UK 2019: Part 1

Spring was in full swing and May was upon us again so it was time to think about our annual escapade!

As birds fly south in winter we so made our annual migration in the opposite direction (ish) for the summer.

Our flights tend to be booked with whichever airline gives us the best deal, price balanced with time in the air and stopovers. We’re not so loyal when it comes to air travel. We are however, pretty set in our ways when it comes to places to land, and by that I mean lodgings. In the past Airbnb has been our accommodation of choice, but nothing matches our new found fondness for Trusted House Sitters! We love the concept and the reality!

Kind of like Alice in Wonderland – we’re tiny when we arrive but having feasted on Trusted House Sitter experiences we’ve grown by the time we leave!

This year we once again sought out new friends, of the animal variety, but this time in locations we could visit without needing a car. It restricted our options (we knew that would happen) but we were determined to find something. We were not disappointed with our final invitations! I would just like to add at this point though, the absence of options in my home town and my Mum’s home town, which were not for the lack of trying, sadly meant very much less time spent with friends and family than I hoped! Next time!

It takes the best part of 24 hours to travel to the UK. We’re normally pretty pooped by the time we reach our first abode. Somewhere in London, near transport links, is ideal. If we can reach it from Heathrow airport in time to grab some food and settle in for the night we’re happy.

This year our first stay was in Norwood Heights, Croydon. We found a great place on Airbnb to rest our heads for a couple of nights to decompress and get on Greenwich mean time. If you read my blog you’ll know we love London and this year we’re grateful that it regularly featured in our visit.

We certainly landed a room with a view (Olly is an Airbnb super sleuth)!

Just a few little quirks from our new neighbourhood!

We got some good sleeps and a chance to breathe in the fresh London air before catching the train to our next location. We were super excited to be heading to Brighton and our first pet sit. Little Edie here we come!

We arrived in the sunshine but the weather kept us on our toes during our visit. Totally changeable!

You can brave the seafront on the blustery days but there’s so much more to keep you interested.

Brighton, oh wondrous Brighton!

The weekends came good and the beach filled with sunseekers! Who is that dude!

The highlight of our stay were our wonderful hosts, who laid on a magnificent welcome dinner, and our delightful charge! Edie!

Edie was devoted to her owner and really didn’t understand why she’d gone away on holiday. We were always second best (well Olly was second best, I was third best), but Edie was a sweet companion nonetheless. She didn’t want to go for long walks, just in case her owner returned, but once we gained her trust and learned to carry her around the first block she forgot about NOT enjoying herself.

The house was grand and super comfy! We were centrally placed which meant easy access to the seafront and the high street. Not to mention being close to fantastic parks. It was perfect and we loved it!

What a character Edie turned out to be. She looks so cute, right? Right! She was also super stubborn. Adorable!

Edie loved walking Brighton high street the best. Granted it is very interesting but she favoured one store in particular. Turns out this is not only the source of her treats but where she is regularly given said treats! The store was closed but Edie wouldn’t budge!

And Edie posing next to the book of her namesake – Edie Sedgwick.

Boy! It was hard to leave that face! But leave we did. Where next…?.

Back to somewhere closer to my UK home. Oxford is a beautiful city and the location of our next pet sit. We had a few days pet free so once again called on Airbnb to put us up.

The place was a little out of town in a delightful village. It was a real home from home, and Sainsbury’s was only a ten minute walk away. Never underestimate the joy of a British supermarket! Ask Olly!

The local bus service ran very regularly so we signed up for a weekly pass. A word of warning there – if you’re ever thinking of getting a weekly bus pass in Oxford make a careful choice. There are a lot of different bus companies running in Oxford. Try to get an all companies pass otherwise you may find yourself waiting around for the wrong bus!

Once in the town there is loads to see and do and if it rains, well, just find a quiet, quaint cafe serving great food and sit it out! I highly recommend The Nosebag Restaurant. I’ve know of this place for many years and was excited to see it was still going strong and still offering first class food.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is an interesting way to spend an afternoon. And it’s free!

Or you can just walk around the city and be blown away by the architecture and ambience.

Poser alert!

It was soon time to move across town to meet Brosie. Brosie lived in a beautiful house in Summertown.

We were warmly welcomed to Brosie’s home and treated to an evening of interesting conversation and delicious food.

Brosie was an old, cherished family pet who loved to sleep, play fetch in the garden and go for walks. Just as well her garden was large and she lived close by to the canal and Port Meadow. She was such a sweet dog!

We actually spent a lot of time with Brosie. She was a great companion!

She tipped us off about the best Chinese take-away in town! It should be noted that we only got food there once (the other times were for research only purposes you understand!). It’s purely coincidental our favourite dish was renamed the ‘Olu Special’. (Just kidding!)

Brosie also generously showed us the local area and the very best places in Port Meadow to lose your ball so that your companions have to get their feet wet (usually me) retrieving it!

(The Queen’s Silver Jubilee – I remember it well!)

The canal area was just a wonderful haven! Lush, green, wildlife abundant, peaceful and yet vibrant. And the weather was kind!

It was also a great running track.

Summertown run!

I managed to keep up my exercise but did not, and will never, get to the dizzying heights of Roger Bannister’s achievement. Yup, that happened in Oxford folks!

I love these Scrufts (playing on the name of the famous ‘Crufts’ dog show) categories! Brosie wouldn’t have won ‘best catcher’ for sure but she would have stolen the show for ‘best veteran’!

Back in 1980, as a gangly school kid, my dog won a 1st prize rosette (I still have it….somewhere) for the dog with the most appropriate name. Her name was ‘Waggy’. I guess she’d have been in the running for the ‘dog with the waggiest tail’! Go, go, go #28! Check out the super cool wristbands (I loved those wristbands and those scruffy shoes)!

When it comes to architecture you could say Oxford (like Brosie) has found the ‘Middle Way’! It manages to blend the majesty of bygone Oxford, cloaked in it’s scholarly traditions, with the innovations that we have come to accept in our modern world. This space aged annex was a mind blowing bonus during a walk down a leafy Oxfordshire road.

Oxford in June can only mean one thing! Fathers Day lunch at Browns. Browns has a long history in Oxford and also with my family. Many a Sunday lunch I spent staring in awe at the beautiful waiting staff who were so super cool in my eyes (a ten year old’s eyes) – Oh, to be a Browns waiter!

We caught the bus into town – no expense spared for my Dad!

Of course it had to be Sunday roast! Can you blame my Dad for pointing so excitedly at the Yorkshire Puddings! Look at the size of them!

In what seemed like no time at all it was time to leave the gorgeous Brosie. Brosie gets the last word!

After Oxford we travelled to Leighton Buzzard – those of you with good memories will remember the town from previous years. It’s the nearest town to my Dad’s home and it was where I spent the most time with my family this year. We stayed in a two bedroom apartment which meant my Mum could come to stay.

The place was spacious, comfortable and amazing value. We’d definitely stay here again. It was a bit of a trek to get into town but the buses ran a good, frequent service.

We woke to a very overcast first morning but the day improved and we headed out in search of food.

The towpath along the canal made for a scenic route!

Leighton Buzzard is a charming town with plenty of shops and in easy reach of seriously the best Indian restaurant…period!!! It doesn’t look much from the outside but Cafe Zeera offers out-of-this-world food and genuinely friendly service. If you get the chance please stop by!

More lovely time spent with my parents but sadly it was all too short a visit!

Time to pack up and head back into London. Pet sit number three awaited!

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