Hartford Bridge House
This is our first foray into house-sitting so we're quite excited. We're going on holiday with our twenty year old daughter to Italy and need someone to look after our animals whilst we're away. Our dog, Sox, had spinal surgery a year ago and we just couldn't face putting her in kennels. The cats are pretty self-sufficient but Pushkin is getting on and likes to be fed regularly. I'm a lecturer at Newcastle Sixth Form College - Head of the English Literature Department and Ian runs a design company in Newcastle. My main hobby is cooking so you will find a very well stocked kitchen and every gadget known to man. I also enjoy the theatre and travelling. Ian plays a lot of sport so he will be able to inform you of the best tennis courts, gym, racket ball courts etc. The rest of our free time is spent in the garden - it's about 2 acres of lawns, flower beds, woods and has a beautiful river frontage - but takes quite a bit of looking after.
Our Home & Location
Our house is late Georgian and is on the outskirts of Morpeth in Northumberland. Internally downstairs it has a large kitchen, utility/second kitchen, cellar, large, comfortable sitting room, large panelled dinning room, a snug, a library and a toilet. Attached to the snug is a conservatory and a propagating room (which in Summer has cucumbers, tomatoes etc to which house-sitters can help themselves). All the main downstairs rooms have fires/wood burning stoves. Upstairs there are 5 bedrooms - 4 doubles and a single so we are able to sleep 9 people in total. There is a large family bathroom with bath and shower and a separate shower room - both have toilets.
Externally we have 2 acres of land which is a mixture of lawns, flower beds, vegetable patches (to which, again, house-sitters can help themselves), orchards and wood land. There are various sitting areas around the gardens which are perfect for eating out and sunbathing. The garden has river frontage onto the River Blyth. We have a canoe, badminton, table tennis etc. to play with. There is also plenty of garden furniture, a gas BBQ and a wood-burning pizza oven. There is also plenty of parking in the gravelled driveway and several outbuildings including an outside toilet....
Across the road is the lovely Plessey Woods Country Park which is perfect if you want to walk a bit further than around the garden. Morpeth is about 15 minutes drive away and is a very nice county town with all facilities. Cramlington and Bedlington are closer, about 10 minutes away, and have shops, supermarkets, take-aways etc. although they are not so pretty. There is a very good sports' centre at Cramlington. There is a bus stop just outside the house with regular buses to Newcastle which takes about 25 minutes. The airport is about 15 minutes drive away too. We are very well situated for the beautiful countryside, beaches and castles of Northumberland, historic Hadrian's Wall and lively Newcastle - the cathedral city of Durham is only 19 miles away (about 30 minutes drive) too.
The only slight down side to our location is that the road is quite close to the house and the traffic can be surprisingly heavy for a minor road.
I have found it difficult to choose appropriate pictures - so far more are available, especially of the garden. + More info
Responsibilities & Pets
Although we have 3 animals to look after they are quite light maintenance. Sox is a very loving dog, totally reliable and very friendly. She had spinal surgery last year which was successful but she still walks a bit wonky. She no longer likes to go on the long runs she once did but does need to be kept active so she doesn't seize up - so short trips round the garden or across to the park are best. If she's upset (possible if we're away?) she may moo like a cow - this is normal!
Pushkin is a very cool and collected cat and will be perfectly happy as long as he's fed regularly. He is very friendly and doesn't go out much....
Grace is a much younger cat and is a bit more nervous. She may take a day or two to get used to strangers. She spends a lot of time outside hunting, especially in the Summer months. She may bring in 'gifts' - but they're usually dead.
All of our animals are very healthy and the cats have never had anything wrong with them - neither had Sox before her back problem. Grace and Sox are ensured - Pushkin isn't but has had 16 years of perfect health.
It would be nice if you could also water the plants in the house, conservatory and propagating room - you can help yourself to any produce. Outside the garden will probably look after itself for the duration that we're away - but the vegetable patches might need a quick water depending on weather conditions. + More info