Our Travelationship in Review: March 2016

By: Heather

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Umm, where did March go? Our intention was to slow down by house sitting, get caught up on our blog posts and solidify some plans for the next year. It is now April, and the only goal we conquered was our house sit.

The chores at our farm/guesthouse in Montilliers, France along with crappy weather most of the month kept us pretty busy. Our responsibilities included managing a 7-bedroom guesthouse, two herds of sheep during birthing season, two horses, a dog and a cat. We mowed an acre or so of grass, mended fences, weeded a bit of the garden and split & stacked wood in between the almost daily rain, cold and wind.

Mostly, because of the weather we didn’t spend nearly as much time exploring the area as we wanted. Early in the month, we were able to take a two-day road trip through the beaches of Normandy and onward to Mont St. Michel. The weather was cold but worth every second. One day we would like to return and explore the area at a slower pace.

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We were also able to spend one day in Fontevraud at the Fontevraud Abbey. We are still in awe over how much we enjoyed this place. One midday we spent a few hours with Global Greeters, Antoine, and Janna, in Angers learning about the history and architecture of the city. And we admit we ate McDonald’s more than once during our time here. Shameful, we know, but we couldn’t help ourselves.

Overall, March gave us time to eat a lot of home-cooked meals, catch up on some TV and Netflix shows, and remind us that we have no interest to start our own guest house.

The Stops

United Kingdom: London
France: Paris, Montilliers, Vihiers, Angers, Normandy, Caen, Bayeux, Angers, Saumur, Fontevraud

The Great

Our first international house sit with TrustedHousesitters.com was a success. We had both done plenty of house and pet sitting back in the states but this was our first overseas job, and it couldn’t have been more suited for us. We spent about four weeks taking care of a guest house and sheep farm during birthing season in Montilliers, France at La Gaucherie aux dames. The owners, Beverly and Olivier, welcomed us a couple of days early to show us the ropes and introduced us to a few of their helpful friends. They were departing on two different trips, so we had about a week to ourselves to get our feet wet before they returned for a few days and then left again. We were really glad they returned when they did because one of the sheep had a difficult twin birth and one of the babies died, and Ebony also died during that time. Selfishly, we were glad they were around because we would have thought the deaths were our fault or that we could have done more to assist. By the way, if you find yourself in central France or are planning a trip to France, we highly recommend staying at La Gaucherie aux dames. It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy the French countryside.

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Matt and I both grew up on (separate) small farms, and we realized how much we missed having lots of animals around us. We thoroughly enjoyed caring for all the animals, even in the pouring rain we loved playing around in the mud with the animals. We definitely will look for more farm sits in the future.

Visiting the Normandy Beaches was emotional and inspirational. Northern France is so beautiful; we really would like to return and see more of it. The history and the beauty of Northern France are extraordinary. If you ever have the chance to visit France be sure to include the Normandy area on your itinerary.

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Our visit to Fontevraud Abbey in Fontevraud, France was really cool. With so many abbeys, cathedrals and castles in Europe it is easy to get the names and locations confused, but we will never confuse Fontevraud with any other place. We loved everything about this location. It has a self-sustaining energy center, organic gardens, hundreds of years of history, amazing art exhibits and the way it has been all meshed together is seamless. Thank you, Olivier, for hosting and showing us around Fontevraud.

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Our taxes are done and submitted!

We met some really great people who helped to make us feel right at home. An extra special thank you to Bev, Olivier, Alain, and Pascale and her family for helping us and making us feel so welcome.

The Not So Great

Coming off of the heat of Sri Lanka made London and our time in France feel so cold. Neither of us packed exceptionally warm gear, so our days in the city weren’t as enjoyable as we had hoped. We have both become extra sensitive (aka whiney babies) to wet, windy and cold temperatures. We counted four days of the entire month without rain or wind. With that said, France is still so beautiful even on a blah day.

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Losing two lambs on our watch. First, our little Ebony died the morning Beverly and Olivier left for their second trip. Per the veterinarian’s advice, we gave him some oral meds, and I even had to break out my vet tech skills and give him a shot of meds, but we still lost him. The second was breech (born bottom first, instead of head first) baby, and we weren’t able to save it. This loss haunts me because I wish my skills had been keener because I think he could have been saved. Matt thinks not, and we did all we could properly, but it’s one of those moments you look back at and wonder “what if”.

After 11 months of traveling being still wasn’t as relaxing and productive as we thought it would be. Instead, the idle time and the rainy weather stirred up arguments and irritability in both of us. Relationships are tough, and constant travel with very few to zero stress outlets is a recipe for possible disaster. Time outs or day breaks seem to usually work best for us for taking the edge off, but fighting for whatever reason still sucks. Compound it with a lack of familiarity with the area, creatures of comfort and local friends to blow off steam with and stupid things turn into drawn out dramatic arguments for way too long. Anyone that thinks traveling let alone traveling with your partner is always bliss and trouble free is delusional. The reality of traveling or even vacationing with someone else is it’s not always fun or easy. We knew this going into it all, so we aren’t surprised, but it still sucks to fight at any time.

We are missing our dog and cat more than usual. Hobee and Soma are both doing well with Grandma and Grandpa, and we received some lovely photos of both from Matt’s niece. We still miss them every day.

The Oops!, WTF?, LOLs – Lessons learned, head scratchers & hilarities

Oops! Let’s not do that again lessons

Trying to sit down and focus on writing blog posts has been tough for us. Our plan was to find a nice relaxed house sit and spend our time getting caught up. For the entire month of March between the 2 of us, we wrote three blog posts. We found too many ways to distract ourselves. Between the animals, the daily chores and mind numbing movies and TV shows we found ourselves with lots of things to do other than write. Both of us need to work on our focus skills.

WTF? Did that really just happen?

We timed our day in Paris so poorly it was ridiculous. We forgot to change our timepieces to Paris time (nope, neither of us have our phones set to automatically update), and we read our train departure time incorrectly. We ended up losing about 3 hours of the one morning we had in the city. Instead, we spent the time rushing to make our train departure, which we made with about 3 minutes to spare.

LOLs our laugh out loud hilarious moments

We absolutely suck at sheep herding. When we first arrived at the farm, one of our jobs was to move two moms with a set of twins each from their barn stall to a grazing pasture twice a day. The distance was maybe 50 meters and a relatively straight shot. What should have taken us 2 minutes tops usually found us running, jumping, crawling, spinning, finagling and pleading for at least 10 -15 minutes. The sheep always slipped by the wrong way and galloped past us all bahhing in laughter at us while basking in their few minutes of freedom. We did get better at this as the month went on but won’t ever be listing it as a skill set on any C.V.

Jojo the sheep and Figaro the cat kept us laughing all month long. Jojo thought he was a human and should be let into anywhere any person was allowed. He followed us around like he was a puppy. At one point, he even chased after the car when Matt was leaving to the store.

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Figaro was the plump live version of Puss‘n Boots from the movie Shrek. The side ears and big round eyes all with the changing attitudes caused us to laugh constantly. Our favorite was he would follow us around during the feedings and watch over us to make sure we were doing everything correctly.

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As a kid, I was quite the equestrian, but I haven’t been on a horse ride in years. Beverly and I went on a maybe 30-minute horse ride around the neighboring farms, and my gosh did I pay for it the next day. Grant it, I was too short for the shortest notch of the stirrups and basically rode stirrup less, my knees and inner thighs were killing me for days after. I felt so pathetic. But…Once I switched horses, I did convince Matt to at least ride around in the yard for a few minutes. It was fun to see him on a horse.

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The Posts

The Features

Instagram:

Our Ears and Eyes

Heather

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Whalesong: A Novel About the Greatest and Deepest of Beings by Robert Siegl

Matthew

Red Rising” by Pierce Brown
Skins – UK TV Show
The Americans – US TV Show on FX

Up Next

Our time at La Gaucherie aux Dames will end in early April and then we head to a different farm sit in Southern France. We will be in the Midi-Pyrénées area until at least the 25th or 26th. The remainder of the month will either find us in France, Spain, Morocco or Nepal.

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Have any suggestions on where we should go next? Let us know in the comments!

See More Photos on Flickr and Please look for us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Comments 18

  1. Pingback: Our Travelationship in Review: April 2016 - Travelationship

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  2. You still got to see some awesome places and get some great pictures! And I can feel you on the cold and writing blog posts…I always say I’m going to get ahead on my blog and it never happens. And when I came back to Canada from Thailand in the middle of winter my body was in shock…I walked around the house always with an extra blanket wrapped around me!

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  3. What an experiential month. I appreciate the struggle with losing farm animals, but just with chickens, not with live birth. I would’ve been an emotional wreck.

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  4. Wow, I’m very happy my first housesit was very relaxing ! I spent one week in the beautiful Saint Paul de Vence, in a luxurious villa with a little cute Cairn female my westie fell in love with (and quickly forget !). And it will be my second housesit in 10 days.
    Note : sorry for the double comment. It seems my wordpress account is not good…

  5. Wow, I’m very happy my first housesit was very relaxing ! I spent one week in the beautiful Saint Paul de Vence, in a luxurious villa with a little cute Cairn female my westie fell in love with (and quickly forget !). And it will be my second housesit in 10 days.

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      1. But if you want to housesit for a few months in my area, I have a westie dog, a very independant – too much independant – cat, a 2500 meters garden with fruit trees, and a two flats house. I also have everything ready for hens and pigeons ! My little village is at 20 kilometers from Bayonne / Biarritz, and about 40 minutes from Spain.

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          1. It’s not for now but from the end of september to april. I’ve seen you are still looking for your future organization so it can be a solution if you’re interested.

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  6. We didn’t make it to Fontevraud on our visit to France and your amazing photos are filling me with regret! We need to get back there. I think we will skip the sheep herding. We tried in Ireland and failed at it!

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  7. Wow you guys, the area looked great and you did do a good job withyour blog. Next time pick up one of the lambandcarry her to where you want the mom’s to go and they will follow. Miss you guys. Pa & Ma

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