This interview series feature interviews with travel bloggers and writers. If you are a travel blogger and a writer and have something to share with and say to your readers, please get in touch with me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you!
In this interview series, let us meet a travel blogger, Faith Coates from XYU and Beyond. Faith is house-sitting around the world while working on her travel blog and freelance projects. Her blog offers housesit tips, destination features and culinary delights. For those who plan to housesit for the first time, you can check out her blog post Housesitting: A Guide for Newbies here.
" Housesitting is a fantastic way not only to see the world but to actually get the opportunity to live in a place for an extended period of time to see if it might suit us in retirement. We get to see parts of the country that we may not otherwise get to see and to temporarily visit and love the animals that are in our care." - by Faith Coates from XYU and Beyond. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Welcome Faith! Tell us about your blog and your coming adventure.
I took early retirement a few years ago to retire to Mexico with my husband. We moved to the Yucatan Peninsula and lived in a small fishing village near Merida. I have always been a writer so I began a personal blog just to keep in touch with friends and family when I was living there. We had planned to stay in Mexico and eventually travel to Europe after a time but we filled in on a housesitting emergency and it took off from there. In November of last year I started blogging seriously and it seems that people like what I write which is pretty cool. From Yorkshire we are moving to Spain and then later this year to Cyprus - nice warm adventures to come.
What makes you decide to housesit around the world?
We started looking after expats dogs and cats and this began our adventures in housesitting. We jumped in on an emergency sit for a young couple who had to go back to Canada and that started us investigating the possibility of housesitting in Europe. We applied for housesitting positions in Ireland and England as we had always wanted to return and spend more time there (we were both immigrants as children from Ireland). We landed a wonderful sit in Tipperary with 7 dogs and a cat for 7 weeks and we haven't looked back. From Tipperary we went to Dublin, Donegal, Berkshire in England and then back to Ireland. Currently we are sitting in Snainton, Yorkshire enjoying an English spring in the countryside. We have sits booked in Spain, Cyprus and back to Ireland for the coming year.
Housesitting is a fantastic way not only to see the world but to actually get the opportunity to live in a place for an extended period of time to see if it might suit us in retirement. We get to see parts of the country that we may not otherwise get to see and to temporarily visit and love the animals that are in our care.
What is your routine look like when you are housesitting?
It depends on the animals. Currently we have two boisterous dogs and a talkative cat. That means that we are up at around 6am to let the dogs out, grab a quick coffee and then we take Tillie and Jessie (a border collie and a retriever) out for a long walk. We are deep in the countryside of Yorkshire so our walk is all sheep, fields, rabbits, horses and hounds. Literally we end up walking with a pack of hounds who are in training for hunting. When we return home we either get to garden, read or for me I will write a blog post or two or do some freelance work. I can work remotely. I write blog posts for other travel writers, and also doing work such as grant writing, business support and social media management.
As revealed in your blog that you have been in Ireland for a while, what is one of your favorite places there?
Without a doubt it is Donegal, as a whole the entire place is probably Ireland's least visited county as it is the furthest west. Its nickname is the wild west and it is so true. You have such incredibly beautiful diversity from mountain ranges to crashing surf beaches to pastures full of sheep.
Our favourite place is Donegal Town which has a few tourist attractions from a ruined abbey to a pretty cool castle and it is a really traditional village which tourist do seem to enjoy. We love the craic though in the local pubs - one in particular The Tower which is up the main street from the Diamond which is the central spot of the town. The Tower is a tiny pub no bigger than a living room. In fact in reality it is the main floor of a 2 up 2 down village house with the 2 down the pub and upstairs is where the family lived. We first visited there 15 years ago and just fell in love with Barry the owner (who sadly now has passed). It is not a tourist place by any stretch and is frequented by around 8 or so regulars - people who are locals. In the Tower you will be subjected to a great deal of "piss taking" which means be prepared to be made fun of a lot. You will hear local poets and old men reciting old Irish legends and telling jokes and singing at the top of their voices. In short the craic will be mighty and the night long as you will get locked in to continue drinking the night away.
Dogenal Town sounds beautiful.What is a favorite travel book of yours to recommend to fellow travelers.
Not a fiction book but I am a massive fan of Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford who have together and separately produced some of the most beautiful travel cookbooks ever. Some of their titles include: The Seductions of Rice, Hot Sour Salty Sweet a Culinary Journey through Southeast Asia. They are divorced now and writing separately but their books allow me to get lost in culinary journeys that I can only dream about.
What is the biggest pet peeve of yours?
Now that I am over 55 it is being ignored by young bloggers who walk in front of my camera, and don't educate themselves as to the countries they are in and expect me to read the garbage they put online to support them in their quest to travel the world. One in particular comes to mind - I was reading his blog and he did a video about Londonderry and the Peace Bridge but he had no clue as to why the bridge was built and what the history of Derry was with the Irish troubles.
As a slow traveler who has an abiding interest in culture and history I find this absolutely appalling and I see and read more and more about youngsters who start travel blogs and believe they will get rich from it and I want to act like their mother and go in and educate them...lol...
One of the house-sitting tips you to offer to your fellow travelers.
Because I get so many questions about this I did write a blog post on how Newbies can get started, but I think my best tip is just jump in. If you are a homeowner or have been and have tons of experience with your own pets and have looked after them for friends and family you are already a trained housesitter. Oh, and join a really good platform or simply check some great Facebook groups, better yet read my blog post and jump in.
If you would live anywhere in this world now, aside from Ireland, where would you choose to live?
Spain I think - I am really looking forward to housesitting there and experiencing all it has to offer. It looks just stunning and on the coast the weather is gorgeous but not Mexico hot and humid and I love the Spanish culture and history.
I wish you will have a great time housesit in Spain. Is there any travel bloggers you would like to meet in person and have a drink and a meal with?
Scott and Laura from Eat Your World. I am a fanatic about food, eating local trying new things, hitting every farmer's market I can and these two seem to share that ethos and have beautiful photos of food I just want to eat now.
Tell us one of your favorite Irish slangs and explain the meaning.
The craic - a term used all over Ireland and it means to have a good time and it is used by everyone.
Thanks Faith for the interview. Enjoy your coming trips in Spain and Cyprus!