We'd planned a quiet weekend at home after two weeks away, plus another month of trips already planned in the van. But on Tuesday an email from Trusted Housesitters popped up, with an urgent request to help someone this weekend. I replied and the owner was soon in touch. We talked through the gig and agreed to help out. This was to look after a country cottage in a beautiful valley in North Wales, with two elderly terriers, four chickens, a feisty cockerel and six ducklings who think Ted the terrier is their Dad!
After work, we drove from home into torrential rain - I mean like monsoon rain! It was very warm and we drove into Wales, heading steeply uphill out of Llangollen, before dropping down through several steep hairpins into the Ceiriog valley. We dropped down a narrow, fern-lined track down to the cottage. There were crumbling out buildings on our left. I pulled up at the gate and the owner met us, let us through and I parked overlooking the misty valley with sheep in the field. Engine off and we were enveloped by ear-ringing silence. The dogs - Ted and Tom - met us at the door, excited to see new faces and we all got on well. We had a good chat over a cuppa and some lovely homecured ham and did the usual house sitting handover - pet feeding, keys, electrics. The owner had some work to finish so in the meantime Cathy made us all a lovely dinner of homemade pizza, salad and new potatoes, enjoyed with a bottle of white wine. Tidied up, we headed for bed, opening the window to listen to heavy rain and some very unhappy sheep!
We woke early to a cockerel's crow and so were sat at the kitchen table, drinking tea and watching the bird life by 0630. Once the owner had left for her weekend we had breakfast and fed the animals. We cleared some overgrown tree and shrub growth then took the dogs for a walk, through the fields, along the river and into the village. Actually, if truth be known, we didn't know the way so the dogs walked us! Back at the cottage we sat outside in the hot, humid sunshine with a brew before I tied up the tomato plants in the greenhouse, while Cathy tidied up. As we worked there was the odd rumble of thunder and heavy rain started to fall.
I drove into Chirk to buy some food plus fish and chips for our supper - we were hungry! With the ducklings and dogs fed, Cathy had a snooze while I watched cycling on TV, with Ted laying next to me with his chin on my leg. We have a few jobs lined up for tomorrow so, until then, it's time to listen to the silence of the deep countryside.
The next morning it was still cloudy with mist on the tops of the valley, but warm enough for shorts. The hens had laid a couple of eggs, which we enjoyed with bacon and toast for breakfast. Outside jobs today were weather dependent. However we noticed Tom was holding his rear left leg off the ground. We took a look and couldn't see anything apart from a little blood on the paw. So I rang the vet in Llangollen and booked an appointment for later. Tom travelled well in the car and he was soon examined by the vet, who thought something had pierced the skin but was not still in there and there was some swelling. A quick injection and some anti-inflammatory tablets to hide in his food and we were soon back at the cottage. The rest of the day was on and off torrential rain, so outside jobs had to be fitted around. But we did manage to sort out the compost heaps. Resting on pallets and with plastic in the bottom, there was no way for the worms to reach the composting material, which explained the slow progress and smelly stuff. We forked one full bin into the empty one, cleared the bottom and then forked it back, so with a double turning it should really take off now. We also tidied up around the allotment and checked on the greenhouse. I had planned to replace the topping stones on the dry stone wall, but it was too wet to safely handle them.
The rest of the day was spent reading and fussing over Tom and Ted. I cooked a very tasty lamb biryani and there was plenty left for the owner's return, so she doesn't have to cook after a long journey. We watched some TV in the evening before heading off to bed.
More rain in the night and more forecast today! Spike the cockerel had a Sunday lie-in until 0730 so after that I was up to feed and water all the animals. This is our last day, so we tidied and cleaned up after ourselves, spending time looking out on the views of the hills and sheep and watching the many birds feeding in the garden during the rain and pottering in the garden in between.
|Spike the cockerel|
|Six little Aylesbury ducklings|
|Lovely views - wildflower meadows, sheep, hills|
|Walking Tom and Ted through the wild meadows|
|Cathy seems to be their favourite perch today!|
|Lovely view from the dining table|