04.03.2017 - 08.04.2017 13 °C
Once off the ferry in Holyhead, our drive through Wales and down to Cheltenham saw us passing through familiar countryside.
We had arranged a couple of nights on our way to our house sit in Barcombe Mills to catch up and say our farewells to friends. We were thrilled to be able to join Lois and Ron, their daughter Emma, and our four-legged friends Meg, Wes and Alfie, for dinner in their beautiful new home in Teddington. It was a lovely evening catching up on each other's news and remembering our wonderful time spent at The Glebe.
After a wander around Cheltenham the next morning we headed for Hawkesbury Upton. Unfortunately for us, the couple we had house sat for there, Gaynor and David, were away on their holiday in Goa. We were delighted however to be able to enjoy a night with Jonathan and Cherry, a lovely couple we had got to know during our house sit. It was another special visit full of good chat and laughter.
The 'Local Store' in many English villages are a 'life line' to a good proportion of the residents who live there. They provide an important service to people who can not always rush off to the nearest supermarket. However they are not always profitable and in some areas these local stores are closing down. Hawkesbury Upton was in this position so the community rallied around and raised almost £200,000 to buy the store. It is now operated and managed by the local residents. Many of them have a role to play; whether it is to do the stock take, complete a risk assessment or manage the till for an afternoon. We called in and had a bit of a 'nosey' and met the 'staff' for the day!
The M4 and M25 were flowing freely and our drive down to Barcombe Mills was a dream! As we passed the end of the runway at Heathrow we realised it was three months to the day that we had arrived back from our journey home to NZ to meet little Max. Three months, eight countries (including Gibraltar), 7700 miles and lots of great memories!
Our arrival back to Mill Brook was such a happy one and we were greeted like old friends by Cathy and Raphie, Bolly, Riff-Raff and Ella! It was a treat to be back and we looked forward to two weeks in a place we knew and loved.
Interestingly Raphie mentioned that the Barcombe store was in the same plight as the Hawkesbury Upton one. The Barcombe community has successfully raised over £300,000 to keep theirs!!
We fell into a healthy and settled routine; on waking we were joined by 'three' on the end of the bed, we enjoyed two wonderful walks with the dogs morning and afternoon, managed to work in a bit of extra daily exercise for ourselves, and enjoyed home cooked food. Poor Riff-Raff was recovering from his cruciate ligament operation, so he had to be left 'in-charge' at home while we completed our regular laps. As the days went by he was able to potter with the rest of us out on the lawn.
It was so nice to meet up with people and pooches we had come to know a year ago and we were made to feel very welcome. We also met some new faces and had the dogs to thank for most of the introductions! These meetings meant for a couple of social outings and we joined Sally and Les next door for a drink one evening and met Nich and Nina for a walk and drink one afternoon and they came and joined us for dinner at Pound Farm one evening.
We were thrilled to have Paul and Marie, from Leeds, come down and spend a weekend with us. It was a lovely two days of great company, conversation and laughter. On the Sunday they treated us to a fantastic lunch at a favourite Indian restaurant in Brighton before we said our farewells. Another happy outcome from the weekend was meeting some of Paul's family. His son Richard, daughter-in-law Cicely and delightful little 15 month old grandson Roan, live in Lewes. We were fortunate to see this lovely family on a further occasion when they came to join us for a walk and tea and cake at our house sit.
From Mill Brook we shifted to Cathy and Raphie's daughters home at Pound Farm. Here we had dogs, cats, sheep, goats, alpacas, Highland cattle, hens and ducks to keep us company! Our settled and healthy routine continued and we made the most of the fantastic pastures and woodland areas surrounding their beautiful home. The following sums up our two weeks:
Now a wandering couple from EN-ZED (NZ)
Very lucky to here their path led
Two weeks at Pound Farm
With it's character and charm
"Wow, what a fabulous spot!" they both said!
Welcomed with warmth and affection
To us Pound Farm was perfection
Your beautiful home
With pastures to roam
So lucky we were your selection!
To care for your home and your pets
Our life is as good as it gets
Our travels do take us
To memorable places
Our time here we will not forget.
With cattle, alpacas and ducks on the pond
Pound Farm is the place where animals belong
The goats and the sheep
The happy hen cheep
And a woodland full of birds and their song.
Brilliant dogs and cute cats as our mates
Our days at Pound Farm were just great
Laughter and fun
With blue skies and sun
With this fine crew the high-jinx awaits!
Natasha and Justin, Kika and Arlo
This special family we've grown to know
Rebecca the star
Welcomed us from afar
With sadness it's now time to go.
If travel ever takes you to NZ
There is always a home and a bed
It's our hope that one day
In some way we repay
The kindness and warm hearts you've shared.
We quickly got to know our new 'walking mates' Scribble, Dot, Benson, Molly and Gypsy who provided us with many laughs and much entertainment. We also had two beautiful cats to keep us company; Miss Tilly and Mr Mimosa.
We had some extras to stay for a couple of days!
This little Pocket-Dog 'punches way above her weight'! Good on you Dot.
A little photo gallery of the Pound Farm crew!
We did find other things to keep us amused.
We welcomed home Natasha, Justin, Kika and Arlo from their holiday and left them to prepare for Kika's 7th birthday the next day. Cathy and Raphie had invited us to stay with them for our final night in Sussex. We enjoyed a beautiful evening with neighbours and friends and our first BBQ in the UK!
We sold our little Lupi Lupo to Phil who lives locally. We felt very happy knowing ahe was going to a good home! This little car took us 37,000km around the UK, Ireland, parts of Europe and North Africa over the 14 months we owned her and provided us with many happy memories!
The following morning we had time to take our Mill Brook dogs for a final walk before we returned to say our final farewells to everyone at Mill Brook and Pound Farm. As we walked our familiar track we talked about and reflected on the amazing opportunity we have had in our role as Trusted Housesitters. Our experiences have exceeded all expectations! The wonderful people we have met and the happy friendships we have made, the great pets and animals we have looked after, and the fabulous places we have been fortunate to live in will stay with us always.
The Sussex Spring was particularly kind to us over the five weeks we spent there! We enjoyed lots of sunshine and watched the emergence of the spring flowers and blossom and the gradual 'greening' of the English woodland.
After saying our farewells to all the family at Pound Farm, Raphie dropped us to the Railway Station at Haywards Heath. From here we traveled to Esher, near London, and spent our last night in England before flying from Heathrow to Vienna - the first leg of our journey home!
The Woodsies xxx