February 2015, An eclectic multi-building resort with numerous guests, animals and a one-winged parrot!

2015-02-02 17.40.53Our next house sitting assignment was a little unusual.

Unlike a standard house sit, we joined forces with Nat and Jodie of “House Sitting World” who wanted to put on a house sitting academy at a big property that needed a lot of work on it in the off season to prepare it to be ready for rental in peak season as it was a featured property on Airbnb.  The idea of the academy was for people who were interested in house sitting to be able to come and try it out, while having experienced house sitters on site, so that they could see if it was the lifestyle for them.  They also wanted us to be able to chat to people about our experiences so that they could learn what house sitting could involve, and how we managed our businesses online so we can work from anywhere. Nat and Jodie needed someone to be the experienced house sitters to oversee and manage the comings and goings of other ‘newbie’ house sitters for a few months and asked us if we could help.

In addition to helping to guide and support new house sitters we also had to look after several animals at the property: Public the dog, Carmen, Kizette and C2 the cats, Tardu, the one-winged (and a little temperamental!) parrot and a collection of chickens.

The property was in a beautiful location, but definitely in need of a little TLC, so we found ourselves finding ways to overcome minor challenges with lack of heating, hot water and drinkable water on site…there was a well up the road which provided everything we needed. And we found creative ways to fix the little DIY challenges we discovered along the way!

Tardu was definitely one of our more interesting charges, as she was very particular about who she made friends with and who she tried to give a friendly (or not-so-friendly) nip to! Luckily after a short while she took a liking to us, and allowed us to hold her and carry her around the property. Public the dog was a little nervous of people as he was a rescue, and didn’t usually come inside, but while we were there spent many an afternoon curled up in the office with Claire while she was working.  …and the cats in Greece are probably some of the loudest ‘purrers’ we’ve ever experienced, which we discovered when one of them started purring while on the bed in the middle of the night and woke both of us up! 🙂

We had a great experience with the academy, meeting a variety of new people and helping out new housesitters getting started on their journey, and everyone was happy with the support we provided while we were there.

January 2015, A 6-bedroom House in Oxfordshire, UK with Zippy the dog and 2 cats

2015-01-20 10.40.45For our next house sitting assignment, we looked after a lovely detached 6 bedroom property in Oxfordshire while the owners were on holiday.

While the owners were away the house was being redecorated, so we played host to Steve the painter and decorator who was in most days getting the place looking all fresh and new for the owners’ return.  We kept him topped up with cups of tea (and even a homemade scone or two)

Unusually for this sit the owners didn’t require us to do a handover with them, which meant that we arrived at the house after they left. The owners mentioned that the cats were very low maintenance, not very social and we possibly wouldn’t see them much, but for a day or so we were quite concerned that we hadn’t seen either of the cats at all. That was until one of us noticed a couple of ears peeking out from on top of the kitchen cabinets and we discovered that the cats enjoyed sitting up there as they had seat-warmers in the form of the uplights that were embedded there!

Our main job on this sit was to keep our doggie friend occupied. Zippy was an Australian Kelpie, a working dog by nature, and so VERY high energy! Even with a very long walk each day, dragging the biggest branch she could find with her, she always had time to play with the ball…in fact she was a little obsessed with them. If you were in the room with her you would have balls placed by your feet, on your lap and one time actually on the kitchen table between myself and the laptop to encourage you to play. The only slight challenge came when you took the game outside, she knew how to find the ball, but hadn’t quite cottoned on to the idea that she needed to bring it back to you!!  She definitely kept us busy while we were there!

We were surprised that both of the cats eventually decided that they preferred the idea of curling up on some warm laps, getting cuddles in front of the fire to the top of the kitchen cabinets, and we spent many an evening surrounded by animal friends while at this sit.

When the owners returned they were really pleased to see that even without a handover the sit had gone so well and all the furry family members were well looked after while they were away.

 

December 2014, A 4-bedroom House in Sevenoaks, UK with Casper the cat.

2014-12-06 09.40.02For our next house sitting assignment, we looked after a lovely detached 4 bedroom property with Casper the cat.  The family were going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia before the children moved up to senior school and wanted to make sure that their cat (who had a tendency to wander a little) was still there when they got back! As these people were using house sitters for the first time, they were a little nervous about leaving their home and pet with new people, but let us know quickly how reassured they were that the property and cat were being well taken care of when we provided them with updates letting them know Casper was happy and well.

At one point the neighbour commented that he’d not seen the cat wandering the way he had in the past…because he spent most of his day cuddled up on the sofa with Claire while she was working!

While at the property we also oversaw the cleaners to make sure that the property was kept in the manner the owners wanted, and when their regular service was unable to make it we paid for a trusted cleaner that we knew from London to travel out to the property to make sure their home was in tip top condition for the owners’ return.

When we called the owners to check that they were happy on their return they were delighted that their home had been looked after so well, and commented that the cat had been so well looked after that he was missing us when we left! 🙂

“I was really nervous about using house sitters but Paul and Claire proved reliable, friendly and my cat adored them. I would recommend them to all my friends. I could relax whilst away knowing my house was safe and the cat was looked after and loved. On our return they had cleaned the house and done a food shop so all was ready for our arrival. I will be calling them again when we are away next.” – Lucy, Sevenoaks

July 2014, A 5 Acre Guest Property in Ojochal, Costa Rica with Rica & Daisy the dogs

House Sitting Costa Rica Paul and Claire Balirica 142For our next house sitting assignment, we were lucky enough to look after a gorgeous 5-acre guest property in Ojochal, Costa Rica for 3 months.  Here we were joined by two wonderful dogs, Rica the Golden Retriever and Daisy the Terrier, 4 ducks and around 8 chickens. In addition to looking after the property and animals, we also managed and ran the guest properties, hosting guests from all over the world.  The assignment included a huge variety of responsibilities including:

  • General house and garden maintenance
  • Animal medication and special diets
  • Vet visits
  • Swimming pool and hot tub maintenance
  • Looking after guests / guest accommodation
  • Managing spa area and treatments for guests
  • Managing onsite activities for guests, e.g. liaising with yoga instructor for regular classes and therapists for treatments
  • Managing staff – housekeeper and groundskeeper
  • Managing car repairs being completed

Unfortunately Rica had got herself a tic disease before we arrived, so for a significant portion of our stay we were giving her medication, organising vet visits and nursing her back to health.  We’re happy to say that with some TLC she was soon back to her fun and lively self!

June 2014, A 5 Bedroom House In Orpington UK

House sitting UK Paul Claire Orpington 007For our third house sitting assignment, we looked after a large 5-bedroomed house in Orpington in the UK.  Again there were no pets at this property, but the garden is the owner’s pride and joy. We had fruit and vegetables to tend to, and to pick as they were in season, a lawn to keep pristine and a variety of plants and flowers to look after, including bird of paradise plants which had never flowered in the UK summer before.  When the owners got home they were “thrilled and delighted” that not only had we looked after the garden well, but we had gone above and beyond the jobs they’d asked us to do to make sure the garden was in perfect condition when they returned.

House sitting France Paul Claire Tour Du Treuil 013

May 2013, A 7-Floor Luxury Tour in the South of France

For our second house sit we were lucky enough to spend some time at a 7-storey luxury tower in the south of France.  We had two dogs keeping us company for the duration of our stay, George and Harriet, who both enjoyed curling up with Claire and her laptop as she worked.  We made great friends with one of the neighbours during the stay, and also helped to resolve some technical challenges that the owners were having with their internet connection.

House sitting UK Paul Claire Brockley 000

December 2012, A 2-Bedroom Flat in London

As this was our first house sitting assignment, and we weren’t expecting for this to be our full-time lifestyle, we don’t actually have any pictures of the house! This was a five week house sit, looking after a lovely 2 bedroom flat in the Brockley area of London.  There were no pets and no significant work needed to be done on the property which was ideal to ease us into the house sitting experience.  The one comment we did get from the homeowner after they returned was that we’d left it cleaner than we found it! 🙂

House sitting UK Paul Claire Brockley 000