And so it was that we returned to the UK. We had a plan which had only been growing for the last few weeks but we did have a plan…and it was coming together.
This year we were trying out a new travel experience. We were going to pet-sit our way around the country, or at least try to for most of the trip.
We’d signed up with a new website TrustedHousesitters.com. It was a relatively straightforward process but we had an empty profile so prepared ourselves for a bit of a wait for our first pet-sitting opportunity. Anyhoo, thanks to the power of Skype, and a link to our established Airbnb profile, we managed to secure a few pet-sits. The rest we would sort out on the fly.
London was our first port of call and our first failure! Despite our best attempts the pet sits of London evaded us. It wasn’t from the lack of trying (we applied for a lot!) but from the sheer popularity of London. We didn’t stand a chance and in most cases, we didn’t even get a response. Hardly surprising as we were newbies to the pet-sitting site and so credential-less.
London may not have wanted us but we wanted London. We resorted to Airbnb for our first week.
London: Parsons Green
I’m biased I know, but when the weather is kind London is hard to beat. We love to walk and London is so very walkable. And when you’re done with walking the ‘Tube’ will always get you home.
Whether it’s green spaces (fabulous parks are plentiful), architecture, entertainment, sightseeing, or just great food and a chance to people-watch, London will keep you busy.
We found a homely, comfortable place to stay for a week in Parsons Green. After a long flight and some confusion with the Airbnb check-in, we finally dumped our cases, put our feet up, and set to on the task of dealing with jet lag. For me Thailand to Europe is a much easier transition than Europe to Thailand, so we were soon happily on Greenwich Mean Time.
Parsons Green is in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Not an area I was overly familiar with, so it was time to walk and explore. There’s plenty of local stuff to see and do, and if you’re happy to clock up some steps Leicester Square is only about an hour and a half walk. You hardly notice the time there’s so much to see.
And if you can get your hands on some reasonably priced tickets the London theatres are a must-do.
Before we knew it our week was up and my hometown and our very first pet sit beckoned.
Having navigated the Chiltern Line train system and completed the paperwork for our rental car, we spent our first night in Aylesbury town centre.
It’s an ancient market town which is gradually succeeding in sprucing itself up – not from ancient times, but definitely following the 60 and 70s! It now, prestigiously, hosts not only a sculpture of the late Ronnie Barker, but also more recently, a bronze homage to the late David Bowie, and to some extent Friars. Friars was where many a famous band got their first gig.
If you’re lucky enough to pass the Bowie sculpture on the hour you’ll hear one of his songs.
Drum roll…pet sit number 1.
(And as it happens, also our last. We were asked back for a further week at the end of our trip.)
Mia and Vincent! An adorable couple of, brother and sister, Bengal cats.
The thing about pet sitting is that as well as experiencing the joy of a part-time pet (or two or three or four), you get to meet really interesting and kind people who freely open up their home to you. We were welcomed warmly and immediately felt at home, in well, someone else’s home. The experience really turns a good trip into a great trip!
We were given all the necessary care instructions for the cats and the house and were then left to it.
Mia and Vincent were super easygoing, apart from one small thing. They had to be inside at night or if we went out. That seems easy enough, huh! But Mia and Vincent are young, inquisitive cats who, as we found out, loved to be outdoors. Who could blame them…the weather was fantastic! Lucky for us we never needed to be anywhere at any time so we could be flexible with our excursion times. Give or take and hour or so or three! We soon got a handle on these two cheeky ones, and got into a good capture routine (most of the time!!).
The house was located in the small village of Wingrave. There’s a post office in the village, and a small store selling your basic day-to-day fare. A pub, bowling green, pond and a church.
There are farms in the surrounding countryside and good walks. It’s quite rural and the views are wonderful. The village too has a real community feel and being early summer the family events had already started.
Aylesbury, Wing, Leighton Buzzard, and Milton Keynes are all within an easy car ride away, not to mention a large handful of National Trust properties. And if you fancy a jaunt to the city, Oxford and London are totally doable for the day.
I filled my time visiting family and friends, and everything that goes with being back in your hometown. It was all mixed in with a sprinkling of Wingrave home-grown wholesomeness and the adorable cats.
Our week flew past and we soon set sail for pet sit number 2!