Thursday, September 22, 2016

Business, Coffee And Cake


Did you know that Perth has one of the safest public transport systems in the world? I learnt this yesterday while taking the train into Perth on this week’s only sunny (and maybe dry) day. 

Why was I going to Perth? 

Well, strange you should ask… I was going to Perth to overcome one of the challenges (or benefits - depending on how you look at it) of being a Digital Nomad - or a sole entrepreneur come to that. That of working alone and having no workmates.

Now there’s no doubt that one of the most vital things you require if you work from home is a door, but chatting about business, or occasionally working with others is equally as important, yet often overlooked. The arrival of Facebook and Skype have definitely helped, but nothing really measures up to discussing business ideas, challenges, achievements, or even just venting, with others of similar interests (however vaguely similar) in person.

Steve and I work well, and regularly, on opposite sides of the table, but even so I do enjoy meeting up with friends who are also business women. Hence my trip on the train and my growing knowledge of our train lines as we move from house to house around this wonderful state.

If you too are a Digital Nomad, or just working alone from home, I strongly recommend discovering a support network to take with you, create as you go or simply stay in touch with. 

If you do, however, I do hope you have more luck finding the chosen location to meet in than I did yesterday... Wouldn’t you think that after not only living in East Perth for several years and working in both the Stock Exchange and Myers for an even greater collection of years that I would know where I was going? Yet I still found myself looking for the cafe on Murray St when I knew darn well that it was on Hay St. Then, after a fun and productive business meet-up over coffee and chocolate cake, looking for my daughter on Hay St when she was waiting on Murray St. Clearly the City of Perth has been playing around with the city’s streets over the last few years, because it certainly can't have anything to do with my memory!

Anyway, that is not the point of this blog post or the fact that I felt like a total twit asking for directions when I was only a stone’s throw away from the cafe, or even how great and seemingly safe Perth’s trains are. No, I really just wanted to enforce my belief in the benefit of mixing with others as you house-sit, especially if you’re working as you go.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Added Bonus



As you might expect, Steve and I put a lot of thought into house-sitting before we actually made the move. We considered all kinds of possibilities, changes, challenges, rewards, and a whole gamut of other things. One of the things I hadn’t expected, though, was all the memories that would surface.
Now there’s no denying that over the years a few things might have slipped my mind – especially in more recent years – but it would appear that they are currently returning quicker than slipping. Plus, the ones that are returning and what’s triggering them, is far from what I’d expect.
In our last ‘sit’ the main memory that surfaced is of being a young child and watching my mum mow the front lawn in our very first house. Then of me, a little bit older, enjoying mowing the exact same lawn on a warm British day, with an identical, but slightly newer, lawn mower. So what triggered that recollection? Mowing a small front lawn with a pusher mower – something it would appear I still enjoy.
Then in our current house (which we moved into over the weekend, and which has no lawn for me to mow), I’m reminded of how much I love living in a two-storey house. Something I don’t think I’ve done since emigrating here almost thirty years ago, and something I enjoy doing simply because of the fun of running up and down stairs. Strange, huh?
Then the thought of running up and down stairs as a child reminds me of Mum’s familiar comment about how many times she used to come and find me unconscious at the bottom of the stairs. Apparently I made quite a habit of running full pelt towards the stairs, stubbing my toe as I landed on the second or third stair, passing out from the pain and landing at the base of the stairs.
Which reminds me of… and so the memories go, one after the other, triggering all parts of my life long buried. The wonderful thing is, though, that everything that’s surfacing is making me smile or inspiring me to move forwards. How wonderful is that? I’d have been happy with just the memories.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This Week's First Move


Made a smooth move from house-sit number two to three over the weekend - and from dog to cat people.

As always, the cats think Steve is wonderful...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thank you!


To all those wonderful people who were kind enough to write a paragraph or two a few months back to increase the chances of the Government understanding how our change of lifestyle didn't affect our daughter's need for financial support while studying, we would like to say... THANK YOU, IT WORKED!

We sent your paragraphs of support off with testimonials and yet another form, and we've just heard that it was accepted! Which is probably a good thing because Lex's three part-time casual jobs(!) and her course were starting to take their toll.

So to all you kind and caring people our whole family would like to send you a huge thank you. You really made a difference.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

One Heck of a Jigsaw Puzzle



I love jigsaw puzzles, I always have. Whether it’s childhood memories of everyday at Grandma’s being spent putting together ancient jigsaws, fun memories of teaching our own toddlers the invaluable skill of finding and joining edge pieces, or even doing my own jigsaws just because I felt like it, my life has been filled with the pastime. Today, however, the activity was not as enjoyable as I remember, nor (to be honest) did the innate skill of ‘straight edges first’ come in helpful.
So what was the puzzle?
Believe it or not – packing the car! Now I ask you, after all the sorting, storing and throwing we’ve done over the past months, wouldn’t you think we’d have whittled down everything enough? Yes, I might have had concerns over the past few weeks but, how can we still have too much? Honestly, how can we? Don’t ask me, because I certainly do not know!
Most of our belongings have been sitting in the front room of our current house, with other bits in use around the house, all of which makes it hard to gauge how much we really have. Of course, it doesn’t help either that everything was ferried here in a variety of trips that fitted around us still clearing and selling the house even though Steve had already started the house-sitting.
Anyway, (as she stops waffling on) the big question is… did today’s trial packing of the car work?
The answer… better than I expected, but not particularly well.
The rubbish bins will be pretty full when we leave this weekend and we’ll be making a bigger delivery to the local Op Shop than I’d expected. But the main thing is – YAY! It fits! Who needs to see out the car’s back window anyway?
It’s certainly been a bigger learning curve than I’d expected though, and one anyone who’s taking up house-sitting will need to learn – depending on the size of their car. When we first started this adventure my aim had been to get all my belongings condensed to two suitcases and a box, and in hindsight I have to say, that that was a pretty accurate estimate. But I’m not, as yet, anywhere near it in reality – still we’re having fun stream-lining ourselves more each day, and there’s nothing like seeing an over-packed car to make you consider what you’re taking because you need and want to, as opposed to because you feel you should, think you should, think somebody else thinks you should, are taking without considering or because you simply can’t be bothered to decide.
So, I bet you can’t guess what we’ll be doing this week – other than driving around in a semi-packed car? Yep, once again, we’ll be sorting clothes, eating meals consisting of an unusual selection of foods, paying all kinds of things forward, and visualising what we truly want from our future. It’s almost becoming a way of life!
But, in the meantime, I have a question for you… do you think so many of the people we find ourselves talking to these days are in the process of minimalising their belongings because of our current focus, or is it a current world focus?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Success!


Yes, it's official! I can now use the ball-thrower and throw underarm without any risk of harm to Steve, or halfway around the world, overarm, with pinpoint accuracy. A huge leap from how I threw with it a month ago.

In fact, our current dog and I have been having so much fun with my throwing that my right bicep is now obviously larger than my left! Perhaps it's a good thing that our new residence next week is a cat household :-)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

One Advantage of Two



This is an odd week, or maybe bittywould be a better description since we’re trying to get so many odd little bits done ready for our first move to the next house.

We’re in this house for another 10 days – or at least Steve is. I’m here for another 11 days because we have a day overlap between this and the next house-sit. Not something I’d considered we’d be doing, but there being two of us is a definite advantage to house-sitting. After all, let’s face it matching up bookings is hard enough as it is, without even considering how much tougher it would be if there was only one of us and no possibility of overlap. Not something that might be an issue for house-sitters who are only using it as a form of holidaying, I guess, but definitely an advantage to those who are doing it as a full-time lifestyle. But then we did make it tougher on ourselves when we decided to sell up everything, rather than keeping a house we could turn up at any time of day and expect a bed.

I’m delighted to say, though, that we’re now booked almost all the way through to early January, which is decidedly reassuring considering Steve and I took it all more or less on trust that this would work perfectly. There’s an odd few days, and a week or so, in October that still need booking, but other than that we’re pretty right. Believe it or not, there have even been some home-owners who really liked us but we had to turn down their requests to house-sitting due to double-booking.

Another thing I hadn’t expected was how so many home-owners are generously offering us extra nights of accommodation. Not just so that our bookings match up and we have somewhere to stay, but so that they can leave for their holiday at some ridiculous time of night and yet still know their house and pets are cared, or so that their animals find the transition of who’s caring for them goes more smoothly. Of course, there’s also the added bonus that it negates the risk of us turning up a house and not finding the spare key or having to win the dog over as it tries to protect the home from us.

Oh well, I suppose I’d best get back to the odd and bitty jobs. Other than writing the blog post today, we have to condense and repack everything we’re going to take with us, then check it fits in the car. Not something we could really do earlier, because until we were actually house-sitting for a month or so it was impossible to know what we actually needed or wanted. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From Trolley to Basket


Before, when we weren’t house-sitting, when I had my own kitchen, when our daughters occasionally called in and needed feeding, when I had my own freezer, I used to buy several weeks of food each time I shopped. Sometimes I’d even buy a month’s food at a time – especially when I was getting it delivered. Now though, I shop differently. After all, shifting a freezer full of frozen vegies every week to ten days isn’t particularly ideal.
I don’t know if you’ve ever done it, but changing the way you shop is an interesting thing. Especially when it’s the way you’ve been doing it for the last twenty to thirty years. My immediate reaction was delight at the realisation that I could buy what I liked to eat, as opposed to what the family liked. It was like being a young married couple again – a memory, I have to admit, that was more of a feeling than a memory, it was that long ago.
Don’t get me wrong (she adds quickly before the previous paragraph inspires comments from my family), I’m not saying my daughters were fussy eaters. What I’m saying is that after over twenty years of feeding everyone, my shopping list has always been structured around a long mental list of food preferences, or perhaps perceived preferences – who knows.
So now, instead of having a burly man in a large truck deliver copious buckets of bagged groceries to my kitchen, our food gets individually selected off the store’s shelf and is put into a single, red basket. Unless, of course, I’m feeling lazy, in which case it goes into a small, half-size trolley. Which isn’t a bad thing when you consider I get lost almost every time I now go shopping.
Why can’t shops always have everything in the same place? Actually, forget that. Why can’t every store have everything in the same section? Still, at least there’s no need to go for any exercise after I’ve been shopping. I’m even beginning to wonder if I should wear my Fitbit next time I go shopping, then at least I’d know how much exercise I’d had walking up and down the aisles trying to find Taco Seasoning. Thankfully, the chocolate is always easier to find.
Another advantage to the extra exercise I get walking? The variety of our meals. We now live almost entirely on ‘Reduced to Sell’ food. After all, when you shop two or three times a week, nothing has to really last. Another aspect to this style of shopping is we’ve found out why certain brands of frozen pizzas have ‘Reduced to Sell’ stickers more regularly than others. But, hey, isn’t this change of lifestyle all about exploration and discovery…
Learning to shop, cook and live on several days shopping at a time does, without doubt, involve exploration and discovery, but do you know what my favourite bit is? Beyond the trying out of yummy looking easy-cook meals! It’s the amount of coffee shops we discover near the food stores, and then have to go and explore.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Did You Know...


Well, who’d have thought that organising house-sits would be such an exciting experience? We’ve had Morning Teas, Afternoon Teas, found new suburbs I didn’t know existed, found new roads too, met some delightful pets, met some interesting and fun people, had some great conversations and discussions. Would you believe we were even having a cuppa at one house when dolphins swam by in the canal outside? I’d got a big enough kick in seeing the pelicans outside.

Anyway, as a result of all this socialising Steve and I are now booked up until the 7th November! Well, except for 16th – 25th October, (so if you know of anyone who’s going away…) but I think that’s pretty impressive for a week’s work – especially when we’re still finding our feet.
We have, however, learned some interesting things, for example:
  • A lot of people know people who house-sit.
  • Almost as many wish they were house-sitters.
  • Just because somebody has advertised online that they need a house-sitter, it doesn’t mean that they are going to read your message when you offer to sit for them.
  • Sometimes house-sitters can seem more motivated than home-owners.
  • A lot of people keep chooks in the metro area – every second house we apply to sit has dogs and chickens.
  • Exceptionally few people need house-sitters in November.
  • If people go away in December, chances are they won’t be back until the following January.
  • If you’re going to visit somebody so they can check you out and so you can meet the animals – you need their address!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

One Month On...


It’s been just about a month since we officially started our ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, so I thought I’d give you an overall update of insights and changes.
Firstly, I’m embarrassed to say Steve is still – occasionally – having to move rather quickly to avoid the ball when I throw it for the dog. (Of course that could be due to the fact that he’s learnt to stand further away from me in the park while he’s taking his photos rather than because I’m getting better at using the plastic, ball-throwing, wand thingy.
I am relieved, however, to say my irrational fears are lessening. Which ones? The one of the homeowner’s family turning up, unannounced, and saying things like, ‘you missed that corner when you vacuumed’. Aren’t minds strange things?
Talking of which, when I think of our old family home – the one we lived in for around 18 years, but sold and moved out of last month – why do the images in my head and heart blend with my childhood family home in the UK – most peculiar. I know I have a quirky, creative brain, but even so…
Of course this is just how I’ve adjusted, Steve is still as laid-back as ever, and taking everything in his stride. Once he found the appropriate drawers for things in the kitchen, and which light switch turns on which light, nothing seemed to faze him.
We recently listed with a couple of online house-sitting websites and have been having a wonderful time being swamped with offers to house-sit and also applying for some. The sites make things so much easier, but even before listing word of mouth had spread and we had to turn down a few offers (because we were already booked) – we also took on one over Christmas though.
There have been many wonderful things about the last month, but on a logical level, the time has really helped with defining where our future lies, and what’s required. Which in turn has helped us define what we really need to take with us for this minimalistic lifestyle, and as such made our last clearout (please God! Let it be our last!) easier.
Yes, believe it or not, there is still more. Even Tanya, down the road from our family home, (who had no option but to see things as she drove past) was shocked! Heck, I’m shocked!
After all the selling, storing and trips to Op Shops you’d think we’d be done – but there’s still the stuff you keep because it’s consumable and might be useful because, after all, you’re still not quite sure which way things are going to go. But honestly, do I really need 12 bars of soap? The pack of rice that neither of us really like? And, at last count, I had close on two dozen notebooks – I am a writer after all, but two dozen! Especially when I tend to use my tablet and keyboard rather than pen and paper! But they look so nice… And don’t even ask me how many pens, or even my favourite pencils, I have. UGH!
So maybe, I’ll celebrate our month’s anniversary by taking the lovely dog we’re minding to the park, not hit anyone with the ball, make myself a cuppa and finally get all this sorting done. What do you think?

 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Could you?


Have you ever done something major in your life that should never have had a negative impact on anybody, yet for some unexpected reason it causes problems to those you love most – your children?

Everybody who knows Steve and me knows we have a tendency to be unconventional. (There have been the countless business ideas, the moving to the country and physically building a kit home, Steve’s refusal to go on the Dole, my refusal to take medication, let’s face it, the list just goes on.)
However, we’ve never done anything that has negatively affected our girls – although it is possible that over the years they may have received the odd strange, side-ways look because of their slightly kooky parents.
That is until now… and all because of the house-sitting.
Would you believe that because our new adventure doesn’t fit normal lifestyle choices, our youngest daughter, Alexis, is having huge amounts of difficulty getting the normal and all-too-familiar Government financial support for her studies?
From what I can understand because Lex is under the official age of independence (22, she turns 21 next month), doesn’t have a traditional family home to return to, and possibly because Steve and I, neither have a job, or claim the Dole, is not eligible for Abstudy!
As if moving out of home and finding your place in the world isn’t hard enough, without being denied the same financial support that just about every other student seems to be eligible for?
There are numerous ways of looking at this challenge, but I think to be honest it all comes down to being unconventional – Steve and I simply don’t fit the printed forms (and we’ve filled in several)! Therefore we’ve decided to provide as much proof as we can that we genuinely have no regular home, are full-time house-sitters, and as such are self-funded retirees constantly moving across Australia.
SO, I WAS THEREFORE WONDERING…
Could you, if you feel comfortable doing so, please write a comment below confirming any of the above information on us that you believe to be true and, if possible, your name and place in the community (or anything else you think might give your comment more clout). We will then copy this post and comments and attach it to our application.
Steve and I are not asking you to say anything that is untrue, and we know at this point that this blog doesn’t have many readers, we are just hoping that the more people who attest to our change in lifestyle, the more chance Lex has of getting their support and therefore continuing her studies.
The last thing we want is for Lex to suffer for our differences. Like I said earlier, finding your way in life and becoming an independent adult is hard enough without any unnecessary and extra hassles.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Say 'Cheese'!


A couple of weeks ago I found my camera, it was one of the many things I came across while sorting. You know, one of those things that had been found, then put somewhere ‘safe’ so that it didn’t get lost again, which (of course) meant that it did.
Anyway, over the months that I’d been waiting for it to resurface, I’d been trying to decide whether to keep it, sell it or store it. After all, I can take pictures with my phone, and Steve is an expert and excellent photographer, but then (as those who know me know) I don’t have the steadiest of hands, so if I am going to take photos I really do benefit from my camera’s Optical Image Stabilisation (or, in simple words, ‘anti-shake’). 
Well, today, while trying not to fall over as I weeded an awkward part of the current garden we’re house-sitting, I think I came up with the answer – I’m going to keep it.
Why, you might ask?
Because, as I stood there, looking like a total twit – one arm holding on to the wall behind me, bum in the air, all of me wobbling as I tried not to fall flat on my face (or squash the plants), and extremely grateful for the wall creating a barrier between me and the passing public – Steve happened to wander past with his camera. Something he’s doing a lot these days as he collects a wonderful range of exciting, unique and creative photos. However, he’s also gathering some of me that aren’t quite as... elegant and flattering as I might like.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the odd realistic shot. My ego isn’t that big. However, the situation just made me realise… now how should I word it… that if our blog only contained Steve’s photos (as wonderful as they are) surely our portrayal of the house-sitting life would be biased and one-sided.
Don’t you agree?
Wouldn’t you like our blog to be more balanced, and include some pics of the man too?
I certainly would and, to me, that alone seems reason to keep my camera. Therefore, I thought I might start taking some photos of our adventure too.
Now I just have to remember how to use my camera and to keep it on hand.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our First Fortnight


First, to those who noticed, apologies for no post last week. The days kind of got away from me, and the need for sleep-ins and naps became rather overwhelming – a reaction to having finally finished so many of the tasks that we’d been working at over the months I assume. Of course, I’d love to say that all said tasks were completed, but believe it or not there’s STILL some sorting and selling to be done! Still!
Despite that, if asked, the most poignant and memorable moment of the last two weeks was when our dear friend backed his truck up to our carport before taking away our carefully-packed plastic tubs to be stored. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like looking at two cubic metres of belongings and asking yourself, ‘Is this all my life amounts to?’
It’s enough to make you catch your breath and reconsider your place in the world.


So what else has happened in the last fortnight?
Well, Steve and I have had a great time settling into the new lifestyle of house-sitting, and it’s all going very well. The dog we’re looking after is absolutely gorgeous and the area we’re in is great. All in all an excellent place to start our new career.
There’ll be more later (no doubt) about adjustments and insights, and all the other fun things we’re learning, but first my biggest challenge – just to make you smile.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew I’d need to learn a whole stack of things, but my first big challenge has really taken me by surprise. I mean, let’s face it, it’s an unfamiliar house, unfamiliar suburb, unfamiliar lifestyle, unfamiliar dog, in fact just about everything around me is strange - except for Steve (well!) and my biggest challenge… being able to throw a ball, using a plastic ball-thrower, and not hit Steve with the ball!
I know the wand-thingy is meant to be easy, but… well… all I can say is if you see us down at the park, and I’m using it to throw the ball for the lovely dog we’re minding… be careful. I’m still learning and who knows where that ball is going to land.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sold!


Sorry, no proper post today.

Why?
Because settlement has finally gone through on our house.
Meaning? Steve and I are now officially Digital Nomads.
So? We're out relaxing for the day (or at least, hopefully, not sorting, packing or thinking about anything related to business).


A new post should be up soon.
In the meantime, please feel free to celebrate with us.



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Treats and Achievements

As I wander through the house looking at the indents in the carpet, the empty hooks on the wall and the totally stripped children's beds, I'm left thinking how important it is to celebrate each achievement you reach when you're heading towards a big goal. Well… not every achievement, but every decent-sized one at least.

A couple of nights back, for example (COUNTDOWN Day 9) we were lucky enough to have our Aussie-based daughter and her partner over for tea. It was a night of food, games, laughter and it ended with a bonfire and sparklers, making it even more memorable and fun (although maybe for the neighbours it just made it smoky). Although the fire also had the added advantage of being a great way for me to dispose of all those papers I didn't really want the rubbish truck to dump at the local tip.

A little earlier in the month Steve and I also went out and celebrated the official settlement of the house sale, and, of course, there were a few other big events celebrated in the weeks before that. Although, I have to admit I don't think we'll be celebrating the fact that I've just sold our bed which means we'll be sleeping on the floor as of Friday!

Celebrating achievements has a variety of bonus', other than them being fun and giving you some time out, when you're working your way through a challenging (and/or large) task they help keep you on track and reassure you that all the hard work is worthwhile and that you're making headway.

Of course, not all the celebrations have to include fire, (although I find fire quite appealing it's not really that wise in Australia unfortunately). The treat you choose could just as easily involve ice-cream, cappuccinos or chocolate – or at least it does in our family. I guess there must be some people out there who would choose different treats, not that I could think of what they might be.

After all, are there really any better treats than ice-cream, cappuccinos or chocolate? 

If there are, let me know, with 7 days to go there are hopefully still a few more achievements to celebrate.


COUNTDOWN: 7 days



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Send It Where?


We're now at the exciting stage of our adventure where everything needs redirecting – but you know what… that's a little tricky when you have nowhere to redirect it to!

We still have our PO Box for a few more months, but that requires us being in the area to empty it or paying the ongoing fee for having our mail redirected (and that's providing the PO would be happy with us constantly changing the address the mail has to be redirected to!)

The solution… again… understanding friends who will let us use their address!

But how about this – would you believe it – despite the wonderful advances in technology and the wide variety of lifestyles – there are still a lot of companies, services and all kinds of businesses that won't deal with you unless you have a bricks and mortar address? That's the aspect of this that I find most interesting and confronting.

After all, don't truly homeless people have to deal with services? What about people, with no family or friends, who travel constantly, don’t they need to be contactable? I know emails and mobile phones aren't the perfect answer, but they are an answer.

After all, if you can communicate with somebody by mobile phone and email, isn't that really enough? Yes, a mailing address might make the transition to a greener environment (i.e. less unnecessary printed matter) easier, but is it essential for everyone?

There you go, there's my thought for this week. What are your thoughts on it, how would you exist in an envelope-free society?

In the meantime, I'm still monitoring everything that arrives in the mailbox and redirecting or cancelling everything I can. But on the other hand, it's amazing how much less mail we'll be getting when we won't have all the household and utility bills to pay.



Apologies for no regular post last week, as you might expect things have been getting a little more chaotic here than usual, and just to make things even more exciting I went down with a head cold. Still, I think we're over the hump of everything now and working towards Moving Day (6th June).

COUNTDOWN: 13 days

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Wahoo!


Just a quick post here today because…
believe it or not, it has finally happened…
and I can't even find the words to describe how I feel but…
somebody out there has finally had the decency to buy our house!

Yes, our house is SOLD and our adventure can finally start!

WAHOO!

Please feel free to do a happy dance for us!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

But What If...


There’s no doubt about it, one of the major concerns about house-sitting full-time is, what are we going to do when the house-sits don’t match up? In other words, what are we going to do when we have nowhere to sleep?
I know we joke about sleeping in the car, and indeed it is long enough for us to sleep comfortably in it, but even we admit that it wouldn’t be our first choice.
Then, of course, we do have some caring and generous friends who have offered us the use of their spare room. Plus, I have no doubt that, if we turned up on the doorstep of a selection of other friends, that they would be more than happy to offer us their couch for the night. But, the last thing we want to be is a nuisance. For the regular cry to be, ‘Oh look there’s Steve and Lizzie again! I bet they are only visiting because they haven’t got anywhere better to sleep!

H
ow well house-sits really join up is something we won’t know until we’re actually doing it full-time. Hopefully there won’t be any problems and it will suit us perfectly, but in the meantime – just in case – we’re making ‘in case’ plans.

At the back of our minds there’s the thought of buying a small two-man tent for those odd nights. It would be cheap and adaptable, but I have to admit not very appealing in weather like we’re having at the moment(i.e. storms), plus it would require us to carry around more bits and pieces. (Also, it’s a long time since we’ve been camping – and who knows the ground may have got harder, bumpier and lower down since we last slept on it!)
Another option would be AirBNB. Cheaper than conventional hotels, doesn’t require us to carry extra bits, plus we get to live in all kinds of different places and have a holiday.
However, one of the other options that really appeals is where we do volunteer work at places for a few hours a day and in return they feed us and provide us with accommodation. When I first heard about this, most of the work was farm labour, which I have to admit I initially felt might not be ideal for me and Steve. It might have been once, and I would like to think it would be again after a bit more exercise, but – if I were honest – probably not at the moment.
Then the other day, whilst doing some more research, I found more online companies putting volunteers in touch with people needing help, and much to my delight these companies were after a lot more than farm labour. They listed babysitters, painters, admin workers, retailers and all kinds of things you (or more importantly ‘we’) can do without being young and fit. We might even find people looking for writers and photographers – even more appealing. Imagine that, travelling Australia or the world writing for somebody four hours a day and being paid in food and accommodation then being allowed to go off and explore or reflect for the rest of the day…
Almost sounds like the perfect life...
Here are some links just in case it appeals to you too:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What The Cats And Dogs Say


It’s been an interesting week. To start with, I think this is quite possibly the fifth blog post I’ve written, having discarded the last four. One because I sounded too angry that nobody had had the decency to buy our house yet, one because I was talking about having to get rid of things again, one for some other reason which I can't remember, and one because I only got two sentences into it before getting bored.

Perhaps the struggle to write a half decent post shows more about the frame of mind we’re in at this moment of our adventure process, than any actual entry. Steve and I are so eager to get started in the new stage of our lives that it gets a little tedious at times having to wait around for the world to catch up with us and our plans.


The good news is, however, that the man is back from doing our first official house-sit (on his own because, of course, I needed to stay here and look after our house - that nobody has, as yet, had the decency to buy).

The even better news is that the house-sit was a definite success. The full and glowing review we received for his work is posted on our site, but as a person who has always believed actions should never be overlooked, I think the response of the retired greyhound he cared for is priceless.


As arranged, Steve finished the sit and left the house and pets late afternoon. He and all the animals had got on really well over the three weeks, but Steve and gorgeous greyhound had struck up a real bond during their walks to the park, games of chasey and regular eye-drops.


Later that evening, long after Steve had returned to our home, the owner arrived back to her home and pets. After an exciting three weeks traveling the world she was met at the car by her energetic greyhound, who followed her into the house. However, then, instead of staying with her to play and make a fuss of each other, he instantly left her alone and raced back out to the garage to hunt for Steve!


Such a lovely and insightful story.


To find out the unexpected effect he had on the cats he cared for as well, check out the review in full.

And, if that wasn’t enough to prove things are now heading in the right direction, our house is finally ‘Under Offer’! (Yes, there is at least one decent person out there.)

Please feel free to keep your fingers crossed for us that the offer goes through.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

What Do Your Choices Say About You?



How much space do all your essentials for living take up?    
 
   A three metre by three metre room?
   A two metre by one metre shed?
   A kitchen cupboard?
   A backpack?
   Smaller?
   Larger?
Many years ago after we became bankrupt, I wrote an article in which I said that everything you really need in life fits within your arms, and backed it up with a photo of me holding my husband and our two young daughters. I still believe that, and probably always will. But what if you had a little more say in what you got to keep and what you let go of – how much space would you need then?
Recently there was a television show about the new trend of Tiny Homes, and the person moving into one was told all their essentials (in other words, everything they were taking with them) had to fit in a metre square drawn on the ground.
A bit later on a quiz show, contestants were asked to list essentials needed in every home. To which one person answered, ‘television.’
Maybe it’s because we’re in the process of down-sizing and deciding what’s really essential to us that these two situations seemed so extremely opposite. But, I found myself asking, ‘How would you manage to find space in a one-metre square for a television, when the space already contained basic clothing, kitchen equipment, heirlooms, everyday requirements, photos, and so on?’ Who knows, though, maybe there’s no conflict – maybe it all makes perfect sense and it’s just my priorities that are of whack?
Either way, it made me think about my life priorities… again! Not my everyday requirements for living, but my everyday requirements for being.
When we define what our true priorities in life are, I think it clearly defines who we truly are in all aspects of life. That is, of course, if we’re honest with ourselves and choose entirely for ourselves, not being swayed by other people’s views, expectations and nudges.
My priorities, surprise, surprise, all revolve around writing and family.
What about you?
Can you list your five main priorities in life?
Any surprises in your answers?




Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Rubbish Dare

 

If you had to put out a full rubbish bin each week, could you do it?
I know we all, at times, put out bins that are completely full, after the Christmas party perhaps or a weekend when we actually got around to finally doing all that pruning. In fact, if you have a full family at home, chances are you put out a full bin more weeks than not, but what if there were only one or two of you living in your home?
Could you do it on a regular basis?
There’s no doubt that most of us have too many things, but (as I probably say too often) there’s a difference between knowing we’re hoarding too many old, unused things bought in a sale, and actually throwing them out.
Still this is a challenge Steve and I have set ourselves – put out a full rubbish bin each week. This now means I’m rummaging around every weekend to find things it’s not worth selling or recycling, eager to avoid the possibility of a last minute rush and having to hire a rubbish skip because I wasn’t tough enough with myself earlier. The irony in it is that not so long ago we had a humungous pile of bits stacked next to our bin that we never thought we’d get of in time.
My question again therefore is, could you put out a full rubbish bin each week?
Or maybe it shouldn’t be a question, but a dare. That way you can start clearing out the junk you’re hoarding before you have to and while it could still be fun.
Hmm… this brings to mind all those Spring Cleans I carefully avoided.
Do you think there could possibly be such a thing as Penance for Spring Cleans Past…

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Then and Now



I’ve always thought that an insightful question to ask at autobiography workshops is ‘How was your milk delivered as a child?’
The responses it brings are so diverse. Stories about jugs being left by the farm gate for the milkman to fill at dawn, visions of frozen milk sticking out the top of glass bottles being pecked at by early morning birds, recollections of milk floats being driven around streets at teatime with milk delivered in cardboard cartons, and all kinds of tales in between. Every decade and lifestyle has its own version of the seemingly commonplace and everyday occurrence. The responses to this one simple question indicate family structure, income, location, community, time frame, chores, and so much more.  
Up until now I’ve never really felt that there’s another autobiographical question that in itself shows so much about a person’s life. But, as of this week, that changed. I now have a question that I think is on par.
'And that question is?’ I hear you ask.
‘How did you stay in touch with your family when you first moved out of home?’
With Steve off house-sitting and our daughters off being adults, this past week was the first time in thirty years that I have (as far as I can remember) lived on my own and had nobody to look after! Quite an interesting week I can tell you (on all kinds of levels). One of the many things it brought to my attention was the differences between my leaving home and what it’s like to do it now.
Back in 1985, when I left the UK and first came to Australia on my Working Visa, the most common way for me to be in touch with home was to write letters and Aerograms. That was mainly because phone calls then cost over a dollar a minute – or over two dollars a minute if you phoned during the day in peak time – and actually seeing somebody on a video chat was, of course, unheard of. In fact, if I were to be honest, even my letters were a little more spasmodic than they should have been.
Now though (with Skype, emails and Facebook, etc) things are so very different – and instantaneous – with letters almost unheard of.
And that’s a change which happened in only thirty years – less than one lifetime!
At the back of my mind, I also have memories of the stories my Grandma used to tell me. Ones when she said travelling to Australia, when she was young, was like going away forever because you’d never know if you’d be heard of again.
The world has got so much smaller over the years, with communication becoming easier, quicker, and more affordable (if occasionally more technical), while milk deliveries have become less commonplace and less interesting.
Just one more thing in life we’ve accepted, I guess, and taken for granted.
So, for the autobiographical writers and contemplators among you, how about this for a thought for today, ‘How did you stay in touch with your family when you first left home, and what does it say about you?’


Thursday, April 28, 2016

This One Or That?

  

Okay, here’s a question for you. How many pairs of shoes do you really need?
If you’re a man, chances are you might answer ‘one’, but even then that’s not a definite. However, if you’re a woman chances are the answer is less simple.

I remember last year the topic of shoes came up with a man I was chatting to and I said if what I chose to wear didn’t go with my knee-high boots, Ugg boots, sandals, flat closed-in shoes or runners I was in trouble. Apparently, I found out later, he thought I’d been stirring him about how many shoes I had. Truth was I hadn’t.

Yes, over the years I’ve had my fair share, but not so recently. Probably a good job since there are only so many shoes you can fit in a backpack. But the question is, which ones do I really need to take and which should I bin?

It’s a question that has taken me weeks, if not months, to find an answer to, primarily because it requires I answer two other questions first.
  • What will I actually be doing on this new life-style?
  • What clothes will I be wearing on a daily basis?
Unless I answer these two questions, it’s almost impossible to answer the shoe one. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Plus, as a person who loves their clothes, and was taught the importance of protocol and etiquette, these two questions are actually quite hard to answer in themselves. For example will I be doing anything that requires a dress and heels, because none of the shoes I’ve currently picked have heels? Will I be doing anything that requires I dress smartly and sensibly, say short-term, casual employment? It’s taken for granted that I’ll be doing some forms of gardening, but will that include more extreme work on hobby farms too, or even in the outback? Believe me the list goes on in my head – partially because I have to significantly downsize my wardrobe anyway. Don’t get me started on what clothes to throw out or donate.

It’s hard to plan a wardrobe when you don’t really know what your life is going to entail, or what the weather is going to be like.

So, after all this thinking, what did I decide?

I decided, bugger it, I’ll only take the clothes I really love wearing. And if I end up looking like a rock chick or country hippy rather than a polite English lady, tough. I can always nip into Good Sammy’s if I really need to wear a dress.

And, in answer to the original question…

I need a pair of winter boots, sandals, Ugg boots and gardening boots (and/or runners, but then do I ever really exercise, maybe I should take my walking boots instead of runners especially taking in to account all the dog-walking I’ll probably be doing… or… maybe… AGH!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our First House-sit


There's no doubt that Steve and I are getting impatient for our house-sitting adventure to start – by which I mean, actually house-sit as opposed to prepare for it. We've done so much groundwork and planning, clearing and sorting, discussing and thinking...

One of the main challenges to physically starting is getting the timing right. After all, there's no point in setting up a long list of houses to go and sit, if it means our house is empty while we sit them because we haven't yet sold it, but then neither do we want to sell our house and have nowhere to stay.

It's a transition that would be easier, I guess, if we were renting out our house (instead of selling it) or had local family to go and stay indefinitely with, but since we don't, our first house-sitting job starts this week and we still have our own house and dog to sit!

Of course, we also have the added advantage of there being two of us (most house-sitters sit on their own).

So what does that mean?

It means, Steve gets to start the actual physical house-sitting part of our new adventure first and by himself, while I get to prove how capable and independent I am living on my own! I also get to remember (for the first time in thirty years) how to exist without a car!

Hmm? Why is it that I have this funny feeling that the next few weeks are going to be filled with all kinds of smiles and learning curves?


Friday, April 15, 2016

Buy, Rent, Sell


Yet another Home Open this weekend. We've had so many now, I've lost count – not that I was really counting in the first place.

There've been plenty of reports in the News recently about how slow the current housing market is, and how the prices have dropped. There's even been chat amongst neighbours about other homeowners who can't sell their houses for the same price they paid in the boom eight years ago!

All of which has led to discussions at home about whether we should consider renting instead of selling. It's something we considered for a little while, after all, many house-sitters choose to rent out their house so that they have somewhere to move back to or some form of security, to say nothing of an extra income or the mortgage being paid off.

But there are advantages to selling too, especially when you consider that our change to the house-sitting lifestyle is to make our life more relaxed and simplified, something that doesn't seem supported by taking on renters. In other words, renting out the house (even through an agent) gives us something else to think about – hence the reason to keep our house on the market. To say nothing of the fact that, wouldn't it be great if, during our travels, we saw our dream house and could spontaneously buy it cash!

Therefore, with tomorrow being Sunday – the perfect day for a Home Open – we're planning another trip to the local coffee shop and park (so as to avoid the hoards of home buyers who will be flooding eagerly to see our house), before coming back to a stack of amazing offers for the house.

I'm not quite sure who enjoys the trips to the park most: Steve taking his photos, me having my coffee or Rockee meeting other dogs.



What do you mean nobody is buying houses?
We don't have to follow the trend… we're going on an exciting and life-changing adventure and creating our own future!


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Are We Homeless?


As a writer I've always loved playing with words, and the subtle differences between one word and another. In fact, it might even be part of the reason why I love being a writer.

I like the fact that completely different pictures can be painted by simply changing a word. For example, consider the difference between a person who: 'strode', 'strolled', 'scampered', 'staggered'. The word 'walked' could just as easily have been used, but the picture wouldn't have been the same.

It's not just that, though, to me words have their own energy too. Sometimes everybody feels the same energy in a word, but sometimes it's an energy that only you feel, perhaps triggered by a personal thought, emotion or event from your past. One person might, for example, consider a specific word a compliment whilst another might consider it an insult, simply because the energy and emotion they individually associate with it is different.

'Homeless' can be one of those words. This word comes to mind because it's also a word that has been mentioned in our hearing range many times over the last few months.

So, what does 'homeless' mean?

To many it instantly conjures up the picture of a dirty, sad person, dressed in rags and curled up on a street corner begging and scrounging for the basic necessities of life.

But, think about it – is that really what the word means, or is it simply an individual connotation of what the word means?

Doesn't 'homeless' simply mean somebody who doesn't have what we consider a regular, conventional place to live, not necessarily somebody who is penniless as well?

  • Isn't a person who chooses to live under a palm tree on an island paradise homeless?
  • Isn't a grandparent invited to spend four months of every of year split between each of their three children homeless?
  • Isn't a person travelling around the world's youth hostels homeless?

Yet, do any of these lifestyles bring up the same emotions and reactions as the hungry, grubby person sleeping in a cardboard box? I doubt it. After all, these three people aren't assumed to be desperately short of money and dependant on others, only that they have chosen to live a less conventional lifestyle which doesn't involve a standard home – just like us!

Yes, it's true we won't have a traditional home, but to us that doesn't mean we won't have a home, or that we're reliant on others to survive. Instead we're in a situation that offers up great opportunities, inspires new ways to think, the odd challenge or two to solve even, but it's still a great adventure, full of freedom and unpredictability.

But…
if I want to be truly honest, I always liked the idea of being a nomad, (independent, spontaneous, travelling wherever appeals) and that's exactly what we'll be – nomadic, not homeless.

Now, 'nomad', does that conjure up a different picture from 'homeless'?