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 word on the street is that donkeys are stubborn! But after a recent day in the company of donkeys – we can tell you that it’s just NOT true! Like other animals, they can fill your heart with joy.
Donkeys are surprisingly affectionate – as Neil found out when Bonnie was very attracted to this handsome Aussie!
If you find yourself anywhere near Sidmouth in the English county of Devon, put a few hours aside to meet some donkeys. You to might be lucky enough to get a very personal encounter.
The Donkey Sanctuary was one of the most fascinating places we visited on “Village to Villa” – 1 year of pet and house sitting.
It all began in 1969 when Elisabeth Svendsen did something amazing. She founded a charity after seeing 7 small donkeys housed in appalling conditions.
Today it’s Britain’s richest charity with an annual turnover of 22 million pounds!
Their mission is to free donkeys from suffering and improve the quality of life for donkeys worldwide – mostly through promoting an understanding and support. They have made a profound difference to the lives of donkeys, here in England and in other countries.
The Sanctuary provides Donkeys for assisted therapy for children.
Anyone can “Adopt a Donkey” to guarantee its future well-being.
We love meeting friends, family and neighbours of our hosts. They always have colourful stories to tell about the property, the town, the region, even the country where we are staying.
While we were on our first French pet and house sit in Normandy, we met Geri, an entertaining and joyful American with a love for France.
We loved her dogs, and we enjoyed her company. Geri agreed to share her story of moving to France. She’s taken on a huge task – renovating an enormous old stone house near the small village of Crasville.
One winter’s morning in Normandy – we met Geri at one of her favourite locations. The vide greniere at a neighbouring village called Yvestot Bocage (eve-stow bow-carzgh). In French, vide greniere (veed gron-yay) literally means empty the attic.
See what she comes home with, for her house! This is Geri’s story.
This awesome Bird of Prey is the BALD EAGLE… national animal of the USA. There are though to be around 150 thousand of them in North America, their native country. They’re seen near large bodies of water from the north of Mexico north to Alaska.
See our video of HOLDING this magnificent bird at the Hawkridge Bird of Prey Centre in England.
They swoop at speeds of more than 140 kph to catch a fish.
Then they eat with both hands.
Bald Eagles don’t start producing until there about 4 years old, but they will live for 20 years in the wild… twice that in captivity.
The eagles have a wingspan of 2 metres. Baldric, the male bird that we both held, weighs around 4 kg and I struggled to hold him on one arm! The females are even heavier. That doesn’t stop them flying at 48 kilometres per hour, even carrying a fish. Baldric started his training at around 6 months. It typically takes 2 months for the bird to trust you as a handler.
We were incredibly privileged to see Baldric up close and VERY personal, when we visited the Hawkridge Bird of Prey Centre near Exmouth in England. We were house sitting nearby near Ottery St Mary.
These highly trained aerial hunters have been closely associated with humans for thousands of years. Falconry was a way of life and provided food for families.
It went out of fashion for many years, but is now back as a sport practiced all over the world.
You can find the Hawkridge Birds of Prey Centre at Westdown Lane, Sandy Bay, Exmouth EX85BY.
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.
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.
During our time 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.
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 travel 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.
We’d heard of the place, and knew that the English sea-side resorts were a far cry from our Australian beaches of soft, golden sand.
Lyme Regis was a short drive (for us) from where we were staying near Ottery St Mary in East Devon. So off we set! Mid October gave us sunshine, a pleasant temperature and barely any wind. The pebbled beaches sat snugly between the headlands. Families ate picnics on the foreshore and others enjoyed lunch from outdoor restaurant tables. The light was perfect. Here’s a snippet of what you can expect from Village to Villa, Episode 11.