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.
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 realise that I have finally tired of it.
After the lush green of the Veneto with its hectares of vineyards, the charred remains of cereal stubble and already dusty looking olive trees of ‘my valley’ suddenly seem lacklustre and shoddy.
I confess I had been getting itchy feet for a while – the tranquil place I moved to had, in recent times, become increasingly noisy with new neighbours who lived their lives at full volume for all to hear – whether you wanted to or not. My precious sanctuary had slowly transformed into just another Brits Abroad housing estate.
So far, I’d used the invaders as a catalyst to get me out and about more, to meet more people and visit more places on the island. But seeing the valley looking so harsh and barren so early in the year was the final straw – it was time to go travelling.
My first thought is to buy a campervan but research soon shows that my vision and my budget are poles apart – even with my sister owning a campervan business.
The thought of travelling alone, a single woman always passing through and pulling up who knows where to sleep also worries me slightly. Yes, I’d have Eddie with me, but she’s as timid as they come. Perhaps leave that idea on the backburner for another time – when perhaps there’s someone to travel with.
But what to do instead?
I’d already been taking care of several friends’ holiday homes and rental properties on Cyprus as well as feeding neighbours’ cats and boarding friends’ dogs. So when I suddenly remember an article I’d read about housesitting, I decide that’s it! It’s going to be the best way to go travelling.
I keep my plans to myself to start with. I don’t have a housesit assignment yet and there is so much I need to figure out – including how to get Eddie off Cyprus with as little stress for her as possible.
But then I recall the importance of sharing your dreams – because you never know who can help. And so it is, when I start to talk about what I’d like to do, that I discover all the wonderful people around me willing to help me make my dream come true. Friends willing to allow me to housesit for their upcoming holiday and a friend offering the loan of a flight crate for Eddie and a wealth of tips on how to get her used to it.
With housesits for friends in the pipeline and under my belt, I now feel confident enough to start applying to strangers to care for their homes and pets too.
I quickly realise I am at a disadvantage. Eddie. It seems that very few housesitters travel with pets. My first few applications result in a flat NO – with a variety of reasons given (usually blaming their poor pooch’s personality flaws).
My other challenge is that the only way off Cyprus is by plane so I have to get a housesit that is long enough to be worth putting Eddie through the stress of the flight and give me enough time to line up some follow on assignments. I decide that a two month minimum is needed.
I am just about to give up on the whole idea when I notice a comment from a fellow housesitter in one of the many Facebook groups I had joined. She is travelling with her dog – and managing to do it full-time. I send a friend request and we are soon chatting. ‘Just keep applying’ she says. ‘It might take a while but don’t give up – there are people out there who are happy for you to bring your dog too – you just have to find them’
So spurred on by her success and advice I join more sites and send out more applications. Lo and behold, within a few days in the middle of August, I get a positive reply – or at least a willingness to chat with me and explore the idea of my dog coming to stay to take care of hers.
My one hour Skype call with Annie in the Le Marche Region of Italy is one of those pivotal moments that you know will change the course of your life forever. An instant rapport is established and sixty minutes later we have confirmed that I will housesit for her for approximately three months starting in early November.
As Sherlock Holmes would say – “The Game Is Afoot!!”