For this episode of Adventures in Petsitting, I’ve temporarily relocated for a week while owners get their holiday ski on from the Alps of Switzerland…or Austria…or was it Italy?? To be sure, it was one of these popular alpine destinations.
Adventure #2 – Dalkey, affluent Dublin neighbourhood and home to such celebs as Bono, The Edge and Enya; pets include 1 cat, a few fish and 2 floppy-eared bunnies.
First morning of my odyssey and am ready to get this show on the road as the owner has just texted me directions to homestead. Sound…however I’m missing one crucial element, the number of the house. WTB??!! I was just given the “name” of the manor and for the sake of privacy let’s call it Warwick House. With the invention of search engines and GPS you’d think I’d be able to locate this address easily enough…well, wasn’t I arsed to find out that we haven’t advanced that far folks…so am left with a house name and a general idea of location. Now, I’ve travelled to foreign, non-English speaking countries so how hard can this really be??!
Off I go with my big backpack and winning smile to embark upon my next adventure only to get 200 metres from my front door before me back muscles spasm from the weight of the haul (I now have a new appreciation for any species of pack animal given that my cargo must weigh a jot compared to their colossal loads). What could possibly weigh so bloody much?? I mean, it’s only a week’s worth of clothing, a variety of electronics/power cords and a few groceries (rooibos tea, Nissin Yakisoba® noodles and Nuzest® organic pea protein powder afterall) but I forge on…no pain, no gain! After a few planes, trains & automobiles I manage to get my Quasimodo self to the final train stop (a stone’s throw from my destination) which is nestled on the coast, approx. 30 minutes from city centre as the crow flies.
Upon exiting the station I look up (as it’s the only option) at one of the steepest hills in Dublin, ahh jaysus!! Bag swiftly discarded, time for a 5-minute regroup. At this point I set about searching for a few good affirmations to get me through the last leg which resulted “repeat after me: YOU CAN DO THIS”, “fall seven times, stand up eight” and “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”. Yeah, let’s do it! After wrestling with gear and nearly blowing out a knee, I begin ascension. Fair play to me as I manage to get half-way up the crag before burning lungs, searing calves and a desperate need to check current location vs finish line force a timeout. Just as luck would have it, a gentleman emerges from his drive and I practically hurl myself at the unsuspecting lad to ask directions. Wow, what a faux pas!! You would have thought that I asked for his kidney or some other life-sustaining organ. The look of total disdain said it all, I was clearly riffraff from the city and to be held at arm’s length in the event of spreading infectious, non-gentry germs. He curtly replied that he didn’t recognise the name of the manor and hastily retraced his steps. But here’s the irony…my destination was only around the corner from his own estate…wanker!! Now that I think about it, I’m sure he starred in an episode of The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door…subtitled “Your Man with Stick up his Arse”.
No matter, I eventually arrive at Warwick Manor. As I wait for the gates to open I’m half-expecting a ray of light accompanied by angelic music given my EPIC journey but am quickly deflated as my eyes alight upon an array of garbage bins, overturned garden furniture and deluge of children’s bicycles. Ah for feck’s sake…an obstacle course to top it all off (if only I hadn’t abandoned my dreams of becoming the next American Ninja Warrior champion). All joking aside, the home itself was absolutely stunning not unlike a French manor given its old and unique architecture and old-world charm. And the view was stunning, it overlooked Dublin Bay in all its glory…finally a reason to appreciate the precipice I’d just bouldered (a form of rock climbing executed without the use of ropes or harnesses)…although the local council might consider the addition of cable cars in future?!
Upon gaining entry via the “conservatory” doors I was immediately greeted by the family cat and who happened to be one of the friendliest felines I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Proudly purring and merrily head-butting my shins she won me over in seconds…at least she will be good company given the massive (a.k.a. mammoth a.k.a. enormous a.k.a. WTB??!!) square footage of this chateau. Holy shite…I’ve never seen so many rooms, is this a home or Hogwarts?!! A gorgeous staircase instantly draws your eye which then led to the “wings” of the manor and at every turn I envisioned Harry Potter springing from one of the chambers ready to turn me into a big ball of dust with a flick of his wand (now I’m pretty badass as a sentient human being but specks of dirt just won’t cut it unless you could summon a strong gale and aim for the eyes. Hmmmm…not a bad idea for the next X-Men character…note to self, contact Marvel Comics re: THE DUSTER. After hours of exploration (and yes, I did get lost) I finally plot my way back the main floor…truth be told I got a wee bit spooked as I’m sure that I saw, Lisa and Louise Burns, those divilish Shining twins, yikes!!
Time for a well-deserved cuppa and thorough read of all care instructions which included the cat, bunnies and the fish. All good stuff and all very doable. For all that, one particular aspect piqued my curiosity as according to the 500-page manual, the rabbits had an indoor pen AND an outdoor pen. Howeeeevvvver, these pens were situated in two very different parts of the property, huh???? This I gotta see!! Another go at the obstacle course (I shaved 2 seconds off my time) and I quickly locate the “indoor” pen. My goodness, talk about lush!! This groovy pad would give the Playboy mansion a run for its money and these bunnies don’t even have to put up with the likes of creepy, silk pajama-wearing Hef!
So, in order to facilitate the change of location twice daily, there’s a pet carrier to transport these cuties and within minutes I’m carrying my new furry friends to greener pastures. After many wrong turns and tussle with one of the overgrown hedges in the dilapidated garden maze I discover the infamous exercise yard which provided plenty of room for bunny boot camp and cardio hip hop. There’s also a generous 3-tiered pet condo equipped with juice bar (carrot is a favourite) and fluffy, hay loungers for post workout naps. Alas, one small “potential” problem…the enclosure is all but an extended indoor puppy fence, in other words, so feeble that a modest breeze could blow it over nevermind the likes of wily Mr. Fox…gulp. It’s not like a fence hasn’t folded while I was in charge before…remember Shaun the Sheep antics from my last post?? nuf said!!
After a few nail-biting hours I decide to collect the cottontails as it’s near dark and time for bed (theirs, not mine). Right…hmmm…now to catch them? It’s a darned good thing they’re not the quickest, most agile mammal on the planet!!! If I’d only had the border collies from my last petsit, uggh. After a few hundred expletives and two mud-stained knees a lightbulb finally goes off. What if I just picked the fence up and made the circumference smaller…GENIUS (I tell ya, Einstein and Newton have nothing on me!). My odds immediately improve and after a few misses, I finally score. And much to my delight, they weren’t mean girls and never once resorted to biting. Granted, they didn’t go lightly as my wrists & arms were scratched to shite (ever heard of a mani-pedi ladies??)! All in all, we worked out a compromise whereby I delivered generous portions of somewhat stale fruit & veg and they conceded to being trapped (figuratively speaking) every night. By the end of my sit I had it down to a fine art and can now proudly add “origami fence expert/rabbit wrangler” to my résumé!
The rest of my sojourn went smoothly enough and that affectionate feline became my best mate as she cheerfully purred her way through TV marathons of The Great British Bake Off and Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (the fish pie episode was her favorite). I knew she was class because there wasn’t even a hint of animosity when I accidentally locked her in the laundry press…an honest mistake (and before you call PETA, it was only for a couple of hours and I’m convinced she napped the entire time).
In summary, another great experience with its fair share of challenges & chuckles. Although, I do think that the owners were taking the piss (a.k.a. having a laugh) when they requested a daily feeding of the “so-called” fish…to this day I think I was feeding an empty tank, WTB??!!