A few summers ago I undertook some extended house sitting in Spain and France. It was great fun and I’ve done it every summer since. The following post was one of the first I wrote for a blog I set up to record my adventures, called Sitting Pretty in France and Spain. It enjoyed some success among my friends so I thought I might republish a few posts here from time to time.
A few people have commented on how brave or adventurous I’ve been in setting out alone to undertake four months of house sitting this summer.
I do have an adventurous streak – not often associated with real physical risk of course – I draw the line at any activities that involve heights, deep or rough water, abseiling, motorbikes, terrifying speed, etc.
But housesitting? Can’t see much risk there except that I might not like it very much. So far, it’s been good and, up until arriving in France yesterday, quite relaxing and involving nothing more alarming than picking a tick off the dog.
In fact, the most potentially terrifying thing I did was to colour my hair. The sun had lightened my hair, so I confidently bought a well-known product such as I might use in the UK in an appropriate copper shade close to my natural colour. The instructions were only in Spanish but I knew the drill like the back of my hand. I even did a patch test to be on the safe side.
The result was marginally lighter than ebony. I looked like a Goth – especially now that my face was white with shock. What to do? Even the five cats I was looking after were giving me funny looks. Next day I drove to Cartagena to find a hairdresser.
I had thought ahead and had found the online translation of ‘I coloured my hair yesterday and it is now too dark. Can you strip out this colour and restore my hair to this colour…’ At which point I planned to show a photograph of myself with my,now, much-missed normal hair colour.
I found a hairdresser. I showed her the translated phrase. She smirked. Clearly she thought that what I should have written was ‘I am an idiot. Look what I’ve done to myself. My vanity has resulted in making myself look ludicrous. I beg you to help me. I will pay any price if you can make me look normal again.’
She didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak Spanish. We compromised with feeble attempts at French and barely understood each other. It was touch and go. In fact, she did a wonderful job and, using the scissor hand sign, I asked her to cut my hair while she was at it.
I bounced out of the salon three hours later, relieved and looking human again. That, my friend, was an adventure.