Last December, having just taken over the reins at my 2018 Christmas housesitting assignment in Italy, I received an enquiry from a desperate homeowner in Cyprus looking for someone to care for his apartment and cats over Christmas.
Now before you experienced housesitters roll your eyes at yet another homeowner leaving things to the last minute, let me explain. This homeowner had done everything right. He'd advertised early. He'd found a sitter and everything had been confirmed for weeks.
The sitter had booked her flight, packed her bag and was at the airport - Gatwick Airport. And then the unimaginable happened. Some idiotic and/or nasty people decided to fly drones over the airport, bringing flights in and out of a major airport to a complete standstill.
So the housesitter was stuck, unable to get her flight from the UK to Cyprus - and the homeowner was in a complete panic as he and his family's own holiday was also now in jeopardy. Hence me receiving ...
The following article was entered in the 2018 Blog Writing competition run by HouseSitMatch.com and won first prize! I've recreated it here so my readers can enjoy it too. Thanks to everyone who voted for us.
“There’s no way I’m getting in that” says Eddie – not in so many words but rather by the fearful look in her eye as she tucks her tail firmly between her legs and retreats to a safe distance.
I’d just brought home the flight crate she was going to travel in from our home on Cyprus to start a new life as international housesitters on the European mainland. But over the coming weeks, as I coax her with treats, this object of dread transforms into a safe haven that she willingly climbs into once the big day arrives.
We land in Rome early one autumn morning. The sun is just rising over the Appennine mountains, setting the sky on fire with all the ferocity normally reserved for a sunset. What a glorious welcome from the country with which I have long h...
I don't know about you, but with travelling so much, I've become something of a demon packer.
I still strive towards the goal of 'travelling light'. It's a goal I'm not sure I'll ever achieve. Even when I set off 'light' I inevitably return 'heavy' having indulged my love of retail therapy. My interim goal is to squeeze every last cubic centimetre of space out of my luggage. I can honestly say that by the time I close that zip, the only thing more densely packed than my suitcase is a black hole!
I'm always watching videos about packing hacks, folding tips and the like and giving them a try. My latest find is this great little video from Emily Brooker . In it she shows a great trick for folding a hoodie to take up minimal space in your suitcase or drawer.
I love the neat little package that the hoodie ends up being. So easy to store in a drawer or pack easily in a suitcase or holdall bag. I might just have to order some ...
It's late October 2017. The eve of my departure from Cyprus has arrived.
In the weeks since Annie and I confirmed our housesit, I have been at the centre of a whirlwind of activity. Leaving home for three months (and hopefully longer) takes a lot of planning - especially when you are travelling with a dog. Not only were there travel plans to be made but the apartment had to be prepared for being left for a long period. There were also so many people to try to meet up with to say goodbye to (some of whom I suspect I may never see again).
Eddie also had to be prepared. She had never been in a flight crate or on a plane and gets petrified at anything new. All this and trying to carry on working and also starting to think about what happens at the end of my three month assignment with Annie.
There were times where I thought I'd have to give up on the idea. I went round and round in circles trying to find the best way to travel wit...
Many people may think of the Hoodie as a fairly modern piece of clothing, dating back perhaps only a few decades at most. However, as Paola Antonelli explains, its origins can be found as far back as ancient Greece.
Garments with a hood - which we can retrospectively define as hoodies - have been around almost since clothing became a thing in itself.
A hood attached to a cloak or robe is a practical solution to that problem of what to do with a hat when you don't want to wear it. With a hoodie, the hood is instantly accessible when needed, but neatly out of the way when not.
A hood offers the wearer protection from the elements, privacy and anonymity and a special comfort from feeling swaddled and nestled in your own shell.
Practical, comfortable, easy to care for, a cotton jersey hoodie is a perfect garment to include in your nomadic wardrobe. It bridges the gap between summer and winter when it may still be to...
One of the fundamental freedoms we all desire in our lives. That sense of self determination, control perhaps. We want to choose for ourselves, not have others dictate the content and direction of our lives.
Yet, sometimes choice can become a burden rather than a freedom. When we are surrounded by too many choices, we end up paralysed – unable to choose. A restaurant menu that goes on for pages and pages; any tile shop these days with thousands of options; and - as Harvard Graduate, Pete Davis says in his 2018 Commencement Speech - the unending choice of movies in Netflix's infinite browse.
And for me at the moment – the endless choice of housesits across the numerous housesitting sites I've signed up to. The ever growing list of 'Today's New House and Pet Sitting Opportunities' that arrives not once but twice a day from TrustedHousesitters.com. Should I apply or shouldn't I? What about the ones I've ...
A recent incident on my current housesitting assignment got me thinking about how well prepared any of us are when we take responsibility for a client's home and pets.
Dogs Will Be Dogs
I'd been overseeing some renovations on the house and while the builders were bringing in tools and materials, the dogs (Mac - my client's dog and Eddie - my own dog) took the opportunity to sneak out and go for a wander in the nearby woods. I wasn't too worried as they'd done this a few times - both on my watch and when my client was at home. The routine was to periodically yell their names and eventually they would both turn up, usually filthy dirty but very pleased with themselves.
However on this particular day, things took an unexpected turn which resulted in me having to deal with the kind of situation every housesitter hopes they will never have to face.
Three hours after the escape to the woods, Mac returned - as usual caked in mud and ready for a lie down in a shady spot. B...
June 2017. I return to Cyprus after a blissful week visting my Italian part-time neighbours at their other home in the Veneto Region of Italy.
We have explored castles and towns, visited wineries and mountains, seen art in all its forms and indulged in some retail therapy Italian style.
Together we have shared so many wonderful meals - both home cooked and restaurant prepared and, with the exception of breakfasts, washed them down with delicious wines of every hue.
The sadness of our parting for the timebeing - at this point in time with the intention of seeing each other again in Cyprus in November - is only tempered by the warmth of the memories we have created and the excitement I always feel at the prospect of being reunited with my beloved Eddie.
Back On Too Familiar Territory
Arriving home I at once take in the view of the valley behind. The view that held me spellbound when I first came to view this place. The view I thought I would never tire of. And I real...
The town of Servigliano in the Le Marche region of Italy is unusual for the region. It is not built atop a hill with a commanding view of its surrounding domain. Instead it lies on one of the few flat areas of this undulating landscape.
The old part of town is enclosed within a fortress of sorts. Its high walls have small houses and shops built into them. Once through one of the three gateways, you pass along cobbled streets and emerge into a large central piazza. Three sides are taken up with the shops and houses of the external walls. The centre is a combination of marketplace and urban park with memorial statues. The centrepiece of the piazza completing the fourth side is, inevitably, a church.
Visit the town on market day and you will probably be so focused on the stalls you will not look up at the church. But come here on any other day and you will notice a large white plaque on the front of the church. The majority of the plaque is taken up with a vertic...