We really had no idea what to expect upon arriving in London for our first (ever!) housesitting assignment. We had spoken to the couple via telephone and exchanged a few emails, but that was the extent of our conversation. No photos, no details about who they were, and beyond a generally positive feeling really no idea what to expect.
Thankfully, they’re a riot… and I mean that in a good way. She’s an actress and burgeoning comedian, although it’s the male half of the couple who (despite being a wonderful blues musician) sounds exactly like Eddie Izzard! They’re friendly and quirky and very laid-back, so we had a great few days getting acquainted before they left to perform at the Edinburgh fringe festival for the next month.
Our main responsibility in their absence is taking care of their adorable cat, Chairman Miaow. He mostly goes by Chairman, but we tend to call him Comrade.
The Chairman has made it clear that our most important housesitting duty is distributing his morning tuna, which he’ll emphatically demand if we wake too late. And, in the words of the owners, he gets HYSTERICAL if he ever even thinks he can see the bottom of his food bowl. Cheeky little fellow, he is.
He spends most of his time in the graveyard behind their house or hanging out in the beautiful secret garden that comprises the backyard. It’s small, but full of tomatoes and thornless (!!) blackberry bushes and all sorts of fragrant herbs and flowers.
The house itself is at least a hundred years old… and apparently that’s no big deal around here. It was originally built without a bathroom (people just used a communal shack as a loo, since there wasn’t much indoor plumbing in those days) so the bathroom had to be added onto the back years later.
The block they live on – a relatively quiet residential street in a culturally-diverse East London neighborhood – is full of houses that all look exactly the same on the outside.
In fact, most blocks here are actually just a single, solid brick building, which is split up into separate vertical houses on the inside. This leads to an interesting exterior appearance, as whenever a resident paints their “house” they carefully stop in the middle of architectural features that should really be completed just to avoid their paint spilling over onto their neighbors’ property.
The inside of our building is very whimsical and artsy. The entire family is a creative bunch – there are three kids in addition to the comedian and the blues musician, and of those one is an opera singer, another is a playwrite, and the third is studying to be a professional dancer – so the house is a reflection of their artistic expression.
We arrived pretty jetlagged, spent a few days catching up on work, and Bob’s your uncle!