Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Month: January 2016

Living in Nice Houses… for FREE!

I have always been a frugal person, to be able to travel. As a school teacher my wage was nothing to write home about and after leaving Belgium indefinitely in the summer of 2003, well…let’s just say that I would be ecstatic if I could earn minimum wage. But, selling a few articles a year, just doesn’t cut it.

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The Villages, FL: December 15th – December 29th, 2015

Hanging out with the pups

Hanging out with the pups

This blog is for our list “Completed house sits”, as a record of all the positions we have taken house and pet sitting all throughout the US and possibly internationally in the future. These are quick overviews of our particular house sit experiences.

While being snuggled up with a whole bunch of clothes on in cold Connecticut, it is hard to imagine that a month ago, we were enjoying the pleasant Florida weather during our two week house sit in The Villages. Two weeks is on the shorter side – for us – to house sit, especially when it is so far away from our base in New England, but we wanted to soak up the warmer weather and meet our friends Sim and Rosie from SV Wandering Star over the holidays, while visiting Florida by car. Continue reading

Kent Falls: Startling… in a Good Way!

After our little muddy adventure a few days earlier, Mark and I decided to leave all pets at home for a quick excursion. Henry and Mickey kept the birds – Koo Koo and Tu Tu – company, while we drove off to an attraction barely 15 minutes away: Kent Falls State Park.

It was the weekend. It was winter in New England. It was grey. It was bleak. But… it wasn’t raining, let alone snowing, and it was above freezing: the perfect time to see some waterfalls! Continue reading

Snow-ish Walks

The first snow of the season had fallen. It was time for our morning walk, to sniff the air and the scents, to stretch our legs, and to take care of business. When I opened the front door, a cool breeze entered the house. Mickey lifted his chin, took in the white surroundings and decided he wanted nothing to do with it. I convinced him to at least walk down the steps. That brought him to the closest bush. After lifting his left leg, he immediately turned around and sat at the door. Waiting… Henry, on the other hand, loves the outdoors, snow or not. He took off into the bushes, tiptoed in the snow and returned when he decided he’d had enough.

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First Snow in Umpteen Years

I look up from my book “The Art of the Book Proposal”. My eyes venture to the bird cages. It is pleasantly quiet in the room. Mickey and Henry rest at my feet. Tutu and Koo Koo are well-behaved. They like to have company and to feel part of the family. Then, my gaze rests on the window. Small, white particles are falling down. Is it snowing? Soon, the flakes multiply and a white layer covers the balcony, grill and outside furniture. How exciting…

1/8 inch

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Meet the Animals – Our pets for Three Months in Kent, CT

For three months, Mark and I will be living in the roomy, comfortable house of an ex-rock star from the sixties and seventies (think Woodstock) and a renowned and accomplished artist (think ceramics, paintings), while they are seeking warmer climes, exchanging art for accommodation.

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The Villages – An Unprecedented Retirement Community!

The Villages. It is a weird name for a town, when you first hear it or talk about it. But, you get used to that quickly, just like to living in it. Or, is it in them? The Villages in Central Florida is the biggest retirement community in the world and the fastest growing “city” in the United States. Why is it so popular?

A friendly collection of villages

A friendly collection of villages

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A Day in the Life of a House Sitter – The Villages, FL

Every house sitting assignment is different and the tasks, requests and expectations depend on the house, the property, the owners and the pets. Some home owners require you to do yard maintenance, water the house plants or collect the mail; all of them, naturally, expect you to keep the house tidy and “return” it as clean as you found it or better. Usually there is at least one pet to take care of, which means setting food out once or twice a day, making sure the water bowl is always filled with clean water, taking the dog out for a daily walk, and sometimes administering medicines or brushing the animal. Although not every dog owner expects it, Mark and I have the tendency to shower dogs with love, attention and company. It goes without saying that a responsible house sitter is prepared to take the pets to the vet or emergency room when necessary and reports general issues back to the owners, while trying to fix or solve problematic situations.

Time to chill in the TV room

Time to chill in the TV room

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From South to North Again

A couple of days ago, Mark and I finished our three-day, 1300 mile (2100 km) road trip from Florida back to New England. We mostly reversed the route we followed towards the sun mid-December. This time, however, the temperature dropped consistently with every state we passed, and the days grew shorter.

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Goodbye 2015. Hello 2016!

Mark and I finished 2015 in style. Our “unofficial” celebrations started on December 28th, when the owners of our house sit arrived back home from their trip up north. We concluded a successful two week stay in their home with drinks on the patio and a wonderful meal out in a Japanese restaurant. The four of us had a great time and hope to meet again.

Bob, Mark and Jane with cocktails in the “bird cage”

On the 29th, we drove from The Villages to Vero Beach to celebrate Rosie’s birthday. She and her husband Sim were moored there with SV Wandering Star, awaiting a good weather window to go to the Bahamas and – more importantly – awaiting us. Continue reading

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