20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Exeter

Before we flew to the UK in October an Exeter homeowner contacted us to ask if we'd housesit while she and her husband holidayed in Tenerife. Because the sit included taking care of two gorgeous Norwegian Forest cats, Buffy and Angel, we quickly agreed. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bath

Visiting Bath has been on our bucket list for ages, but for whatever reasons it was not until this month that we made it happen. After checking into the Premier Inn (fantastic location, btw) our first stop was the Roman Baths.  The entrance is impressive while the Christmas tree and street performer made it all the more festive.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury is a short train ride from Chester and as it's also the birthplace of Charles Darwin John insisted we pay it a visit.  It's a smaller community than most of the towns or cities we've toured, making it easily walkable and in our opinion a quaint, welcoming, hidden gem.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chester: Cathedral & Grosvenor Museum

While we were strolling the Chester Christmas Market we reached a point where we both stopped in awe. "Do you see that?" I asked John. "I certainly do!" Imagine my surprise when I realised I was looking at the Chester Cathedral while John was looking at..

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chester

We visited Chester during the last week of November when its Christmas Market was in full swing and the city abuzz with shoppers. Gifts and deciding what to get whom, however, paled in comparison to Chester's architecture. It literally took our breath away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

John Rylands & Chetham's Libraries

We'd heard a great deal about Manchester's John Ryland's Library and how it is a must-see when visiting Manchester, so we made a point of putting it on our itinerary.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Manchester

My paternal grandparents hailed from Manchester and while they died when I was very young I've always been curious about their city of origin and so when we had an opportunity to housesit in Manchester we seized it with both fists! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scottish Parliament Buildings

The Scots had their own Parliament until the 1707 Act of Union when London took responsibility for legislation in Scotland. Then, in a 1997 referendum the majority of the Scottish public voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament. The new Parliament Building, designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles, is directly across from Holyroodhouse Palace and strikingly modern and yet reminiscent of ancient times in appearance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Foggy Cramond

With clear blue skies overhead we decided to venture out of Edinburgh to the seaside village of Cramond. We boarded the double decker bus, grabbed a seat up top and for an hour enjoyed the incredible view as the bus wove its way westward. Then, just five minutes outside of Cramond the fog rolled in. We just gaped at it and then burst out laughing. So much for our day at the beach! Determined to make the best of it, we trudged on and first stop was the Kirk.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Royal Yacht Britannia

Last year while we were in Edinburgh we were pressed for time and could not visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. This time around we made it a priority - especially as one of my favourite memories of Princess Diana is her greeting her children with arms wide open when the ship was docked in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Edinburgh Delights - Beaches to Botanics

The weather in Edinburgh is constantly changing, often within minutes, so like the locals we do our best to ignore it and carry on. That's not to say we've been plagued with cold, wet weather, because we haven't. It's just that this is November not July, but when we learned Portobello Beach is less than two miles from the city centre we naturally had to check it out regardless of the season. We weren't alone.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Edinburgh Revisited

What a joy it is to return to a place and have not only an idea of where to go, but recognise one's surroundings. We've been in Edinburgh one week and since then have been out and about exploring and reacquainting ourselves with this incredible city. Our first stop was the eastern portion of the Royal Mile, including St. Giles Cathedral.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stirling Walkabout

Our first stop in Scotland was Stirling. Situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh this is Robert the Bruce (above) and William "Braveheart" Wallace (below) country.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

New Hampshire Splendor

Spending time with our daughter and son-in-law is one of our favourite things and while we normally meet in Boston this time we met in Jackson, New Hampshire home of the White Mountains. In the middle of the range is the tallest peak, Mount Washington.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Super Southwestern Ontario Housesit

We've just completed our 24th - or is it 25? - housesit and it was a joy and delight on so many levels, including the perfectly appointed home, gorgeous surrounding 50 acres and adorable pets (4 cats, 1 dog, 2 horses).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chocolate & Bacon - Mmm!

Could life be complete without chocolate? What about Bacon? If you had the opportunity to combine both ingredients in one recipe together would you do it?

A few weeks ago I read a cozy mystery and as is typical of the genre the author included a recipe at the back of the book. This particular one, for a batch of cookies, caught my attention. The ingredients included chocolate chips and bacon. I told John about it and one thing lead to another. He altered the recipe to include a few of his own favourite ingredients and the result is...

Oatmeal, Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Bacon Cookies

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lakes + Kayaks = Summer

Thanks to the recent heat wave to hit Ontario it finally feels like summer. John's been kayaking every chance he gets and has paddled a number of lakes including the Spanish River Delta.

Spanish River Delta

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dollars Lake

This past week we spent three relaxing days with friends at a rental cottage on Dollars Lake which is a 1.5 hour drive north of Parry Sound and an equal distance south of Sudbury.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

July Clowder

It's been a busy week. One filled with water activities, exciting news and updates from friends and much, much more. Let's start with the obvious. It goes without saying John is in his kayak and on the water whenever the weather permits. His favourite destination is Ten Mile Lake.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Campbellford & the Trent-Severn Waterway

While we were farm sitting in Northhumberland County in June we had some free time to explore the surrounding area. One of our favourite destinations is Campbellford situated on the Trent-Severn Waterway. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Flowers, Festivals & Furry Friends

Warkworth, a small village in Northumberland County of 600 inhabitants, is a few kilometres from our housesit. With special events such as a Maple Syrup Festival, Art in the Park, Lilac Festival, Fall Fair, and Perfect Pie Contest it's a popular destination year round.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Warkworth Farmsit

We're farm sitting this week near Warkworth, Ontario and are delighted that summer has finally arrived. Temperatures in Northumberland county have been hot and humid, but recent rain showers have made the countryside lush and green.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hello, Goodbye, Hello

It's been a busy three days filled with hellos, goodbyes and more hellos. Thursday John gave Keegan a bath in the laundry tub so he'd be spic and span for when his owners got home. All it requires is warm water, mild shampoo, bath towel and a hair brush and a pup who enjoys being pampered.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wanderlust Q & A

A friend recently asked us:
(1) How can you be away for six months at a stretch?
(2) Don't you get homesick?
(3) Don't you miss your stuff?

Salem, MA.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kayaking the Mattawa River

One of the wonderful things about housesitting is it allows us to take full advantage of our location. This particular sit is our fourth time in North Bay, but the first opportunity John has had to explore the Mattawa River.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Armed Forces Day

Today was Armed Forces Day in North Bay and like so many other folks we headed to the shores of Lake Nippissing. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Graduating & Cruisin' with a Fluffy Puppy

Thursday evening Mexican friends of our homeowners dropped by for a quick visit. They were in town to attend their daughter, Carola's, 8th grade graduation and wanted to drop off a thank you gift for Keegan's parents. At one time or another Deb and Craig have opened their home and hearts to all three of Carlos and Elsa's daughters when they attended school in North Bay. We had a great time with this delightful family and so did Keegan. He even persuaded Carola and Miranda to play tag with him in the yard before they left, and everyone giggled at his antics. Good times!

L to R: John, Carlos, Elsa, Carola, Miranda

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Pike in Trout Lake

Both Sunday and Tuesday were gorgeous days and being situated right on the water we chose to stay close to home to enjoy every moment. When John offered to take us for a boat ride I have to admit I'm unsure who was more keen to get on board - me or Keegan.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

North Bay Housesit #4

We're back in North Bay, Ontario to house and petsit Keegan. This is our fourth time caring for this little charmer and we were intrigued to see how he's changed during the past year since we were last here. One year older (or seven if you're counting dog years), he's matured and discarded some of that boundless non-stop puppy energy. Just like us older folks he has no qualms of taking it easy when the mood strikes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kayaking the Little White River

After a little more than three weeks back in the Great White North we no longer feel out of sync. And a good thing, too, as since we arrived home ten days ago John's gone kayaking five times.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Travelling Slow with the Schengen Agreement

The Schengen Agreement means quicker and easier travel from one European country to another for travellers because passport and border control is virtually non-existent. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

3 Benefits of Traveling Slow

We've been travelling since the early 1970s and until a few years ago the majority of our trips have been squeezed into time slots determined by our jobs and/or family obligations. We tried to cover as much ground as possible and receive the most bang for our buck. As a result we often returned home more exhausted than when we left. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Re-Entry Shocker

We flew back to Toronto 10 days ago and since then it's been a whirlwind of visits with friends and family in both Canada and the USA. It's been wonderful catching up on everyone's lives and sharing what they've been doing since we left, but it's been slightly marred because we're both suffering from  reverse culture shock.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Portsmouth's Millenium Promenade to Southsea Castle

Our last day in Portsmouth began with a quick tour of the town centre as up until now our focus had been entirely on its Historic Dockyard. Unfortunately it was a nondescript pedestrian shopping area that didn't 'wow' us like other towns or cities have, but this chess themed fountain did catch our eye.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a large waterside complex designed to showcase 800 years of British naval history. Tickets are valid for one year from the date of purchase and that's important because there is so much to see and do it's impossible to do it justice in a single visit. We devoted three full days to the dockyard and were still only able to tour the Mary Rose Museum, Submarine Museum, HMS Victory,  Explosion Museum, and take in a Harbour Tour.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Winchester Medley

While I had planned to include all of the photos in previous blog posts they were omitted for one reason or another. This slideshow seems the perfect opportunity to share them. Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hospital of St. Cross

One of our favourite places in all of England is a short walk outside of Winchester proper. The Hospital of St. Cross is Britain's oldest almshouse and was founded by William the Conquerer's grandson Henry of Blois between 1132 and 1136. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winchester Walkabout

Winchester is a walled city and at various places the wall and its fortifications are not only visible but still in use by its present day inhabitants. To reach High Street (the pedestrian-only main shopping area) we would pass through the Westgate. Just to make it interesting we'd zip through the middle tunnel one day, then opt to use either the right or left passageway the next. Variety is the spice of life!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Winchester's Great Hall & Round Table

The incredible thing about England is that around every corner there is something grand, spectacular and awe-inspiring. History is entrenched here so deep it's intoxicating, and while most people associate Winchester with its magnificent Cathedral it's so much more than that. It's also home to the Round Table.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Belfries & Markets

Wednesday we took the 1.5 hour long Winchester Cathedral Tower tour. "Climb the 213 steps to the top of the tower and experience magnificent views across Winchester and the county," the brochure said. "You will see the ringing chamber, the great Cathedral bells and walk the full length of the nave roof with its huge wood beams." 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Our 1st Week in Winchester

It's the end of our first week house and petsitting in Winchester, England and we're enjoying our time with Poppy who is a 7.5-year old Golden Retriever. A total sweetheart she's kind, gentle, goodnatured, affectionate and in no time flat she's become John's shadow! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Salisbury

We'd visited Salisbury back in the Dark Ages (the 1970s really, but sometimes it seems that long ago) and decided to return to take a second look at the cathedral as it was the one that made the biggest impression on us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Au Revoir

The end of a housesit is always a mixed bag of emotions for us. We look forward to the homeowners safe return and enjoy watching the reunion with their beloved pets. We also feel a little sad, however, because it's time for us to leave and say goodbye to those same pets of whom we've grown quite fond. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wine Caves

We're familiar with vineyards, but having two 'wine caves' directly across the street from us is a new experience. We watched the sun rise and set on the fields. Saw dandelions pop up overnight to add a blanket of colour while labourers began early each morning to prune the stocks and methodically work their way through the rows.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Modern Montpellier

Having toured historic section of Montpellier we wanted to explore the modern side of the city as well. The square known as Place d'Europe seemed the perfect place to begin. It's invigorating, inventive and inviting as can be seen from the glassed arc de triumph. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Historic Montpellier

One of the wonderful things about our current housesit is its location. It's on the outskirts of Montpellier and the city centre is just a 30-minute tram ride away. As a result we've ventured there on numerous occasions to explore both the new and modern metropolis and its historic downtown section.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Teyran

We noticed the small town of Teyran the first day we arrived at our current housesit. Perched high on a hill in the distance and visible above the vineyards it beckoned us to come for a closer look. So, that's exactly what we did.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jacou

Confession time...we'd never heard of Jacou prior to arranging our current house and parrot sit. We quickly did a Google search, however, and discovered it's a small town of approximately 5700 inhabitants within easy commuting distance to Montpellier.