Neil and I wanted to see Scotland on our “Village to Villa” tour of the UK.
We were knocked out by the stunning location of our house and pet sit.
Before meeting Becky, the senior resident cat – I was ambivalent about actually owning a moggie. This sweet, loving cat changed my mind. I fell a little bit in love with Becky!
Glenfarg is a village in the county of Perth, central Scotland. Mostly it’s a cluster of farmhouses and a pub.
Glenfarg is a 20 to 30 minute drive to the city of Perth – depending on how many times you stop to take photos!
Both of us have Scottish heritage and we wanted to see if we felt any connection. Neil had done a whirlwind trip a few years previously and this time, he wanted to experience real life as a Scotsman rather than a tourist.
One of Scotland’s most famous cities is Edinburgh. It’s a down with two sides and manages to blend the past with the present – architecturally and culturally.
The old medieval part of the city is bursting with entertainment.
We couldn’t resist looking up our family tartans. Even though other countries have produced a similar look – the plaid has become a symbol of Scottish heritage, along with the kilt. You can’t really have a kilt that’s NOT tartan – it just wouldn’t be right!
In my book, the Scottish really ARE brave. First of all, their men not only wear a skirt, but it’s made of a plaid fabric we know as TARTAN.
The question that is most asked about this ensemble – is “what DO Scotsmen really wear under their kilt” and the answer we found was “NOTHING!”
The Cotswolds is an area that stretches across 5 counties in the South West of England. It’s known around the world as one of the prettiest areas, with its honeycomb stone architecture, green rolling hills and a fascinating back story.
During our year of living like locals in another country, we were based in the village of Minchenhampton – to take care of the Brown Family home and animals. But while we were there, we also became acquainted with the neighbours – including a 4 year old white bunny called Snowy!
We absolutely loved living in the Cotswolds.
Please keep visiting this site for many more stories about the Cotswolds and all of our house and pet sitting adventures, in 4 countries.
THANK YOU to the Brown family for entrusting us with their entertaining, precious pets. We will introduce Hobey and Bingo in another story.
At the Game Fair In Scotland, we met the 28th Laird of Craufurdland Castle near Kilmarnock. He kindly invited us to stay for a few days with his lovely family.
Such an extraordinary invitation comes along rarely… so of course our answer was “We would love to… thank you for asking”!
Guinness – the dog with 3 legs had a set of wheels so he was able to go walking with his brother Scrumpy.
The 2 Setters are treasured members of the family. Guinness lost his back leg after being hit by a car… but this hero dog hasn’t let that stop him from enjoying his walks. Scrumpy keeps close watch over his brother and patiently waits
Everyone loves and admires Guinness for his fighting Scottish spirit!
He won our hearts during the few days we spent living like locals in a Scottish castle!
This family home near Kilmarnock, dates back to 1245!
Like most of the large estates in the UK- the family has had to diversify to keep the place viable. They’ve dedicated one half of the castle to B&B style accommodation. Guests enjoy luxury accommodation – surrounded by history.
There’s a large lake on the estate – filled with trout and tranquility. It’s the perfect male meditation and occasionally the day will produce supper!
The family backyard is 600 acres of Scottish countryside. And we were absolutely delighted to discover that humans are not the only guests having sleep overs at Craufurdland! Boarding dogs are allowed to run freely off lead – to have a good sniff in the woodlands and some take a dip in the lake.
Some months after our return to Australia, we were sad when we heard from the family, that Guinness was not able to keep up this exhausting effort to sustain his life on three legs.
Guinness – we will always remember how lucky we were to share a few days with you and your kind family.
From an African Pygmy Hedgehog to a pure white horse!
That is the range of Village to Villa’s Amazing Animals – encountered during our year of living like locals in 4 countries. For us, one of the attractions of house and pet sitting – is the animals.
During our Village to Villa year long adventure in 4 countries, we came across a collection of animals that gave joy to us as well as to their owners. It was amazing how quickly they become attached to us, as we settled into their homes and routines. With their owners away, they needed us to give them more than meals. They also needed the love, affection and security that they are used to having. And the more we gave, the more they gave back.
Here are some of Village to Villa’s amazing animals – met during our house sitting in AUSTRALIA.
Everything you need to know to have a fabulously authentic travel experience while you are minding the home and pets of a stranger.
Our TOP TIPS FOR HOUSE SITTING will help you navigate the process of becoming trusted house sitters. Then you can enjoying the best travel experiences of your life!
Pet and House Sitting enables you to travel the world for longer and for less! When you mind a house for someone, you have FREE TRAVEL ACCOMMODATION.
We would like to share some valuable information and TOP TIPS for house sitting. It’s all about having an unforgettable time – living like locals in another country. We gathered this knowledge from our experiences and some of it we learned the hard way!
In late 2015 we set off on a year-long, four-country journey. We started at home in Australia, then packed up everything and took a flight to Paris! We spent most of 2016 in France, UK and Italy.
We traveled 30,000km by air and 36,000km by car.
Along the way we picked up a lot of helpful tips for a smooth journey. If you’re new to house sitting or if you’ve tried it already, we hope you can take away some tips that will enhance your time at each of your many destinations.
TIP 1 – SELECTING THE REGION
As basic as it sounds, paying close attention to the locations you choose is critical. Also, the time of the year when you visit can make a big difference to your experience. A great question to ask yourself is – What will the weather be like when we go there?
We knew England would be cold for us, especially Scotland, so we applied only for sits during their summer. If you are used to cold climates, you may want to go to a warmer region and vice versa. Many sits may be booked months before the actual scheduled time, so do your homework on this one.
Another thing to pay attention to is the time of the tourist season and will there be any major events taking place nearby? In Bordeaux we booked a 3 night stopover and on day 2 we had to move our car by several blocks for the weekend.
Know the address of the property.
While this might sound like a no-brainer, we came extremely close to becoming seriously lost, not once, but twice!
Get very clear about where you are. Establish landmarks and have a back-up plan. Take a photo on your phone.
To read ALL 14 TIPS… . PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
This is detailed and valuable guidance from a couple who travelled in 4 countries for 1 year – primarily house sitting and pet sitting.
As if that wasn’t enough – they also shot and are now writing “Village to Villa” LIVING LIKE LOCALS – a 13 episode TV series – NOW IN EDIT.
Just scroll down to the black strip and you will see how to become a FOLLOWER.
We’ll help you to create a killer profile and nail the perfect sit for you. THANK YOU we are grateful for your interest and support. Please feel free to share with others who might enjoy our adventure.
Near Sidmouth in the UK there is a what could be described as Heaven for Donkeys – a sanctuary for these amazing four legged creatures.
During our journey of living like locals…we’ve seen lots of animals close-up – but nothing prepared us for the experience of a donkey close encounter. Donkeys are widely misunderstood creatures with most people believing they are stubborn.
Donkeys are really smart, curious, affectionate and love being patted.
Getting set up for an interview, a couple of the more friendly donkeys definitely wanted to be in the action!
Neil had a very memorable DONKEY CLOSE ENCOUNTER with Bonnie, one of the favourites at the sanctuary. Here’s a video clip of that encounter!
AS one of Britain’s most generously-funded charities, The Donkey Sanctuary has arms spread world-wide to rescue and care for donkeys. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, many of them in servitude…these lucky guys are definitely in Donkey Heaven.
There is a purpose for their life. They’re lucky here in here England – they enjoy the lovely green fields and go to lovely foster homes where someone lovingly cares for them. But donkeys abroad need to be a working animal for the family.
With around 500 formerly displaced animals housed at this facility, it allows you to get to know donkey breeds and understand their quirky personalities.
The Donkey Sanctuary supports donkey rescue in locations around the world.
How about spending an entire month during the springtime, living in a French Chateau at no cost to you?
We were lucky enough to do exactly that during our year of house sitting. We lived in a French Chateau in South West France.
This is a video about Chateau du Mauran in the south west of France.
The garden was at its best when we stayed at this stunning French Chateau.
From early to late May we watched as nature did her most amazing work. The roses were resplendent but the real stars were the Wisteria and the “Van Gogh” Irises. Perfection together.
Staying in this amazing house for a month, gave us many stories for our TV series “Village to Villa” We lived like locals and enjoyed authentic travel experiences with neighbours, friends of the house owners and people we met along the way. We will share them all here on this blog. If you’d like to follow our incredible year long journey, please leave us your details in SUBSCRIPTIONS – and we’ll send you a note when we post another story. Thank you.
One year of house sitting in France, UK, Italy and Australia.
“Village to Villa” is in the can! During our excellent year of being trusted house sitters, we have lived like locals, rent free in 16 locations over 4 countries.
Gai is writing the final episodes, our two fabulous editors are turning shots into visual stories, and Neil is creating the “Village to Villa House and Pet Sitting Handbook”.
We want to inspire people who are searching for a truly unique and authentic travel option – to give pet and house sitting a go.
We hope you enjoy these early highlights from some of our privileged travel experiences during our year of house sitting!
If you love to travel but don’t want to be a tourist – if you love animals – and if you want to experience different ways of life in other cultures, please leave us your details in FOLLOW US so we can keep you in the loop.
Can 2 producers really shoot video for a 13 part TV series without a crew?
Neil McLean and Gai Reid are the only members of the camera crew for their 13 episode TV series “Village to Villa”. We developed our “TV production in a back pack” so we could travel for one year and shoot a TV series without a camera crew!
Having covered 4 countries – living like locals – we have now begun the huge editing phase. Luckily we have 2 awesome editors. Meet our crew.
Gai & Neil have worked in television production for most of our working lives. That’s a scary number of years!
Gai experienced a little bit of everything during her time spent working in regional television in NSW and Tasmania. Mostly she has worked in Brisbane networks as a writer and producer in factual programming.
Neil has worked mostly in news in regional and the networks of NSW and Victoria– as a reporter, reader and news director. We both know what it’s like to spend a week or longer on the road.
Normally when a TV crew travels to shoot a program – 4 people would check in 12 to 18 pieces of luggage, including cameras, tripod, lights, sound gear as well as crew suitcases. NOT for TV Production in a back pack.
Because of the nature of our project – we couldn’t take a traditional camera crew. So WE became the crew!
That meant we had to figure out another way to bring you what we knew would be engaging and inspirational stories.
We came up with PRODUCTION BACK PACK!
We streamlined down to the absolute minimum gear – we had to carry it where ever we went. It really was a production in a backpack. AND it enabled us to shoot a TV series without a crew.
Most importantly – we wanted to record authentic travel experiences that filled us with joy!
We wanted to be able to talk to strangers without intimidating them with a large camera on a tripod. They needed to feel comfortable in order to open up and tell us their stories. We wanted to make story gathering a pleasurable experience for everyone involved.
So when we set out on one of our many trips – we had a suit case each and ONE backpack of camera gear!
We used a Nikon digital SLR with external Rode mic; a Samsung Galaxy-K phone with external Rodes mic; occasionally a basic Samsung phone; a Sony Action Can and a seriess of mounts. Sometime we shot an interview with 2 different angles. We found a fantastic tripod that folds down to about the size of 2 fold up umbrellas. THAT’S IT! This is how we were able to shoot a TV series without a crew.
We wanted to be one of the early adopters of using a mobile phone camera to shoot a series – to show that it COULD be done.