Everyone keeps asking us what this housesitting business is all about so let’s answer a few questions before telling you what’s been going on this past week. Oh, and lifting the lid on the witch story.
What is housesitting?
It’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s just looking after someone’s house whilst they are away. Every one is different of course and there are different responsibilities depending on the property and the owners requirements.
How do you find these housesits?
There are several housesitting websites advertising potential sits either in the UK or around the world. After a bit of research we decided to join TrustedHouseSitters as it looked like the biggest online community with the most housesits available. There is a small annual registration fee to join but after that everything is done on a trust basis.
Do you get paid to housesit?
No. This seems to be a common misconception, no money ever changes hands. The deal is obviously that we don’t pay for accommodation and bills so our only expenses are food and any transport required. Some housesitting sites do seem to work on a payment basis but TrustedHouseSitters is exactly as it says, trusted.
Are there always pets to look after?
The majority of the sits advertised on all sites concentrate on the pets rather than the property. There are a small amount of property-only sits but they are few and far between and get so many applicants that it’s almost worth not applying. The vast majority have dogs or cats to care for during the sit and to be honest that is the driving force behind most hosts joining the sites. They want their Rover or Kitty looked after whilst they’re away and the house is generally a secondary concern.
So how do you actually get a housesit?
We get emails every day from newly advertised sits all over the world. They include the location, type of pet(s), and dates required. Any that take our fancy and fit our schedule can then be applied for which entails us sending an email via the site to the hosts. We try and apply within hours of the email being sent and put a lot of effort in to explaining who we are and what we have to offer. Then it’s just a matter of waiting to see if you are successful. Just like a job interview.
That’ll do for now but let me know if you have any more questions. The strangest thing about it is that we had absolutely no idea that this vast housesitting world even existed until we started researching. It’s huge. There are thousands and thousands of potential housesits added every week to all of the different sites. Fascinating too. We’ve seen sits for horses, 6 cats, snakes, 4 dogs, house rats, complete farms …… everything. At the moment we’re restricting it to a single dog or cat but you never know. If a sit for 20 penguins cropped up we’d jump at it!
Molly the Basset Hound
Our current sit is in the beautiful little village of Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire. As Jo mentioned previously we’re staying in a very modern barn conversion looking after a 10 year old basset hound called Molly. She’s stubborn and slow and does her own thing, Molly that is not Jo, but is adorable. She likes her walks but sometimes has to be coaxed to get moving and often just decides to stop and rest in the most inconvenient places. She’s a real character.
It’s a tiny little village between Northampton and Wellingborough with a church and a pub and not much else. Lovely to walk around and full of extremely friendly people who all appear to know each other. Our hosts, Susan and Tim, very kindly allowed us to use their car whilst we’re here so we can get around to nearby towns to get provisions.
Witches and Witchcraft
The villages claim to fame, if you can call it that, is that it has a long tradition of witches and witchcraft. In 1785 a local woman called Sarah Bradshaw was accused of being a witch and apparently pleaded to be ducked in the local pond to prove her innocence. The ‘educated’ belief at that time was that if the accused person swam or floated then they were a witch and that if they sank they were innocent. Not a great option to the accused as they tended to burn the witch if she survived. Sarah had been accused by her neighbours of being a witch, unfortunately there is no record of exactly what she is supposed to have done, and after being dunked on the ducking stool sank to the bottom and drowned. Thus proving her innocence! Crazy eh?
According to local legend Sarahs ghost haunts the pond on the anniversary of her death in early August. Wonder what exactly she did to prompt her nosy neighbours accusations?
A couple of miles north of Mears Ashby is a small airfield called Sywell Aerodrome. Not that exciting I hear you say. Well most days that’s undoubtedly true but the past couple of days have been very high up the excitement scale. The airfield is home to the Blades Aerobatic Display Team which is a civilian display team that claims to be the worlds only aerobatic airline. All the pilots have passenger licences which allows the team to be hired for corporate and private use. So you could be a passenger in one of the display aircraft.
Anyway, as we walked Molly around the local fields we heard the unmistakable sound of aircraft engines and suddenly there were four jets powering above us practicing their full display complete with smoke trails and high-speed passes. Our own private display in fact. Molly wasn’t bothered at all but we loved it. They practice regularly so the locals just ignore it but we were enthralled. Hopefully a few more private displays over the coming weeks.
Crazy Day Out
We may be living the slow gentle life up here in Northants but a couple of days ago I had a crazy long travelling day to Kent and back. We’re back in Maidstone in a few weeks when I have a routine doctors appointment but they wanted me to have a blood test in advance of that. So left the barn at 4.30am to get the 5.15 train from Wellingborough. Just me and one other idiot on the platform until 2 minutes before the train arrived when another 200 people appeared out of the shadows. Bit freaky really. Then down to the bright lights and gold-paved streets of London St Pancras, Underground, Victoria, Maidstone, walk to Barming, doctors, few hours with my Mum, reverse journey, and back in the barn for 9.15pm. Different.
Hopefully the weather will sort itself out in the next few days and we’ll be able to get out and visit a couple of the country parks in the area. Someone asked me recently if housesitting was like being retired, not sure really but we’re loving our days together walking and reading and exploring each place that we live in. Fingers crossed the rain clears off and we get some bright crisp days to do a few longer walks. Not sure if Molly is up to massive walks though as her little legs are even shorter than Jo’s.
3/3 – 8/3/2107