All Creatures Great and Small country

LOCATION: Housesitting Osmotherley, North Yorkshire, England

WEATHER: Cool. High 50. Overcast

We had a coffee near the train station, and then watched for our platform announcement at King’s Cross.

Because it is Easter weekend, everything is absolutely packed. We had reserved seats but many people had to stand on our train for 2 hours until our first stop, York.

It was a 3-hour train ride north to North Yorkshire.

Our homeowners picked us up at the train station and we drove about 8 miles to their village. I felt the theme song from “All Creatures Great and Small” running through my brain. This is where the author lived and the TV show took place.

Our homeowners are delightful. We got oriented to our new charges, 2 cocker spaniels and a cat.

We took a walk around the village to get acquainted with foot paths to use for walking the dogs. It is a darling village. There are 3 pubs, all within a 5-minute walk from our house. We will love it here! We walked to one of the pubs for dinner. We had a cassoulet with a lovely piece of haddock fish and a piece of smoked trout for an appetizer. Just lovely.

An hour hour there


WEATHER: 50 ish and light rain

We did a last-minute round of house cleaning at our Geneva housesit, mostly sweeping up dog hair. Then, we drove to the airport to meet the homeowners who were returning from their trip to Ireland. The airport was full of skiers. We handed off the car to the homeowners, said a fond farewell, then got checked in for our flight…..very convenient. We had lunch in a nice airport cafe to use up all our Swiss francs. We’ll store away our Euros for later in this trip, and switch to British pounds later today.

This was our first time flying Swiss Air, and it was very pleasant. Complimentary drinks and big German pretzels. An easy hour trip. Then a grueling hour wait in the immigration line. At Heathrow. Argh.

We figured out the tube system and took a one-hour ride from Heathrow to central London, near St. Pancras station. It was rush hour and the train was very crowded. It is strange to hear people speaking English.

After getting settled in our hotel, we went in search of a pub for dinner. The one next door was too noisy and crowded, so we found another one, also quite busy. Probably because tomorrow is a bank holiday. We shared a sampler platter (half price Thursdays) with hamburger sliders, small serving of fish and chips, and wild boar sausages. All washed down with lagers.*

Traveling is tiring, so a comfy bed was nice. Our hotel room in teeny…..our Airstream is roomier!

Last day in Switzerland

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Cool and dreary. Drizzle most of the day

Today was our “do nothing” day, as we had read the weather forecast. It was a good day to stay in, read a book, and prepare for our next leg of the trip.

Ollie, our dog, got a little cabin fever. Here is tiny Rocky the cat (under the chair) teasing big Ollie.

When we housesit, it is always challenging to figure out electric appliances. Here, the brands are German so all the signage is in German. I figured out the “cotton” cycle on the clothes washer. I was amazed that it took 3 hours to wash! Then, we couldn’t get the clothes to dry. Even after an hour, they were wet. Then, we realized that a signal was flashing. After much deliberation, we realized that this is one of those dryers that doesn’t have an outside vent. Instead, the hot, wet air converts to water and is stored in a plastic container. The problem was that the container was full. After we dumped it, the dryer worked just fine. The dishwasher is also tricky. Unlike the 3-hour clothes washer, the dishwasher was programmed to run for only 30 minutes. The oven looked very complicated, so I didn’t even try.

Switzerland lives up to its reputation of being very tidy, organized and rule-driven. All of the hedges in our neighborhood have to be cut to a certain height. They are trimmed frequently so that there are no unruly branches. This is a view of our backyard with the straight hedge, and the forsythia that is starting to bloom.

I cooked up a storm in the afternoon, preparing a lasagne casserole for the homeowners when they return tomorrow.

DINNER: For us, I turned the remains of the rotisserie into an onion/chicken/vegetable soup. We had one large chunk of bread left from the market. It was turning hard and crusty, so we made it into breadcrumbs for the lasagne and croutons for our soup!

Just like (Swiss) clockwork!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Partly cloudy. Highs in 50s

Today was our day to explore part of Geneva, about 10 miles from our house.

We picked up the bus right outside our neighborhood, and it took us to our nearest Swiss town. We got off the bus, followed all the other passengers, and climbed aboard the train to Geneva. All very efficient – the busses and trains are timed so that there is no waiting and no rushing.

After a short ride in the comfortable train, we disembarked at the main Geneva terminal. We asked for directions to get to the United Nations building. They told us which tram to get on, which we did, but then we realized we were going in the wrong direction. No problem. We just got off and turned around. We had bought an all-day pass, so it was very convenient to get on buses, trams, and trains all day.

This is the iconic symbol of Geneva, in front of the United Nations building, called the Broken Chair. It symbolizes opposition to land mines.

This is one of the UN buildings…

We timed it just right – getting one of the last tickets for the 12:00 guided tour. On the tour, we learned a lot about the work of the UN and saw several chambers where they meet.

Here is Delegate George making some momentous decision……

We also visited the Red Cross Museum. Very well-done, but a bit overwhelming.

Then, we found another tram to the old section of town. We stopped for a drink and to absorb the neat atmosphere. Then, back on two different trams to the train station, train to our village, where the bus awaited us for the short ride back to our neighborhood. Everything went just like clockwork!

Day trip to Swiss town

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Partly cloudy. High upper 50s

Today we went to Nyon, a town on Lake Geneva, about 10 miles from our house. At the tourist office, they gave us a good walking map, and off we went to explore the city.

As usual, we seemed to have arrived right at lunch time. The tourist office recommended a fisherman’s bistro as a place with good, traditional Swiss food. On our way to the restaurant, we passed the town’s castle that overlooks the lake.

Our lunch was a salad and the town’s specialty – Malakoff. They are breaded dough balls with cheese fondue inside. Very lo-cal, I’m sure!

We walked around the lake front. In the summer, there is a lot of boating activity. The old part of town is from the 1200s.

In the spirit of Easter, they have decorated all of their fountains with an Easter egg theme.

We learned that some of the stories in the old cartoon Tin Tin took place here in Nyon. This is one of the scenes from here.

We drove home via the lake road, gazing at some of the beautiful old homes along the lakefront.

DINNER: Last of the pesto-filled raviolis, this time cooked up with onion and rotisserie chicken breast and tomato sauce

Market day in a French village

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 60

There are 2 villages next to us. One is in France and one is in Switzerland. We went to the French one today for its weekly Sunday market. The streets are blocked off and lots of stands set up: fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, charcuterie, olives, spies, nougats, etc etc. There were lots of people looking and buying.

And when they were not shopping, they were sitting in an outdoor cafe like this one.

The breads are divine. We bought a partial loaf…

This guy was selling roast pig.

We bought a rotisserie chicken from this stall. The grease drips down as the chickens cook, and it sprinkles the potatoes on the bottom. When we bought ours, the vendor wrapped up the chicken in a bag, added a cup of the grease, and a cup of the greasy potatoes.

Then, we found the seafood section. It is oyster season in Brittany and they were serving oysters on the half shell from Brittany. We watched them shuck the oysters and serve up the customers.

The fish and seafood looked beautiful.

We stopped at Charlie’s Pub in the town for a drink before we headed up. We learned that Charlie Chaplain once lived near here, and the pub was named after him.

In the afternoon, we loaded Ollie in the car and drove 2 miles to a very nice park outside our French village. We took Ollie’s passport with us, just in case we got stopped at the border. (He is French). We, along with seemingly all the villagers, walked the 2-mile loop around the lake.

DINNER: Rotisserie chicken (of course) along with the greasy and delicious potatoes. Salad.

Our anniversary in an Alpine village

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Picture perfect! Sunny. Highs about 60

Today’s weather forecast was sunny and warm, so we planned a trip to the mountains. We drove about 45 minutes to a French town called Annecy that had been recommended by our homeowners. The old part, built in the 1300s, is very picturesque. The town is sometimes called “The Venice of the Alps” as it has canals throughout the town.

First up was lunch. We decided to splurge for our anniversary and found a cozy restaurant serving fondue.

It was delicious – crunchy bread with a lot of cheese to dip in – flavored with a hint of garlic. It was a lot of food!

I had read reviews of some of the restaurants (there are many) in town and several readers complained about bad service, unfriendly waiters, etc. Our experience couldn’t have been more different. We had a lovely waiter who was attentive and friendly. The customers at the table next to us did some French/English translation. Through them, we all talked about how many years we had been married.

This is the outside of the restaurant. It is on the right, called Le Chalet.

We walked off our lunch strolling around the alleys of the old city, then around the beautiful lake.

Famous Mont Blanc towers in the background behind us…

We took a different road home, past lots of mountains with signs for skiing. Nice walk with Ollie in the PM>

DINNER: After such a big lunch, we just had some vegetable soup with some pesto-stuffed raviolis.

Dog-walking in Switzerland

LOCATION: Housesitting near Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Sunny and crisp – highs mid 50s

We took Ollie, our Australian Shepherd charge, on a walk. The spring flowers are starting to pop up.

Next to our neighborhood are fields full of apple trees. We learned that the apples are used to make a local, specialty apple brandy.

You can see Lake Geneva and the mountains in the background.

A bit farther down are some vineyards. We were surprised at how much wine is made here, but we’ve learned that most of it is consumed in Switzerland, and very little is exported.

In the distance (on the right side) you can see Mont Blanc in the high mountains, home of the famous ski resort of Chamonix.

After the walk, we rested – ALL of us!

Today is our 42nd anniversary. We will celebrate tomorrow by taking a drive to a village that is supposed to be picturesque. Tonight, we celebrated with a bottle of French champagne!

DINNER: Last of the leftovers that the homeowners left for us — chicken with mashed potatoes. I added some veg and a salad.

Exploring our new Swiss area

LOCATION: Housesitting near Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Sunny. Cool. High 50

George took the homeowners to the Geneva airport and we started settling in.

We took Ollie, the dog, for a nice walk around the area. A lady was outside gardening and she greeted me in French. All I could understand is that she looked at Ollie and said “magnifique”.

As you probably know, Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, and it does not use Euros as its currency. So, we went to our nearest little village, Coppet, to try to find an ATM to get some Swiss francs. It is a cute town, right on Lake Geneva.

The architecture looks so Swiss!

It has its castle, as do most towns here. I think it is a museum and event center now.

Then, to France (1 mile away) for lunch and shopping. We found a cute place for lunch and shared a platter of sausages. Then to the supermarket for shopping. So fun to buy different French foods and wines. In the deli section, I sampled different types of pate’. Nice to be able to buy a small amount. I bought a chunk for 1 Euro., plenty for the 2 of us.

DINNER: Pate’ and a baguette as an appetizer. Main was some meat pasta left over from the homeowners. Dessert was some Swiss yogurt, quite different from what we get in the USA.

A spectacular train ride through the Alps

LOCATION: Housesitting outside outside of Geneva, Switzerland

WEATHER: Sunny, but cool. Highs in 50s

We caught a fast train from Bologna to Milano, a one-hour trip, traveling in speeds up to 295 kms/hour (185 mph). Wow! Our train was a bit late, so I was (of course) worried about our connection in Milano. All went well, with 20 minutes to catch the next high-speed train to Geneva.

From Milano, we stopped in about 5 towns along the way, but otherwise, we sped through northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Our first stop was Stesa at Lake Como. The famous tourist area of Bellagio is here. It is breathtakingly beautiful…

There is still quite a bit of snow in the Alps. We followed Lake LeMan, often called Lake Geneva for many miles.

We arrived in Geneva after a very pleasant four hour trip.

Once in Geneva, we had to find a local train to go to the homeowners’ small town station. We only had 15 minutes, and our train had arrived a few minutes late in Geneva. We were a bit perplexed as nothing was in English. (This is the French-speaking section of Switzerland). We also did not have any Swiss Francs, and could not locate the ATM. Thankfully, with only minutes to spare, we bought tickets using a credit card and jumped on the train. We met up with the homeowners as planned.

We will be here about a week. This is a young family, with 2 teenagers. The family are Irish. The man works at the United Nations. They are going to Ireland for a week’s holiday. We will be taking care of Ollie, an Australian Shepherd, a cat, 3 gold fish and a hamster.

We drove around the area to get us acquainted with nearby towns and the neighborhood. We are only about 5 miles from the French border. The homeowner showed us the supermarket where they shop in France, as it is much cheaper than in Switzerland.

DINNER: The homeowner prepared a lovely chicken dinner for us. We chatted at the dinner table and got oriented for our stay here. It will be really nice to explore this part of the world.