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Royal Garden Parties 2023 what’s the future?

Royal Garden Parties 2023 what’s the future?

With the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth in September 2022, I’ve been thinking back to the Royal Garden Parties she hosted. In 2019, Cooper and I were exceptionally lucky to be invited to attend a Royal Garden Party.

As it happens, this was one of the very last of these events the Queen actually hosted. The following two years saw this special event cancelled due to COVID. When the Queen’s Garden Party returned in 2022, she was already beginning to get quite frail and did not attend.

 

Royal Garden Parties: What does the future hold?

During the past week as the Queen’s funeral unfolded, I have been contacted a few times on LinkedIn with enquiries about our time at the garden party.

Our Royal Garden Party experience was truly exceptional and we felt so honoured to be invited. There’s a lot of interest around how to get an invitation to the Royal Garden Parties in England and Scotland. I was even approached by Business Insider to share my story about this!

A Royal garden party invitation - hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Copyright royal.com

Image courtesy royal.com

 

The question remains though, will King Charles continue the tradition of hosting such events? At the time of publishing, there’s not a lot of detail around how this will look in 2023.

What I can tell you, is to keep an eye on the Royal website for updates on events in 2023. As these are summer events, I would suggest that the schedule would be set around February. You could also do a little research to see if your country’s High Commission or the like, extends offers to apply or be nominated to attend.

The Mirror in the UK published a little advice on the topic in 2022 too, read here for more details.

Attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace, photo by Ferdinand Stohr, Unsplash

You could also keep an eye on active ‘royal watcher’ blogs like this one that shares updates and goss as it becomes available.

If you can find your way into a royal event, it’s well worth it. The Brits really know how to make an event fabulous!

While we will miss the Queen, I hope King Charles continues the tradition. I hope that you have the chance to attend too 🙂

In the meantime, if you’d like a little more insight into what expat life is like in London, travel on over to our YouTube channel and look for the living in England playlists.

Lessons on how to rehome a dog

Lessons on how to rehome a dog

Before Cooper and I set off on this house and pet sitting adventure, our intention was to be surrounded by dogs. Humbled by our experiences along the way, we have learnt eye-opening facts on how to properly rehome a dog. Our biggest lessons came in Malta, and we want to share with you here.

 

A family of rehomed dogs

In Malta we cared for nine dogs on our house sit. Geoff and Theresa initiated us into their family as Cooper and I each took hold of our own set of pooches. We got to understand their routines and personalities, and a highlight of each day was, of course, walk time!

Each morning in a flurry of excitement, fur babies of all shapes and sizes danced around the kitchen. Collars and leads were attached, although I can’t say patience is a strength of these cheeky dogs.

I took 12 year old Smudge – food lover, Dalmatian cross, big personality. In my other hand I had little Spike, the dog with nine lives, and old soul Eliza, mum to the fox terriers Cooper was handling, Christa and Giselle.

Geoff and Theresa showed us the ropes before they went away. Fearful giant Zula went with Geoff. We likened her to the lion who had lost courage. He also had ‘the Queen’, Amy, a type of woolly Sicilian sheep dog.

Our ‘dog whisperer’ Theresa, would wait behind and bring her two special rescued dogs. Rusty is just a pup, simply terrified; and Percy, a Dachshund mix, won’t look at anyone but Theresa.

We’d need to get to understand their characters before tackling these walks on our own. I’m pleased to say we did master it.

Smudge and Sarah on our Malta house sit

 

Navigating ‘Cat Alley’

Geoff and Theresa led the charge on the first few days we were all together. Determined to learn, we followed their instructions. Each day our dogs would go to the field behind their home, to play together and with other rehomed dogs.

Getting to the field meant navigating Cat Alley. Now that’s an adventure.

 

We’d all leave the house, one set of pups at a time, keeping an eye out for cars coming past the front door on the narrow road outside.

Spike doesn’t like motorbikes – he tries to attack them.

I had to learn quickly:

  • That a dog on a lead chasing motorbikes means all dogs I am holding onto will get tangled up!
  • If you’ve got a strong pup you need to be careful they don’t get away and run in front of a car. Use your good arm 👍
  • I also learned the hard way that my finger kept slipping on the ‘release’ button on the lead. This meant my leads would extend at exactly the time I didn’t want my dogs running away from me! Rookie errors.

👉Read: 6 lessons learnt as pet sitters, and things YOU need to know

 

Out the door: under 20 seconds ’til we’d turn the corner.

The Malta sun blazed upon us, even at this early hour. I’d see Cooper and Geoff ahead, core strength at work as they held onto their sets for dear life.

Welcome to Cat Alley, where the dogs go crazy. Christa and Giselle especially, their little frames finding tiger-like strength each day, as they dragged forth, onward towards their nemesis.

Cats on car tops glaring down, or scaling trees, scoffing at our spectacle. Then we’d spot them on the road ahead, taunting the dogs! Cat Alley. A dog’s worst nightmare? Or dog owner’s?

 

The strategy for getting through here was to be quick and strong. As a team, we’d managing our yelping, excited pack, quietly hoping a lead wouldn’t snap, and doing our utmost to prevent the dogs from tangling and running into each other.

Old Smudge would always stop at the most inconvenient time to do his business here too. Honestly if he wasn’t so damn cute… !

Sarah Blinco and Cooper Dawson on house sit with 9 dogs in Malta

 

Field of dreams

After undoubtedly the most active four minutes of the day, our double-gate entry to the field is in sight!

There’s two gates here for a special reason. Many of the dogs are anxious or hyper-sensitive. So, we bring them into a holding area and shut the outside gate so no-one disappears down Cat Alley and onto the street. Second gate opens, and our group flies into their freedom field.

Theresa, Geoff, Cooper and I put down our leads, fill up water bowls and lead the dogs around the field to play.

A friend of the field, Caroline, gave us a tip:

Always keep walking, don’t let a group of dogs congregate while owners chat and gossip – it can lead to ‘too much excitement’ (or a brawl).

 

The field, rented by Theresa and Geoff, is an important space that helps dogs socialise and get into a happier frame of mind.

Sicily is about two hours’ ferry ride from Malta, and there’s a terrible homeless dog problem there.

Sarah and my family of pups in Malta

 

Rescue dogs and their families

Cooper and I have met many beautiful rescue pups over the past year. Their families shared with us meticulous details on any anxiety or behaviour to care for in their rehomed dogs. It’s a privilege to have been able to get to know so many beautiful personalities. In Malta, we were followed around, up and down stairs; The dogs snuggled with us in the lounge at TV time, demanded cheese at meal time, and lapped up love at bedtime. We love them!

Parents of all of the rescue dogs we’ve met care deeply about their fur family, and have been matched with their furever pups. But there are heartbreaking stories of terribly high ‘return’ rates to shelters that we have heard of too.

 

How to rehome a dog – things we can learn

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a dog person and/or you are looking to rehome a dog too. All dogs, like people, have unique personalities. To effectively place a dog in its furever home, a proper match needs to be made.

Theresa and Geoff explained more about this to us when we spent time with them, and in the video above ☝

The dogs they’ve rescued have been through TRAUMA: neglect, serious abuse, abandonment.

It’s why some of our babies on the house sit were reticent to be too near to us.

Theresa and Geoff have a really low ‘return’ rate. They put in the time to match families and dogs though, as you’ll see in the video above.

 

Adoption and rehoming tips

Details we garnered to help you find your perfect pooch:

  1. See what you can find out about the dog’s personality and background. Does he/she need to run around, are they best with a family, or a couple/single?
  2. Will the breed/personality be right for your circumstances – do you have young kids?
  3. How active is your dog going to need to be, and can you cater for this?
  4. Have you considered an older dog, not just a puppy? There are so many benefits to rehoming older dogs who have just been down on their luck. Puppies are NOT right for everyone.
  5. Are you willing to socialise your dog – take them to a dog park and to learn to play with others?
  6. A dog deserves love for life, and you should be able to pay for vet bills if required.

 

Theresa and Geoff are always on the lookout for good homes for dogs they rescue. Show your support and get in contact via their Facebook page, Adopt a Sicilian Stray.

 

 

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

‘Digital nomad lifestyle’, for most of us who resonate with the term, means travelling + working. It sounds fun, and yeah it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no income! Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.

A few weeks back we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. Over the past few months we’ve been refining a digital nomad routine that fits with our lifestyle, so we re-implemented the plan.

Maybe some of these tips will resonate with you too.

 

Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine

Plan daily, keep a diary

When you’re travelling and working on the road you need to be super organised. Use a diary! We plan our days in advance and share a Google calendar which tracks the work Cooper and I do together as well as individual workloads. We plan it all in, can see when it’s coming up, and try to stick to the times we’ve set. Quite often we will also plan time in for daily exercise or getting out and about.

Depending on where you are, your daily routines can fluctuate. A group of full time digital nomads have shared insight into how they manage their routine, on the Becoming a Digital Nomad blog.

Project plan within your week

We don’t just plan our days in advance, but our weeks too. Blocks of time are planned into our diary for project work. For example, we might have a three hour period marked as ‘website development’. We break that down into sections, so within that time frame we might want to achieve finding a new theme for the website and editing the copy on the home page. If we get those tasks completed in that time frame, we’ve achieved our goal for that day.

It’s very easy to plan a chunk of time for ‘a project’ but get distracted and overwhelmed on where to start, then not to anything of any real substance! But, if you plan smaller tasks into a larger section of time, you’re more likely to complete the priorities you’ve set for yourself.

Cooper and I catch up each morning to see where we’re up to and to reschedule anything that didn’t get done the day before. There’s obviously the need to be flexible if something more urgent needs to be prioritised.

 

Nomad lifestyle requires planning around disruption

Travelling between house sits or new locations means we lose work time. That’s totally fine, but we have come to accept that we need to give time to cleaning, packing, moving.

We used to plan work into our travel time (e.g. work on the train or plane), but it never gets done between being tired or having no space/internet/power. We now look ahead at what’s coming up and don’t schedule real chunks of work into that time.

Consequently, if Wednesday becomes our Saturday for the week, or we need to work on the weekend because we had some ‘days off’ during the week, so be it. But it’s in our diary. See points one and two.

Be accountable to someone else

We’ve made a deal to keep each other accountable. Diary alerts, alarms, nagging each other works. I’m pretty good at organising things, but Cooper’s better and making us stick to time. So, we work as a team to make our routine work to time.

If you don’t have a partner to do this, find other ways. You can appoint an accountability buddy who also runs their own business or freelances; connect on social media to prompt and encourage each other. Find meetups with other intrepid solo travellers, work at a coworking space or visit coworking cafes so there’s others with the same mindset around you.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day

To stay out of holiday mode, stick to a sleep routine too. Science says that it’s far better for our health and wellbeing to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s your ‘day off’.

Find out more in this piece I wrote for Get it Magazine in October 2019.

Take breaks and make time for play

It’s important to step away from work. Maintain your work/life balance. We hear about this in the corporate world but it’s just as important when you’re working for yourself. And don’t mistake ‘travel’ for ‘holidays’.

There is a huge difference between being on a holiday, and travelling while we’re working.

Don’t get me wrong – we love that our office landscape changes frequently, and that we can explore new cultures and make new friends along the way. That’s fantastic! But we are trying to run a business and as anyone who works for themselves knows, that’s a seven days a week gig, and rarely 9am to 5pm.

It’s for this reason we do have to make sure we exercise, do Yoga, meditate. House and pet sitting keeps us in check though, because there’s always a dog who needs attention, walkies, ball time and love.

Keep in mind too, that if your body is telling you to take a break – re-prioritise – and do so! You’ve got the control over your time. The Morning Maryjolaine blog makes some nice points on this. See FOMO vs JOMO.

Switch off each night

For your mental health and wellbeing – switch your devices off at least an hour before bed. No social, no emails – step away from the machine, my digital nomad friends!

Got any other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.