Hello, the South…

Ooops….we’ve got a little behind with the blogging. Here’s a quick recap of our last three weeks…

We’ve been on the move, initially northwards but just a bit, to Leith, which is just to the east of Edinburgh. Teresa managed to find us a short, tie-over house sit here. It was a fab few days in a really interesting neighbourhood.

You may have seen the film Trainspotting. Much of it was filmed in Leith, although little remains of the actual filming locations as the place has undergone significant gentrification since the film was made back in 1996.  Leith felt like it was in a bit of a time machine, being hurtled forward by gentrification at both ends. Touristy and fashionable Edinburgh City is set just a mile or so to the west while the docklands and shipyard areas to the east are now home to many fashionable restaurants and cafes.

In between the two ends, the main shopping area in Leith is still gritty with a sense of ‘trainspotting’ on some street corners. I mean I’m sure there were three guys doing a drug deal just outside our house sit when we arrived!  But you can see that developers are busy here. There are boarded up tenements being renovated for more fashionable occupiers. It’s probably only a matter of time before the whole of Leith has lost the last vestiges of grunge, replaced with the more gentile feeling of Edinburgh City.

Teresa, Leith housesit
Teresa, Leith housesit

From Leith we traveled south, and I must say that we were looking forward to a change in the weather. Three (summer) months in Scotland had sorely tested our wet weather gear and our patience for a better climate. We are warm weather and sunshine people, that we understand now.

We decided that we’d break up our journey south to include an overnight stay in one of those generic, bland but safe Holiday Inn’s. The one we chose primarily for location was handy to the A1, but far enough off the motorway to avoid traffic noise. We had a leisurely drive down the east coast, passing through or close to Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire. I’m doing all the driving as Teresa isn’t used to driving on the left-hand side of the road (Canadian!). She get’s to have a sleep while I get to enjoy the countryside. As expected the motel just off the A1 at Doncaster was clean, bland, without personality. We spent a comfortable night here but were happy to be back on the road the next morning.

I’m fairly happy with driving in the UK now.  We’ve only owned the car about a month. There are the occasional weird road patterns (what do those zig-zag lines mean?) and moments when I think “what speed am I supposed to be doing here?”, but overall it feels like I haven’t broken too many laws so far. Here’s hoping there’s not a pile of tickets waiting for me in the system!

We arrived in Chiddingfold, Surrey about 5:30pm on the 19th of July. Chiddingfold is a smallish village surrounded by countryside. If you like peace and quiet and space, you’ll like it here.  I immediately thought that it was probably going to be a bit of a challenge for Teresa, a city girl.  However, there are about 5 pubs within the space of a few miles, together with a good sized town (Godalming) about 15 minutes drive to the north, and a larger town (Guildford) a further 10 minutes from there. So were not completely in the rural back blocks.

leafy countryside around Chiddingfold
leafy countryside around Chiddingfold

The place we have here (until next Tuesday… three weeks have gone fast) is a two storey home built in the 1960’s. The owners bought it  few years ago and carried out a major renovation and extension.  It’s pretty damn nice to be honest with you. The owners have a natural flair and there are lots of lovely little touches all though the house. We got kinda lucky when they chose us for this one!

Our housemates this time around are two adorable cats, Ollie and Tinker(Belle).  Ollie is a standard moggie, quite a big cat and he’ll happily eat all the food in the house if you let him.

Olllie in his favourite spot
Ollie in his favourite spot

He took a few days to warm to us and he’s still a little stand-offish, coming I think from a rescue background and perhaps not having had the best of kittenhoods, poor fella. He trusts us now  and knows where the foods coming from… always a way to a cats heart!  Belle is an adorable ball of fluff, quite literally. She is very friendly and enjoy a lap to sit on in the evenings and a chase of something in the yard. She’s a very trusting cat and seems to get on with every other cat (and there are quite a few) in the surrounding neighbourhood.

We’ve had a great time here and have filled in some of the quieter times with trips to the nearby towns and one day trip on the train to London. Tomorrow we are heading down to Brighton on the south coast, about 2 hours drive from here. I’ve been to Brighton a couple of times and enjoyed it there, so I’m looking forward to showing Teresa around.

London day trip
London day trip

One last thing about Surrey. It’s very leafy green here, moreso than anywhere in the UK I’ve been before. You can drive along roads here that are completely encased in trees.  The photo below will give you some sort of idea.

Leafy Surrey
Leafy Surrey

There’s also plenty of money in these parts. I kind of knew that before we got here but it was interesting to see the dynamic, especially after coming from rather less well off, Glasgow. What people wear, the cars they drive, the attention to gardens and historic buildings, it all gives the impression that this is a county where money matters.

So that’s a quick snapshot of the last few weeks here in Surrey. I’ve been working away on my writing and happy to report that I’m up to about 50,000 words for a book in the making. This writing is a tricky business though. You have to keep at it or you’ll fall out of the habit and it’s hard to pick up again. Just like blogging!

Oh, and here’s one of the local pubs… circa 1400!

The Crown Inn - Chiddingfold
The Crown Inn – Chiddingfold

 

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