Saturday, 14 October 2017

Housesitting in Stratford-Upon-Avon, preparing to depart to Europe – October 2017

Bella cat next to 'flower arranging by Jackie'
With thick white, moustache like bandage and swollen top lip, we arrived to meet Sue in Stratford-Upon-Avon, ready for our next house and cat sit 3km from the centre of town.

The two cats, Bella and Coco are fairly independent, but like company and a bit of fuss and, after a couple of hours of going through things in the house we took Sue to the railway station for her to catch a train to Manchester to meet hubby Darren and fly off to Portugal for their holiday.

Bella, eating and Coco being nosey
The bed is huge, but even so, one cat, usually Bella is quite able to stretch out, use half the bed and pretend to be asleep at bed time, giving us a look as we gently move her sideways to make room. As our time has gone on they have got friendlier, wanting fuss and we feel we’ve just about got to know them properly and its nearly time to leave, which is always the way and the reason we like housesits of 2 weeks or more to really get to know animals.

Despite the house being full of bowls of water for them, they are not sufficient
Jackie in the arms of a Shakespeare sculpture outside the RSC
Nonetheless it’s been a lot of fun with them and it’s also been a good time to relax and recover from my little lip operation, reading, jigsaw... The bandage is now off, a few of the dissolvable stitches were removed at a hospital visit on Monday last and, now the swelling has virtually gone it almost looks as though nothing has been done (apart from a numb top lip which feels a bit strange and will probably take up to 6 months for the nerves to reconnect and feeling to return). Assuming the test results come back OK there will be nothing more to do and we can move on.

Outside Shakespeares birthplace
So moving on we are and we’ve now booked a ferry to France for next Tuesday night to drive down through France to St Jean D’Aulps ski resort, drop of ski gear off at the apartment then drive on to Costa Blanca in Spain to stay with Jackie’s dad and Elizabeth until the snow appears in the Alps for our ski season through to the end of April next year.

Holy Trinity Church
Apart from relaxing we’ve been for a number of walks to and around Stratford town centre and along the river Avon and seen the local sights of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Theatre, Shakespeare’s birthplace, his grave and a few pubs and tea shops, of which Stratford abounds!

Being relatively close to friends and family in Solihull and Birmingham, we have managed to catch up a bit as well. 
Shakespeares grave
My sister Denise and hubby Paul came over for the day on Wednesday and we went for an 11km walk along the Avon, into Holy Trinity Church where only I was prepared to pay the £3 ‘donation’ to view Shakespeare’s grave near the altar, then on into town where it was crowded out with all the rides and stalls for the annual Mop Fair that visits the town at this time of year. Some of the rides are huge and swing people high into the air upside down and while it looks fun, the engineer in me sees that none of them are bolted down, the feet resting on lumps of wood on the tarmac road. I suppose they are safe, but they just don’t look it!

We want to come in!
On Thursday Abi visited us from Hall Green, having left little Sooty cat home alone and we did another very similar walk from the previous day, but this time in reverse. It’s an indication of how many times we’ve housesat for Sooty and got to know Abi that now she’s a friend and visits us housesitting elsewhere.

Now that I'm in I'll sit here in the middle of the jigsaw in order to get attention!
Owl stroking in Stratford!
We returned to Jackie’s mums at Alvechurch yesterday to start sorting out our ski gear and summer rock climbing gear for our forthcoming trip to Spain and France. Suddenly our next trip has come around and we’ve realised how much we need to sort out and buy, so mild panic has set in. It wasn’t all stress though as, in the evening we went round to our friends Ian and Helen to see how the finishing touches to their house extension is coming along and to go out for a curry in Stirchley. We weren’t the only people feeling stressed as they were still working when we arrived, having just finished the first coat of paint on the newly plastered walls and Ian jet washing the front drive in semi darkness now that the skips have finally gone. Nice meal in Stirchley at the Balti Hut Tandoori Restaurant and then a sad goodbye to them as we won’t see them again until May next year (unless they come out to see us in the Alps!).

With Denise and Paul outside Stratford rececourse
More sorting and panic buying today, tomorrow, Sunday is my great-nieces christening in Solihull (possibly another quick blog entry for that), back to Jackie’s mums for Monday and an Indian curry with her, pack the car on Tuesday, final meal early Tuesday evening, drive to Portsmouth and catch the overnight ferry to Le Havre. 

A perfect after walk stop, tea and scones!

Denise and Jackie in the arms of Shakespeare

On the chain ferry over the Avon

Abi and Jackie on our walk

Swans on the Avon. I call it art

Jackie playing with Coco cat, looked on by Bella cat

Coco cat playing


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