… What it’s like to housesit in rural Hampshire
We just got to housesit in beautiful Hampshire, England. We are full-time house sitters, without a home base of any kind. Sometimes housesits don’t align perfectly. This past week, for example, we had a week’s gap between longer housesits, and had to search out for shorter sits in the UK that would help us fill the gap. A sit in Hampshire that filled a few of those days caught our eye, and we applied!
The next few days we got to spend time in a wonderful rural location in Hampshire. Hampshire is located South West of London. It stretches from just south of Reading, to the southern coast, and includes the cities of Portsmouth, Basingstoke, and Southampton. The countryside, where we were, is full of fields and rolling hills, farms, and tiny little cute (for lack of a better word) villages.
We were only able to stay for a few beautiful May days, but we found so much to do! If you have a car, you can get around this county fairly easily. Be prepared for a few narrow lanes though! We found great things to do within 45 minutes of our housesit! We think these are great ideas for days out in Hampshire.
Jane Austen’s House: One of Hampshire’s Main Attractions
I have a Master’s in English, and you don’t get one of those without being a little bit of a literary nerd. But you don’t need to be a literature major to know about Jane Austen or her best known work, Pride and Prejudice. If you’re my ancient age, you’ve seen Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC mini series. The movie Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on the story. And there’s even a film called Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy.
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The last decade or so of her tragically short life, Austen lived in Chawton in Hampshire. The house is still there today, and you can visit! The house is kept completely in the style of the time. It also has an impressive amount of Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra’s actual belongings. Also, there are wallpapers that are known replicas of what was there when Jane Austen was writing at her tiny little writing desk! TripAdvisor has reviews and ways you can visit.
I really loved this museum. I got to put on period bonnets, see first editions of Pride and Prejudice, and even see Jane Austen’s writing table. Even John enjoyed the experience, and he has not even read the novels.
After this amazing experience, we needed some downtime in the sun. Time to check out some:
Amazing Local Pubs
Our great homeowners recommended some local pubs very close to where we were staying. We are lunch people. I may not have mentioned this before, but we almost NEVER go out in the evening. We like lunches, matinees, afternoon cocktails, and going to bed early. So, unfortunately, since we were in beautiful Hampshire mid-week, we could not sample “the best little pub in Hampshire”, the Wonston Arms. But it looked super cute.
However, we did go to Crawley! First of all, Crawley is one of the cutest villages I’ve seen, and I’ve seen many! We went to The Fox on a gorgeous May afternoon.
John ordered an ale, and I ordered a cider. And when we saw the menu and what the other patrons were eating, we had to order the chips (fries for Americans). They were really super delicious!
There were white doves, beautiful outdoor tables in the courtyard, and even on a weekday, quite a few diners. The staff were friendly and helpful. If we went back to the area, we would plan on a three course lunch there!
Hinton Ampner: A Great Day Out in Hampshire
Wherever we go in England, we try to visit at least one National Trust property. We have a National Trust membership this year, since we think it is a great way to save money when visiting England. There are so many great days out in Hampshire at National Trust properties!
We did a ‘near you’ search and decided on Hinton Ampner (weird name, I know!). The description mentions unique gardens, and this is a big draw for us garden lovers.
We only visited the gardens not the house, so can’t say if the house is worth it.
These gardens are amazing! There are truly breathtaking wisterias everywhere! On the walls of the walled garden, on all sorts of corners of the house, and on the retaining walls. The topiary is weird and wonderful in a real Alice in Wonderful sort of way. The alliums were just popping out, and all the water features were very pretty.
We really loved Hampshire. Maybe we had rose colored glasses on since we had a spectacular housesit with great dogs to look after. The weather was also beautiful in late May. Luckily we’ll be back at the end of July, this time to Southampton!
We travel the world through house sitting. You can find a travel exchange at TrustedHousesitters. If you love pets and like to travel you can find a one-off sit or embark on a whole new lifestyle!
Have you been? What would you like to see?