“Sweet Mother of Jesus!” I mutter, as I step outside the hot shower into the bitter cold hallway. The difference in temperature must be at least 20 degrees. I quickly stride towards the living quarters where the heat of the open fire awaits me. Bunch, the Dalmatian we look after, stares at me with a smug face; he already found his spot close to the burning logs.
We are house sitting in Scotland at Blairadam House, a Scottish historic property dating back as far as 1733. It’s an absolutely stunning place, but as often with ancient properties, it is impossible to heat. Single glazing, the lack of central heating and cavity walls means that few of the rooms are actually lived in and moving from one room to another feels like being catapulted from Spain into Norway.
But all of this is a very small price to pay for the wonderful opportunity we were given to look after such a valuable part of history!
The house is still in the hands of the Adam family. Keith and Elizabeth are the 8th generation of Adams owning the estate and are forever busy to restore the property back to its former glory. The rooms are decorated with family portraits, antique furniture and the Adam family tree. There is a private walled garden and 200 acres of undisturbed woodland. To me, having the privilege of inheriting and inhabiting such a place seems like a mixture of pride, sense of duty and curse. Most people seem to think that families living in such properties are filthy rich, but it is very often not the case. Before retirement Keith and Elizabeth both had full-time jobs and the money needed for restoration is coming from showing groups around the property and renting a small part of Blairadam out as a B&B!
So, what do we do all day during our house- and pet sit you wonder?
After a filling breakfast we feed the chickens and take Bunch and Boysie, the 2 doggies, up the hill for their morning walk. They can be left off the lead since we are in the middle of “our” forests as far as the eye can see.
For their afternoon walk we often take them into the walled garden. Originally designed between 1756 and 1761 it had been neglected for a long time, but the son of the current owners has retaken an interest in it. Nowadays vegetable allotments and apple trees are blossoming all over the garden again.
Doggie duties over we are free to explore the area. That is the beauty of house-sitting, it takes you to places you might otherwise not have considered visiting. We explore the Kingdom of Fife from St Andrews to Dunfermline, Scotland’s ancient capital, and from Falkland Palace to the East Neuk coastal villages, a very beautiful area of central Scotland!
As said earlier, it can get pretty cold in the evenings, but cold here means cosy. The open fire makes you forget about the icy temperatures outside. We spend the evenings reading about Scotland’s history, writing or watching tele. The doggies cuddled up in front of the fire.
We stayed at Blairadam for a week. It was a very unique housesit and we’ll feel forever grateful to be given the opportunity to look after this historic property!
As always we feel sad to say goodbye to Bunch and Boysie. You do create a bond with the doggies you care for and leaving them behind usually means a few tears. But there are other pets to look after and other countries to explore. Who knows where our next house sit will take us?!