in our Fifties
Update - 02 May 2022
The northern spring has sprung with the countryside waking up from its winter slumber and blossom, daffodils and tulips as far as the eye can see.
We are coming to the end of a month that has lived up to our Gypsy moniker beginning in ,Greece then moving onto Italy, Belgium, France, Germany and back to France before finishing in Shalden a small (pop 435) village in east Hampshire, our latest housesit.
Our recent Greek sojourn was wonderful. Eight days in Athens and the incredible history there was followed by three weeks housesitting in rural Crete, where we were greeted by winter storms which made the nearby White Mountains groan under the weight of snow.
A weekend in Milan was followed by five days in Lille, NW France with the highlight being two days spent looking around the Great War’s Western Front battlefields in Belgium and France.
We completed a week’s housesit in Berlin, travelled down to Montpellier on the French Mediterranean Coast before flying into the UK where we will spend most of May.
Alan is looking forward to a day of county cricket, taking in Southampton/Liverpool and we finish off May in Paris with tickets to a couple of days at Roland Garros.
The travel remains very special but we are looking forward to heading back to Spain for a long housesit in June!
Covid is receding into the background with most European countries relaxing restrictions and simply letting the relatively mild variant spread. Travel has certainly picked up with transport and tourist sights now returning to pre pandemic volumes which isn’t necessarily great for travellers but for local tourism businesses, you can almost see the life (and $) being pumped back in.
Until next month…..
Update - 06 March 2022
The calendar turns into another month – spring ‘up north’ and autumn (and the footy season) below the equator.
It’s a tough old time in the world right now and it feels a bit weird to be writing about our (mostly positive) adventures while the awful events in the Ukraine unfold. Even to see the NZ Parliament protest at a distance was quite disturbing and sad to us as well as NZ copping the brunt of Omicron……
We spent February in Sicily, Italy as tourists (2 weeks) and then a lovely housesit in the French countryside an hour north of Toulouse.
The madness and beauty of southern Italy captivated us. The raw energy of the city of Palermo gave way to a beautiful hilltop setting an hour along the coast in Cefalu.
Initial plans to spend some weeks in Italy changed quickly when we accepted the opportunity of a further housesit – this time in rural France in a beautiful 300 year old farmhouse on 60 acres of land. We’ve been able to explore the surrounding areas – beautiful rolling farmland though still heavily coloured by winter with signs of spring emerging.
Our next stop is Athens for a week then down to Crete to begin another housesit. We are so looking forward to being on a beautiful Greek island and a significant one too in NZ military history.
We do hope that all is well with you and your families and that there are enough positive things to hold onto
Until next month…..
Update - 15 February 2022
Actually it’s the middle of February and the ‘Gypsies’ have been on the road for the last three weeks.
We left our wonderful Los Urrutias housesit in late January and journeyed four hours north by train to the big smoke of Madrid. Our first time there and what a delight. It was very cold but blue skies days and -2/-3 overnight so easy to rug up and walk a few miles seeing the main sights.
After three days there we flew out of Spain (negative Covid test in hand!) and into the chaos of Sicily, Italy. We got ourselves an Airbnb for seven nights in the main city of Palermo full of history and wonderful food…as well as the shabbier side composed of graffiti and litter…a real mixed bag but a wonderful experience nevertheless especially delving a little into the tragic and rather scary existence of the Sicilian mafia.
After Palermo we hired a car (!) and headed along the northern coast and up into the hillside overlooking the charming town of Cefalù. What a wonderful view we had over the hillside and town as well as the Tyrrhenian Sea. On one of the days, we drove two hours across the island to Sicily’s second largest city of Catania which was levelled in a major earthquake in 1693 and then much of it was rebuilt in the baroque style, which is ornate and quite beautiful. Overlooking Catania is the volatile Mt Etna…. smoking away peacefully on the day we were there but within 48 hours it had erupted sending plumes of flame and ash high into the sky
Everything they say about driving in Italy and Italian drivers is true…. if we were cats, we probably lost at least two of our lives!!!
We then flew out of Palermo to Toulouse in SW France and then an hour north to our next housesit. A wonderful 300 year old farmhouse nestled in the countryside and now in charge of Mia the Cat…..though any of you who have a cat know who is truly in charge!! We’re in the tail end of winter with the odd sign of spring apparent but the winter’s landscape is pretty grey and brown at present.
Many future travel plans are being hatched with confirmed housesits in Crete, Berlin, Hampshire and Sutton Coldfields (UK) as well as a return to Los Urrutias - between now and August. We’re hoping to make it to Paris for the French Open in May as well as some of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August.
Until next month...
Update - 17 January 2022
Hola again from the south of Spain. We’re a little late with our January update but here goes!
As it turns out we’re into our final few days in Spain. Our housesit in the beautiful Murica region on the southern coast comes to an end on the 26th but we have some exciting plans for the coming months and indeed all of 2022.
We will head up to Madrid for three days then fly out of there to Palermo, the main city on the southern island of Sicily…..the bit that Italy kicked into the sea when they couldn’t agree!! It’s also Mafia country so our travel research has included watching the Godfather trilogy….
We will be there at least two weeks and quite probably more assuming we find there’s more to do and explore.
We will then have about 5 weeks until mid-March when we begin our next housesit, 3 weeks in a rural villa in Crete, Greece.
It’s been a bucket-list destination for us and we’re super-excited about the prospect.
We have no firm plans immediately after that, as it will depend on any other housesitting opportunities that come our way in Europe although we do want to be in Paris for the French Tennis Open at the end of May and Alan has secured a ticket for one of the days of the Lords test between the Black Caps and England
But as travel plans these days have the threat of Covid hanging over them, we’re not locking too much in place too far in advance. Having just obtained our booster jabs allows us to breathe a little easier in terms of European travel over the next 4-5 months but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens as Omicron is still significant in this part of the world albeit with numbers just beginning to turn for the better.
We do hope 2022 is beginning in a positive fashion for you all and that the year ahead is easier in all respects than the last two