Jane's Travel Blog

New Chapter: Explore the World


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Scotland. Summer, 2019

Ah, Peebles, Scotland…  We are now in what we have come to call our summer home. We arrived June 11th and are here until Sept. 12th. We have five wonderful housesits. I thought I’d feel a bit unsettled with all the moves, but my love of Scotland has kept me balanced.

When we first arrived, the poppies, yes… I’m going to say it… The poppies were popping in Peebles. They grow wild along the pathways and in the groomed gardens. The paper-thin red petals wave in the soft wind. This fairy tale town offers many small surprises and I always look forward to discovering more.

As it’s our 4th year in Peebles, I’m likely to run into someone I know. One of the first mornings, camera in hand, I’m walking through the magical Eishels Woods and I hear voices and I think how delightful, a family enjoying a picnic in nature. To my surprise, it’s Hannah (our very first housesit host) and her boys sitting by a small campfire having lunch. They’d biked to the River Tweed for a bit of Sunday fun. Another simple surprise. We chatted for a bit and I was on my way. One day, I ran into Julie (another housesit) at the grocery, and Sharon, the taxi driver who has moved us to our housesits many times, often beeps as she drives by.

We had a week between housesits, so we went on a five-day tour to the Highlands of Scotland. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful areas we have visited. The mountains, the valleys, and lochs come together causing you to stop, breathe, and let it flow over you. The van drove through the countryside, my hands rested quietly in my lap as I took in the beauty.

The shades of green dominate, making me feel this odd combination of giddiness and calm. Yes, it rains some here, but it’s the “Scottish mist” that creates such shades of green beauty.

Our tour’s clan consisted of 14 people from all over the world: Aussies, Taiwanese, Americans, Chinese, and our leader, a Scot. As the five days passed, we learned a “wee bit” about each other’s story and shared a few laughs. 

We are now in Peebles enjoying the serene morning hikes with Misty, one of the pups we care for. My new friend Sharon (the taxi driver) invited me to her uncle’s farm. I saw new lambs, her daughter practice jumping her horse, new pups and many dogs and horses. I had flashbacks to my childhood with all the visits to the Kelley and Wilson farms in central Wisconsin. There’s nothing better than the sweet smell of a farm. I even got to have a “wee bit” of a walk around on Tonto the horse.

We have just over a month left in Peebles and plan to take total advantage of its magic.


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Edinburgh, Scotland

Ah, Edinburgh. We only had two weeks, so lots of walking and exploring were in order. After a day of grocery shopping and settling in, Bob and I decided to hike the extinct volcano just minutes from our apartment.  

The original plan was to hike up the main peak, Arthur’s Seat, but there was a “challenge race” that day. The sign read, “How many times can you climb Arthur’s Seat in 24 hours?”

Ok, I can answer that question. “Once.”

Because we didn’t want to slow down the participants of the event, we hiked up a nearby peak instead. From the top, a birds-eye view of the city sprawled out in front of us.

Sunday I walked across town to a delightful farmer’s market and explored along the way. Four organic apples and a beet later, I was on my way home.

Life keeps offering up gifts. On Friday our new friend Christine (mother of our friend Joanna from Malaga) took us on a captivating tour of Edinburgh. We explored the nooks and crannies of Edinburgh that only a local would know.

One of our last stops was the Royal Bank of Scotland. Why stop at a bank? Well, the answer became clear when we walked in and looked up to see a blue domed ceiling with at least 100 gold-rimmed star-shaped skylights. The day was filled with many gems like this. It was a special day, one we will not forget.

We are now in Peebles, which we affectionately refer to as our summer home since this is our fourth year in a row housesitting here.


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Peebles, Scotland – Round Two

Since our house sit in Vancouver that ended in late May, I’ve been to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Albany, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, Royalton, Denver, Door County, Madison, and back to Milwaukee. Just listing these locations makes me tired yet it’s where my people live so its been the best of times.

We arrived June 30 in Peebles, Scotland which is the first place we have returned to since we started our adventure. Both house sits invited us back to care for their pets. As Peebles is one of our favorite places, we were more than happy to return. And, after all the visits in the US, it’s a great place to relax and regroup.

Our first week was at Hannah’s with the dogs Rusty and Nell, and her cats Sparkles and Ernie. Each morning the dogs and I walked through the enchanted woods where fairies and elves live.

Now we have moved over to Julie’s with Misty the whippet. Our morning walk takes us up to a ridge overlooking the rolling hills, the patches of foxglove and grassy meadows of Scotland. Each morning I’m inspired by the sweet smell of the morning dew and the sound of the wind.

Hiking trails cover the countryside and we plan to hike as many as time allows. Bob, Misty and I took our first hike following the River Tweed past the Neidpath Castle, built in the 14th century. We continued up the ridge overlooking wooly grazing sheep and a picturesque view of Peebles.

Oh, almost forgot. Bob and I both had birthdays in July. Bob celebrated with an ice cream cone. We celebrated my birthday with lunch at an 11th century hunting lodge, a place where royalty hung out. Happy Birthday to us.

In between the spots of rain, we plan many more hikes and cherish every minute in magical Peebles before heading to the French Alps in mid August.


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Peebles, Scotland

A new chapter in our life experiment begins – housesitting.

So far… MARVELOUS.

We arrived in Peebles, Scotland. Hannah, the homeowner and her parents John and Molly greeted us with wide smiles and a cup of tea. We met our charges, Rusty the dog, and Ernie & Sparkles, the two cats. We learned the basics about the house and Hannah showed me the dog walking route through the field and into the woods. I get to take Rusty on this enchanting walk every morning.

We settled in for the our two week house sit, slept soundly in the country quiet and I woke refreshed and ready for my first walk with Rusty. There was a light rain to start, and the sun was peeking out before we finished. We have since learned that this is called a “sun spell” as in, “There will be periods of sun spells today.” We are learning if there’s a sun spell, get outside, because you just don’t know how long the spell will last. There are rain spells too. It’s all good, you just need to be prepared.

We caught on to the habits of our menagerie and Bob’s a sucker for Rusty. He gives him lots of belly rubs, and for those who know Bob, this is an amazing thing.

The hiking here is first-rate. If we wanted, we could take the “best-hike-ever” every day. That’s a little joke we have. After a hike, we often say, “That was the best hike ever.” Now we say, “I know I said this about the last hike, but this really was the best hike ever.” The rolling hills and woods keep us wanting more. I didn’t think I was a country girl, but maybe. I’m loving it.

As for the house sitting, we’re at Hannah’s for two weeks then move up the road to Julie’s house to care for Misty the dog for a total of one month in Peebles.

At the end of July, we take the train to Stockport, a suburb of Manchester, for another house sit for Kimba the dog, and then settle in for a 6 week house sit near Southampton. There are a few days between Stockport and South Hampton where we visit Lucy Edge who has written two entertaining books, Yoga School Dropout and Down Dog Billionaire. Bob met her during his Elephant Journal days. I can’t wait to ask her about her writing.
Our first few weeks of house sitting have been wonderful and we look forward to many more house sits.