Housesitting all over the world

House sitting can be an excellent experience, allowing you to see parts of the world and get to know communities you might not otherwise have seen, as well as saving you accommodation costs, of course. Barry and I have been house sitting for a few years now and love staying in a home in different parts of the world and adopting cats and dogs (and fish and birds and ferrets, etc!). Recently I’ve been asked how I got into housesitting so thought it might be a good idea to write those experiences down.

Firstly, I’ll debunk a myth – we have never been paid for housesitting services. About 20 years ago it was the norm to pay for a house sitter (s/he’s saving kennel and cattery fees after all) but these days it’s more about an exchange of services. You’ll even sometimes be asked to contribute to household bills on longer assignments and you’ll notice that housesitting websites tend to charge sitters more for their services than they do homeowners. But my thoughts on these issues are another story.

More often than not though, you’ll find yourself the adopted owner of a cat or dog or two, or even a peacock. As we travel a lot, we don’t have pets of our own and it’s quite nice being able to adopt someone else’s for a time, take a dog for a walk, cuddle a cat or talk to a bird.

Vientiane 012

Continue reading

Housesitting in Ireland

We are now spending a week house and pet sitting on a farm near Gort, a small town near Galway. The family are off to Gran Canaria for a summer holiday so we’re keeping their animals in good health and giving them company. We found this assignment through too.

The house is lovely and big with lots of light, the land is green and there’s even an old castle! Because we’re out of town we’ve been given the use of a small van for the week. We truly are ‘trusted!’

Ireland housesitting 034Ireland housesitting 035

John keeps horses on his land, about a dozen, but we don’t have to do anything other than look at them as they come in from the fields and let a neighbour know if there are any problems.

Ireland housesitting 039

Our responsibilities lie mostly with the four dogs, two white rats, the ferret and the cat.

It’s not as much work as it sounds – the cat comes and goes as she pleases and only gets fed once a day, the ferret mostly stays in his cage and only gets fed once a day and is taken out to play for about five minutes, the rats most definitely stay in their cage and only get fed once a day, preferably while they’re still sleeping so I don’t have to look at their gross tails.

The dogs take up most of the work and even then it’s not too bad. There are three little dogs who get fed once a day. There is a teeny weeny Shih Tzu cross named Zidane, an old, deaf Jack Russell called Jack, an antagonistic terrier called Chebal and an enormous eight month old Great Dane puppy, Elvis, who gets fed three times a day.

Ireland Housesitting 004 Ireland Housesitting 001

Elvis is a very nervous and scared puppy, which is quite amusing for such a big animal. Although he’s young he’s almost as big as me. At first I was a bit nervous of him, he’s just so big. He was a bit overexcited and playful the day we arrived too and thought that barking and jumping on me would be a good idea. When the terrier jumps on me, his paws hit my thighs and I bend down to pat him. But when Elvis jumps on me his paws hit my shoulders and he towers over me. A bit terrifying at first, especially when he’s barking as well. When I discovered that we were the only people to apply for this gig I thought that maybe we were over our heads and other people know what they’d be getting themselves into.

But we’re used to each other now. There was no dog pee to clean up this morning which was progress (we accidentally slept in to 8.30am yesterday and woke to quite a large mess). The dogs are excited to see us now and Elvis will follow one or the other of us around like a shadow. Probably because we feed him. And because he’s scared of everything else. I very calmly pushed him off my shoulders this morning after breakfast (good for me!). Though he did nearly bowl me over this afternoon when he jumped on my back.

If I was ever to get a dog of my own, I’d want a Great Dane.

Ireland Housesitting 009 Ireland Housesitting 006

It’s not quite the summer break that we had in Belgium. It has rained everyday since I flew in. The soft gentle rain falling on the fields keeps the country green and, probably, the farmers happy, but it makes me want to curl up inside. So we haven’t been as good about the exercising as we were in the Parc du Cinquantenaire. We manage a 16 minute tabata most evenings and few strolls around the land with the dogs but that’s about it.

Ireland Housesitting 012

Ireland Housesitting 011

Pot of gold and a leprechaun at the end of this rainbow?

Dare I say that Ireland is wetter than Scotland? No, that would be silly.

Still Living in Brussels

Yesterday my friend, Bec, who lives in the south of the Netherlands hopped a train to visit me in Brussels. I love that I have a social life here in Belgium, and that it’s international!

We didn’t have much of a plan for the day, other than to catch up, eat and drink. Which is just as well really because that’s about all we did! We explored the city a bit and managed to catch a little bit of culture, coming across a random brass band playing the Lion Sleeps Tonight as we wandered through a craft market.

Living in Brussels 003

Then we explored some the drinking establishments of Brussels, whcih I’m sure is still on the tourist and culture trail.

Living in Brussels 004Living in Brussels 006Living in Brussels 007Living in Brussels 008

At one bar we could hear the sounds of Calling Mark (Dire Straits tribute band) as part of the Brussels Summer Festival. I had no idea what they were setting up as I walked through the Place des Palais to meet Bec at the station but, having looked up what was happening, wish I’d been more on the ball as it looks like a great, quite casual, music festival. Still, Bec and I talked so much I’m not sure we would have appreciated a full day at the festival and I’m sure we solved a lot of the world’s problems while we were at it (also, Saturday night  was sold out).

Despite the mild hangover this morning, I still managed to go for a (late) morning run through the park. I can probably thank Lucky for that though as he refused to let me sleep past 8.30 – kept swatting my face and swishing his tail at me until I got up.

Did a bit of tidying up in preparation for Alynn coming back tomorrow (yeah, my Brussels days are almost over) then took myself out to be a tourist. I discovered this morning that the Royal Palace, which is only open between July and September is free! So I took myself off to explore the Hall of Mirrors and some royal rooms.

Living in Brussels 028

If you look closely you can see me in the mirror taking the picture

If you look closely you can see me in the mirror taking the picture

Living in Brussels 021 Living in Brussels 020 Living in Brussels 023

The Museum of Military History is also free so I went there too (love free stuff), passing the European Parliament on the way.

Living in Brussels 029There’s a really big aviation section with some old military aircraft and some weird and wonderful examples of early aeroplanes.

Living in Brussels 035 Living in Brussels 034I think I’m going to miss Brussels. I’m definitely getting more waffles before I leave tomorrow…

Living it up in Brussels

Park du Cinquantenaire

We’ve been in Belgium a week now and so far it suits us fine. We’re still getting up and doing some exercise in the park in the mornings (except for one day when it rained all day long) so I feel pretty good before I start work.

Running through the Park du Cinquantenaire

Running through the Park du Cinquantenaire

Fairy tale tower in the middle of the park

Fairy tale tower in the middle of the park

Brussels - housesitting 023

My cupcake recipe book is coming along. In order to format it properly, I’ve been learning geek stuff like HTML coding. It’s lucky that Barry is here though to explain stuff to me. Although, without him, there is always Google, and Google knows everything, so I might manage this weekend!

It’s not all running and typing though. We walked into town one evening to go out for dinner. So there we were, near the Grand Place, eating mussels in Brussels.

mussels in Brussels

Brussels - housesitting 002

View from the restaurant

Brussels - housesitting 010

We strolled around town watching street performers and, of course, eating waffles. I think they taste best without any adornment – no fruit, no ice cream, no icing sugar, just waffle.

The Grand Place

The Grand Place

Brussels - housesitting 017Brussels - housesitting 016

Barry left for Ireland this morning, for his nephew’s christening, so it’s just Lucky and me here in Belgium. Lucky will probably miss Barry’s cuddles (Barry is more affectionate to the cat than me sometimes!). I certainly missed Barry this morning, when we had an adventure with a mouse. But we survived (the same cannot be said for the mouse I’m afraid).

Hopefully tomorrow morning is not so eventful.