Last day for this housesitting assignment

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Third day in a row with fantastic weather. Highs in 70s & sunny

Today is our last day here at this assignment, so we took it easy. We walked the dogs – I walked them in the fields behind our house. Once I put on my “wellies”, the dogs go berserk knowing that this means “walk”. They dash to the gate that leads out to the fields. Then, George walked them around the estate, watching one dog almost getting a pheasant.

In addition to the dogs here, we also have a cat. She mostly sleeps in this chair, and then is outside catching mice

We drove to a village near us for a nice pub lunch. We had lamb skewers, Greek-style. We sat outside and enjoyed the weather, and chatted with this cyclist.

This pub, like many, have water stations for dogs. This one is cute…

Since today is our last day, we spent time tidying up and I cooked a couple of meals for the homeowners’ return.

DINNER: Leftover fish with some veg.

A return visit to Cambridge

LOCATION: Housesitting near Cambridge, England

WEATHER: Another fab day – 70s and sunny

Today was another hectic day here at the estate – gardeners and housekeeper coming and going. So, after a long walk in the fields with the dogs, we headed back to Cambridge to get out of their way.

We took the train as parking there is impossible. In the week that we have been here, the flowers and trees have really “popped”. The rape seed fields have turned from green to beautiful golden yellow. This is the view of a field from the train…

There is a lot to do in Cambridge, and we wanted to tic off more of Trip Advisor’s “Top 10 Things to do in Cambridge” list. First up was lunch. We went to the Eagle Pub, Cambridge’s oldest pub, built in 1353. It has two major claims to fame: 1) Cambridge scientists Francis Crick and James Watson used to eat here 6 nights a week. One night they came into the pub shouting “We have discovered the secret of life”, announcing their discovery of DNA. And 2) the RAF (Royal Air Force) and American soldiers used to hang out here waiting to be called to the front. As they waited, they drew pictures and wrote their names on the bar’s ceiling, using candles and lipstick.

We walked through a lot of the Cambridge colleges. Lots of tourists and students. The students were enjoying the sun on the green.

Then, we took the bus to a village outside of Cambridge, also on the Trip Advisor list. One reader had described the village as a bit “twee” and perhaps it is, but it is darned cute – with almost every building having a thatched roof!

Even the pubs!

Back home, we relaxed on the deck and ate dinner “al fresco” since the weather is so gorgeous

DINNER: Using some of the leftover roast chicken, I made an Asian pasta dish with chicken, green onions, mushrooms, and ginger with sesame oil and soy sauce

Thatched roof house heaven

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Cambridge, England

WEATHER: WOW!!! A record high of 82 degrees for April in England. Sunny.

A lady came to take our dogs that we are caring for on a “play date”. The dogs do this regularly for their socialization. With them in good hands, we took off for the day to tour the countryside. We went to an area that my brother (who lived in England several years ago) recommended.

We don’t have GPS in the car that we are using, so I mapped our route on my ipad. Due to my finely-honed navigational skills, it took 2.5 hours to get to our destination 35 miles away!!!! Poor George. I gave him terrible directions, and at one point, got us on the expressway on our way to London. Not good!

Finally, we made it and had a lovely lunch in a pub that my brother recommended.

We made a big circle to another village he recommended, following narrow country roads. We spotted a LOT of thatched roof houses, my favorite!

As we were driving along in one village, we passed a brewery so, of course, had to stop.

There are a lot of things I admire about the UK and think they do smashingly (like pubs). However, in this case, I say that American engineering far surpasses the Brits’. This is the British version of a growler….

In the USA, we have a growler which is a big glass jug that we fill up with our favorite brews when we visit microbreweries. This is the UK version – like a milk carton that holds two pints. We bought this filled with some good beer at the brewery we visited.

As I said, my direction-giving is not the best, and it often includes shouts from me like “Stop! – we missed a turn!”, or something similar. At one of these shout/stops, the container of beer turned over. Unlike the American version with a tight cap, this one just burst open and the beer came sloshing out. What a mess, and the car reeked of beer smell. I just hoped a policeman wouldn’t pull us over and we would have to try to explain the smell.

Then, our route took us through a town with very narrow streets (like most of them). The roads are sometimes only wide enough for one car; other times they will accommodate two cars, but then parking is allowed on the roads, resulting in one lane again. At one town, we faced a big lorry (British English for truck). He couldn’t get by us and we could not pull over any more. So, after a lot of backing up, horn-honking and shouting, we made it through.

Just as I was feeling pretty good about getting us home, we encountered the much dreaded “Road Closed” sign. We couldn’t figure out an alternate route. As we were sitting on the side of the road (with me now hugging the beer container), we saw other cars going on that road, so we decided to try it. Yay! No sign of road closure.

We really had a lovely day and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. The flowering pear and cherry trees are at their height. Daffodils and tulips everywhere. The fields are full of yellow rape-seed flowers.

Back at home, we recuperated in the garden from the drive.

DINNER: The homeowners left us some ready–made fried fish (like in fish and chips) which we had with some lentils and veg.

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.