Animal and house sitters for beautiful farmhouse in S Devon UK
Chris and Georgina are 61 and 60 respectively. We have both worked in education all our professional lives, and are now pursuing various challenging and fascinating paths: Chris as a university researcher in the field of creativity, and Georgina as a writer. We have opportunities to combine these interests with travel both in UK and further afield, and would love to form an ongoing relationship with housesitters who would enjoy and care for our home and animals for potentially one long period (4-6 weeks) and two or three shorter periods (< a week) every year. The next extended period when we are planning to be in Italy is November 2014; the dates are flexible and may not be able to be completely finalised until nearer the time. If you like rural peace and quiet, the time and space to read, write, think, be - and, most importantly, love animals - please do get in touch with us.
Our Home & Location
The Old Farmhouse has been our much loved family home for twenty years. It dates from the seventeenth century with early Victorian additions. We have carried out extensive renovation work, providing a beautiful period home.
A conservatory-style entrance hall leads into a magnificent heavily beamed drawing room, with a flag-stone floor and two original stone fireplaces, in one of which is a very large wood-burner. A study with extensive books provides a lovely space in which to read and relax. A further study / music room houses even more books, a piano, a Celtic harp and various other instruments. Both studies also have wood burners. The newly rebuilt kitchen retains the original stone walls, and is heavily glazed, creating a timeless yet practical and light and airy space. French windows lead onto a flag-stoned patio area. There is a large laundry room and a cloakroom with toilet and hand basin. On the first floor are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, arranged in two wings, separated by a further sitting / television room. You will have use of two bedrooms and one bathroom. Half of the attic has been converted into a beautiful sunlit studio / workspace with views over the surrounding countryside....
There is full central heating throughout, and logs from the garden will be provided for the wood burners. There are landline telephones and wi-fi internet. Mobile telephone reception on some networks is not good.
A feature of the property are the five acres of garden and meadow. This includes lawns, vegetable and fruit gardens, shrubberies and a number of ponds, one of which contains fish.
The farmhouse stands in a quiet and secluded rural hamlet, in the midst of beautiful rolling hills. Bantham beach, famous for surfing, is fifteen minutes' drive to the South. The entire South Devon coastline provides wonderful walks at any time of year. Twenty minutes' drive to the North takes you to Dartmoor, an extensive area of moorland and forest and one of the earliest designated National Parks in Britain. This whole area provides unrivalled opportunities for walking, horse riding, fishing, and water sports. The area is well provided with excellent golf courses.
It is conveniently located for the small and picturesque towns of Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Totnes and Dartmouth where there are good markets and shopping facilities. For arts and cultural pursuits Dartington Hall, twenty minutes away, is world renowned, and Hazelwood House, a small but unique centre for arts, music and meditation is ten minutes away. + More info
Responsibilities & Pets
We are looking for someone who adores and is confident and competent with a range of animals. We have two wonderful golden retrievers - mother and daughter - who are very affectionate and delightful company. They enjoy walks on the beach and in the countryside but at 13 and 9 do not require extensive exercise and are perfectly happy strolling in the garden and meadow. We have a similarly elderly, affectionate but timid female tabby cat who lives almost exclusively indoors and insists on spending most of her sleeping and waking hours with the older retriever (much to the embarrassment of the latter). Although she does have access to the garden she prefers a litter tray which needs tidying every day or so.
We have a small number of geese, ducks and chickens which live free-range in a large fenced area of the garden. They need letting out of their house first thing in the morning and shutting in at night. They keep to daylight hours so are easier to cater for in the winter! They require daily feeding, access to fresh water, and weekly cleaning of their accommodation. They will in return - hopefully! - keep you supplied with eggs and a lot of entertainment. We have friends who live nearby who are variously experienced with the animals. They could be called on if needed. There is an excellent veterinary practice in Kingsbridge at which the animals are all registered....
This is a rambling house; while it is in good structural and decorative order, clearly houses of this age can be vulnerable in adverse weather conditions, for example. We need someone who would not be fazed by small domestic emergencies should they happen. We will, of course, leave lists of appropriate tradespeople. One of our children lives within an hour's journey and is very familiar with the house and all who live there!
We have a range of plants throughout the house which require occasional watering. The garden looks after itself in the winter. However, we would not deter keen gardeners from pursuing their interests or pottering in the greenhouse. We will be leaving our cars at the property, one of which can be made available for your use if required.
We would appreciate regular contact with our housesitters, to reassure us that our animals are well. This could be by phone or email. A small amount of mail redirection may be required. + More info