Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

HOUSE/PETSITTING 101 - Borehamwood, England

This is  my first 'real'  house/petsit.

Much different than my Copenhagen sit where I knew the owners and Rick was at home part of the time, where here I don't know the family. We connected through one of the 3 housesitting websites where I am registered - TrustedHousesitters, MindMyHouse, and HousesittersUK.

My flight from Copenhagen took me to Luton Airport.  Though listed as London-Luton, it's quite a long distance from the City.  I caught a shuttle bus to the train station and hopped the next train to the Elstree/Borehamwood stop.

My hostess, Mandy, picked me up at the train station and immediately took me to a great local pub for lunch, which she bought.  Next we headed to Tesco (England's answer to a combo of WalMart/Costco/Sams) for a basketful of groceries, including wine and beer - which she bought!  Believe me when I say, from all that I've heard and read, this is certainly not the norm.  But she was so thankful that I would stay in her home, for no pay, to watch over it and the family pets, that she said lunch and groceries were the least she could do.  I said 'thank you very much!!!'

Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England is really a commuter suburb of London - just 15 miles out with very easy bus and train connections.  There are no castles to explore, ruins to wander through or history to delve into.

For two weeks, I am making my home in what is called a 'mid-terrace house'.

I was told they were called this because they are a group of homes all in a row, and this one is in the middle!  As you can see, it's a nice-sized house with 4 bedrooms and a bath upstairs and a nice den, lounge, wonderful rain shower/bathroom and fabulous kitchen on the main level.  What we would call our front yard is, as you can see, a car park here, as there are no garages. But do have a look inside....

 My bedroom all done in pink and flowers!  It was their now-away-in-college youngest daughter's bedroom.
I am in love with the kitchen - they had it redone last year.  
A huge side-by-side fridge with ice/water in the door is brilliant!

The dining table sits under a huge skylight and those doors are by-folds, they totally fold back to allow the entire kitchen space to open directly into the garden.

    The lounge with Big TV                           My 'desk' and more fab kitchen space

This 'sit' is for 2 weeks while the family is on holiday in Cyprus (where they are boiling with daily temps of 104º!)  Here it has been sunny or cloudy or raining with temps in the mid-70's.  Brilliant! (English expression I've adopted!)

And what are the duties of a house/petsitter you might ask?  Well, I arise at 7 a.m. and turn on the electric kettle for my first cup of morning tea.  While that is quickly coming to a boil, I feed my charges who are VERY anxious to be fed. While they eat, I sip my tea and check the computer to see what's happened overnight in the world. Then I fix a little breakfast, clean up the kitchen, maybe do some laundry, read a book, work on my blog, walk to the High Street, or  watch some great TV.  

While doing this 'my charges' are running in the garden, napping or trying to stand on my keyboard.  Let me introduce you to.....

LOLA - 3 years old and thinks she's a lapdog

MAX - 9 and still acts like a puppy

And PEPE.  He's 16, talks very loudly, calls this house home, but spends his nights at his choice of several neighbors, all of whom open their doors and let him in for a nibble and a nap.  He usually is pawing at the front glass by 7:30 a.m. wanting breakfast.  He then crashes until tea time at 4:00 p.m.  Then he's off to roam and visit his friends once again.  

Max and Lola take me for my daily walk (literally, as they are both very strong and pull me along with them) at 3 p.m. to nearby Ripon Park.  It's huge, lovely, has a soccer pitch, basketball court, lots and lots of open space and a totally free workout area with really nice gym-quality machines for anyone's use.  

I wasn't kidding when I said BIG

If you click and zoom in you will love the 
lady in the back using the rowing machine

These charming characters greet me every time I run to the neighborhood markets across from the park.

Borehamwood/Elstree is noted for one thing  - the world famous Elstree Film Studios - their massive!

I had to Google them to be able to tell you what all has been done here as they have been in business since the early 1920's before 'talkies' and movies in color where around.   Here's just a really short list -

TV Shows -
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents
- The Saint
- The Muppet Show
- Eastenders
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Movies -
- Murder on the Orient Express
- The Shinning
- 2001 - A Space Oddessey
- All of the Star Wars movies
- All of the Indiana Jones movies
- Paddington
- Mission Impossible I, III & Rogue Nation

Concert Tour Rehearsals -
- Madonna
- Alicia Keys
- Florence & the Machines
- Queen

Etc, Etc, Etc, Etc - I could have listed 100's of others in each category.

They don't offer tours, but during seasonal filming of the TV shows you can stand in line and get audience tickets.  I was told it's never unusual to see a BIG tv or movie star at the local Tesco picking up groceries or strolling down the High Street.  

So that's what house/petsitting is all about.  You'll be learning a whole lot more in the next 3 months as I travel from one end of the UK to the other to take on cats and dogs of all sizes and houses large and small. 

But on Saturday, I bid adieu to Borehamwood and it's off to London for 6 days of just old-fashioned sightseeing! It's been years since I've been there so am really excited.  Staying in a great little AirBnB right on the Thames and will make use of the River Buses for the majority of my transport into the City!  

Until next time.....


  1. I too would be showering you with groceries, wine and whatever else you might like!! Having someone who will really care for your pets is a true gift.
    Enjoy London!

    1. Rhonda, when I'm next back in Chicago - just ask! I've noticed that more and more US homeowners are started using these services - which all started in the UK.

  2. ReAnn - your house/pet sitting job sounds really stressful . . .

    If you would like to get in touch with another IWA member and a good friend of Sel's and mine, who lives in Chicago but is in London until September, I'll send you her e-mail address and Cc her to connect the two of you.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer in the UK and continue to keep us informed of your adventures and travels!