One of the things we get asked about most is our accommodations, everyone wants to know about our homes away from home and how we can afford these long stays. One of the things that’s made it possible for us is House sitting, I almost want to keep it a secret as its almost too good to be true but it is! We apply (through Trusted House-sitters) to move into peoples homes to look after their pets and home while they are away on vacation. We stay for free in exchange that they know their furry children will be loved and cared for and their home well looked after. We’ve done a few in Scotland and a few in England now and we are hooked. I’ll explain house sitting in another post but for now here is a glimpse into how great it can be.
Its March 17th,2017 and I am sitting at an enormous island in our amazing house sit in Pembrokeshire, Wales looking out from the kitchen that is encased in 24 feet of glass that slides completely open to the back patio overlooking a large pond and forest. I’m mesmerized watching two Canada geese that call the pond home and wander around the yard foraging for food in the mist. The weather has been mostly terrible, often we have been encased in fog or horizontal rain blowing in over the hills but I could sit here all day warmed by the fire looking out to the beautiful scenery. We are in a rural location at the foot of the Preseli mountains in Pembrokeshire Wales, an area that is quintessentially Welsh with lush rolling green hills, surrounded by farms dotted white with sheep. We are also perfectly situated only about a 20-minute drive to the coast and have visited some scenic towns like Tenby, Saundersfoot, St. Davids and Newport Beach. It’s the beginning of spring and daffodils are in full bloom growing wild all over the countryside adding some color to the surrounding hues of green. In the summer, when all the trees are in leaf one would imagine it would be even more magical here. The country is amazingly beautiful and I’m so happy that the universe brought us to Wales. It wasn’t at the top of our radar but some house sit assignments came up here and we needed them to help get our travel budget back on track.
I can’t believe we’ve been here almost a month now, in a few days we’ll be leaving Wales for another house sit up north in Liverpool, England. It will be sad to go, we’ve had an incredible time. There has been so much to see here and we’ve only hit parts of it, I could easily spend another month. The best part has been the people we’ve met and the friends we’ve made. We’ve been blown away by the hospitality given to us, invited as strangers into people’s homes and treated like family.
We arrived to our first house sit in the rural village of Llanfallteg having driven in from the capital of Wales (Cardiff) over a few hours in the afternoon. We were greeted at the door by Pete and Steph, who made us feel so at home. We quickly hit it off and made a connection, the conversation came easily and we found we had lots of things in common. They wined and dined us that night and again the next as we spent a few days with them before they left for their vacation in Goa, India. They left us in the company of their two pusses, Lil and Bailey who we happily snuggled and looked after while they were gone. It was nice to have some furry company and they consistently entertained us with their unique personalities. Lil thinks she’s a guard dog, loves to eat, has a mind of her own and will let you know if she’s not in the mood for your attention. Bailey is the lovable one, affectionate and easy going but a bit precocious. Their home felt like ours, we were so comfortable and enjoyed just relaxing with the kitties while watching the storms roll over the hills on their gorgeous property. We binge watched two seasons of Marco Polo, got caught up on all our favorite shows and developed a new addiction to Tracey Ullmans comedy show on BBC, hysterical! When the weather cleared we’d run out and spend the afternoon wondering some amazing places, sites, castles and beach side towns. In the summer when they aren’t traveling they run a B&B in their home called Stones Throw, a perfect name as there is so much to do only their namesake away! So, if you’re ever planning a trip to Wales and want the perfect rural retreat complete with a pub down the road then give them a shout and book a stay. Here is a link to their website, they will take the best care of you ensuring a comfortable stay and informing you on all things to do. Tell them Mark and Janet say hi!
When Steph and Pete returned they graciously allowed us to stay a few extra nights until our next house sit began and we really enjoyed spending some time and getting to know them. The day after they returned we made arrangements to get together with Jen and Phil, the couple we were house sitting for next at the pub down their street. Talk about small world; the two house-sits we managed to get were only about 10 miles apart and they both frequented the same local pub ,The Plash in the village of llanfallteg. They didn’t know each other and we played match maker as they have so much in common. It was our third time at The Plash (shout out to Christie and Steve- the best pub owners ever) and second time with Phil and Jen, while Pete and Steph were in India they invited us to meet them at the pub, their dog Hector wanted to buy us a drink! They brought their friends who we also enjoyed, Ian and Jackie who joined us again when the whole group met up on Pete and Stephs return. We had a great gathering on a night when the pub had an awesome band playing some traditional music and it was such a nice night, the locals were joking that we knew more people in the village than they did. We sadly left Pete and Steph and moved onto our next housesit but vowed to get together with them over the next few weeks.
Jen and Phil have been amazing also, hospitality beyond! We had a great connection with them too and they made us feel so comfortable in their beautiful home while we spent a few days together getting to know each other. The second day Phil took me for an awesome hike up into the misty hills with Hector, their lovable Bassett Hound and we had a great afternoon returning to a gourmet dinner of stuffed roast lamb. Another meal better than you’d get at any restaurant, they really looked after us! They left for a week of skiing in Austria and we settled in with Hector. I love getting up every morning and living like a page out of Country Homes and Gardens with the day starting mucking out the chicken pen, feeding them and collecting the fresh eggs for breakfast. Then Hector and I head out for a walk in the mist on their 40 acres of rolling hills, I really feel like a Welsh gentlemen in my wellies, tweed cap, walking stick and hound dog in tow. Does it get any better? I know when reality sets in and I’m back at work sitting at my desk over a long day, I’ll be day dreaming of these moments.
We’ve fallen in love with Hector and he’s been a great traveling companion, many of our trips out we brought him with us to wander the beaches and explore the countryside. A few of our days out we spent with Pete and Steph, one day hiking along a coastal park followed by a trip to the pub for fish and chips. And another day we met for lunch first, then a short hike along the river, did some antique shop exploring and even watched a sheep auction, a perfect day.
Tomorrow is our last day here alone, the next day Jen and Phil return and we’ve planned dinner for them. A few hours to spend together and then we move on to Liverpool the next morning. We’ll miss our Welsh friends, incredible people that would certainly be lifelong friends should we live closer. Hopefully they will come visit us in Canada and we can get back to visit them someday soon. It’s been an awesome experience; the blessings keep coming and our cup overfloweth!
Check back for my next few posts and I’ll show you some of the sites and beautiful scenery here in Wales. If you want to come and see for yourself Phil and Jen are also opening some B&B Cottages this summer. Still under construction but they look quite posh, an amazing place to stay. When they get their website up and running I’ll send out the info.