A gorgeous day in the British countryside

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Beautiful! Sunny. High upper 60s

The unusual sunshine and great temperature made us giddy! We spent most of the day outside enjoying the sun.

The house where we are housesitting has a huge yard (called garden here).

For lunch, we went to a nearby village pub. We shared two appetizers (called starters here). One was a stuffed mushroom and one was grilled, spicy shrimp. The weather was so nice that we sat outside in the beer garden. The pub has a cute sign in the back…..

These old British telephone booths are still all over. Many are empty. Some, amazingly, still have telephones. Others have been repurposed are are ATMs, wifi spots, or this one we spotted today – a book exchange. Brilliant!

I just love thatched roof houses. I saw this one in a village we passed through. A man was working on the thatch. As I took the picture, he grumpily asked me what I was doing. I guess he was suspicious that I was scoping out the house for a robbery or something. I explained that I am an American and love thatch roofs. He agreed and changed his tune and gave me a big smile.

Then, home to walk the dogs and play with them.

DINNER: The homeowners left us so much food that we are trying to eat before it spoils. They left a whole chicken. I roasted it in the Aga oven, and it turned out beautifully. Sides were onions, carrots and potatoes – a real Sunday roast!

Checking out Cambridge

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Much better. Mostly sunny. Very windy. High 60

Today is the busiest day at the estate where we are housesitting. Four gardeners and a house cleaner come on Tuesdays. Since there was a lot of coming-and-going, we took off for the day. The dogs were in good hands.

We drove into our nearest town, then took the train to Cambridge. The historic part of the city, along with all its famous colleges, is about a 2-mile walk from the train station. A good way to get our exercise today!

The train ticket clerk recommended a pub near the water in Cambridge, so that was our first destination. Great recommendation!

Inside the riverside pub, we sat near the water and watched the punters take tourists on the river.

We shared a ploughman’s lunch – with pork pies, sausages, cheese, pickled onion and piccalilli. Yum. Then, a walk around the historic area. This tulip tree is in full bloom, next to a iron fence where posters of all kinds of artistic events are posted

Walking the streets, you hear many different languages. Really exciting and a young vibe with all the students. The downtown square had its market today. Note all the bicycles on the side..

We walked by lots of Cambridge University’s colleges. This is the famous King’s College Chapel.

Many of the old buildings have been converted to shops and restaurants.

Cambridge reminds us a lot of Oxford where we did housesitting last year.

Back home, we walked the dogs. We brought them inside in the evening, as people came to our barn/entertainment center to have a yoga class.

DINNER: Fish cakes with sauteed potatoes. Side of steamed broccoli.

Country estate living

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Some sun. Yay! High upper 50s

We roamed the estate, admiring the old buildings and beautiful gardens. A cock pheasant was checking out the tennis courts. The flowers are all starting to bloom, especially the tulips.

We went into the nearest big town to do some shopping. I got a much-needed haircut. Getting a haircut in a different country is always stressful. At least here I can tell them what I want in English! We had lunch in a nice pub – a phyllo encrusted cheesy spinach mix. Never-shy George struck up a conversation with the man seated next to us who gave us some good tips about places to visit.

Back home, George walked the dogs around the gardens and woods.

Doesn’t he look like a country gentleman?

This dog got tuckered out after the walk…

We did a bunch of computer stuff, mostly figuring out how to get to Belgium from here. Lots of options – bus, train or airplane.

DINNER: Using some English sausages the homeowners had left, I made some pasta with tomato/sausage sauce.

Country Living

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: A grey day, but warmer. Highs 50s

This housesit is on a large farm. Our house was built in the 14th century as a hunting lodge. Indeed, there are lots of pheasants, deer, fox and pigeons around. We walked about .5 mile into our village and saw this sign….

We were tempted to buy the pheasants, but the homeowners have left us a refrigerator-full of food to eat up.

In the village, we stopped for a pint at the local pub. Being Sunday, it was crowded with locals eating Sunday roast (an English tradition) as well bicyclists. We’ll return another day that isn’t so busy.

We walked the dogs in the woodsy area near our house and the fields. It is still soggy.

DINNER: Smoked salmon fillets with some leftover veg we found in the refrigerator – pickled beets (George only) and steamed kale.

On to our next assignment!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Great! The sun came out. What a difference! High about 60

Our B&B in Lincoln is actually a cafe with rooms. Included in our accommodation fee is a “full English breakfast”. And, I mean FULL! Today we asked for smaller portions as yesterday’s breakfast was way too much food. The cook/manager said that she had served us the small version yesterday! Yikes! So, today we got even smaller portions, about which the cook was concerned that we would go hungry…. HA! Eggs, bacon, hash browns, tomatoes, pork & beans, Lincolnshire sausage and toast.

The owner is away in Spain so this lady is covering for him. She is a real hoot. Over breakfast, she had the TV blaring watching her favorite soap opera, “Coronation Street”. It has been on the air 50+ years.

We had the morning to kill before our train, so we walked around Lincoln some more. What a difference sunshine makes. Things looked so much different. We stumbled across this horse and buggy preparing for a wedding. The Lincoln Cathedral is in the background.

Our train ride route today had several changes. We started on this one-carriage train. All the trains were running late. When we arrived at our 3rd transfer station, our train was going to be 25 minutes late. We calculated that this would result in missing our last connection. We had told the homeowners what time we were arriving, and without a phone, we had no way to let them know about our delay. Thankfully another train came by going in the same general direction. We hopped on and got off in Cambridge. There we were able to catch a smaller train to our destination. Thank goodness, no train conductor asked to see our tickets as they did not match the last 2 trains we were on. With all of that, we arrived only 5 minutes late, and the homeowner was there to meet us.

This promises to be a great assignment, too. We are taking care of two darling dogs, one a golden retriever and one a Jack Russell. And an outdoor cat. The house is out in the country, within walking distance to a village with a pub (nothing else). The house was built in the 14th century as a hunting lodge. We took the dogs for a walk through the fields with the homeowner to get oriented, then ate a delicious dinner with them. They will take off early tomorrow AM, and we’ll be here a week.

Sightseeing in Lincoln

LOCATION: Lincoln, England

WEATHER: Another dull day. Cold. Highs in 40s

Lincoln is a very historic town. We climbed up to the highest point in the city to the castle.

We visited the Victorian prison inside one of the castle buildings. We saw the Magna Carta under glass. Then, we saw this Magna Carta next door….

This area is full of shops. To get here from the lower town, you have to climb Steep Street, and it really lives up to its name!

After the castle tour (an hour outside freezing in the bitterly cold wind), we stopped at The Strugglers Inn, site of lots of hangings.

It was very warm inside, with a roaring fire. George talked with this eccentric customer.

We walked around the old part of the city and did touristy things

Then we slid down Steep Street to the marina, an inland port that leads out to the North Sea. These long boats reminded us of our fun time last year when we lived on a canal boat for a few days.

DINNER: We went to a pub looking for dinner, only to learn that their kitchen closed at 6:00! With nothing else nearby, we brought a take-away pizza back to the room.

Off to Lincoln

LOCATION: Lincoln, England

WEATHER: Miserable. Cold (high 30s) and grey

We had breakfast with the Yorkshire homeowners, and said goodbye to the dogs. They took us to the train station. This has been a great housesit,

After about 2 hours, we arrived in Lincoln. It is a very old city that we are anxious to explore. We found our B&B after trudging up a hill. It is not the greatest accommodation, but the people are very nice.

The Lincoln Cathedral is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, dating back to the 1100s. It is massive

Really majestic

This pub, from 1701, beckoned us in to warm up.

The bartender said it was a popular place in the 1700s, right outside the walled cathedral city.

We stopped at this pub, thinking it would be good for dinner, but they don’t serve food. Oh well, since we were there, we might as well have a pint!

DINNER: There aren’t any restaurants nearby, so we bought some spicy vindaloo from an Indian take-away and ate it in front of the Telly in our room.

Last day in Yorkshire

LOCATION: Housesitting in Yorkshire, England

WEATHER: Sadly, another dreary day. Rainy, overcast. High 50

Another pub-weather day, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately? . To make the most of it, we took a trip to a country pub/inn that won 3rd place in the Yorkshire Best Pub Contest. We learned that it is the town where the real James Herriot lived. I don’t think this was his house, but it is one in the village….

We shared one of their 2-course specials. First course was homemade liver pate with rocket (arugula) salad

Second course was a cauliflower curry. Pubs have certainly come a long way food-wise. Years ago, you could only get chips and other over cooked, fried foods.

The pub has a nice outside eating area for the summer months.

Back home, we prepared for the homeowners’ return. We went out to dinner at one of the village pubs. Now we have eaten in all 3! We shared a corned beef pie and chatted with some of the local guys.

Then, we drove about 25 miles to the regional airport and picked up our homeowners. They have been in Hong Kong visiting their son. They flew from Hong Kong to Amsterdam, and then to here. They were happy to see their dogs!

Lovely Osmotherley

As we wind up our stay here, I took a few extra photos of our village. It is a town of 1500 people. In addition to the 3 pubs I’ve mentioned that it give it real community feel, there is a village “hall” where community events take place. The villagers organize speakers, exercise classes, book clubs, and monthly movie events.

The 12th century church overlooks the village.

Even though the weather has been dreary for several days, the daffodils and other flowers brighten things up. This neighbor has lots of flowers.

One neighbor sells honey…

And another neighbor sells free range eggs on an honor system. We bought some…

We have really enjoyed our stay here.

We learned that this is how Osmotherley got its unusual name

Fanciful local legend says that Osmotherley was named after the mother of a villager named Oswald or Osmund, who supposedly went out to gather firewood in the winter. When she did not return her son became anxious and went out to look for her. He found her lying in the snow, dead or dying from the cold. Because he was not able to carry her back, he lay down beside her and died himself. It is where Oswald’s mother lies, hence Osmotherley.

Best pub in Yorkshire!

LOCATION: Housesitting in Yorkshire Dales, England

WEATHER: Unpleasantly cool – 40s and rain

After being spoiled yesterday with spring-like warmth and sun, we awoke to cold and rain. A lot of people were grumbling. Really a dreary day. Good day for a pub!

We had picked up a brochure listing the best pubs in Yorkshire, so decided to go have lunch in #1. It was about 20 miles from here, through the backroads.

Like many pubs, it has a more formal section like a restaurant, and an informal bar section. We ate in the bar section in front of a nice fire. We had a platter of Yorkshire sausages over “bubble and squeak”. Don’t you just love British names? We still haven’t tried Spotted Dick or Toad in the Hole, but we still have some time here! Bubble and squeak is a potato/cabbage/veg mix that is lightly fried. It got its name from the squeak you hear when you bite into cabbage

Back home, we played with our dogs and watched the baby lambs in the backyard. When we arrived 10 days ago, they were 1-2 days old. We have watched them grow daily. I put on the homeowner’s wellies and went out to try to pet them….

DINNER: Chili. I always make the homeowners a meal for their return. This time, I made a big pot of chili for their return, and we had some, too.