We are coming to the end of our stay in Hampshire and the last 2 days have seen autumn arrive, so it sort of feels right to be thinking about leaving. A bit like Vianne and Anouk in Joanne Harris' book "Chocolat" - our work is done, though I think it's a south westerly here, rather than a north wind.
It is always a joy to be staying in this beautiful thatched cottage with our furry chum, to totally unwind and relax. The woodland walks are peaceful and we feel that we've reconnected with nature and got into a lovely rhythm.
The great thing about regular pet sits is that they feel like our very own holiday home, everything is familiar...especially the pets and with this particular sit, we have got to know the neighbours and their pets too over the years, so there is much merriment when we arrive and see everyone.
We have enjoyed our quiet morning walks, as well as the pack gatherings every afternoon with the crazy furry gang running around the big field, while us humans stroll and chat. Then it's back to potter about in the garden, choose some veggies and cook up a little feast. Such a simple life and just perfect for us.
There is definitely a different feel about this area, not only the landscape with it's wide open spaces and flatter terrain (it reminds us of France and we do like it a lot), but the people are different too. We don't find it as friendly as Cornwall or the north, of course not all people here are busy and quite self-obsessed, but lots of them are. Most folks don't walk anywhere, the public footpaths are rarely used and we never see others out on the woodland walks. Most dog walkers use secure dog fields or go to popular places like the various commons in the area. It seems that everyone around here employs mobile services from weekly car washing and valeting to wheelie bin washers, gardeners, cleaners, laundry collection and dog walkers...it's a different world! Yes, it's an affluent area and I'm sure we stick out like sore thumbs. There are no decent grocery shops, selling ethical foods, no great independent health shops or little farm shops selling organic veg. There are lots of supermarkets and a few expensive sparsely stocked corner shops and delis selling mainly brand named produce, then there are pubs and cafes with little or no veggie, let alone vegan options. It's really odd.
This is very much a commuter area, folks travelling into London to their office based jobs or more likely these days - working from home. There is nothing here to attract the creatives and artisans amongst us, no alternative people, pretty much everyone is the same, with the same cars, gravelled drives and large houses. They have the same supermarket deliveries and hang out at the same coffee shops...it's important to be seen in the right places! We stood in a queue in the local village store last week, it's very plush, with cafe and fancy cakes (nothing vegan) and no-one speaks to each other, customers mouths gaped open when we walked in and started chatting and then when we let a couple of guys go before us in the queue - they were genuinely shocked, it just isn't the done thing. On the way back to the house, we wondered how these folks will fare in an end of world scenario - will they survive if indeed it heads this way?
It must be said though that we did come across one good thing nearby and that is Kingsclere Community Library, an independent library run by friendly volunteers, who raise money to keep it going. We went along to their Giant Book Sale on Saturday and spent an hour rummaging through piles and piles of books and came away with £5 worth of books (4 for a £1) Hahaha!!!
Anyway, we are ready to head home now, to more pet sitting, to our kitty, our family and farm friends. It's time to stack all our wood indoors, dig out the candles and get the cabin cosy.
See you on the other side!
Love Kay and Sime xx