Auntie Lynley’s blog: Our first few months on the road!

21st January 2014 by

Our daughter now lives in London and our son and his wife, who married in February, live in New Zealand.We have had some great and interesting times being Animal Aunts so I thought you might like to share some of them. (I have not put in any clients names to protect privacy.


Sept 1st, our first job starts today looking after a German Shepherd, two bantams, three sheep, five hens, three geese and a swan! Ellie, the German Shepherd, was a rescue dog who we are told will sometimes bite men.
The bantams live in the sunken garden, 
The hens have their own pen, the geese  have a little shed we herd them into at night, the sheep who take themselves from a paddock to their pen at night and the wild swan which just walked into the property one windy day looking very bedraggled and hungry. She loved the pond of course and can be fed from your hand. She struts about acting rather superior to the geese.

So, of course, all the pens need to be cleaned out in the morning with fresh hay etc, animals fed and let out. Ellie lets me give her pills each morning and evening but then won’t come to help with the chores until she has had her walk around the grounds with me.
Brett usually starts cleaning the sheep and geese pens while I do that!  Ellie seems to be nice natured and loves a pat, but we have to keep her inside until the postman has been, as apparently she will bite him! She also eats the mail if we don’t get it quickly as it comes through the door. Ellie loves us to water the garden as she tries to bite the water, it is pretty funny, she completely forgets she is elderly and has sore hips. (sounds like me after a few bubbles)The owner of the property has her office at the house so there are lovely women who comes each day to work. We have done some gardening just to keep busy and can walk to the Sainsburys in the village to get supplies. Unfortunately we can’t take Ellie in case she takes exception to someone!
I managed to ‘find’ some of that terrible stinging nettle while we were gardening and had ice on my hand for a fair while.
There are black berries (also called brambles) and raspberries growing so we have lovely fresh fruit in our cereal each morning. We have also had an omelette for dinner with very fresh eggs courtesy of the hens.
We were very sad to leave there but got an awesome text from the owner saying how thrilled she was with everything.Later that month I caught a taxi then train back to Ellie’s house, leaving Brett at another job. It was the first time I had done a solo train trip in Britain and I even had to change trains part way through. I was rather pleased with myself! I was picked up by the lovely lady of the house and had dinner with her husband and her. We had a quick run around to see the animals then they left to catch a car ferry to France.
I think Ellie  is fairly relaxed about it!

On Sunday Ellie took off through a wire fence after a pheasant. She returned to me looking rather bemused as a growth she has on her head had been nearly sliced off by the wire! It looked absolutely awful! She wasn’t in any pain and I knew she was due to have it removed by the vet in a week, but I called the vet and sent a text to the owner. The vet said to bathe it with salt water washes which Ellie let me do, I think she is so gentle and sweet.On Monday the man who was digging up the drive to put a pipe through it turned up and told me under no circumstances was she to be let out while he was there as she bit him three times one day! It was hard not being able to take her for walks from 8.30am until 4.30pm. She has bitten another man I think, but it is so hard to believe thank goodness! Her life must have been hard at first but is very sweet now.
On Tuesday after I had settled all the animals in I went back on the train to Brett as we have that job until October 4.November.
We were very fortunate to be asked back to look after Ellie etc again.
We got to our job quite late, 5pm, as we had just come from another in Essex in our motor home, which we have purchased for our travel around Britain. It is lovely to have our own little ‘home’ and a vehicle as well. Eight weeks of carting suitcases around the country was hard work.  We don’t think we could cope without a little place of our own.
As it was getting dark Ellie’s ‘dad’ helped us take the motor home through a paddock. There is a house at the start of their drive which goes across it in an arch, but it was too low for us to drive under.
Ellie was jumping around like a pup and looks great after having the lump removed from her head. She got really excited and obviously remembered us. We were early getting there so settled in while our clients packed. They told us not to get food from the motorhome as there were sausages in the freezer, so Brett cooked sausages, eggs and chips for us all and we sat around the kitchen table from 7 until 8.30 talking about all sorts of things including wine, some of which we also tried! They are lovely people.
I am finding I need to speak slowly and pronounce words carefully otherwise British people just shake their heads at what I say! There is no way I can get excited and chatter on, running my words together.
The next morning, after helping me feed the menagerie, Brett left in the motorhome for another job where he was right out in the country looking after two dogs.
After the ladies finished work at the house I walked Ellie well away from where the gardener was working. I wasn’t lonely as Ellie ‘helped’ me with chores and was guard dog at night. The bantam cockerel and the chicken rooster called out each morning back and forth which was rather cute!
Brett came back after two nights and Ellie greeted him like a long lost friend. There were fireworks for three nights in a row, firstly with Halloween then Guy Fawkes after that. Halloween celebrations are much bigger here than in NZ. We noticed lots of pumpkins for carving on sale at the supermarkets, sweets and costumes on sale too. Ellie hates the explosions and would try to put her head under my legs, she still heard them with the TV volume up loud. We ended up sitting in the laundry with the drier on!
We tidied the house, did the washing, vacuuming and animal duties on Monday night then slept in the motorhome in the paddock as it was dark and the house owners were coming back late that evening. They offered for us to stay in the house but we wanted it all shipshape for them so we weren’t getting in their way the next day.When I took the keys to the gate back the next morning they both gave me a hug and kiss on each cheek.