Bella Travel


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A Wee Scottish Hoose

Small designer houses are becoming all the rage in Europe. So I read in Easy Jet’s Traveller magazine on my flight to Edinburgh the other day. Eco-friendly hobbit holes with all the mod-cons are sprouting up all over the country side, as people become more aware of how living frugally is better for the environment and the wallet.

With this in mind I moved into my house-sit in Edinburgh to look after two cats while a couple went on honeymoon. The Irish girl who lived there with her Scottish partner had warned the apartment was small. This didn’t bother me in the slightest, my own apartment in Auckland was only 32 m2, could it be smaller than that? Yes, it could, a lot smaller.

Small houses can be an advantage when the temperature drops into single digits when it comes to heating. However, the heater working isn’t the issue, not having any hot water is. Something is definitely wrong with the water heater, I’m not sure what. Perhaps she did quickly mention the heating breaking the day before, before they rushed out the door to balmy Mexico but I didn’t catch on. Luckily the shower is still producing the hot stuff otherwise I’d be starting to steam myself. Or trying to wash in the sink that has been designed for elves.

The envelope-sized elf sink!

Small houses are also fine if animals can go outside but the cats I’m looking after are indoor cats, they never go outside. You have to feel sorry for animals that are cooped up in a small space day after day looking longingly at the garden from the window. So I’m not surprised one of them attempted escape.

Last night a well-meaning neighbour popped down to introduce herself. Unfortunately for us one of the cats took its chance and scarpered outside. Then ensued twenty minutes of coaxing from the neighbour as the cat had wedged itself in between a precariously balanced old stereo and a load of dusty bikes. At one point I’m blocking the garden door cat flap and receiving icy blasts around my calves, while the Scottish woman is crooning “There pet, oooh come oon pet”. I tell her to grab it by the scruff of its neck and she looks at me like I should be had up for animal abuse “Ooooh I’ve never doon that”. Eventually we get the cat inside.

I think it’s been so traumatised with it’s foray into the outside world that it’s quite happy to be back in the cozy lounge made for hobbits. As are my frozen calves.


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Four-legged friends and other animals

House-sitting is an interesting venture.  It’s like you’re a guest in someone’s home but the host is not actually there.  No, they’ve left you a list of instructions, showed you how to work the dishwasher and then taken off on holiday.

Which is fine, it’s kind of like you are on holiday too – except you have to feed the cats, take out the rubbish, mow the lawn and clean the house.  But again, it’s all for free and you get to clear out the fridge of whatever they’ve left behind.

My first foray into house-sitting has certainly been a lesson in domesticity.  Looking after a four bedroom house takes a bit more work than a one bedroom apartment.  It’s also been a learning curve with household appliances – I vowed I wasn’t going to use the dishwasher and I’ve used it at least four times already – and gardening – I used a flymo and survived.

Looking after two cats has also been interesting.  Burmese I read on Wikipedia are ‘kittenish’ by nature and also have the tendencies of dogs, which means they like human company and can also be taught to fetch.  I don’t know about the fetching but they certainly like company if scratching at my door at 6am most mornings is anything to go by.

Cats will be cats as well, and so far I’ve rescued a bee, a spider, a mouse, an electronic collar from the next door neighbours garden (after a fight with a neighbouring stray tore it off) and broken up a furry squabble with a broom.

It wasn’t the cats I was looking after thank god, but two strays clawing each other outside in the driveway with such ferocity that bits of fur flew off everywhere.  No it wouldn’t be a good look for the hosts to come back and find one of their pets with a missing ear!

Such are the worries of a house-sitter, at least I can de-stress in front of the 40 inch TV – now that’s what I call a perk of the job.