From time to time we love to feature blogs written by members of our housesitting community. Right now we are hearing many compelling stories from housesitters stranded far from home and out of their usual world of housesitting. Many find themselves away from the home country because of the sudden lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. They are stuck waiting either for the travel ban to be lifted or for new accommodation to become available at an affordable price. Read on for Heidi’s story of Lockdown in the UK…
Finding Compassion in the World of Housesitting
by Heidi Heynes
To begin…to start somewhere for me is to imagine a world that no longer exists.
This is world in which housesits just magically appear on housesitting platforms, one after the other, with perfect timing. Normally, we travel from one housesit to the next, choosing new experiences, new dogginess, new kittyness, new hermit crabness each step of the way. Each housesit brings so much joy!
Life as a housesitter in that world of housesitting was different than in this new world of the Lockdown.
Where is the joy ?
But…the Joy? It’s still there! The dogs and the kitties and the hermit crabs and the ferrets and the goats, hamsters, guinea pigs, chickens and all the rest still need us, want us and love us. But right now, it’s just a little bit different.
Maybe the numbers of people wanting to travel by housesitting will diminish. Maybe the numbers of people needing housesitters will diminish…maybe the people wanting to housesit purely because of the pets will diminish. Who knows!
The world is different, that much is inescapable. But, that doesn’t mean we stop learning and growing and that we don’t adapt to the changes and keep on going. Oh no.
Joy in travel
My housesits were going to be the key to my travel to see all of the UK and much of Europe. That dream for now, though not entirely dashed, has transformed into wishes and hopes with a little desperation for normalcy rather clinging along for the ride. I’m sure you know what I mean.
Kindness is clearly present in our world of caring for the homes and animals of strangers. Kindness is built-in to the foundation of what we do and that kindness becomes immensely apparent in hard times filled with doubt and worry such as those we are now experiencing.
My current situation is I believe a temporary one. The world of housesitting changed when my last housesit ended abruptly. This happened when the homeowners learned of a repatriation flight available within short hours of lockdown being declared. They cut off the last few days of their holiday and visit in India and took the repatriation flight to return to Britain. Then they began a fortnight of self-quarantine.
They requested merely that I move into the guest bedroom and stay overnight and leave the next day. For me, if I was going to be in the house with them during any portion of their quarantine period, I’d be forced to remain throughout the quarantine. This was clear to me.
This meant I had less than 24 hours to determine the best course of action AND act upon it. Luckily I had already been in contact with a couple in Portland, UK.
Kindness in new friends
This couple had previously been a potential housesit. However, their dates didn’t make it into my calendar for various reasons. They had, however, been venturing on a holiday to New Orleans. By coincidence, being a proud native and natural concierge for the city, I share many tips and hints about how best to enjoy that great city.
They were appreciative and when they returned they sent me messages about how much they enjoyed the city and appreciated my suggestions.
To my surprise, they also offered me the refuge of a room, should I need it at any time in the coming months. They even added, if this virus thing turns into an issue for me I would have a home with them!
Generosity in the world of housesitting
Yes, incredibly kind is what I’d call it. So, finding myself potentially homeless I reached out immediately and they responded post haste. Yes absolutely they had meant it and of course I could come stay for as long as I needed, or until my next housesit.
My eyes filled with tears albeit briefly as I begin to rush about packing and cleaning and attempting to tidy up the house, which in the mayhem, I was surprised I managed any actual benefit from the tidying.
Though the travel day was strenuous and stressful, I arrived in Weymouth at 11:30 pm, none the worse for wear. My hosts, retired and in the 70’s were there, smiling, with arms extended to help me down from the train.
And so, here I am, in the arms of generosity in the time of need, for the duration, for however long this lockdown may be. We manage, we three strangers, given compressed time and space to get to know one another and find our way through this. Like so many people all around the world we are helping each other.
Helping with the pets
And I get to help with the dogs, which is wonderful.
Without compassion what kind of world would this be? And how very fortunate we are that it’s a very good thing we don’t have to find out. At least not yet. Long may it live with its fab collaborators our world of housesitting.