I am currently seated in the main room of this ancient and extraordinary house. Hales House was built in the 1500s. Even with many renovations over the years it’s still filled abundantly with relics from the past. Bricks encapsulate all four walls of this room. Old wooden beams and posts surrounding the entryways and sometimes within the brick stone itself to showcase the wondrous beauty of age. The owners have put over one million pounds of renovations into this home over the past 20 years. The kitchen is fully updated, entire sections of additions have been included which accommodate five en-suite bedrooms, garden room and cellar where they host tapas parties. It truly is a spectacular sight. I am delighted to be looking after the owners, Serena and Victor’s two older Labs, Max and Ben. Along with feeding and caring for 5 chickens and 14 sheep that have proved to be quite a trial. I was fortunate enough to be given permission to read Victor’s personal autobiography which he left on the coffee table within this incredible room. Here is where I learned this home used to belong Sir Christopher Hale who became a lawyer to Henry the Eighth and subsequently prosecuted Thomas Moore and Anne Boleyn who were both eventually beheaded in the 16th Century. There was even a house before Hales House that was burned down in 1381 during a peasant’s revolt. The outside is almost equally spectacular. There is a large outside entertainment area with a magnificent fireplace, electric spit roaster and wood-fired oven. Oh and I keep forgetting about the hot tub, which I should experience at least once to truly take in the beautiful surroundings. There are several lovely placed greenhouses throughout the huge garden. I visit these several times throughout the day for fresh spinach, kale, tomatoes, raspberries and beets. Serena is an expert gardener and has won two local horticulture awards. She is also a great cook and loves entertaining for large groups of people on their astonishing property. In 2005 they hosted Vic’s retirement party where 80 people attended. Large tables for dining and even a casino comprised the barn transition for this event. There are many structures, garages, houses, and barns that make up the over 30 acres of total ground. I am hoping to post pictures of the estate once I gain the necessary permissions.
Victor or Vic as most people call him, has had such an extraordinary life. He was born in 1948 and grew up on a small farm or smallholding as it’s called here. He talked about the home he grew up in. It had an outside loo and heated solely from a living room fire. As you can imagine the house was very cold. He would wash every morning in the kitchen sink in order to warm up and took weekly baths near the fire. When he was young he had to take a hot water bottle to bed with him to keep warm. In the morning there was frost on the inside of his bedroom windows. He lived here until he was 20 years of age! Vic and Serena have been together for over 30 years. He was married once before to the mother of his two children. He talks of the divorce as his biggest regret putting his own personal needs above his children’s at the time. But just being in the same room with Serena and Vic is proof enough that the decision was right in the long-term. They still have such love, affection and laughter for one another. It’s a very rare exchange to witness. Vic is a retired CEO of multiple companies. He worked his way from the bottom while suffering from dyslexia, undiagnosed during most of his history. Vic never actually passed English 0 in college even though he tried 4 times. Fortunately, he had an aptitude for math and they still gave him his degree. He succeeded very quickly in international businesses at a very young age. This produced such an exhilarating life for himself, Serena and their children. They climbed dozens of mountains all over the world, rented out Chateaus, Castles and helicopters for special events, became master SCUBA divers saving 2 people’s lives, and racing in the Italian Job mini car race. In fact, Vic won this race from England to Italy in 2016. He recently turned 70 this year!! They were very acquainted and friends with other CEOs and celebrities including Joe Coors (yes, that Coors) before he died in 2016. I could go on and on. I’m so impressed and fascinated because today Vic and Serena are so very down to earth and amiable. If it weren’t for the fact that I read his book, I never would have known of their fantastic life and experiences.
House-sitting this estate has been such a pleasure and also a feat. A couple of days ago I learned quite a lot which was a tremendous breakthrough for me. It has to do with a poor sick sheep named Trever, i’ll get to this later. I’ve already had a few hiccups on this house sitting adventure. The first was when I was meditating in the main room, looking out over the luscious garden. I sometimes meditate with my eyes partially open and luckily this was one of those times! All of a sudden, I start seeing sheep wondering around the garden. Then it dawns on me that this isn’t right and realize the female sheep have escaped their enclosure. I am proud to say that right away I was able to calmly take action even though I was internally flipping out. Knowing they were still fenced in was a big relief and with the help of food pellets it took me about an hour to get them back in their pen. They were really having a great time with the fruit trees. The two dogs were absolutely no help during this entire process 🙂 As I made my way to the male sheep, who are kept about 30 feet away from the females, they are eagerly BAAAAing for some pellets as well. I have really taken to one of the male lambs, Valentino, who is very sweet and affectionate. I decide to take a few pellets from the bucket I was carrying and give a couple of the males a small handful. BIG MISTAKE! I returned the bucket and went to attend the chickens, their run is inside the male sheep’s larger pen. I enter the male sheep pen and right away they are acting differently. I try to assure them I no longer have pellets, but to no avail. Valentino and the main, larger ram, begin to butt me with their heads. I flee inside the chicken run and slam the door. I realize very quickly that I made a mistake in feeding these male sheep something other than hay, because they are acting like zombies who have just discovered fresh meat! They push their way into the chicken run and knock over the chicken food, making a huge mess. I grab a stick to try and scare them and prevent the from butting me with their heads but it doesn’t seem to help. I get out of both pens and with my head hung down, go back to the house. I start looking online and it appears I’ve done the 3 things I should never do to a ram. Never use a stick to block them (they take this as a challenge), never turn your back, and never – EVER feed them from your hand!! OMG!! “Why didn’t they tell me this??” I kept thinking. Okay it took me a little while to calm down but soon I went out to take the dogs for a walk and check on the surroundings. Here is when I noticed the 5 chickens have escaped from the male sheep pen. WTF?? I suddenly felt like the substitute teacher who must now deal with an unruly class of kids. I learned days later that this is perfectly normal for the chicken as they are allowed to go pretty much wherever they want as long as they are back in their pen by dusk.
Getting back to Trever, who is the castrated sheep that keeps the ram company in addition to the lambs. I noticed he wasn’t grazing with the others as much, he was often laying down. His butt was dirty from scouring (diarrhea). I texted Serena to see if I should call a vet. She asked me to have the neighbor come look at him first. I spoke with the wife, Liz over the phone. Immediately she started downplaying the symptoms asking, “is that all?” or saying “sounds normal to me.” I told her it was more of a feeling that he was unwell. She wasn’t impressed with this. I started doubting myself, what do I know about sheep anyway? Her husband, Tony, visited later that day and observed the sheep from outside the pen. Tony said Trever looked fine to him, just a bit of scouring which means he needs to be wormed. I went to bed a bit frustrated and sad. I couldn’t entirely pinpoint why. I just felt defeated with this housesit and worried I wasn’t doing a very good job. The next day Trever looked much worse. He was laying down, breathing heavily, he was suffering. I contacted Serena and she told me it’s time to call the vet. I watched the vet treat Trever who turned out to have a very advanced case of fly strike. After she cut down most of the wool near his tail, this revealed bloody, loose skin covering an area the size of both my hands. Fly strike is when the flies lay eggs in this spot under the skin. There were also lots of maggots, ick! Poor Trever!! I kept thinking, why did I listen to the neighbors? I don’t have to be familiar with their species to know when an animal is sick. Fortunately, it was caught relatively quickly and Trever is doing much better today. Now everything seems to make much more sense. I was sad the other night because I was acting in a way that was against my inner guidance. I knew that the sheep was suffering and I allowed it to continue because I let others cloud my reality. I have a long drawn-out history of doing this. Especially in an academic or work environment. I shouldn’t doubt myself. I am only just now realizing that my body tells me when I do this. This sadness or frustrated feeling that was troubling for me at the time, was actually an indicator that I wasn’t acting in a way that I truly knew was pertinent under the circumstances. I have been wanting to listen to this guidance, but until now I didn’t know how. It’s more about trusting my feelings than looking for something tangible. Feelings are so often misconstrued by others. I was always taught to ignore them or don’t let them get in the way. I remember when I was 9 or 10 years old, watching StarTrek with my mother. I was so envious of Vulcans and their power to not let their emotions control them. But this would be like cutting off my legs. Getting rid of my superpower. Now my perspective is, I wish I would have been taught or encouraged to use this at a young age as I have a lot of making up to do 🙂 However, I am beaming with self acceptance and positivity with this newfound knowledge about myself. I have his aura of clarity in my possession. This feels amazing and better than any drug I’ve ever crossed paths with. I am so very grateful to be moving forward in this realm and look forward to what this power brings forth in the future.