After our gorgeous day in Oxford, we had a hearty Saturday morning breakfast with our friends and then said goodbye. We were on our way to a new home away from home: pet sitting in a small English village.
On the way there, we visited Windsor Castle, a place that none of us had seen before. Because the Royal Standard (instead of the Union Jack flag) was flying from the top of the castle, we knew the queen was home for the weekend! How cool is that?
Free audio tours were included with admission, and so we got the “family version” for the kids as well. They were a huge hit! The tangle of headphones and wires were not as popular with us parents, especially when Forest reached out of the Ergo at every opportunity to grab them off my head, but…
… well, how can you resist this cuteness anyway?
We stayed at Windsor and even attended evening vespers in St. George’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we happened across this pretty little street with a view of the castle, and we decided to stay for dinner.
Finally, we turned our wheels towards Haywards Heath, the little town where our petsitting job would be for the next week. We couldn’t appreciate the house in the dark, but here are a few pictures I got the next morning:
We found this house- and pet-sitting opportunity through TrustedHousesitters.com, a site that I think is more popular in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand because that is where most of the listings are. (We actually we about to go to New Zealand instead of Europe and had a great house/pet-sitting opportunity there, but ultimately decided our children were too young this year for all the driving that a true exploration and appreciation of New Zealand would require.)
We are staying here for FREE, and the family (who are on holiday in Spain for Easter break) are getting house sitters for free, and so it works out well for all of us! They have two cats, one of whom is very sweet and one of whom has given us some gray hairs because of her desire to live more outdoors than indoors. Ultimately, it’s been an amazing experience. A huge, five-bedroom home in an English village for a week for free! Not a thing to complain about — only thanks.
The next morning we visited a cafe in the village to get some much-needed coffee and breakfast. Lena is making animals sounds for Forest and Gil is annoyingly tapping them with coffee stirrers… typical.
Afterwards, we put off grocery shopping for a little longer and visited Borde Hill, a privately-owned estate in Sussex with magnificent gardens in full bloom. We ate our picnic in this field of daffodils!
Meanwhile, an exhausted Forest fell asleep in the Ergo, and so I walked through this meadow for over an hour, making loops and thinking and praying and reading articles on my phone. Such a perfect afternoon.
Elliott and the kids explored the stream below and then made flower crowns in the meadow while I walked with sleepy Forest.
And that was the end of a lovely day in the English countryside! This is definitely the pace our family needs, with plenty of time outdoors. And now, home and to bed.