As a local to the town of High Wycombe I did not expect to find myself housesitting in Buckinghamshire. It’s my home county! However, when a client has an urgent request I try to help. I should explain that I am Lamia Walker the founder of Housesitmatch.com the online housesitting and petsitting network. And from time to time I do housesitting myself.
Last Summer we had one such request. Here’s some of the wonderful places I discovered when housesitting in my own back yard, so to speak.
Housesitting in Buckinghamshire – An unexpected delight!
Having lived in various towns in Buckinghamshire for most of my life I thought I had little left to discover. How wrong I was. Even though I own the housesitting network Housesitmatch, a business I founded some eight years ago, I asked my hosts to treat me as someone new to the area. A house sitter visiting for the first time. When I housesit I really love whole idea of taking care of your home and pets.
And so they did giving me lots of ideas for curiosities and places to visit.
My hosts are a couple who have lived in the village of Lee Common near Great Missenden Buckinghamshire for sometime. They know the village, many of their neighbours and the surrounding areas well. In fact a group of the villagers run the local shop which has an amazing selection of pretty much everything you need.
The volunteers who founded and run the shop choose local produce from local suppliers. They feature several local creameries and cheesemakers, bakers and farm produce and even a couple of local vineyards (who knew)!
To be fair the village of Lee Common was not a place I was familiar with and yet it’s only 20 minutes from my home by car. Which shows how blind you can be to the wonderful and the marvellous if it is only slightly off your home radar.
After introducing me to their house and pet s, Nukka the lovely labradoodle, and Tattie the very attractive and independently minded cat we chatted. They also introduced me to their charming neighbours who all volunteered to help should I need any during my stay.
My hosts kindly left me a list of places I might enjoy and country walks that they knew their dog would help me discover. And off they went on holiday to Eastern Europe for two weeks.
Being a tourist in my home county
Waddesdon – A local manor house
One of the many places I decided to visit while housesitting in Buckinghamshire was Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury. It is now a National Trust property so all the information is easily accessible. As you drive up to the estate you sense the beginning of something rather wonderful about to happen.
The villages surrounding the estate have an architectural style that is altogether characterful and distinctive.
Waddesdon was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a country residence to entertain friends and le beau monde of the day. It was completed in 1885. And all the surrounding cottages and public houses gave the impression that they give a generous nod to the style of the grand house.
It was a delightful afternoon out with wonderful grounds, an immaculate rose garden and even an aviary in the grounds.
Note to self –
Make more time to discover local points of interest. I promised myself I would return with a booking, to spend more time inside and to enjoy a meal there. Honestly, it is hard to believe that I live only 30 minutes away and yes, I was completely unaware of the charms of this idyllic estate. It’s well worth a visit if you happen to be within driving distance.
Lacey Green Windmill – Historical feat of engineering
Another place I was curious about and not previously visited was the Lacey Green Windmill. Now while they are rather anachronistic these days, the one or two still spotting the landscape in the UK are quite remarkable structures. And I had always wanted to visit one. So I went, taking Nukka with me in the car for the ride.
It is located on an escarpment on the Chiltern Hills near Princes Risborough and the mere fact that it is still standing is fantastic. I love old structures, especially if there is an engineering skill to their existence. It must have seemed quite remarkable at the time to have this grand physical structure on which they were so reliant for grinding wheat and corn.
Nukka enjoyed our romp around the structure and around Lacey Green.
The Chiltern Hills walking discovery tour
Every day I would walk Nukka either through the fields around Lee Common or through the beautifully scenic woods.
The house was very conveniently located so that within five minutes I could release Nukka into the fields and follow on while she gave me a guided tour of her favourite spots in the Chiltern Hills.
We would usually start behind the village school at the entrance to the open area of the Liberty Estate which offers thousands of acres of fields and woodland for open exploration. Nukka’s favourite game was ‘throw the ball so I can fetch it and pretend I am running away…’.
After our first walk of the day Nukka would usually assume a comfortable position nearby for a short repose. She liked to stay close in order to assess my progress on whatever I was up to, the details she left to me.
Highest point in Buckinghamshire
Another item on my potential hit list was to walk to the highest point in Buckinghamshire. It was just a few miles from the house where I was housesitting and a offered a great walk with Nukka. So we went to Haddington Hill, also known as Wendover Hill.
While walking up the hill was no great physical achievement it is only 267 Metres high, the view from the top did show the county off in some of its’ finest colours and perspectives.
There was another fascinating discovery I made while driving to the housesit from Great Missenden one day. It was a figurehead that had once adorned the prow of a ship. But seeing it one bright sunny day, overshadowed by its little protective roof was very unexpected.
I literally drove past realised suddenly that there was a curiosity worth inspecting, and simply had to drive back to check what I had seen. What would you think if you saw this on the side of a road?
Note to self –
Be more aware and take in your surroundings. What else have I missed as I rush from place to place always in a hurry.
After asking the neighbours I learned that the property had been the estate of Arthur Lasenby-Liberty. It was he who built and founded the Regent St Department Store in London, Liberty’s, actually one of my favourite haunts in London.
This store is famously characterful in architecture with a mock Tudor facade sporting wooden beams, that form part of the external and internal structures. The last two wooden Royal Navy warships had been sold off and broken down, and the wood was redeployed in this building.
If you have never been, and you are house sitting in Bucks as the county is called locally, make a bee line. London is easily accessible from any where in the county. And Liberty’s simply has to be seen!
Working while housesitting
As is my way when I go housesitting, wherever I happen to be in the UK, in France or further afield I usually work for most of the day. On this housesit I had two very attentive new friends. One would wake me up ready for an early morning walk as soon as the light was up. Nukka proved a warm, cosy and very reliable alarm clock.
And Tattie insisted on checking my work from the non-negotiable position of my own laptop keyboard.
The local town of Great Missenden
There was a great deal to recommend the local market town of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. First it was the long term home of the author Roald Dahl, to whom a children’s museum is dedicated on the High Street. It is so picturesque that it is frequently used as a backdrop in the filming of TV show Midsomer Murders.
The town (though locals call it a village) is on the road to London and has a direct train connection to the capital. It was so busy as a main road to the capital that it used to have 12 coaching inns.
Today there are a number of good pubs and restaurants worth visiting including the Cross Keys and the Nags Head. And as I tried both during this housesit, I can personally attest to the excellent experience I had in both.
My experience house sitting in Buckinghamshire in summary
I actually really enjoyed my time during this housesit. Despite being minutes from home, the change of scene made me feel like I had been on holiday. In fact, the village of Lee Common appealed to me so much that I started searching for properties to buy thinking, of perhaps one day moving to this delightful corner of the world.
Needless to say, and unsurprisingly, there were very few options available. However, what my housesitting in Buckinghamshire experience did show me is that we have so much to discover under our very noses. And with that I have vowed to keep exploring the region. And I hope to find another lovely housesit somewhere new or maybe not so new very soon.
Further reading about housesitters
At Housesitmatch.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters useful.