Monday, November 20, 2017

Anyone Up For A Cute Animal Pic?


Have you visited our Facebook page yet? 


It’s a great way to stay in touch with what we’re up to, where we are, what’s happening, plus last minute surprises and all kinds of things… BUT, to be honest… none of those are the real reason we (or should that be ‘I’) work so hard to try and put up regular posts.

The main reason is because when you’re out there travelling the world, I’m told it’s usually cheaper to log on to Facebook than it is to email or phone somebody.

A simple statement, but it has quite a big impact on house-sitting.

What's that? Put simply… it make’s it cheaper for you to stay in touch with us (if you feel the need to). You can either Message me through Facebook or log-on and keep up-to-date with photos of your pets, garden or home. Of course not everybody wants to stay in touch with us whilst their away - for some reason people just want to go off and have a wonderful time elsewhere, imagine that! But occasionally there are urgent matters we need to solve or have solved. Other times just leaving precious and endearing animals in the hands of complete strangers can be challenging and require regular reassurance, and why not when you consider that most of the pets we care for are rescued or exceptionally young and being left for the first time.

And you thought all those cute animal pics were on the HouseSittingLife Facebook page just to make you smile and because we knew you all liked looking at cute animal pics! Fancy that!

Well maybe they are, but it’s also all part of the service, something to help you enjoy your trip away even more.

Still the response we’re getting to all the cute pics is wonderful - thank you. We’re so glad you like them. And if you haven’t found them or our Facebook page yet it’s under HouseSittingLife. Definitely worth a trip - who knows what you’ll find posted on that page…

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One Bruise Or Two?


Well, if you’re in Western Australia like us you’d have to admit that we are now entering short-wearing weather… not consistently, but I’m pretty sure we will be any week now. For us (and our lifestyle) it’s brought all kinds of predictable seasonal adjustments, but this year it’s also brought an expected realisation. 


Well, maybe not for Steve, but definitely for me… So what was it?

Simply put, how many bruises I have on my legs and the fact that I don’t really have the vaguest idea where the majority of them came from! Let’s face it there are over a dozen, large, rainbow-coloured ones all over my legs and I had hardly any idea how they got there!

Yes, I know there are those I got almost a fortnight back when I went bike riding and lost my balance turning a corner. Not that I was really aware of how badly I landed at the time - funnily enough the stack of biting ants who attacked me for landing on their nest kind of distracted me from that at the time.

Then there were the bruises I got on my shins a few days later whilst running up the stairs all because I was too impatient to wait for the lift.

All those I accept, it’s the others that confused me. I mean how could I get so many hefty bruises and not know where they came from? It’s not like I’m overly athletic or lead a boisterous life. But this many bruises in short-wearing weather was definitely something I would rather avoid for various reasons.

The first step though was to discover what was causing them and that, my friends, is something I’ve spent many days trying to figure out. Yet only finally figured out this morning!

There I was snuggled up in bed, drifting back and forth between consciousness, a selection of thoughts in my mind (including the quandary about the bruises) when one of the large and endearing pups we’re currently caring for jumped on the bed and, as usual, landed on me! I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out! After all, let’s face it, two large puppies landing on you numerous times every morning is bound to leave some impression, isn’t it?

All I can say is… good job they’re so cute. And… hey, I can’t help it if they prefer to jump on my side of the bed rather than Steve’s, can I?


Monday, October 9, 2017

Car, Shed or Wheelbarrow?


Isn’t it amazing how many things we hold on to just in case ‘they might be useful’? I guess most of us would only have to go for a quick rummage through our shed, spare room, back cupboard or attic to find a few ‘possibly useful’ things.

We certainly have over the years, but wouldn’t you think that when we carry just about everything we actively need with us that we’d have nothing that falls into that category, but… believe it or not… you’d be wrong!

After 14 months on the road Steve and I decided to do another downsize and I have to admit to being somewhat surprised by exactly how much we’ve been holding on to simply because it ‘might be useful’. Some for a possible business idea, others for possible events or situations, and some purely because we hadn’t thought about parting with it, but either way we’ve been carrying a whole load of stuff we didn’t need! And let’s face it, with so little space why cart around so much (packing and unpacking it every few weeks) simply because it might be useful?

Besides wouldn’t it be better to pass the unused things on to people who need them now, confident in the knowledge that IF we truly did need the item we’d come up with the perfect (but maybe alternative) solution like Macgyver, find exactly what we wanted on Special at Good Sammy’s or Target, or simply… what the heck… make do with what we have.

Truth is, I guess, that most of us have (or have had at some time) more than we really need to live our life, yet it’s not until we have to pare down everything to fit (or have it pared down for us) that we realise what’s a true essential and what’s simply excess baggage.

Life on so many levels seems full of items, possibilities and essentials, yet many of them are simply cluttering and obscuring what it is we really want or need.

A thought that was only backed up recently when a friend related a story to me about one of her past relatives who had happily worked in the Australian outback, walking from one job to another with her husband whilst pushing a wheelbarrow that held all their belongings.

Imagine that, everything that was important to you in a wheelbarrow? How our priorities and expectations have changed over the years…




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Crossing The Strait



At first we decided it would be best to go and house-sit in Tasmania next January (2018). It seemed like the perfect time.

The logic was quite simple - by then there was a greater chance that I’d have got used to being apart from our girls. After all let’s face it, I’ve only just got used to them both having grown up and gone off into the world to be adults - let alone adjusted to them living in different states!

But, as is often the case with plans, the universe seems to having had a different idea on how things should go.

I think it was around March this year that the bookings for 2018 started to come in and… to be honest… each one sounded fun and I simply couldn’t say ‘No.’ Then in the last few weeks there have been a few more… and, well, now… we’re basically booked up until then end of July!

Can you believe that, we’re so popular, we only have a handful of weeks within the next 12 months that aren’t booked? I remember looking at the bookings of other house-sitters before we started this adventure and being impressed if they were booked out for the next three months, and here we are with a year! The wonderful thing to is that most of our bookings are ‘rebooks’ or referrals. But, although we know we’re putting out lots of households, we still want to go to Tassie - sorry.

Our plan now though is to go house-sitting across the Bass Strait in late July/August 2018, not January.

As to how long we intend to stay there, well, we don’t really know. In other words, if we have fun and get lots of bookings (and I don’t get too cold) we could stay for ages, or we might travel on and sit somewhere else, or we might even come back to WA, who knows. Either way I just wanted to give you a heads up on the changes - even though they’re a fair way off.

The weeks that we’re free next year - and in WA - aren’t definite yet but you can find out when they are by checking the regularly updated calendar on the ‘Where We Are Now’ page of our website.

As to bookings in Tassie… we’re not yet in a position to take any but we would love to hear from anybody over there who thinks we might be able to assist them in having a restful holiday.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

What's That Sound?


How well do you know the night-time noises of your home? The water heater that turns on at six? The slamming of the neighbour’s car door half an hour later as she leaves for work? The individual snoring patterns of your home’s inhabitants?

I recently woke up in the middle of the night unsettled by the sounds around me. Lying there silently, surrounded by the darkness, I tried to define one from another.

(Of course, before I did that I really needed to be sure of which house I was sleeping in, the pets we were sharing it with, where they were sleeping, what surrounded the house… You know the stuff that gets a little confusing and befuddled when you can’t see it and it changes from one month to the next!)

The main thing that confused me, though, was the fact that I was listening to three different kinds of snoring - even though I knew it was only Steve and me in the house! And let’s face it, I knew I wasn’t snoring! After all, I’m way too gentile and ladylike for that - besides I’ve never heard it so how could one of them be me! Which left two unaccounted for…

At this point I did consider getting up and sneaking around the house trying to find the cause of the extra sound, but what if it was somebody who’d snuck into the house… maybe a big burly burglar who’d fallen asleep, or a relative of the homeowner who had a front door key, or even the homeowners returning early?

Hmmm? No, it seemed wiser to stay, silent and still, in bed trying to remember where I was.

But then, without warning, the three snoring became one. Instantly followed by a scuffle in the hallway, hurried feet racing towards me and a sudden kerflumpf that vibrated through the room, announcing extra weight on the bed. A second later I felt the familiar series of pressure points as two small animals walked up and over my body, rotated a couple of times then snuggled against my body. A little while on, the one snoring became three again and the world returned to normal.

I never knew dogs snored. Did you?



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ahoy, There Me Hearty!


As you’ve probably noticed (or assumed, or taken for granted), Steve and I consider ourselves Digital Nomads. Which means that while we’re having fun travelling around helping people out with their holidays, we’re also having fun with our websites.

Now I know people across the world have all kinds of websites for all kinds of reasons - some of them logical, some illogical, and some just plain, well, strange. But a friend’s question last week got me wondering… why do we have a site about pirates? Do you know? I mean the house-sitting, writing and photography ones are obvious considering our career choices, but pirates? We’ve had it for years too and had a great time with it, but what started us off in that direction I haven’t the darnedest idea. Literally, no idea!

It’s not as if we’d had boys who loved pretending to sail the high seas, or a house full of swashbuckling toys, or even enjoyed sailing. Looking back we can find no possible reason, other than (perhaps) this humorous play Steve and girls concocted (I guess, maybe) ten years ago. And having just rewatched it, I had to share it with you.

Go on… I dare you to watch it without laughing!

The website itself (www.the-pirate-ship.com) has been through a variety of transitions. The latest one of which has included a selection of additions - including a Facebook page (AllAboardMeHearty just on the off chance ye want to come and join in the fun, me hearty.)

You could even come and join us just to find out who’s who and what’s what, or discover some jokes, or what about improving your pirate lingo all in time for the Talk Like A Pirate Day on 19th September!

So go on, have another chuckle at the addled sea dogs in the video above, or share it with your mates so ye can all have a snigger. Then come and follow The Pirate Ship Facebook page as we grow, expand and go on an adventure together.



Monday, July 24, 2017

The Animals I Hadn't Allowed For


There’s no doubt that when we started house-sitting we knew that we’d be seeing lots of animals. The statistics do, after all, say 92% of sits require caring for animals, and let’s face only one sit in our last year has been pet free.

But one thing I hadn’t allowed for before starting out was the amount of wildlife we would see, or even the diversity. If we were travelling the world - yes - but not considering that (as yet) we haven’t even left the state of Western Australia!

Why only yesterday I was sitting in the back garden having my morning tea when the Westie we’re presently caring for decided to join me, sitting on my feet. Minutes later our current cat came down and started sniffing my cuppa, but I have to admit I wasn’t really watching. I’d become totally distracted by a passing dolphin. It had decided to start playing only metres away, in the canal I was sitting next to!

Then as if that wasn’t enough, within minutes we were also watching the pelicans gliding and intermittently dive-bombing, the cormorants drying and, of course, the occasional seagull and magpie.

All kind of strange, considering I’d taken my cuppa outside because it was so quiet, still and peaceful!

The impact of being so close to native dolphins and pelicans hits relatively hard for me - as anyone might have realised by my amount of recent comments on Facebook. Why? Well basically because all my early life was spent in a British village where the only place you saw them was in zoos, books and on tv. So they became rare, exotic and spiritual animals, entwined with and indicators of fairytales, holidays, princesses and all things special!

(Hmm, maybe it’s a girl thing…)

Not that it makes me immune to all the other wildlife that varies so much from house to house. Especially those creatures found in our really rural spots, places that come complete with mobs of roos, regular visits from owls, and curious eagles and kestrels.

It does, however, make me currently wear more of my waterproof, winter clothing so that I can spend more of my writing time outside on the off chance I might also watch dolphins.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Celebrating The Life Of A Digital Nomad!


Now, there’s no doubt that Steve and I are living the life of Digital Nomads (and having a great time at it), but sometimes there’s no denying it’s more Digital than others. This a last week, for example, was definitely a more so than others week - and a bit more exciting too.

Why? You might ask. Hmmmm? Let me think… should I really tell you? Oh, what the heck, why not?

Well… as of a week or so ago… I launched my own Online Writing School - exciting, huh? 


Of course I’ve been doing online courses for a stack of years, mainly through emails or touring. Then in the last few years I did Powerpoint style ones (‘Writing Skills: Go from average to great writer overnight!’ and ‘Write and Publish Short Stories Based on Life Experiences’). While just this month I released my third online course (Effective Goal Setting for Writers) which is entirely video, and simply me rabbiting on about all kinds of important and helpful insights that make a difference. Such is the advancement of technology. But regardless of the presentation, the courses have (thankfully) all proven to be popular and valuable.

But (believe it or not) this month didn’t just see the release of my Online Writing School and new course, it also saw the release of my newly updated writing website (writing-information-and-tips.com).

In fact, there were so many things crossed off my To Do list in the last few weeks I decided ‘What the heck!’ and am currently celebrating by offering a huge discount on the price of all three of my online courses.

What’s more, now that I have the school and website up and running I have the freedom and base to get started on a whole stack of other things! YAY! Long live the life of Digital Nomads! (We’ll just ignore the fact it took a year, okay?)


P.S. 

Just in case you’re interested in finding out more about the courses, or know somebody who might be, you’ll find out all you need to know at www.writing-information-and-tips.com. Enjoy! 


Monday, July 3, 2017

OOPS!


We’ve had a bit of challenge in the last few days... believe it or not - somebody (no names mentioned… What Steve? No never!) accidentally wiped ALL of our house-sitting emails. Not just some, but every single one of them, which in our current lifestyle equates to just about burning down the entire contents of our filing cabinet!

And not deleted as in, ‘OOPS! Good job deleted only means the emails have been transferred from the email programme to the Deleted folder so I can get them back.’ But deleted as in, ‘Oh darn! I wish I hadn’t pressed that button because now I remember that Gmail’s deleted means they have very kindly just wiped all our emails off the face of this world! Oh drat!’

So how did it happen?

Steve was busy tidying up all the files on his computer, as we have to do every so often. But this time the process of tidying also included sorting and clearing his emails because he knew all the important ones were safely stored on my computer as well. Then, well, he just got kind of… carried away, I guess. His logic being that if I’m the one writing and answering emails what’s the point of him having copies of them filling up the space on his hard drive. Sounds logical, right? Of course. Until you remember that his email address and mine are linked!

Something that I didn’t realise until later when I logged on to my computer to check my emails and guess what… they had all disappeared. I mean they had ALL disappeared! All the emails discussing individual house-sitting bookings! All the emails discussing arrival and departure times and dates! All the forms and details on bookings! Everything I had put to one side so it was always available and on hand! It had all gone!

Needless to say I was a little peeved… and the man, well he was a little flustered.

But thankfully, despite having been told numerous times over the last year things would be more streamlined if I kept all my notes on the computer the writer in me had rebelled. Consequently I keep a few handwritten notes with almost all the information I need - not quite enough - but almost.

So, therefore, if we seem to be asking you the same questions as before, please forgive us. We hope the recent changes to our paperwork system will negate the risk of this slight hiccup happening again - but no promises.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Just Waiting For Us...


It had to happen sooner or later… two weeks ago we got our first cancellation - four weeks in August.

Now while this might not have been a big deal to many other house-sitters - those that have somewhere else to live - for us no booking can mean nowhere to live. So it can be a little bit of a concern. It hasn’t as yet (thankfully), and hopefully never will, but we all knew that was a real risk when we took up house-sitting and opted to sell our house.

So one day shortly after the cancellation, there I was, sitting with my mug of coffee, staring at the house-sitting website we’re listed with, thinking the chances of a replacement sit were highly unlikely. After all, it’s one thing to find somewhere for August, but something totally different to find something to match our exact free days.

Still, guess what? There I was scanning the screen, when my eyes came to rest on an ad for a house-sitter needed for the first half of the month - starting on exactly the right day. What’s more the house was in the same same suburb we were currently in, and - if I figured things correctly - from the description given, the house was probably within a stone’s throw of where I was currently sitting, if not even one of the houses we passed whilst walking our current dog.

I sipped my coffee for a quiet moment. I’d only just been saying how much I liked living in this area, and here I was thinking of organising to come back and stay longer. My only concern was that I thought I'd seen the ad before. If I had that would mean it was probably a little old, which meant that others must have applied for the sit, which in turn meant that it was probably filled and the ad just not taken off the site. Still, considering it was the perfect starting date and just across the main road, it seemed worth emailing an application just in case. After all, there was really nothing to loose…

Imagine my surprise when minutes later I received an expression of interest back! It only took another five minutes before we’d arranged a time to pop around for a visit that afternoon.

Apparently, there had been other enquiries, but we fitted the bill better!

So much to our delight we almost instantly rebooked the first part of our gap in August, leaving us with only a week and a bit to book - not that I could see anything that fitted as I kept on scanning the websites. Not that I had to find anything there as it turns out.

Why not?

Because a couple we previously sat for took it upon themselves to tell their friends that we were free, so they should make the most of it and go on holiday! Let’s face it, if there’s an easier way of getting a house-sit than looking on the website, it’s looking on the internet and simply seeing a message saying that a couple wanted to book us. Not only that but their home is just down the road from another one we’re doing… and there was me concerned we wouldn’t find anything to cover the gap.

Thanks everyone.

Friday, May 26, 2017

So What Have You Got... 50, 100, or 200GB?


Well, what do you know… over the last few months we’ve come across another fun aspect of this lifestyle. I suppose some people might consider it a problem and a pain, but I genuinely think it adds an interesting aspect to our daily routine - or at least it does at the moment since it usually only lasts a few days.

So what is it?

Well… believe it or not, we keep running out of internet!

Funnily enough, before we started house-sitting, it never occurred to me that there might be people out there in this big wide world who only had limited internet access - let alone none! But there are you know! Yes! Really! Still!

Therefore, to overcome the risk of us getting caught out and staying in a house with limited access, we actually made being online a requirement of any house we look after. We are, after all, Digital Nomads not Grey Nomads.

The crazy thing is we don’t really use up THAT much internet, or at least I didn’t think we did. Yes, we’re online everyday, but there’s no regular and huge uploading or downloading. Yet towards the end of many months we’re still finding ourselves having to get up during the starlit hours to use the off-peak allowance, or (oh darn!) having to go out to one of these many wonderful local cafes and buying a coffee whilst using their free wi-fi.

Of course, it also makes it harder for me to find reasons for putting off doing my actual writing, which gets so overlooked most of the time (and of course doesn’t need the internet).

So what are the drawbacks, you might ask? Well, no really major ones, in many ways it’s all part of the fun and unpredictability offered by this lifestyle. The main challenge it causes is simple really - I Skype my UK family less. After all, Skyping from a cafe really doesn’t work (even if it’s to Mum!) Does it?

But it does make me wonder… are we actually attracting people with lower internet access divided between peak/off peak times? Alternatively, is it possible that these are the main people looking for house-sitters? Or is it all purely a fluke that we end up together? Who knows? But with the changes in life and the growing popularity of Stan and Netflix, I’m pretty sure I’m not being naive in thinking that the number of small internet plans will be lessening…

(FYI, for those that are curious - I don’t think we’ve ever used more than 100GB of data in a month.)


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ring, Ring… Ring, Ring…


What are your thoughts, should we answer the house phones or not?

My mind keeps wavering on the topic. After all, we aren’t a secretarial service and friends usually know if their friends have gone away so won’t call, but (on the other hand) we are keeping an eye on a person’s house and what if we need to be given a message? Thankfully, so far, most of the houses we’ve stayed in have had answering machines, so there’s been no need to answer - just monitor.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t occasionally answered, most of the time it’s instinct after the jobs I’ve had throughout my life. But… would you believe… that just about every time I have picked up the receiver during the last twelve months (every time except twice that is) it’s been a sales call! What’s more, the person on the other end of the phone hasn’t been too happy to hear I’m a house sitter. In fact, some have got quite short tempered with me and just about all have hung up on me! Which only re-enforces the concept that I shouldn’t have answered in the first place.

Then there have also been the salespeople who’ve got quite shirty with me because I don’t give out the name of the homeowners or the date they are returning or other personal information. For some reason the faceless strangers don’t agree with my concept that they should know who it is that they are phoning!

I ask you… is that such a strange expectation?

Of course, it does make us somewhat difficult to get hold of because we don’t have a landline number to give out to people wanting to talk to us. It also concerns me, what if it’s the homeowners who are phoning to check that everything is fine, and that we haven’t run off with their fine china? Will they be concerned if nobody, continually, answers their calls home?

So many things to consider. In the meantime, I listen to the phone ringing knowing that if it’s somebody wanting to talk to me they’ll either leave me a message, or email, Skype, or Facebook me or simply call me on my mobile. But all the same… Should we answer the phone?



Friday, April 21, 2017

Life With No Hair


When we first looked in to house-sitting one of the insights that surprised me was the statistic that said around 90 to 95% of sits would include looking after animals. Staggering, right? That’s right, only somewhere between 1 out of every 10 to 20 families wouldn’t have animals! I don’t know if that relates to how many people have pets, or how many people with pets prefer to have their house-sat. Either way the number surprised me - I thought more families would be pet-free. But guess what… after around a year of house-sitting, we’re finally doing our first animal-free sit, which makes them sound even rarer.

It’s a peculiar feeling, only having to be aware of what the man and I are doing. But it has made the differences between living with, and without, animals exceptionally obvious.

The lack of animal hair is a major one. For one thing, it makes vacuuming easier and less frequent. Plus on the occasion I drop anything, I don’t instantly have to clean it. But the main advantage that gets me is (wait for it!)… I can wear black clothes and lounge around in my trackies without finding I’m covered in animal hair within 5 minutes.

When we first started this way of life one of the many things we had to adjust to was consistently walking dogs. Whether it was once or twice a day, there was no doubt we were daily taking our little charges out for a stroll - or, in fact, they were taking us. Now after so long, the regular walk has become a routine and part of our exercise regime. So not to be required to do it is kind of weird - especially, considering the size of the native block of land we were looking after last month. Then, we would go for numerous walks a day, whilst now we have to remind ourselves of the justification to go even once.

But, having said that, it’s also rather nice to go out for a stroll and, for once, not have to ensure we have Puppy Poop Bags in our pocket.

What else is there… the novelty of not having to think of anybody else, but ourselves, is rather nice. Certainly there are tasks we have to do here (and would expect to do) but there’s none of the early wake up calls from dogs needing to go out, or the morning rooster calls. Neither are there extra meals to make or reasons to be back a particular times. Heck, there are no animal cages or trays of any kind to clean out, or accidents to tidy up come to that.

But then I guess neither is there any furry animal to sneakily snuggle up to us, curl up on my cold feet in the evening, or simply be eager to see us. Also, when you have pets, there’s rarely any doubt if a person is approaching the house or if it’s time to eat. The benefits and delights, let’s face it, to having pets of any kind are numerous and usually outweigh the negatives.

But, with regards to the statistics I mentioned earlier, let me just say one thing, it’s obvious that we‘re usually asked to look after animals simply because they’re sensitive or rescue animals, have had negative experiences with kennels or come from a household of numerous pets. In other words, animals that benefit from our individual care and attention, which I have to admit is rather a nice compliment.

Isn’t it?


Friday, March 31, 2017

One Pair, Two Pairs, Three Pairs, Four...


Which are your favourite shoes?

In fact, how about this question… if you were only able to have one pair, which would it be?

Several years ago, whilst talking to an ‘unnamed gentleman’ at a medical appointment, I mentioned that I only had four pairs of shoes and that if my clothes didn’t go with a pair of work boots, UGG boots, knee-high boots or sandals I couldn’t wear them because they were all I had. He responded with a great bout of laughter, which surprised me, but… well… there you go. The world is full of interesting people.

I found out later, that he thought I’d been joking!

No matter how many pairs of shoes I’ve had I’ve always had a favourite pair of shoes, even if that preference has changed from one year (or even season) to the next.

I certainly have a favourite pair now. Not that it’s a particularly hard choice to make since I only have two pairs in total. Yep, two pairs - four shoes - total! Doesn’t really fit the concept that most women have a wardrobe half full of shoes, does it? Not that it was my original intention to only have two pairs of shoes.

No, when we started out on this adventure, I had a whole four pairs! But my UGGs got worn out over the last winter season, and my thongs (‘flipflops’ to my non-Australian speaking friends), well, they were accidentally left unattended around cute, but nibbling puppy with a shoe fetish!

All of which leaves me in a new house-sitting dilemma, because, believe it or not, my current favourite pair of shoes are just about to die and I don’t know what to replace them with. In most situations this wouldn’t be too tough a decision (just nip down the shops and buy something similar,) but, in this case, there are a few extra things to take into consideration. Things beyond the fact that I’m trying to minimalise and carry less, and that we’re currently in a rather remote and picturesque part of WA where solid footwear is essential, but not easily available.

My first choice would be to buy a pair of work boots (along the lines of those that are dying). After all, they’re great to wear when feeding the chooks, traipsing through cow paddocks and gardening. However, not so good (since they have no tread) when out exploring the outback, climbing hills or walking the dogs. Not particularly flattering with a summer dress either, come to think of it…

So what about a pair of runners? They’d be great for climbing hills and walking dogs, no chance of me falling flat on my face (or butt) with that kind of tread. But again, imagine that kind of tread after having just stomped through a cow paddock or veggie patch. I wouldn’t be able to wear them in the house for a while!

Another concern is that I really need to make a decision pretty pronto because I will, imminently, be down to one pair of shoes. Imagine that, a vision of me trudging through the cow paddock - in late autumn - in a pair of strappy sandals! I’m sure that would really have the pre-mentioned ‘unnamed gentleman’ laughing.

So…

In two weeks time, when we’re back in built-up civilisation, I’m going to have to overlook all the work I have to do and simply go shopping for a new favourite pair of shoes! Imagine that… me having to go shopping! Oh darn! I might even have to go more than once. What a tough life I lead!

Let’s just hope my boots last that long otherwise I can imagine Steve having no end of fun taking photos of me whilst I’m feeding the chooks and cows, and doing the other farmyard chores.


Experience more of our house-sitting adventures with us. Follow us on our Facebook page.

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.