By Lynn Strough
What could be a more authentic English experience than living in a home on High Street in the quaint village of Corsham?
Luck was with me when I landed this housesit for sweet William, a 15-year-old pup. His masters, Mark and Andy were headed off on holiday and entrusted their furry friend to my care, along with their beautiful home. Will even made happy noises when I scratched behind his floppy ears and rubbed his tummy.
“If you wouldn’t mind feeding the birds and the fish, that’d be great,” Andy told me. “And we do have one other pet,” Mark added.
Uh oh, what’s this, I wondered.
“A peacock called Kevin sometimes visits the garden, if you could just give him a few mealworms…”
Who would have guessed I’d have my own pet peacock?
Their home is light and airy, and I had a lovely room with my own bath, where a fluffy white robe hung waiting. Books and DVDs lined the walls in the solarium.
“Help yourself and enjoy,” they told me, and showed me how to set the surround-sound.
Will got three walks a day, though due to his age, they were fairly short ones. A huge park sprawls out behind the house, a five-minute walk away, with a lake full of quacking ducks tucked into the corner. Will showed me his favorite spots.
We’d go out rain or shine and this being England, there’s more drizzle than not. But the many misty mornings were magical. With sheep now out of the pasture, Will was allowed to go off lead and often met up with his friends.
He may be mostly deaf, but there’s nothing wrong with Will’s nose, or his navigation. He’d approach friendly people in the park, who happened to have treats stashed in their pockets, and he invariably led me to the pet shop to meet his best saleslady pal.
Living in Corsham is the best of both worlds — a beautiful garden and park, like being out in the country with most everything you need just out the front door. High Street is only a few blocks long but crammed with small shops — hair salons, a health food store, two opticians, cafes and restaurants, a bakery, a co-op for groceries, a butcher, a pharmacy, pubs and banks and a bookstore and best of all, on Tuesdays, the market stalls set up.
Will and I each had our favorite booths.
At night, Will got his third walk. He’d lead the way, under glowing streetlights and a full October moon. The street was quiet, shop window-shades pulled. Turning down a dark alley towards the park, I’d switch on the torch (what the Brits call a flashlight). I’d glance around at tall, gnarly trees, branches creaking like arthritic arms; a chill wind whispered through the leaves. We didn’t enter the park but turned just before, down a path that led to a church with a headstone-filled graveyard, tall rounded markers like the ones in scary movies. We were both always happy to get home to our soft, warm beds.
We varied our walks sometimes. The churches and graveyards were much less spooky in the daytime.
One day I decided to take a tour of Corsham Court, the local manor and gardens. “No pictures allowed inside,” I was told as I paid for my ticket, a frustration for any photographer, but I focused on the positive side — I could enjoy just looking for a change, without having to capture every detail with a lens.
With a kitchen to cook in, I ate meals at home, another great reason to housesit. It saved a bundle not dining out, and Will and Kevin made nice dinner companions, when they weren’t both staring at me with “Can I have a bite?” eyes.
This Dickensian tale in Corsham has a very happy ending, with Mark, Andy and William reunited, and I felt like I made three new friends.
Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.
“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”
Reprinted with permission