- Bonnie Coffey
Castle Canines in Nottingham, England
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Jessie and Izzy were two exceptionally good reasons to head to a small village on the eastern border of Nottingham for two weeks. You might remember the name Nottinghamshire from the tales of Robin Hood. It is indeed the same area, and Sherwood Forest was just over half an hour's drive from us.
These two four legged girls stole our hearts. They are funny, intelligent, well behaved, energetic and loving. I could go on, but it just starts to sound sappy, right? We really enjoyed being with them though.
Adorable Izzy loves her squeaky toy and she stops on a dime when she hears it! She is one of the fastest dogs we've ever witnessed running.
Beautiful Jessie was kept on a long lead due to the instinctive hunting habits of huskies that lead them to wander and stay away for days. Her Husky Howl had us amused every time she spoke to us.
Our initial primary reason for going to the area, which probably comes as no surprise, was to play in the inaugural English Open Pickleball Tournament. If you're at all interested in pickleball, my blog post on the amazing event is here: https://rtww2k.wixsite.com/coffeys2gopb/post/out-of-order-in-nottingham-uk.
We started looking for additional pet sits in England after making arrangements to sit for Zoe in London. The website we use to find pet sits was founded in the south of England, and as a result, there are generally a lot of sitting opportunities in the UK. We had a couple of weeks available to pet sit before the tournament began, Quite by surprise, we found a very nice couple looking for someone to help with their two dogs. The listing showed that it was just on the outskirts of Nottingham, and the sit would end just two days before our tournament was to begin. The photos of the home looked lovely and the description was quite intriguing. It was a cottage attached to the gate house of a destroyed castle. It had been demolished in the English Civil War of in 1645. The mid-15th century castellated gate and guard house was enlarged and remodeled. It is now quite a handsome manse in the countryside.
Our "small" cottage attached to the large gate house turned out to be a four bedroom home. It was originally two adjacent cottages that had been joined into one. It is replete with charm, and it is very unique owing to the fact that it is a 14th century character home. The owner is a builder so everything in the interior was remodeled with modern appliances and facilities - no outhouses or bedpans here! Nothing can be changed to the exteriors due to being what is called a "listed" building. There are areas of the surrounding properties that are "scheduled" (pronounce "sheduled") that also protect them from development.
I asked permission to fly my drone on the property. The home owner sent out a WhatsApp message to all of the other owners of the 11 houses on the property. They own common land around their homes, and that is surrounded by farm land and Queen's land as well. That affords wide open spaces to view the environment from above. The neighbors were all quick to respond saying that they were okay with me flying. Yay!
Such a photogenic hamlet!
Some of the highlights of our days were walks around the property and play time with the dogs in the green meadow in the upper right hand corner of the above photo.
We were fortunate to meet some of the neighbors named Maureen, who is an exceptionally knowledgable local historian, and her husband Bernard. It was fascinating to sit and have a long chat with her. She agreed to a taped interview to go with my drone video footage, so I have another project to finish (one of several in the pipeline).
The property easily goes back to Domesday (pronounced Doomsday), according to Maureen. She and Wikipedia informed us that after the Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066, the "Domesday Book" was commissioned in December 1085 by order of William The Conqueror. William needed to raise taxes to pay for his army and so a survey was set in motion to assess the wealth and and assets of his subjects throughout the land. Wiverton was listed among those assets. Archeologists have found artifacts from long ago inhabitants all over the property. There will likely be further studies done there in the future.
There is some dissension brewing among the inhabitants of the homes adjacent to the gate house. The homeowner of the original gate house, has initiated getting approval to have a wedding venue on the site which does not make the other neighbors happy. Having 300+ vehicles descend upon their tranquil meadow is not appealing to them. It is highly unlikely that the initiator of the idea can be successful due to the historic nature and registered status of the buildings and surrounding lands.
The deer or other wildlife that flattened some of the adjacent wheat fields would likely also not be too happy with lots of visitors near their sleeping area. (I had to find some way to work in this little artistic shot.)
Once again, this wonderful pet and house sit is a great testimonial for the website we use,
https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/su/xHabPOGQ (This link is good for 25% off the annual membership.)
During our delightful history lesson, Bernard and Maureen invited us to a fun and unique afternoon visiting them on their narrowboat. These water craft are of a distinct narrow design for traveling a system of canals that crisscross all of England. They must be less than 7' wide to navigate the narrow waterways. Originally they were used to transport cargo, but their use as pleasure craft increased as railway usage diminished the need to move cargo by water. The interior has a very similar feel to that of a one bedroom RV home.
We're already looking forward to returning to this beautiful area next year to sit for Izzy and Jessie again before or after the English Open. While we love exploring new locations, we're finding real joy in returning to visit friends and places from previous visits.
Next stop, Lisbon, Portugal!
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