Our 2018 travel review!
Travelling and housesitting throughout 2018 has been an incredible experience for both of us. Just proving to ourselves that we can get out of the 9-5 grind and do all the wonderful things we’ve done over the past twelve months has been so inspiring, and it motivates us to keep believing that we can achieve anything we really want to!
The beginning of our travels was a real shift in lifestyle straight off the bat, as we walked through endless woodlands and hiked our way up mountains in the Lake District for the entire month of January. Over our month with Bob the Border Collie we walked over 183 miles – the equivalent of walking from London to Swansea – and climbed 2,153 floors – the equivalent of taking the stairs up the Empire State Building over 21 times! Climbing huge mountains every other day gave us a great sense of achievement, and we were both so exhausted every evening that we spent some really lovely nights just enjoying down time together, curling up by the fire with Bob and watching films. Being a Border Collie, Bob would happily walk for hours on end and it was this endless energy that motivated both of us to keep climbing, keep going and keep seeking out that perfect view at the summit of each mountain.
The month we spent in the Lake District was so incredible that it’s made it into two of our top nine moments of 2018! The first photo was taken at Whinlatter Pass, where we spent Chris’ birthday walking on the dead silent trail through the woodland, to be rewarded with the first snowfall of our trip at the summit! The second photo was taken at the summit of Dodd Wood, where we’d previously completed three of the four trails, and had been working our way up to hiking the summit trail for weeks. The day we did so was absolutely amazing – the clear, panoramic view of snow covered mountains around us, paired with aching bones and a sense of real accomplishment, made for one of our favourite days on the sit.
In March, while looking after two cats in the Ashdown Forest, we spent a day walking in the nearby Hundred Acre Wood while Micha and Brown snoozed at home. We passed only a handful on people on the trail, and played many games of Pooh sticks on the empty Winnie the Pooh bridge! On the way we also found Piglet’s house tucked away in the trees and visited the A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard memorial, before enjoying a hot chocolate at Pooh Corner – the perfect reward for walking miles through the gorgeous woods! Sitting surrounded by Winnie the Pooh cuckoo clocks and pictures on the walls, eating from a table with a Tigger covered tablecloth, sipping from a Piglet mug, was such a sweet end to our sit in the Ashdown Forest!
Later in March we travelled to North Creake, Norfolk, where we cared for two sweet, obedient dogs named Inca and Puff, and a large amount of completely free range chickens. Another pet to add to the growing list of animals we’d taken care of, the chickens were a delight to look after and we soon settled into a lovely routine of waking up early to feed them, before taking the dogs around the neighbouring field for a gentle early morning stroll. It was the first sit we did where we could both imagine our lifestyle ending up that way one day. While curious Inca took a shine to Chris and vice versa, the more relaxed Puff was always at Suze’s side and that pretty much determined who would be paired with whom on our walks! One of our favourite days of our Norfolk sit was taking the dogs over to Holkham Hall for what ended up being a four-mile walk around the grounds’ deer park! We chatted and admired the deer as we strolled along together, only pausing to look at various monuments along the way. Inca and Puff were more than happy to toddle along at a gentle pace, and were completely unfazed by the endless deer! From the beautiful old cottage we stayed in, to the sweet natured pets and gentle routine, to the endless breathtaking scenery wherever we went over the week – Norfolk was a lovely time in our travels and we felt so at home there that we’re returning for another sit in April 2019!
May brought us to our most animal-filled sit yet, with a week in Rotherfield looking after a rescue cat, three labradoodles, seven ducks, nine chickens and ten alpacas! We were both so excited when we got the opportunity to care for alpacas but also apprehensive – which was dispelled very quickly when we met them and realised how curious and gentle they are! We ended up returning for another five days in Rotherfield in June, by which time the alpacas were letting us pet them regularly and we were feeding them by hand! When we returned for our second sit the three affectionate labradoodles greeted us like old friends, and we even managed to coax shy Dibble the cat out of his room for a snuggle with us in the evenings! Our eclectic menagerie ensured that there was never a dull moment – watching the ducks waddle about in their formation was a source of endless giggles – and caring for all those lovely fluff-balls was a great experience that we won’t forget! It also gave us both more confidence with sitting more unusual pets, as well as more pets in one sit.
In what turned out to be a scorching July, we visited Marlborough to care for three adorable French Bulldogs named Teilo, Linus and Cookie! As their breed is one affected by breathing difficulties, we tended to take them on shorter, local walks as they tired out quickly. However, on one of the milder days over our time in Marlborough, we took the doggies to visit the Avebury stone circle – though we still armed ourselves with huge bottles of water! Walking up the avenue of stones, we paused to get in a few photos of us all together and give the dogs a drink, before arriving at the incredible stone circle. As we walked around the circular trail, we passed a gorgeous wishing tree with hundreds of coloured ribbons tied to its branches, as well as lots of cute sheep grazing in the fields! At every shady spot we passed we made sure all three pup got a good drink, and after all that walking we were very glad to get back to our gorgeous home with its very nice swimming pool! All three dogs were hilarious in their own way, and we enjoyed a lot of chubby snuggles with them over our two week stay!
At the end of July we celebrated seven years together, and as we were booked in for a short housesit in Bathford at the beginning of August, we chose to celebrate our anniversary with a few days in Bath! Neither of us had been to the beautiful city before but we’re so glad we went, as there is so much to see and do! We spent our days enjoying delicious food from the multitude of small independent businesses, we visited the Roman baths and soaked up some history, and had a lovely, lazy morning visiting the thermal spas for a few hours of swimming, floating in jacuzzis and sweating in saunas! Another real highlight was going on one of the city’s free walking tours, where we spent two and a half hours walking around the city and discovering some of its secret history. We just about found time to visit the Royal Crescent, and see a few of the Minerva’s Owls on the art trail around the city, before heading off for our next sit! We feel so lucky that we’re able to spend all our time together travelling, and both agree that experiencing new adventures all the time was the best way to celebrate another year together.
We took another brief break in our housesitting adventures when Chris arrived back from his two month stint of working between London and San Francisco. We were eager to get back on the road but also wanted to have some time to ourselves for a few days, so we booked into an AirBnb for a week in the Peak District. The Peak District has been on our list of places to visit since we began our travels, and although the weather wasn’t the best for our week there, we still managed a few good walks and hikes in the beautiful surroundings. Our first big hike of the week, to the summit of Mam Tor, gave us gorgeous, snowy, misty views of Castleton. We headed down the mountain to the little town below, where we rewarded our long, chilly walk with a big hot chocolate at Rose Cottage Cafe. After thoroughly warming up, we headed back out into the cold to walk from the bottom of Winnat’s Pass right the way to the top – no easy task! Coming home to our BnB for a long lie down and another hot chocolate after such a long walk was the best end to our day, and we enjoyed many more days like that over our week! It felt great to be reunited after two months apart, and to get back out for an adventure together every day.
Our last housesit of the year took us to Haslemere in the South, where we enjoyed a week of fun with Tangle the sweet Border Terrier and cuddly kitty Rumpus. While staying in Haslemere we were invited to visit TrustedHousesitters at their head offices in Brighton, to give them some feedback about our experience using the website! So we planned a day to go back to our old stomping ground of Brighton to visit them for a couple of hours of laidback chatting, and we also managed to fit in seeing lots of friends, and doing some last minute Christmas shopping! All the while Tangle received so much attention from passersby wherever we walked – we’ve never been stopped in the street so much with any dog! Her sweet nature made her the perfect companion for our last adventure of 2018, and over the week we spent hours at home with her and Rumpus by our feet or snuggled up on our laps while we made Christmas cards, watched festive films and played games together.
Our first year of housesitting and travelling together has beyond exceeded our expectations! We’ve visited so many incredible places, met some great people, and slipped into so many different lifestyles. The most surprising part about it all, for us, is the realisation that there really is no one way to live a life! Just travelling a few miles here and there all over the U.K. you’ll find yourself submersed in a completely different way of life. Now we’ve got a taste for walking the road less travelled, living a life outside of what’s considered ‘normal’, we have no intention of stopping and we can’t wait to see where travelling in 2019 will take us! Thank you all so much for your continued support and for following along with our travels so far! We can’t wait to share more of our adventure with you. We hope you all have a Happy New Year!