It’s six am and a cat is prodding me. Now, I can hear the dogs rucking around downstairs followed by the insistent snorting of pigs in the garden. Yes, pigs. Welcome to our first London house sit of the summer! We’ve taken up temporary residence in a beautiful, leafy part of west London that we’d never in a million years be able to afford to really live in. Have I mentioned how much we love house sitting?
House sits, from London to Portugal
Aside from allowing us to spend time in London and have some temporary pets, house sitting is also a great way for us to reduce our living costs. Life in the UK doesn’t come cheap and considering that our freelance and online teaching work has slowed down over the summer, some free accommodation is just what we need right now. If you’re interested in house and pet sitting, we’ve been using Trusted Housesitters for three years and would definitely recommend it.
As well as house sitting we’ve been pondering our next move, researching different countries in Europe to visit, trawling through Airbnb listings (is it just me or is that site getting more expensive?) and looking at house sits. At the moment, our autumn calendar still looks pretty empty but we do know where our European adventure will begin: Portugal. We’ve landed a house sit in the south of the country with two more cute piggies, which we plan to follow up with stops in Lisbon and Porto before moving east.
The UK and transitions
Despite the excitement of onward plans, there’s always something about being back in the UK that I find slightly disconcerting. Even as an ‘outsider’, I notice the pace and stress of daily life. Everyone is so busy, rushing from one place to the next, working long hours and struggling under constant pressures and expectations. Even though I’m not really part of this, over time I feel I’m absorbing some of the stressful mood and my anxiety levels start to rise.
Then there’s the fact that I’m constantly cold in the UK (even though it’s summer and people dressed in shorts keep telling me how ‘muggy’ it is) and I always seem to get sick when we return. Which leads me to wonder, could I in fact be allergic to this country? Jokes aside, as nice as it is to visit the UK, our summer here feels like merely a transition into the next phase of our journey and a reminder of the type of lifestyle I don’t want to step back into.
Veganism and travel
This summer we’re also making another big transition – we’re going vegan. This is something we’ve been learning about for the past six months and we’ve finally decided that for animal welfare, environmental and health reasons, we’re going to give it a shot. If you’re interested, some of the best documentaries/films we’ve watched about veganism are Cowspiracy, 101 Reasons to go Vegan and Forks over Knives.
Although I’ve been vegetarian for many years, Andrew hasn’t eaten meat for at least a year and our dairy intake was quite minimal while we were living in Asia, going vegan is still a big lifestyle change. We’re having to relearn what we can eat, research new recipes and resist falling into old habits. We’ve discovered that there’s milk powder in so many products and even wine can contain egg. Although we’re still learning and making mistakes, I already feel healthier and happier knowing that my food choices aren’t having such a negative impact on the world.
So how will our new vegan lifestyle gel with travel? While some places like Chiang Mai are heavenly for vegans, there are plenty of other places where I’ve found it challenging to be vegetarian, let alone vegan.The UK is actually a great place to make the transition as there are so many vegan ingredients in the supermarkets and we have kitchens to cook in but how will we fare in South America in 2018?
We still have plenty of time to figure things out over the next couple of months while we continue house sitting and hanging out with family and friends across the UK. Do you have any experience of travelling as a vegan? Any recommendations of places to visit in Europe?