Arrival at our house-sitting commitments – willing staff to two adorable cats

Leaving Monpazier we made our way south and west, skirting around the main town of Villeneuve-sur-Lot to reach the municipal area of Allez-et-Cazeneuve, where we would soon be living in a comfortable renovated former boulangerie for a few months, early next year.  This was the location of our second upcoming house-sit, and we’d arrived to both familiarise ourselves with the property and to spend time with British owners Monica and Ken.

Allez-et-Cazeneuve (boulangearie)

Allez-et-Cazeneuve (view from gardens)

They are both keen open water swimmers and occasional triathletes, like us, although their challenging, long-distance swimming exploits put us to shame.  We had long chats about travels and possible future adventures as we toured their property and ate wonderful home-cooked food, fresh from the garden, washed down with very tasty home-brewed beers.  We were greatly impressed by Ken’s artistic skills, expressed through his classical guitar playing and photography.  We had a local guided walk around the nearby leafy countryside, before checking out their sizable vegetable patch and lands.  After a slow breakfast and more animated chat, we said our goodbyes until our return in the New Year, after which Monica and Ken will be sunning themselves on the opposite side of the world.

La Reole (river view from house)

La Reole (canal walk)

We drove a further hour west to the outskirts of La Reole, into the small hamlet of Barie to meet up with Jane and Roger, with cats Tilly & Ozzie, the hosts for our first winter house-sit.  Another British couple living in France, they own a large stone farmhouse backing on to a kiwi orchard, with the river Garonne running fast by the front – such an idyllic, rural setting.  We got our bearings of the property, learning of its idiosyncrasies, with a constantly-refilling glass in hand.  We had a wonderful dinner and chat, then relaxed into what will be our room for the duration.  Later we had a local riverside walk with Jane to help gain our bearings as Roger dealt with a last-minute plumbing issue.  With us settled in, they left early to drive back to the UK to meet up with family and together fly to Australia for Christmas.  We awoke the first day under glorious blue skies in South-west France, our home for six weeks, as the willing staff of two adorable cats.

La Reole (kiwi orchard from bedroom)

La Reole (patio with Ozzie)

There will likely be fewer posts from us over the next few months, as we’ll not be passing through interesting, beautiful places that cry out to be described or recorded, but instead living a more insular, quiet existence.  It will be more a journey of self-discovery, a personal tourism, as we adjust back to staying still and having a consistent, daily schedule as we look after pets, a home, a garden, again.  Staying in one place for a few months will also free up even more time for us to utilise, play, learn, engage with or sleep through, depending on our mood and energy levels.  We are starting our house-sits with grand plans to occupy our time; along with catching up with the many things we miss from our previous lives like gardening and cooking, we have set ourselves specific goals to fill our hours:

Physical:  Set up a daily exercise task of stretches, weights and core work, to get stronger and more flexible.  We’ll run more, longer and faster to an organised schedule, getting fitter with an eye on completing a marathon in 2018.

Mental:  Learn / improve our spoken French, spending at least a half hour (or more) talking, listening and playing app-based games, alongside listening to podcasts during exercise or walks.  And watch a few French movies too.

Musical:  Learn to play the piano.  This will be totally from scratch (for me, not Nicky), but there’s one in our second house-sit, so we have the means and opportunity – all we need is the will and dedication.  Learning to read music is also a part of this.

Culinary: Bake many various breads (and cakes), testing and learning different styles and recipes and seeing which ones are the most successful.  Tweaking and finding the best options for simple bakes in Benny when we’re back on the road.

Literary: Read lots of books not yet read, and aim to produce and develop more interesting and challenging writing pieces, rather than simple, descriptive diary-entry blog posts.  We have plenty of ideas, but no execution as yet.

Writing out these five goals, each set in a different field of study, is one small step towards making them happen.  Creating the time to undertake them, by organising two restful, relatively long-term house-sits, is the second small step on that long path.  All remaining steps will be subject to us garnering the requisite determination and resolve to use our free time productively.  Whether we manage to complete all of these self-enforced tasks, no matter how much we wish to do so, remains to be seen.

We’ll post occasional updates of our progress to help keep us honest.

A&N x

6 thoughts on “Arrival at our house-sitting commitments – willing staff to two adorable cats

  1. Pingback: What is Home Exchange…? | Aaron and Nicky's travels

  2. Pingback: France House-sit – Our Activity Synopsis | Aaron and Nicky's travels

  3. bonvanageblog

    Hi Aaron, I believe the nominator can change the questions. I think you answer 11 questions. I’ve kept the qustions the same but just added three more at the bottom and I’ll leave it up to you which 11 of the 14 you want to choose. Publish your answers in your own blog post and then you nominate up to 11 blogs yourself. I googled it to get the gist of it all! Rules seem to vary but I think the overall thing of it is to highlight newer bloggers. Thanks for taking part and I’ll look forward to your answers x


  4. Aaron Hill Post author

    Hi Jane,
    Thanks you very much for your comments, and nomination. I’d not heard of a Liebster Award before, but am very happy to participate. Are the questions always the same, or do you, as nominator, vary them as preferred? If you’d like to email me directly ( ) them I can answer the questions in a reply as needed. Many thanks, Aaron x


  5. bonvanageblog

    Hi Aaron and Nicky I’ve recently discovered your blog after reading about you on the Bumbles website. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and am interested to see what you get up to in the future. I have nominated you for a Liebster award to share the blog love – see . Just a bit of fun and if you don’t want to take part then I won’t be offended �� Keep writing. Jane x


  6. Chris and Peter

    Wow, wonderful house sitting setting you found. Looks great. And those good intentions, all sounds fab. I especially like your last sentence ;-)) wait and see…


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