About Colleen & Mark
I am Colleen ( 50) my hubby is Mark (49) and our 2 girls are Alex (13) and Raquel (11). We are responsible adults and parents taking a couple of years out of our normal work and home lives to show your part of the world to the kids while also catching up with family members who are in Wales and Scotland and friends in Germany, Switzerland and France. It is a trip of a lifetime for us. Since starting our big adventure in July 2017 - I can say, we have achieved all of this. We had our first London THS in August 2017 looking after Zed the cat in Cricklewood. We enjoyed summer in London enjoying sites and excitement of the city as well as revamping the garden while the homeowners were in France. Unfortunately we did not chase up a reference, as being our first time in THS, we were not quite sure of the process. However - I include some pics for you to see our stay, you can see what a t......
I am Colleen ( 50) my hubby is Mark (49) and our 2 girls are Alex (13) and Raquel (11). We are responsible adults and parents taking a couple of years out of our normal work and home lives to show your part of the world to the kids while also catching up with family members who are in Wales and Scotland and friends in Germany, Switzerland and France. It is a trip of a lifetime for us. Since starting our big adventure in July 2017 - I can say, we have achieved all of this. We had our first London THS in August 2017 looking after Zed the cat in Cricklewood. We enjoyed summer in London enjoying sites and excitement of the city as well as revamping the garden while the homeowners were in France. Unfortunately we did not chase up a reference, as being our first time in THS, we were not quite sure of the process. However - I include some pics for you to see our stay, you can see what a transformation we made.
Then we did some driving around the country and visited the beautiful Wales and my dear Aunt who is 84 years young and my cousin. We also visited Mark’s cousin Stuart and family in Gloucester. Then we visited Mark’s place of birth Corby -which is the instigation for our trip. There we met his Aunty of 84 yrs young and all of his Scottish heritage relatives. His family all immigrated from Scotland in the 60’s for the steel works - no longer a big feature of employment nowadays. We stayed there for a few days, then went back to Cricklewood, on an ‘unofficial THS with the cat Zed as his owners were off to a festival and asked if we’d like to ‘ do some more gardening’ and look after Zed. After that 4 days it was the end of August and we had another THS in Norwich looking after an elderly dog who turned into my dear friend and two horses. We were just feeding and watering the horses twice a day, but you do get quite attached to horses , as they seem to appreciate you are the ‘look after guys’ and it was fun, for us city folk to be in the country and mucking out the horses. After this 10 days we left this post and we were off to Harwich, on the ferry on our European adventure, Holland, Germany, ( a friend in Hamburg, THS in Wiesbaden and friend in Nuremberg) We loved Germany! Then on to Switzerland, Zurich where we have Kiwi friends living there. A visit to the top of Italy then on to France. We drove from the bottom to the top and met and stayed with the parents of some young French travellers we met and hosted back in New Zealand in the Provance area of France. It was a wonderful experience -we made friends for life and look forward to visiting their lavender fields out one window and sunflowers fields out the other window again, soon. We were all having a wonderful travel experience. I,m a teacher so was home schooling the girls - actually, the experience of navigating themselves around metros, reading train station maps, working out money in different countries, distances kms vs miles and basic language while just soaking up the different cultures was education enough. It wasn’t always easy -being together 24/7 in the car travelling, but we managed and we all had a bit of time in a smaller group ie: parent and one daughter days then a swap around. Looking back now, you don,t remember the hard parts - only the great parts. Like partying under the Eiffel Tower after a long day in the car, city commute in Paris, then we were under this iconic landmark, kids taking selfies, musically making on their phones, dancing to the band, parents having a wine! It was amazing. It’s making memories like these, which I treasure with the family and the THS have been a big part of these happy memories as we love pets, love homes and love being at home. We have a very lovely home in Titahi Bay, Wellington and a huge friend base, which is waiting for us after we have had this life experience, as Mark and I do believe - life is what you make it, try things, do stuff, yes it may not be the most easy thing - but do it anyway, then sit back and say ‘ yeah, I did that,’. That’s what we like to model to our kids, and one day they will look back at this time in their life and think ‘wow we really did have an adventure’ !
Why we want to house sit
We would like to have a mix of accommodation through out our travels and to house sit and look after a pet, home and garden for a bit would be great for our sanity, the feeling normal factor as well as the budget. We are easy going and friendly (see our video attached )reliable and honest and have been Helpx members (A website hosting overseas visitors in our home in exchange for some small jobs at home, such as gardening, child minding ) for many years. We are even visiting these people as part of our O.A. It is very exciting as well as a bit scary. I have traveled a lot when I was in my 20s and lived in London for sometime but it is quite different with kids, ( and hubby!) so a home sit would be great in the way, that it will give us a little bit of lovely home life before being back on the travel road. We will all be missing our cat Xena too, so it would be a bonus to care for a pet - cat or dog. ( or others ). Water the garden, pot plants and keep your summer garden tidy.
We are home owners of 14 years here in Titahi Bay, Wellington New Zealand. We are house proud people and I am a total "homebody" . My husband is very handy with maintenance and capable of repairing any small faults that may crop up or recognise that a professional is required. We are caring and careful people and would look after your home, as if it were our own. We have a cat at home we will be missing and would love to give care and cuddles to your cat or dog. The girls would love feed and give your pets cuddles. I promise they won't be crazy in your home as they usually sit in one spot of ages, on their devices, as frustrating as this is to us parents. The only thing that distracts them are pet walking, pet feeding and watering and pet playing so another great reason to be involved with THS!
Since arriving back in the Uk from our 3 months in Europe, travelling in October 2017, we had a THS in Cambridgeshire, looking after 4 large dogs, 8 cats, 6 birds,2 rats,1 reptile,1 Hampstead and 30+ hens, geese and ducks! Yes, we call ourselves pretty experienced THS after that one. It was an amazing time that brings a smile to my dial as I think of the care and trust that was placed on us with this very special and memorable house sit. In November 2017, we settled in the West Midlands, Oakham in Rutland county, the smallest county. It is close (20miles) from Mark’s family in Corby and good for school and safe living for the girls. Mark has a job as the manager of an independent living retirement home in Melton Mowbray ( 15 mins drive from Oakham) this was a good fit with his Housing New Zealand, Tenant Manager background in social housing. I have been working on and off a teaching supply company, but with the holidays coming,I will be working as a career at a retirement home 5 mins away from home, to keep some £ coming in to the travel funds. The girls attend the local college Catmose and have made friends and getting into the school life of sports, drama, etc. We see ourselves here for another year at least, doing some THS where we can incorporate seeing more of this diverse and different, beautiful country and working and saving for short overseas trips as and when we can. Mark and I both have DBS papers as requirements with our jobs and we all have British Passports. We are enjoying our experience here and the different lifestyle we appreciate. I love gardening and gardens so visiting large gardens here in England is what I love and Mark really loves the history and the castles and everything that is old! Nothing like this in New Zealand. However, we will be returning to our home down under, that is for sure, but we will always be a part of THS as it is not only a practical solution to a problem, ie: people who are trusted to care for your beautiful home and treasured family members who for one reason or another have to stay home while their owners are away, it is a fantastic way to meet people and make contacts across the world. I hope, that this will be the case for our future THS connections, as it has been to date. I look forward to meeting you, looking after your dear pets and keeping your home in well loved order, with my family. Thanks for considering us, Colleen, Mark Alexandra and Raquel Johnson.