On a high in the South Downs
When you first view a property that you are considering renting or buying there is a feeling inside that lets you know, within a matter of minutes, whether it is the right one for you. The same is true of a village, a town, a city or a region.
When we first arrived in West Sussex we had a really good feeling about the area, it felt like the kind of place that we could live in. After having had the luxury of living here for three weeks we have come to realise that it is our now one of our favourite locations in England. It’s right up our boulevard.
We have been very strategic with the pet sits that we have chosen over the last eleven months, we’ve selected areas that appeal to us that we may consider living in for the longer term. In England we have lived in some stunning locations, Devon, Cambridge, Surrey and now West Sussex.
Another consideration was to spend more time back in England, after living in Australia for 20 years, to see how we felt about living back here. During our time here the summer weather has been very typically English with some very nice days but also some very wet and cool days. Having said that, at this time of year the days are long and that in part makes up for the lack of a real summer.
In a previous life our trips back to England involved a jet lagged few days in London and a few days in Manchester, lots of motorway driving and then a week in Europe somewhere and then a 24 hour flight back to Australia, all in two weeks.
This year we have explored in greater detail areas of the country that we had only previous spent a day or two in. We have been able to experience this green and pleasant land with its many open spaces, cute villages and historic towns. We are not missing city life at all, we are finding that in the smaller towns and country there is so much more space and tranquility.
Our current pet sitting is in the beautiful South Downs with its countryside and rolling hills. The nearest village, Lurgashall, is about 2km away. The village has a large green, a local pub called The Noah’s Ark Inn, and a general store. Haselmere is the closest town which is great for shopping and it has a rail station with a one hour journey to London. It’s pretty perfect as far as we are concerned.
Meet the girls
On this pet sit we are looking after Minty the dog and Coco the cat. These are two of the cutest pets that we have ever looked after. They are both very vocal and both love to spend time with and around us.
Minty and Coco also enjoy their time together, whether this is sun bathing, grooming each other or just playing around. Minty is definitely a routine girl and knows how our days usually pan out, she sits by the kitchen door as we eat dinner ready to make an exit to the lounge. In the evenings they love to join us on the sofa while we watch TV and often fall asleep wrapped around each other.
Coco is an incredible cat with such a gentle personality. She announces her arrival into the room and her departure with loud meows. She likes being with us and will jump onto the table to sit on our laptop or newspaper so as to get some attention. She is also very entertaining as she sits and lies around the house.
Minty loves to get out and about and so we spoiled her a bit with daily walks and trips in the car to Petworth Estate, to Lurgashall village and to the local pub. On the village green she loved watching the cricket match and was quick to grab the ball as it was hit onto the pub lawn! She picked it up and ran off with it! Luckily we had her on an extendible lead and so she didn’t get too far but it was funny to watch the cricket players chase her to get their ball back.
The house and gardens at Petworth are enormous, it’s the kind of place that you walk around and feel grateful that you’re not responsible for the hoovering or the mowing. A Dyson cordless vacuum wouldn’t complete a single staircase without a recharge in this place.
The property has been owned by the same family for over 900 years and the current family live in a part of the house that is not open to the public.
The grounds cover 700 acres and have the largest herd of deer in England. There are hundreds of paintings on show in the house including 20 works by Turner and others by Gainsborough, Blake and Van Dyck. Turner used a room in the house as his studio, this room was featured in the Mike Leigh film “Mr Turner”. On our visit Netflix were in the house filming an up coming production “Rebecca”.
The kitchens in the house are the largest that we’ve ever seen. As well as the main large cooking area there is a dairy room, a meat larder, a pastry room and a still room, here jams and preserves were made. There was a time when the house had over 140 members of staff working there.
Le roast beef
There are numerous excellent pubs in the area and we sampled quite a few for Sunday lunch. Our favourite was The Horse Guards Inn with it’s quirky interior and garden styling and superb food and wine, but we also really liked The Hollist Arms, the Merry Harriers and the Noah’s Ark Inn. All are recommended in Sawdays or the ViaMichelin App, there were several others in the area that we would have liked to have tried but we ran out of time.
Christmas is coming
How can you tell that it’s early August in England? While dining at the Merry Harriers we saw our first Christmas menu of 2019 and they are taking bookings for Christmas and Boxing Days! Book early.
As part of our living like a local life style we try to find local fitness studios to join. As well as lots of walking we like to practice yoga. We found an excellent spin and yoga studio in Haselmere via the Mindbody App. We took three classes each week with the talented teachers Ben, Xavi and Sylvia who are some of the best yoga teachers that we have ever had the chance to practice with.
No champagne hangover
After a fabulous three weeks in the Champagne region of France we were a little apprehensive about returning to the UK, luckily our stay in West Sussex has proved that we needn’t have been concerned. This has been a great opportunity for us to experience a part of England that we had not seen previously.
We have loved our time here with Coco and Minty, and we think that they have enjoyed being us around too. We hope that at some point in the future we will return to see them and hopefully they won’t have forgotten us.