Pet Sitters Wanted for France – free holidays with dogs

Pet Sitters Wanted for France – free holidays with dogs

Pet Sitters wanted for occasional sitting of my dogs here in France if I have to be away for any reason. Effectively, free holidays as I’ll pay reasonable travel expenses and provide board and lodging.

I’m looking for someone exceptional whom I can trust 100% to be in charge of my girls, Rosie and Fleur, and the cats, Bibi and HRH the princess Freddie Mercury, if and when I have to go anywhere.

161230_fleurandrosieRosie and Fleur get first dibs on the sofa. You may have to sit on the floor

It must be pet sitters I can trust to follow my instructions to the letter, not simply to do what they feel would be the most appropriate thing. Fleur loves everyone unreservedly (except other dogs) but Rosie is very nervous of anyone she doesn’t know, especially men. That makes choosing pet sitters difficult.

I’d be quite happy to take a couple of pet sitters but any man would have to be exceptionally good with nervous dogs to win Rosie’s trust. A couple of ladies would be ideal, or one female pet sitter who was quite happy in their own company as it’s a bit remote here.

No long walks with the dogs, either. For reasons I won’t go into here, I wouldn’t want the dogs taking off my property while I was away.

The cats are not too difficult. Bibi also loves everyone and is very affectionate. HRH is a typical Siamese cross, very haughty and anti-social so it’s quite likely that pet sitters would actually never get to see her during their stay, but that’s quite normal for her.

140627_hrhThis might be as much as you ever see of HRH

The cats are not allowed in the house; they live in the barn and have their own run, Al-Cat-Traz, with a stunning view. It’s nice to sit there in the steamer chair watching the sun sink down behind the chain of volcanoes, with a purring, cuddly Bibi on your lap, and she will take any amount of fuss.

bibiIf you like cuddly cats, you’ll love Bibi

Pet sitters also need to be non-smokers (or vapers) please and no more than moderate drinkers. Also able to drive, either with their own vehicle or happy to drive my left-hand drive van.

If I can find the right person, it could become a regular thing, as I get braver to go away for the occasional visit. But I have to warn you I am paranoid about who I trust with the dogs so do please think carefully if it sounds like your thing.

If you are interested, do please visit the Facebook page Free Holidays in France for more details, or email me


Tottie’s Tours – discover the beautiful Auvergne

Welcome to Tottie’s Tours, your chance to discover for yourself the beautiful Auvergne and meet writer Tottie Limejuice

Starting April 2015


The purpose of these holidays is to share with you the stunning splendour of the Auvergne and to give you the opportunity to discover some of the sights and meet some of the people mentioned in the Sell the Pig series of books.


Where else could you possibly stay but at Les Hirondelles, Chabanol, with friendly and welcoming hosts Christine and Geoff, mentioned several times in the books. In a quiet setting with outstanding views you’ll find clean and comfortable accommodation for your adventure. Tottie’s Tours are principally self-catering, although certain meals are included in the price (see itinerary).


The self-contained gîte

You will stay in independent self-catering accommodation, a self-contained gîte, with all the facilities you need. There are two bedrooms, each accommodating two people. One room has a double and a single bed, the other has two single beds. Should anyone prefer to sleep on their own, there are two clic-clacs (bed settees) in the sitting room.


Sitting room with wood burner for colder evenings

There is a shower and separate toilet on the ground floor, with ample hot water for four people. The kitchen is shared, if you decide to cook together instead of going out to eat.


The main house

Group Size

To make the Tours warm and personal, the maximum group size any week is four people. You can either group yourself or the organisers will group you. Please note this may mean you sharing a room with someone you have not yet met, although we hope you would be in touch with one another before the Tour begins. It’s all part of the adventure!

A car is essential for the group. Please consider car sharing wherever possible to make the holiday as green as a Tottie’s Tour should be. Please note: no transport is provided, but we will try to arrange the groups so there is room in a car for anyone without their own transport.


Part of the spirit of a Tottie’s Tour is to have adventures! So you will have free days to go off exploring by yourself. Geoff and Christine will suggest routes and visitor attractions and I will meet up with you at the beginning of your stay, and during the week, to see how the adventure is going.

For all your self-catering needs, there is the small town of Sauxillanges just a ten-minute drive from your accommodation and there are plenty of good restaurants in the area. Eating out in the Auvergne is generally very good and not expensive. You can usually find a very good meal for anything between €12 and €30. Meals are usually four courses, starter, main, cheese board and dessert, and wine is sometimes included in the price.


Day Activity
Saturday Arrival late afternoon, meet Geoff and Christine. Settle into your accommodation then join your hosts for an evening meal
Sunday Breakfast with Geoff and Christine. A leisurely morning settling in, and a suggested trip to town for food supplies. After lunch (not included) a visit from Tottie Limejuice, armed with home made cake, to discuss the week and answer your questions. Evening meal is your responsibility, either prepared in the gîte or eaten out
Monday Free day for exploring. Note that many attractions and restaurants are closed on Mondays but the train to the summit of the Puy de Dôme is usually running. There are food outlets at the summit but they are aimed more at tourists than adventurers so you might prefer to eat nearby or take a picnic.
Tuesday Another free day for an adventure from the list of places to visit
Wednesday Meet up with Tottie in her hometown of Olliergues. Enjoy a leisurely lunch out at a typical Auvergnat restaurant on your way over, then meet Tottie for a guided tour of the town and some of its characters. A great opportunity to buy gifts and souvenirs like fabulous artisan soap, handmade pencils from a colourful craftsman character and delicious local cheese
Thursday A free day to do as you please. If you want to visit a typical French market, you’ll find a bustling one at Ambert, a pleasant drive from your accommodation
Friday Meet Tottie for lunch at the Bar le St Thomas, as mentioned in the books. Enjoy a fabulous meal, buy some boxes of excellent fudge and linger over a very long and leisurely meal. Now the ice is firmly broken, Tottie will regale you with some of the tales which didn’t make the editor’s cut of her books. You’ll be departing after breakfast on Saturday – please ensure your accommodation is in the same clean and tidy state in which you found it.

Suggested visits

The Auvergne is absolutely full of fabulous places to visit, you’ll find you simply don’t have time to see them all. Your hosts will be happy to make suggestions but here are a few:

The iconic Puy de Dôme volcano and its rack railway. Don’t worry, it’s dormant!

The Massif du Sancy which boasts the highest volcano in France.

For a wet day, there’s Vulcania to learn all about the region’s volcanoes.

The Maquis (resistance) memorial and museum at Mont Mouchet and the nearby Garabit Viaduct, as featured on the cover of ‘Mother, Was It Worth It?’

Any of the designated Most Beautiful Villages of France, notably nearby Usson and Montpeyroux.

Characterful nearby towns for shopping and sight-seeing, like Issoire, Ambert, La Chaise Dieu and, of course, the regional capital, Clermont-Ferrand.

How to get there

The Auvergne’s Puy de Dome region is more or less in the centre of France. Allow roughly 7.5 hours to get from Calais to your accommodation, mostly easy motorway driving. There are good flights into Clermont-Ferrand airport from hubs like Paris and from some UK regional airports, and you can hire a car there. You’ll find details of how to get to your accommodation here.


A word about the Auvergnat weather – it is predictable only for its unpredictability! It’s usually lovely but it has its moments and its climate can be extreme at times. Dress code for this area is casual at all times, even in smart restaurants, so your safest bet is always lots of layers, and do remember waterproofs, just in case. Your accommodation is rural and situated high up.

What’s included

Prices quoted include accommodation (bedding provided in the gîte but not towels), meals only as stipulated (dinner first night, breakfast first morning, and farewell lunch), visits by Tottie and guided tour by her around Olliergues, all gas and electricity in the gîte. Firewood is available for the gîte at €5 a panier, should the evenings turn chilly.

What’s not included

Towels in the gîte, any transport, meals other than as stipulated.

Prices (April, May, June and September – for other periods please ask)

Per person, per week, based on 4 people sharing the gîte –  €200

Please note, if you prefer not to share you can of course book your TottiesTour with the gîte exclusively for 2 people, at a cost of €300 per person, per week.

How to book

All bookings to be made direct via Tottie Limejuice Bookings to be be accompanied by a 30% deposit (non-refundable), the balance to be paid in full 4 weeks before arrival date, please. Failure to do so may result in the deposit being forfeit. Payment can be made via Paypal in sterling or euros, or by direct bank transfer in either currency. Please ask for details for your preferred payment method.

Pioneer bonus

The visitors on the very first Tottie’s Tours have the chance to be featured in Tottie’s next book! So what are you waiting for – why not book TODAY.


View from your accommodation across to the Massif du Sancy

Moving to France – first views of the Pink House

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Note: As you can see, I actually wrote this blog post some time ago, but I thought I would reproduce it here for those who have not yet seen it, because it shows a bit about the Pink House from Sell the Pig, when we first saw it.

If anyone’s thinking of moving to France just for the weather, think again! Today is just like the weather we left behind in Wales, only with nicer scenery. It’s cold, it keeps raining and hail-stoning, and the sun is nothing but a fleeting visitor.

Time to update the blog and probably high time you saw some pictures of the “pink house” as we saw it first, although it wasn’t really pink at all, anywhere other than in the estate agent’s online pictures!

“Both on paper and in the flesh, so to speak, this one looked very promising. According to the internet details, it had seven bedrooms and three bathrooms, was on three storeys and had a good-sized garden. We nicknamed it the pink house, as the photo showed the rendering as a pale rose pink, although in reality it was a lot paler and more washed out.”
Our first view of “the pink house”
“They do warn house viewers to try to see past existing décor to what the place will look like once you’ve stamped your own mark on it. Sound advice. The decoration in the pink house was truly hideous. Very nineteen seventies. The sitting room had two very strong contrasting patterned wallpapers, which didn’t go together, neither of which was very nice even in isolation and in unison presented a full frontal assault to the senses.”
The retro sitting room
“But the layout was practically perfect for what we wanted. On the top floor was a bright, light three-bedroomed apartment with shower room and loo and some open space to create a small cooking and dining area. Ideal to let as B&Bs or a self-contained flat. It had very nice south-facing views, and the possibility to create a sunny roof terrace on top of the roof of the room below, which jutted out in front of it.”
View from the top floor flat
And, just because it’s a very cold day today and there’s still a lot of snow on the volcanic peaks all around, a view of what this part of France can look like in winter!
Don’t forget, kind readers, I’m relying on you to tell me what photos you’d like to see. Hope you will enjoy these, will post some more on the next rainy day, which won’t be too long, if the weather forecast is anything to go by! Do leave me your comments here, about the book, or the blog, or France, or Life, the Universe and Everything.

In memory of a dear friend in ‘Billinge Lump’

‘Is That Billinge Lump’ is the second book in the Sell the Pig series and continues the story of what happened after my mother, brother, my dog Meic and I moved into our new home in France.

Shortly after ‘Lump’ was published, I received news from the UK that a very dear friend of mine, Peg, whom I introduced in ‘Billinge Lump’, had died, aged 94. I had known Peg and her husband Bob since the mid-1970s, when we all lived in the same area of South Wales. Their youngest son’s girlfriend came to work on the South Wales Guardian, where I was a reporter.

Despite being of almost exactly the same age as my parents, Bob and Peg seemed to have a much younger outlook and we got on really well. In particular, I loved Peg’s wicked sense of humour.

They came and visited us in France several times and Mother was always pleased to see them, as they had all become friends over the years, although she never remembered who they were to begin with. They were staying at the time I was buying Tottie’s Grottage, so they were one of the first people to see it, in all its shambolic glory.

I’d taken them with me on my little R&R trip, and we had all stayed with great friends of mine, Geoff and Christine, at their lovely bed and breakfast, about an hour from the grottage at Chabanol.

Sunleys01Bob and Peg at Chabanol with Geoff and Christine and their dog Bounty


Bob and Peg with their eldest son Bobby, with Geoff and Bounty

This post is by way of a tribute to my great friend Peg. One of the things for which she will be best remembered is her rather risqué limericks. Some of them were just not repeatable in polite company, but I did reproduce the mildest of them all in ‘Lump’. So if you have not yet read the book, here, just for you, is Peg’s limerick.

‘There was a young man from Aberystwyth

Who took his girlfriend home to play whist with.

But instead of that,

They sat on the mat,

And played with the things that they pissed with.’

Peg, you always could make everyone laugh. RIP, my friend.

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