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Couple from Ashwellthorpe has completed more than 90 house swaps

There is no place like home, but that has not stopped a couple from Ashwellthorpe from completing more than 90 house swaps in the space of 22 years.

Tabi and David Paternoster have completed more than 90 house swaps. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Tabi and David Paternoster have completed more than 90 house swaps. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

Tabi and David Paternoster have travelled all around the globe, but not by staying in expensive hotels. Instead, they have swapped their home with someone else.

“We like having somebody in our house to look after our cats and wild birds of prey,” said Tabi, who is 59. “We like living in a community rather than a hotel.

“You’ve got everything you need there, it’s comfortable and it’s somebody’s home.”

Their travels have taken them to America, Australia, New Zealand and various European countries – and the houses they have stayed in have sometimes been quite unusual.

“We have lived in cabins in the woods, converted churches, mills and on a canal boat,” said Tabi. “Last year, we went to Germany, to a home that had a balcony that went into a big walnut tree – it was like living in a tree house.”

Tabi in Bradenton, Florida.
Tabi in Bradenton, Florida.

Unlike her husband, she was not new to the concept of swapping homes, with her parents being avid home exchangers.

The pair embarked on their first house swap in 1997, when they swapped their home for one in Woodborough, despite David being a little hesitant at first.

Tabi, a former civil servant, said: “We used to have cat sitters come to stay and I kept saying to David, who had no experience of house exchanges, ‘come on, what’s the difference?’”

Since then, the couple have completed 93 home exchanges, with the most recent one taking them to Kent a few weeks ago.

Many of their exchanges have allowed them to visit parts of the world they would not otherwise thought of going to.

“We went to Pennsylvania and had a cabin in the woods, miles down a track,” recalled Tabi. “It was absolutely wonderful; we shared the place with two dogs, a parrot and chickens.

“There was a hot tub outside, where you could sit under the stars. There were fireflies on the meadow and the owners, who were Anglophiles, had built themselves a pub in the garden with a dark board bar. It was beautiful.”

The cabin in the woods in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
The cabin in the woods in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

As a couple with many interests, including going on walks, to the theatre and bird watching, home swapping allows them to try out new things or activities.

“We went white water rafting down the Grand Canyon, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” said Tabi. “These things aren’t cheap, but, because you are not paying for your accommodation, you can afford to do them.”

After 22 years of home exchanges, the pair have only had a handful of bad experiences, which included drain problems, a rat infestation and a filthy house.

“These are very limited,” said Tabi. “On the whole, we have had wonderful exchanges and we’ve stayed friends with many of the people we have swapped with. I can’t emphasise how good a way of holidaying it is. It’s like taking up a different way of life.”

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