Last day housesitting in western England

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye, England

WEATHER: Sunny again and nice. High 70

For today, our last full day here housesitting, we wanted to return to the Wye River one more time.

We walked the dogs through town and down to the river. We had a nice lunch at a riverside pub.

We talked with a couple that is doing a 5-day rowing trip down the Wye River. It gave us an idea for a future trip. They are going with the current, so it isn’t too difficult. They stop at pubs for lunch and tie up at B&Bs at night.

We basked in the sunshine and really had a nice time.

Back home, I did the last bit of laundry. The Aga oven stays on all of the time, and puts out quite a bit of heat. It does a good side job as a clothes dryer. 🙂

DINNER: Lasagne. I made a casserole for our homeowners, and a smaller one for us. They will return late tonight.

CRISIS —- I normally don’t check emails at night, but I did tonight when I went to the main house to fetch some dog food. I had one from Ryanair apologizing for our flight cancellation tomorrow for France. Yikes! Check tomorrow’s blog to see what we will do.

The Royal Wedding….of course!

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye, in western England

WEATHER: Perfect (of course!) for the wedding. Sunny. High 73

We did what most all of England did this morning – watch the Royal Wedding on TV (or the telly as they say here).

Starting at about 6:00 AM, we watched the build-up. All morning, the TV folks speculated about the dress, the weather, the procession, and the KISS. Amazing how they can go on and on. Interestingly, there were no commercial breaks.

When things got dull, we went up to the main house to check on things. The flowers there are beautiful.

Then, the big moment at 12:00 noon, when the wedding started. It was majestic, perfect in every way, and just royal!

At about 2:00, when the ceremony was over and the TV personnel were just rehashing the event, we walked to the town center. It was eerily quiet, like a ghost town. I think everyone was inside, just glued to their Telly. There were lots of British flags and banners hanging from windows all over town.

We did some shopping and stopped at a pub where they had some special Royal Wedding drinks. They were featuring a beer called The Windsor Knot made with “a combination of British and American hops”.

DINNER: Indian Tikka Marsala. I used a jar of the sauce and added leftover chicken and veg to it. Served it over rice. Seemed a bit British, in keeping with today’s spirit.

Castle in the country

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye, England

WEATHER: Smashing! Sunny. High 70

Today we retraced our steps back toward Wales. We took the same bus, but got off in a village on the Wales/England border that has a marvelous pub/inn and castle.

It is a beautiful location. The pub was built in the 1200s and sits along the river

This will probably be our last British country pub on this trip. It is something that we are really going to miss.

Since the weather was so nice, we sat in the garden to eat our lunch of a brie and bacon sandwich and some wild mushroom pate.

We walked off our lunch by trekking up the hill to the castle. They say that Wales has more castles than just about any country.

Back home, we relaxed by our backyard pond. Life at the manor!

Mojo stayed with us while Beamish went up to the main house with the homeowner’s son.

DINNER: Omelette to use up some leftovers and broccoli/cheese soup.

Day trip to Cymru (Wales)

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye, England

WEATHER: Sunny. High mid 60s

Today we were off to Wales. It sounds like quite a journey, but it is only 10 miles away!

We walked downtown to pick up the bus. We joined the queue along with other Old Age Pensioners. The British OAPs get to ride free, so they ride quite a bit – to visit friends, shop in other towns, etc. The friendly bus driver knew all their names and kidded everyone.

We grabbed a front seat on the top of the double-decker bus for more good views. The streets in town are very narrow. As we were leaving the town, we encountered this delivery truck parked on the right side of the street. The driver was nowhere to be found, and we couldn’t get around. The bus driver got out and searched. He was quite angry. We created quite a traffic jam behind us. After about 15 minutes, the truck driver appeared (probably after a coffee in the pub) and we were off, too.

The roads in the country are impossibly narrow, too. It is a good thing another bus or truck didn’t approach us on this road. Although it was only 10 miles to our Welsh destination, the circuitous route through tiny villages took us 45 minutes. It was delightful.

We were disappointed not to hear anyone speaking Welsh, but all the signage is in English and Welsh. All the children are required to study Welsh throughout school.

We had lunch in an outdoor cafe overlooking this bridge, built in the 1200s.

DINNER: Ryan made us Thai curry with prawns and green beans. It was delicious. The family has lived in SE. Asia, so he learned how to make it there.

Lazy day at the manor

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye in western England

WEATHER: Cooler. High 60.

Quiet day today. A day of reading and working on the computer. I started, and finished, a great book called Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, about the evacuation of children from London in WWII. Highly recommend. We watched all the speculation and building-up of the Royal Wedding on TV. Wonder if it is getting much press in the US news?

I took the dogs for a walk along the railway path while George napped. Hard day.

In the afternoon, we rousted ourselves and walked into town to do a little grocery shopping. As a reward, we stopped in a very old pub for a drink. Quite nice

DINNER: Chili over polenta slices. I added some of the leftover grilled hamburger as well as leftover roasted chicken bits. It made a lot, so we took a bowl up to Ryan at the main house.

Day trip to Hereford

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Rye in Western England

WEATHER: Smashing! Sunny. High 70

After sorting out the dogs with Ryan, the homeowner’s son, and the housekeeper at the main house, we walked into town to catch the bus to Hereford.

On the double-decker bus, we sat in the front row on top in order to see and appreciate the beautiful countryside. The fields were a combination of green (hay and barley), yellow (rape-seed) and purple (lavender). Absolutely fantastic!

Hereford is an old market town. George immediately needed to find a bathroom, so we popped into the first pub we saw and had their local ciders. George tried mango; I had something called dark fruit. Both were tasty. Since they make so much cider here, it is very popular and have lots of varieties in the pubs.

Then, we strolled around the old, cobblestone streets until we arrived at the magnificent cathedral.

After touring it, we were more than ready for some lunch. We found this nice-looking, old pub and gave it a try. We talked with the owner who said he is from Cyprus, so we had the Greek meatball pita. (Spelled pitta here). We sat outside in the beer garden. Wow!

All of the pubs in Britain have beautiful signs in front of them. I thought it was just a nice tradition, until I read about a brewery that employs artists to make them. I learned that in 1393, King Richard II passed a law requiring all alehouses to exhibit a sign outside their premises, to ensure that they were easily identifiable for tax and trade controls. Now we know! 🙂

Back home, we picked up the dogs from the main house, and rested with them in our cottage. Ryan came to pick them up before dinner. No sooner had he left with the dogs, than I heard a noise at the front door…..it was Mojo, wanting to be with us. After about an hour, another cutie scratched at the back door wanting to join us. It is heart-warming to know that they like being with us!

DINNER: Creamy risotto with bell pepper, mushrooms, onions and a few bits of bacon. Yum!

A walk in the woods….with snakes!

LOCATION: Housesitting in western England, in Ross-on-Wye

WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny. High about 70

We took the dogs for a long walk in the woods. Mojo, one of the dogs, has a keen sense of direction, and he guided us back home. (Otherwise, we might have walked endlessly along the many paths). The bluebells blanket the forest – just beautiful.

As we were walking along, Beamish, the other Jack Russell, suddenly pounced on something in the grass. Then, he started whipping his head around. I realized that it was a snake. I screamed and he let it go. I was worried that the snake was poisonous and that it had bitten Beamish. After things calmed down, we saw that Beamish was ok, but the non-poisonous snake was a goner.

When we walk, we seem to always encounter people. Brits like to hike, and sometimes we meet others just out for fresh air or walking their dogs, too. Also, we learned that there is a farm on the other side of the mountain. We see a lot of the workers (non-English speaking Romanians) walking on the paths to and from the farms, sometimes carrying big bags of groceries (and one time a TV!) Right after the snake incident, we saw a couple walking who strangely avoided one section. When we got close, we saw why…..another snake. Beamish wanted to have a go at this one, too, but we had him on his leash and wouldn’t let him.

DINNER: We invited Ryan, the homeowner’’s son, for grilled hamburgers. I baked some finger potatoes in the Aga oven, which gave them a nice crispy crust. Salad on the side. Feels like summer!

The dogs were hoping for a handout from the grill….

Checking out pubs with our dogs

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye in western England

WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny. High 68

Wanting to take advantage of the beautiful weather, we walked through town down to the Wye River. As I said yesterday, tourism got its start in this area. Today, I saw a plaque showing that Lord Nelson “vacationed” here.

We hiked along the river walk, along with a lot of other people and dogs. Our dogs seemed to enjoy the 2-mile hike. We were in search of a pub with a view of the river. Eureka – we found a nice one!

The dogs sipped water, compliments of the pub, and we enjoyed a beer brewed in the Wye Valley and a cider made in the next-door town. This valley has a lot of apple trees, and is famous for its cider.

On our way back home, we stopped at another pub to quench our thirst. We were assured that dogs are welcomed here…

Since the weather is so nice, all the outdoor seats were taken, so we sat inside. As we were sipping our beers (another one from this valley), we watched the bar maid pull the last of one of the beers. (It was the Butty Bach ale which we were drinking; its name is a Welsh term for little friend). She came over to our table, opened the hatch door, and went down into the dark cellar to put on a new keg.

DINNER: Parmesan-encrusted pork chops and grilled polenta slices. Side salad. I seared the chops on top of the stove, then covered them with parmesan. I baked them until they had a nice crust. Yummy!

Rubbing shoulders with famous tourists

LOCATION: Housesitting in Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, England

WEATHER: Sunny. Highs in 60s

There are beautiful walks all around our estate. We took the dogs for a nice walk along a path that used to be a railway.

Then, we visited the weekly farmers’ market and bought some local cheese, pate and salami. Afterwards, we strolled around the town center. Being Saturday, there were a lot of people out and about.

Lunch was at the Royal Hotel’s pub, overlooking the Wye River. It is said that Ross-on-Wye is the birthplace of tourism, as Wordsworth and other famous people came to enjoy the quiet and verdant area.

I found this plaque in the pub which says….

“At this hotel in September 1867, Charles Dickens met his friend and biographer John Forster and here decided upon his celebrated American reading tour 1867-8.”

Then, we went to the Morrison’s supermarket. Our plan was to buy everything we would need for a week, and hire a taxi to take us and all the food back home. (Too far to carry and too many bags to lug). The customer service lady called for a taxi for us and said we would have to wait 2 hours! Oh no! Then, when we acted devastated, she called another company and one came shortly. Whew!

We checked on the main house, and did our wifi catch-up there. The flowers along their wall are breath-taking

DINNER: I baked a chicken in the Aga – nothing better. It just fell off the bone and was really juicy. It was a traditional chicken dinner with potatoes and gravy, and carrots. Lots of chicken leftovers for other meals, and I made chicken broth for future soups and sauces.

Back to the land of pubs!

LOCATION: Housesitting in Herefordshire, England – in the west

WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 60

Since we are farther north and we are entering the summer months, the days are getting much longer. I awoke at 5:15 to bright sunshine and to the quacking of Canada geese flying around our pond.

We explored the estate. We are in a cottage next to the main house. Our cottage has a conservatory entrance, and I trimmed up the geraniums.

The main house was built in the 1700s, and has a lot of character.

It is situated on a beautiful pond

We hiked in to the town center – about 15 minutes. The town, Ross-On-Wye, has a population of about 10,000, so there is everything we need here. For this assignment, we don’t have a car, so we will be walking more (which is good), and will take the bus for a few day trips. Today, our goal was just to see a bit of the town and to grab a lunch at a pub. We spotted about five pubs, and tried out the first one today. Very reasonably priced – for about $9, we each had a beer and shared a baked potato with chili stuffing.

Then, we took the dogs for a walk through farmland behind us, up into the woods. The bluebells are blooming and are beautiful.

Back home, both the dogs and George had a rest.

DINNER: We had a quiche Lorraine that the homeowners had left us along with a salad. It will be time to do some grocery shopping soon.