Saturday, March 18, 2017

No Phone Reception And...


Living in the country is different!

This thought has kept surfacing over the last few days - and was, in fact, only enforced a day or so ago when we had a power cut. Yes, no sooner did we move to this picturesque and rural sit - where I get no phone reception (as mentioned in a previous post) - than we get no electricity too! What are the chances? Especially after I’ve been telling everyone that if they need to contact me urgently they can do so by internet!

Also, believe it or not, no power for a wooden ‘hobbit’ house on 27 acres of native bushland is different from none for a house in the city. For example, did you know it means no flowing water? Yep, since water here is from tanks - not scheme, it has to be individually pumped around the house using an electric pump. This in turn means, if you have no power when you turn on the tap no water comes out, so… no cups of tea! It also means no refilling cisterns, so no flushing toilets! And that’s just for starters.

However being the ingenious couple we are, and since we were in the middle of a torrential rain storm (probably the reason for the power cut in the first place), we did consider simply doing what they do in the movies. However, here’s a useless piece of information for you, no matter how heavy rain looks, amazing little water actually gets caught in a row of saucepans lined up by the back door.

Thankfully though, in this instance, there had been some preparation. So we put on our waterproof jackets, and stomped out over the paddock to start up the generator. A generator, which in turn started the electricity, which in turn started the water pump, the lighting, the electric fences around the cows’ paddocks, the internet and who knows what else.

Still whilst everything caused by this lack of power might force the average city dweller to pause and think twice… one thing didn’t… and that was the no heating!

Why?

Because heating here is from a wood stove! Therefore all the heating here requires is a match, an old newspaper and a few blocks of wood. Add to that the fact that ever since childhood I’ve been a bit of a firebug, and you can see the highlight of my evening. Yes, for some reason, stoking the stove to keep our kitchen (and rapidly-emptying kettle) warm was a little more appealing than relying on our weak torch to avoid cow pats as I clambered through a cow paddock to get to the generator.

By morning, though… thankfully… power was back on, meaning no more concerns about the water pump, cow fences or internet. Instead, we were faced with the exciting opportunity of furthering my previous evening’s introduction to using the wood stove. So yesterday it was pizzas, today’s it’s roast, and tomorrow…

And this is only one of the many events we’ve enjoyed during our first few days here. Who knows what’s to come.

Hopefully, not too many storms… although they do mean the veggies don’t need watering, the tanks are getting filled, and the forests are look especially bright as we go for our regular strolls through them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Living A Life


As I stood in our current driveway this week, sweeping up slivers of glass, to the ‘gentle serenade’ of next door’s heavy rock garage band, I was reminded to never underestimate your personal safety.

The area we’re currently staying in appears to be a nice spot, and our car was securely locked (even parked directly under a street lamp), but obviously it still appealed to some ‘little darling’ with excess time, empty pockets and a less than conventional view on legal ownership.

Thankfully, not TOO much was stolen from our car, which is especially lucky when you consider how many of our personal belongings it usually holds on a daily basis. No, in many ways we were lucky, although that hasn’t really had much of an effect on this week’s diverse vocabulary whilst we’ve been talking about the ‘little darlings’, organising a replacement window and coming to terms with being unsettled by the break-in.

We’ve always been aware of the risks of carrying all our daily needs in the car, but have also always believed that… providing you’re sensible and don’t focus on possible negative events… there’s a limited chance of you attracting negativity into your life. In most cases this theory has served us well… incredibly well, in fact. But needless to say, because of this belief, there’s plenty of teasing going on between us at the moment as to what attracted the event. 


Was it our occasional comment on still needing to downsize our belongings? 

Was it my comment about not wanting to throw out one of my favourite (but ageing) back-pack? 

Maybe it was because we’d just watched a TV show on minimalising, and another mentioning the need to protect yourself if you’re travelling the world.

Who knows! 

Either way, more thought is currently being put into ways of increasing the safety of our car, ways that don’t also increase our focus on the need for it.

Funnily enough, this has all happened in a week where I’d heard - more than once - about the wide range of young women in their early twenties who are travelling alone, but also safely, around the world (even in some scary countries).

There’s no doubt that there are risks in the world (both to you and your belongings) and that by putting yourself out there, you’re chances of coming into contact with them are increased. But then curbing your life, passions and pursuits to lessen risks has to be wrong, don’t you think? After all, if you’re going to be hit by a bus, wouldn’t you rather it was while fulfilling a life-long dream rather than while you’re cautiously, hiding out in a safe street wishing life was different?

Live your life, take sensible precautions and focus on the positive - is my theory. But most importantly, live your life and be happy!


- For those who are asking, not much of extremely high monetary value was taken from the car (the majority of those things were elsewhere - thankfully). It was mainly things of personal value and useful bits and pieces that went - or it appears that way at the moment. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Did You Know It Still Existed?



I have to admit, it all took me a bit by surprise - as much because it was possible, as just because it happened.

I mean, I know I’ve become more internet and technology minded over the last few weeks (maybe even months), the last blog post says that, but even so… to be thrown by this…

This is something that should affect people who are permanently attached to their phones and tablets, not me!


After all, I remember a life when you weren’t constantly and instantly contactable. I remember a time when you could go all day without receiving a message from somebody. I even remember a time when constantly carrying enough coins to use a public phone box was considered not just wise, but essential.

Why then (considering all that) am I still thrown by the fact that I’m sitting below a majestic Red Gum, surrounded by blue wrens, being dive-bombed by butterflies, all to the constant soundtrack of cicadas and a summer breeze, and yet still trying to adjust to the fact that I can only be contacted by email, and (believe it or not) actual, personal, physical interaction?

Tell me, am I the only person who didn’t know there were still entire towns in Western Australia that were out of mobile phone range?

Yes, I accept that some houses choose not to have a landline. In fact, the last three houses we stayed in opted just for mobile phones, and no corded ones! But complete towns where my mobile phone won’t work…

I can still take photos with it, though, and connect to the internet, check the weather, check where I am and where I’m going, heck, I can even play my favourite word game on it. In fact, my phone can currently do a whole load of things… if only one of them was make a phone call!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Smile...



There always seems to be one in the family, doesn’t there? One person who’s not quite as intuitive with technology - or maybe it’s interested in technology, I’m not sure. Well, in our family, it’s me. Yes, even if I became an overnight expert, I imagine the rest of the family would instantly know more too - it’s just the way things are. Not that it really bothers me, and, I have to say, they are all genuinely supportive of my confusion and achievements.

My latest success has been to take a cute animal photographs on my phone, transfer them to my computer and then post them on Facebook. I know… no big deal to a lot of people, but to some… Well, let’s just say, I was suitably chuffed with myself when I did it (all by myself) for a variety of reasons.

Not just for the obvious reasons (like, I finally did it), but because it means our travelling pet owners can now (with no major effort - or expense) see happy snaps of their much-loved animals while they’re away and feel the reassurance that brings.

The idea of doing it came to me recently when I discovered the ridiculous price some mobile phone companies charge if you want to make an international email or phone call (say from a picturesque paradise back to your caring house-sitters in order to check on the well-being of your much loved pets). Whilst on the other hand using wifi, in said paradise hot-spot, can often be easy and free, thereby also making Facebook easy and free. So this - believe it or not - is one of the main reasons for our Facebook ‘HouseSitting Life’ page.

See, it’s not really just to promote our services, or to drop far from subtle prompts about when we have a gap in our calendar and would love you to invite us over.

No, it’s to offer you a simple and cheap way to stay in touch and, of course, be reassured that everything is progressing perfectly in your absence. After all, what better way to let you know your pets are doing well than to share a cute picture of them. In fact, what better way to make a day better or to make a person smile, than to share a endearing photo of an animal - whether it belongs to them or somebody else.

So there you go (even though Steve is the photographer in the family and I tend to be more focused on life than technology) I’m having a great time with my recent achievements and photographs which can be seen, liked, and shared by simply visiting facebook.com and going to our ‘Housesitting Life’ page.

You could even Like the page while you’re there… If you wanted…



Sunday, January 15, 2017

North, South, North, South, East, West, East, West...



We moved again last week! And, as we drove from one end of the freeway to the other (again!), I stared out the skylight of our car, at the stars in the clear evening sky and felt my brain kick into gear.

How often have we driven from one end of the freeway to the other in the last six months? More times than I could count off the top of my head.

After all, it seems like the majority of our latest sits have all been at the end of the freeway… alternately mind you… north - south - north - south… Even now, we’ve just left Pearsall to go to South Lake, after this we’re back north to Landsdale and Carramar - each one almost an hours drive from the other. I bet I couldn’t have planned the alternating better if I’d tried!

Good job we like driving - or should that be ‘still like driving’. After all, we do have well over thirty-five years of courier driving racked up between the two of us!

Still, it is us who picks the jobs and (if we wanted) it could be one side of the world to the other, as opposed to one end of the freeway to the other.

In fact, last week, we officially expanded our list of places we’ll sit to include more than West Australia. Yes, now we’re looking for places in Tasmania - although they need to be for more than the standard week or two (ideally a couple of months or more) to justify the week’s drive it takes to get over there.

For those that are wondering, the decision to travel there isn’t as sudden as it may appear. It’s been a plan from the very beginning, we just had to wait for the right time. You know, standard parent stuff… once I’m sure the children (who aren’t really children any more) are settled and capable of managing without us (or is it me without them? Never!)

Of course, by offering to house-sit in the lush green hills of Tassie we are aware that we’ve now opened ourselves up to ricocheting across the sandy plains of Australia. Still, what a way to spend your time, especially since we’ve both always wanted to live in Tassie and have not, as yet, had a chance to explore the island, or… as people constantly remind us… feel the true extent of its winter chill!


However, since we haven’t yet been lucky enough to be offered a suitable house-sit there, we are continuing to enjoy the warmth of the West Australian sun and pingponging back and forth along our expanding freeway.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

So...


Do you know, I’ve never kept a blog before… or at least not for long. They’ve been a bit like the journals I’ve kept, started with enthusiasm and excitement that doesn’t last for more than a month or so, then they’re left to drift and fade. So the fact that I’ve kept this blog for a year is pretty impressive in my world (even if the posts haven’t appeared online quite as weekly as they were meant to).

Of course, there was a sincere motivation for keeping this blog up-to-date. It was created not only to offer insights on Steve and me to people we could potentially house-sit for, and to pass on helpful information to novice house-sitters. It was also to reassure friends and family across the world that even if we couldn't keep in regular contact (or catch up for regular coffees) they could still know we were okay and having fun experiencing our new way of life. All reasons that give me the gentle nudge, or extra impetus, needed to actually come up with a topic and put the words on the page.

However, today (as I reflected on the blog post that had just taken me two hours to write, only to decide that it was too similar to one of last month’s to actually post) I realise I’m heading towards a long break between posts. A lengthy time lapse that the recent festive celebrations can’t even justify… or at least I don’t think so, considering I’ve completed a year, a whole year!

I like writing, it feels like a physical part of me. So for that, and the above reasons, I intend to keep adding posts to this blog (hopefully more regularly than I did this December). After years of writing for publishers there’s a certain enjoyment in the freedom of writing for myself - I can say what I want, make the articles as long as I like, miss ‘due dates’, and create my own Submission Guidelines. But there’s also the - what do my readers want to hear? How do I know if readers return? Am I achieving my goals?

Like I say, I do intend to keep blogging, but I would so love to know if there’s anything in particular you like/dislike about this blog or would like me include (insights, topics, answers, information, etc). It would make such a difference for me to have even the vaguest idea.

So is there any chance you could spare me a couple of minutes?

Go on, tell me what you think. Tell me anything - how good is that offer?

Just for example:
Do you want to hear more about the general details and challenges of house-sitting?
Do you want to know more about our daily life and unexpected incidents?
Do you agree with my philosophies on life?
What makes you decide to read a new post as soon you know about it, or leave it til later?
What would make you Follow the blog so that you’re informed immediately there’s a new post, or make a ‘Comment’, or even ‘Share’ it online?

Yes, I know… the questions could go on forever. That’s just the kind of person I am, I guess. Any way, if you have time I would love to know. Even if you don’t want to leave a Comment at the end of this post and would rather send a couple of anonymous words through the Contact Us page on our www.housesittinglife.com. Anything would be truly appreciated, and who knows, make this blog more fun to read. So please…

Thank you  





Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas This Year (definitely different)


Christmas is strange this year - a different house, no children around, only a handful of Christmas cards, and no cooking a Christmas Day roast. It all feels very different from the standard celebrations of the last twenty or so years. How is it in your house?

I mean, is it really Christmas Eve? I only ate my first mince pie two days ago when we visited friends for coffee.

I haven’t even played any Christmas carols yet, yet ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you I used to play them every chance I got. In fact, the only time I’ve heard them this December is whilst buying groceries at IGA and Woolies, and whilst watching Love Actually! (Actually, once I’m finished here I think I’ll hunt some out on my iPod - can’t go a whole year without playing any!)

It’s also a good job we’ve been invited out for lunch on Sunday, or we’d probably be eating a cold ham, salad and ice cream. Not because I can’t cook the standard meal, but because even after more than six months, I’m still struggling with the ‘using other people’s kitchen utensils’ bit (especially for messy meals). I mean, what if I can’t get them clean again - not that I’ve had any problems, but that seems besides the point.

Regardless of all that though, I still think it takes a special skill and perspective to cook a full Christmas lunch for just two. Am I the only one to think that? Perhaps it’s just because it’s our first Christmas lunch for two. I wonder what I’ll think next year…

Of course, things are different this year for a variety of reasons, including there’s been no dressing a tree and decorating the house. (Don’t get me wrong, the house came with a gorgeous selection of deckies. We just didn’t put them up.) Then having no postal address means our counters are adorned with a lot less cards.

Plus - and this is a true benefit of it all - for some reason, which I haven’t quite fathomed out, we’ve done almost no Christmas shopping at all. Truly amazing! (Just think about it… no queues, no hunting for parking spaces, no having to go out in forty-plus degrees, no poor, flustered parents with trolleys and toddlers… The list just goes on.)

I think it has something to do with a minimalistic lifestyle. We look at things in stores and while they might be nice, we no longer have any wish to buy, own, or give them. A truly unique and refreshing feeling.

But this year we’ve also had the opportunity to see and enjoy the deeper meanings of the festival season. Recognising the many benefits of human interaction and communication over commercialism, which it never does any harm to be occasionally reminded of. Does it?

So on that note, (and before I go off and hunt out some Christmas songs) Steve and I really want to thank everybody who’s played a part in our adventure this year. There have been so many kind-hearted and generous people involved in it. Whether you’ve engaged us to house-sit and care for your pets, helped spread the word, made a comment on this blog, offered us a positive word (or anything in between), please know you have made a difference and your support has been greatly appreciated.

Therefore, whoever you are and wherever you are, we wish you a truly wonderful weekend and a fun, healthy and dream-filled 2017.



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trust The Universe


We don’t come across too many books in our new house-sitting life. I’d thought we might, expecting that every time we moved homes I’d have a new range of books to browse through - but that’s not been the case. Most of the houses we’ve visited haven’t had more than an average of 50 books (often less), and since there isn’t much room for books in the car, and public libraries prefer you to have a permanent address… Well, you can guess how it goes. I suppose I really need to get more books on my Kindle.

Not that I’ve had the urge to read too many books over the last couple of years, to be honest. But a week or so back, after writing my last blog post about changing our lifestyle and trusting the universe to give us what we needed, I was hit by the urge to read a book. 


Not just any book though, I wanted to read my favourite one, which is all well and good, but it’s not the kind you find on the average book shelf or even in a good bookstore. No, it’s a book that’s only found on selected shelves. Which left me wondering how I was going to get hold of a copy. After all, I hadn’t passed any second-hand book stores in our current home-stay area, the library card I actually have wasn’t valid in that area either, the house we were in didn’t have any books that were even close in topic. I had even checked out the online edition, but… to be honest… I still prefer paperbacks to Kindles, so hadn’t yet decided if I wanted to press the Download button.

Besides, hadn’t I just decided to trust that whatever I needed would simply appear, provided by the universe?

So (taking a deep breath) I chose to give things time to fall in to place. We had other things to do anyway - like repack the car and move house.

Which is why I’m sitting here in a new house, with a cup of tea, whilst looking at my favourite (but, hard to come by) book. Yes, believe it or not, I had the urge to read my favourite book and the universe was kind enough to provide it in the next house we moved in to! When we walked in the door, the book just happened to be resting on the book shelf waiting for me to pick it up.

Impressive, huh?

Are you interested in what the book was? It’s Richard Bach’s, ‘Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’, and what’s it about? Well, it’s funny you should ask. It’s about trusting the universe and, amongst other things, the fact that we can create whatever we want.

Let’s face it, sometimes in life we do occasionally just have to stop and think, don’t we?



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Letting Go To Step Forward


Well, it’s taken almost six months of us doing this full-time, but I think I can finally say it’s all starting to fall into place. Not ‘into place’ as in everything working perfectly (no, we’re still having the occasional hiccup, surprise, or moment of contemplation), but as in us feeling confident with what we’re doing, and comfortable with our role in life. Not too bad, huh?

It’s a strange feeling, and not one I’d expected so soon when you consider how instinctive the life of a writing coach was to me, and the time we thought it would take to transition from the old life to the new, but we may just about be there.

A couple of weeks back I spoke about breaking habits, and of not doing things out of habit but because we wanted to - something most conventional lives don’t allow us to do as much as many of us might like, or in fact something that conventional lives might simply bury over time until we receive a reminder (often with a shock and when the time left is limited).

Well, I have to say that as a person whose life has always revolved around making an income, (even to the point where I left school on a Friday and started paid work the following Monday, and worked from home when our children were only months old) I’ve decided to make a change. That’s right! My life is no longer going to be defined by the money I earn! No more of this mangling the things I love doing to make an income! No, from now on I’m going to do what feeds my soul, allow my true self to surface, and trust that all I need for life will follow.

I guess in a different lifetime Steve and I would both have been called ‘hippies’. I’m also guessing that this decision is going to shock some of our caring friends (maybe even as much as our decision to sell up everything and become full-time house-sitters), for that I am sorry. Although, of course, it’s also possible you thought we were hippies all along - it seems my family did!

There’s so much to life we want to explore and experience that the nine-to-five, home-owning existence forces out of us. Who knows, maybe in time Steve and I’ll come back to being ‘normal’, but in the meantime I’m closing down my business of 20 odd years, Writing to Inspire. Thereby leaving Steve and I officially free to live a simple life of photography, writing, and moving around this wonderful world, delighting in the smiles of people who are temporarily free and able to escape their pressures of convention to go on relaxing holidays just because we’re free and happy to take care of their home and pets.

Not a bad way to go, huh?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Street Or That?


I knew when we started regularly moving from one suburb to another (or one state to another, or heck, maybe even one country to another) that there was chance that one area could be more sociable to us than another. Although, to be honest, I thought that the difference wouldn’t be all that obvious. After all, how sociable would a community be to a couple who were only staying in the area for a week or two - neighbours, yes, but the community? Really? Let’s face it, we’d probably be moving on by the time our presence was registered.

However, I have to say… I was wrong. 

Yes, I admit it… 

I was wrong! (although not too loudly within Steve’s hearing.) 

Different suburbs are different! After several months of moving, I can now say with confidence, there is a difference from one community to another… perhaps even, one street to another.

Steve and I are, by nature, friendly people - talk to us and we’ll happily talk back to you (unless we’re urgently required somewhere else, you look really weird, or we’re holding on to the lead of a dog exceptionally eager to get home). But, that doesn’t mean we’ll automatically go up to a group of strangers chatting together in a park and introduce ourselves just because we’re all in the same space.

But here is different. We’ve only been here a week and I’ve lost count of how many people we’ve chatted to in the park simply because we both (or all) have dogs. Then there are the people we regularly greet in the streets because they walk their dogs the same time as we walk ours.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always us who says ‘hello’ first, we don’t always get a chance. The dogs nearly always beat us to it, happily starting a conversation. In fact, I think it’s highly likely that us being recognised in this community has nothing to do with who we are. It’s all to do with our current location and dogs being decidely friendly… we’ve even come across a neighbour carrying treats in her handbag especially for our current pets…


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Who Says Tea's At Six?


Imagine what it would be like, after twenty or more years of being at somebodies’ beck and call, to one day be sitting down having a reflective cuppa and realise that there’s nobody waiting for you to get home by a set time, nobody expecting you to turn up at work the next day or submit a manuscript by a set deadline, or even anybody waiting for you to have tea on the table by six o’clock?

I tell you, it’s a weird feeling, and one that takes time to get used to - after 30 odd years of work and 25 of parenting, knowing you can be spontaneous in most situations without any major repercussions.

I have no doubts that for some people, when this happens, there are more negatives than positives. But for Steve and I, it is, in many ways, just like life used to be for us many, many years ago - very strange.

When we started out on this new lifestyle a group of my friends said, ‘How does life feel without the responsibility of having a house and belongings to think about?’ At the time I couldn’t quite see what they were talking about, but I have to say that I do now. There are many things this lifestyle makes easier, and I would be heart-broken if the people I cared for all those years didn’t still need me occasionally or phone regularly to keep me updated. Plus, I’m in no doubt, that if I was house-sitting on my own - without Steve by my side - my view would be entirely different.

Also, maybe, what we’re adjusting to now is exactly what every retiring couple has to adjust to… we’re just doing it early (had to put that bit in). Who knows…
But for those who asked me earlier, being independent again is a big part of the enjoyment of this lifestyle, and an even bigger reason for me being more relaxed. Yes, we have to feed and care for animals, look after a home, and regularly pack up the car, but that’s also half the fun of it, and it never takes long. 

Now we just need to come up with more spontaneous things to try out. Today we found an amazing cafe and got a couple of take-away coffees, yesterday we went for an exploration of the new neighbourhood… Not very exciting I know, but it is a start. Who knows, I might even decide to write instead of cooking a meal…


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Where Would You Be Without A Fridge Door?


Have you ever contemplated on how much a fridge tells you about a person? I don't mean by what it has in it, or just by what it has on the door, but also by how everything is displayed.

As a writer, I’ve always found characters and traits interesting. It is, after all, not only the basis of all fiction writing, but a big part of writing for your market as well - no matter what your genre. 

Now, though, as Steve and I travel from one home to another and constantly make new friends, the concept has never been clearer. Especially since every fridge, in every home, seems to be as unique as every person.

There’s no doubt that fridge doors make excellent notice boards and holders of important information, but what is actually kept, where it’s put, and how it’s put there, is just as indicative of a person’s character.  We’ve used fridges that have doors which are completely untouched, except for a few small, neatly placed, hand-written notes, to the other extreme of using fridges that are completely covered with lifetimes of family photos - completely covered. Plus, of course, fridges with every amount in between as well.

Don’t forget, also, that most fridges have a collection of magnets that reflect their owner’s views and outlook, and are used as a space to ensure relevant business cards, vouchers, flyers and other important information is on hand. In fact, just last month, I urgently needed a dentist and (not being used to the area we were in) the first place I went was the fridge door.

Makes you wonder what people did before fridges and magnets - or, from a writer’s point of view, what (how and where) a story’s characters would have kept on their fridge door. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

One Bag Or Two?


There’s no two ways about it… if you’re living out of your car, you have to put a whole load of thought in to what clothes you pack.

For Steve it wasn’t a particularly tough job selecting - he’s always been a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy. For me it was a little tougher, primarily, I think, because I’m a girl(!) and due to the fact that it’s kind of hard to pick the right clothes when you don’t know exactly what you’re going to be doing or where you’re going to be living. I mean, will I be going anywhere that requires a dress and high heels, or will I always be able to get away with jeans and boots? Plus, of course, if you don’t know where you’re going to be, then how do you know if it’s going to be hot or cold? To say nothing of if you don’t know what you’re going to be doing… And so the list goes on.

In the end though, I picked clothes that didn’t need ironing, a selection of everything (including a good choice of jeans, comfy tops and thermals) and reassured myself with the knowledge that if I got caught out most towns had a good Op shop. 

But there was one thing that didn’t cross my mind - at all - and yet now I’m constantly aware of the oversight… and rarely with a smile! 

Any ideas of what it was? Please tell me I’m not the only one? 

Animal hair! 

I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!

So, if you’re planning on becoming a house-sitter and in the process of packing your bags, please remember that 90% of house-sits include caring for animals, which will therefore include lots of stroking and cuddling, and... for some strange reason... pets are always moulting. 

So... avoid packing anything that’s black or that picks up hair… and that’s just as a starter. But it does lessen the clothes to pick from and therefore makes the task easier, so who’s complaining? 

But how could I have overlooked it… really?


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Constantly On The Move



One of the things I really like about house-sitting - which is also one of the reasons we decided to take it up - is that by caring for one different house after another we get to constantly try out different of lifestyles, pets and locations. 

In fact, as I’m writing this blog post I’m sitting outside on a delightful cottage garden property, looking out from a pergola at dolphins playing in the canals of South Yunderup, all the while listening to the squawking of seagulls and singing of canaries. Yet just last week we were staying in a small unit in a friendly community on the edge of Perth city, walking distance from an array of coffee shops and restaurants. Next week we’re up in the fresh air and peace of the eastern hills on a large block, looking after Malamute huskies. 

Yet, as a total opposite, we have friends who are quite happily living in the same house they moved into after leaving school (some 30 odd years ago), and know couples who never intend to move out the house they bought together. But Steve and I have never been that kind of people. As a couple, we like change and variety. 

Let’s face it, after all, Steve started travelling around Australia at 19, and I moved to London at the same age then emigrated here at 23. We’ve both always been happy exploring different areas and opportunities - which is perhaps why house-sitting is so ideal for us. It’s certainly why at one point of our lives we’d moved house seven times in twelve years. Some house-sitters only like long stays - 3 months or more, but we’re having fun with the shorter ones too - especially now we’ve finally got everything to fit neatly in the car.

Every house and location is different, requiring different care and offering different benefits - and that’s before we even consider the individual characters and charms of any animals we’re also looking after. 

It’s only been a few months so far and already I’m surprised by the variety that Perth has to offer…

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Aerogramme Or Email

I always used to say in my autobiography classes that you could tell the age of most people by how their milk was delivered as a child. Was it poured directly into a jug left at the end of their driveway? Was it left in milk bottles capped with silver or gold foil that would be pushed up and away from the bottle when the milk froze on cold mornings? Was it bought from Coles in cardboard milk cartons? Or was it bought and received in some manner used between these?

However this morning, as I conversed with family using Facebook messaging, I once again contemplated how I think how you communicate with people is becoming the new tell-tell sign of what age you are.

When I first came to Australia, back in 1985, I used to keep my family up-to-date with my adventures and experiences by filling in, and sending off, a crisp, blue Aerogramme every Friday. While phone calls, at peak times, then cost $2 for a minute – so not too many of those got made.
Now though, I send emails (or messages through Facebook) that arrive almost instantly, and can Skype anyone in my family whenever I like for free – with, of course, the benefit of seeing them and sharing phots and videos. Thirty years ago, I would never have considered the possibility of such interaction, and ask any young person now and they probably consider the past options just as alien.
Communication is so much easier and cheaper. Ideal for people who no longer have a landline they can be called on, or a permanent address mail can be received on. Plus with so many cafes, shopping centres and community buildings generously offering free wifi, there is never any risk of a Digital Nomad being out of touch for long.
 
 

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?