – we imagined spending days walking through the New Forest, though with Barnaby and Bramble not needing much exercise we often had to leave them at home and cut our outings short to get back for them. We both agreed that it was too much like ‘normal’ life! Though the house was plenty comfortable and we both got a lot of work done in the days spent at home, we planned for our next housesits to be more challenging and adventurous. We’re now a lot more selective about which housesits we apply for – prioritising ones that offer a place or a pet we’ve never experienced before.