Posts Tagged With: house sitting

Looking forward, looking back…A photo essay of 2014…

This song by Slim Dusty touches the nerves of my gypsy soul. It brings back memories of the past year and starts me thinking of the year ahead.

It was this time last year when we sold Matilda our faithful camper van that carried us around Australia for 4 years.

Goodbye Matilda

Matilda takes off with her new owners to new adventures. Goodbye Matilda.

Now it is pedal power.

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I never thought I would be able to survive life, as I know it, without a vehicle. But we made the decision, in December 2013, to be carless for the time being, as during 2014 we would be travelling and having the use of other people’s vehicles.

 Our 2014 adventures took a new direction.

During February and March 2014 we were in New Zealand.

April and May we house sat in Geraldton, Western Australia, and had the use of Hector a grunty, rusty, old, diesel, 4WD Toyota land cruiser that I bonded with and loved driving. Made me feel macho…

June is winter in Australia and we had 4 weeks before the next house sit, so we hired a camper van and toured the south of Western Australia. Visiting friends made during previous travels.

Canberra was the next house sit, July, August, September, October. It is winter and Canberra has a reputation for very cold weather. But the house was warm and Canberra is an interesting place. This time we had the use of an almost brand new Mazda 6, and we had the company of an adorable “Labradoodle” called Molly.

2014 is flying by, we have been away from home almost 9 months but decide on one more 2 week house sit for the year. This time it is on the New South Wales coast. A delightful place called Valla Beach. We have the company of  Rufus, an affectionate blue-heeler, and 3 rather haughty alpacas. This time we are driving a Honda Jazz, a very zippy little car.

Finally we arrive home end of October.

Home

Home

So here I am back home for Christmas and taking time out to catch up with family and friends.

What is in store for us in 2015? Well I am already starting to plan our next adventure and it will be the slow way to New Zealand, something I have never done before and I’m wondering if cruising is going to be my style. Our friends tell us it is so relaxing. Am I ready for relaxing? In the past it has always been the road less travelled, roughing it and minimalist style travel, taking time to go where ever looked interesting.

I’d love to hear from my cyber friends if they have been on a cruise and what they thought of it…

 

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Categories: Australia, Canberra, Geraldton, house sitting, New Zealand, photos, Valla Beach, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Beach Walk : Joining Jo’s Monday Walk Group

Valla Beach is only a 5 minute car drive away and this is where we take Rufus for his morning walk.

First a stroll through a small patch of rain forest

First a stroll through a small patch of rain forest

Across the boardwalk

Across the boardwalk

Those shells on a tree stump look interesting

Those shells on a tree stump look interesting

Let's have a closer look

Let’s have a closer look

There's the ocean

There’s the ocean

 

We have the beach all to ourselves.

We have the beach all to ourselves.

Jack spends time fossicking for shells

Jack spends time fossicking for shells

It's starting to look like rain, time to head back

It’s starting to look like rain, time to head back

Have a drink of water Rufus.

Have a drink of water Rufus.

Just a short walk this week, hope the sea air refreshed you.

*************************

Jo invites us to join her on a weekly walk and take us for a walk in our parts of the world.

Categories: Australia, house sitting, Jo's Monday walks, New South Wales, Ocean, photos, Valla Beach | Tags: , , , , , | 29 Comments

House sitting again

We love house sitting, it is a great way to make new friends, explore different parts of Australia and adopt a new animal family.

So I would like to introduce you to our latest furry and woolly friends.

Rufus a beautiful, loveable blue heeler.

Rufus a beautiful, loveable blue heeler.

The "boys" 3 very aloof and haughty alpacas

The “boys” 3 very aloof and haughty alpacas

Notice the park like grounds and mature trees. The alpacas have 20 acres to wander around during the day and each evening I entice them back to their securely fenced night paddock with a bucket of pellets.

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

Wait for me...

Wait for me…

Time for a chat now they are in the shed.

Time for a chat now they are in the shed.

We are staying on an idyllic property just 7 kilometres inland from Valla Beach on the Mid-north coast of NSW.

The garden wraps around the house in a profusion of colour and we wake each morning to the song of birds and the distant crowing of a cockerel as he welcomes the day.

Mobile coverage is non-existent and the internet connection is very slow. I wonder is that a good or bad thing!!!

So posts will be few and far between.

Categories: Australia, house sitting, New South Wales, Valla Beach | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

Signs of Spring

A walk in the park

A walk in the park

One of my dog walking tracks takes me through a park behind the houses. The trees are still in winter mode but look can you see small white dots among the branches? Take a closer look…

The buds are swelling

The buds are swelling

At the shopping centre I tie Millie up and go in to do some shopping.

Millie waits patiently

Millie waits patiently

More of the same trees

More of the same trees

Some of these trees have the flowers open. I try to find out what they are but no one seems to know. Can any one identify them for me?

What beautiful delicate flowers

What beautiful delicate flowers

Last week the weather turned warmer, the evening temperatures are no longer below zero and the days are sunny. Over the weekend, unlike Sydney that had torrential rain and storms, we had a gentle steady rain, the first for about 4 weeks. Suddenly spring has sprung and it is still 2 weeks before the official start of spring.

Jonquils

Jonquils

Wattle

Wattle

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Even a lonely iris has appeared

Even a lonely iris has appeared

Six weeks have flown past since we arrived in Canberra. Half way through this house sit. Only six more weeks and we will be heading home to the Goldcoast and there is still so much to see around the region.

 

Categories: Australia, Canberra, house sitting, photos, spring | Tags: , , , , | 31 Comments

Welcome to Cool Climate Canberra

Usually we go north during the Australian winter, following the sun. So this is the first time I have experienced a cold winter for a long time. I had forgotten that raw, tingling feeling inside your nose every time you take a deep breath, the running eyes and numb fingers, but with the help of thermal underwear and warm jacket, scarf and gloves, I am slowly acclimatizing. 

Some mornings, after a frosty -2 deg night, the sun shines, the wind drops and it is a beautiful crisp, Canberra day. On these days it is a pleasure to take Millie, the dog, for her walks.

A walking track runs alongside the house

A walking track runs alongside the house

Notice how well wrapped up I am. I look like a round dumpling…

Our home away from home

Our home away from home

Our home for the next 3 months nestles in a tree and bush filled section, very rustic. Inside it is beautifully warm with underfloor gas heating AND a log fire in the lounge area. To keep us warm in bed there are electric blankets. Not had that indulgence since the days I was milking cows back in New Zealand.

Go Millie...

Go Millie…

Along the centre of the road is a wide tree filled median strip. The piles of mulch have been put there by council workers and it is to be used for mulching the many trees in the area.

Canberra Nature Park

Canberra Nature Park

A 10 minute walk along the median strip and we turn into Canberra Nature Park. A doggie heaven of smells and space to run, other dogs to meet  and trees to check for and then leave doggie messages…

Tree lined streets

Tree lined streets

Canberra is known as the “Bush Capital” and this area has a very rural feel. The beautiful deciduous trees line all the streets and the rustic colours of Autumn still linger on some of the mighty oak trees. I love the wide verges and that there are no front fences hemming the sections in. I found out that it is not allowed, by law, to build a front fence, a hedge is ok and side and back fences are allowed. But the absence of a front fence gives a friendly, neighbourly feel to the suburb.

Another law I totally agree with is that if you own a cat it must have an enclosure and not be allowed to wander, and it must be registered. Now I am not too sure how that law is policed. Do they have a cat ranger who checks your property when you register your cat? Maybe a Canberrian cat owner can let me know.

So with the absence of cats wandering around and lots of trees there are lots of birds.

Evening line up.

Evening line up.

Jack took this photo of his favourite birds, sulphur crested cockatoos and galahs. There are dozens of them turn up each evening, I think one of the neighbours feeds them. Notice the character on the right hanging upside down?

Galahs

Galahs all fluffed up to keep warm

Thank you for the walk...

Thank you for the walk…

So we are back home after our walk. Millie is a Labradoodle and is adorable. I love taking her for walks twice a day and it is a great way to explore the neighbourhood.

I am a day early but I thought this would also be a good post to join in with Jo’s Monday walks.

 

Categories: Australia, Canberra, house sitting, Jo's Monday walks, photos | Tags: , , , | 53 Comments

Friends Past and Present

Where do I start?

It has been almost 5 weeks since we hired a camper van and set out into the Great Southern area of Western Australia.

The whole purpose of this part of the trip was to reconnect with dear friends we made 4 years ago. No time to blog, and not very good internet connections, so for that time I was in cyber limbo.

I’m finding it hard to get back into the discipline of confronting the computer and sorting all the photos, and I must admit, remembering the details is not easy, I didn’t keep very many notes either…

But what I do remember is the times spent with our friends, sharing stories, telling jokes and eating meals together, very precious memories and a time I will cherish. The weather was not the best, after all it is winter down here. But the fires burnt bright and warmed our bodies and souls, and we wrapped up in thermals and winter jackets.

The last 2 days in Western Australia we spent in “Airbnb” accommodation. This is the second time we have used this type of accommodation and I am now a big fan. It is very affordable, at least half the price of a motel or hotel, and it is world-wide. Maureen, our host in Perth, gave us a warm welcome and we immediately felt at home. We came as strangers but when we left, after 2 days, we felt we were saying goodbye to a friend. Maureen was a Yorkshire Lass too, so Jack had 2 of us to keep him under control. (Actually an impossible job!!!)

  

Now we are in Canberra for another house sit.

What a sad start it was as the day we left to fly to Canberra Nicola emailed us with the sad news that her Mother, Christine, had died so suddenly and unexpectedly. I was devastated. Christine had become a close blogging friend, ( Dadirridreaming) and it was through her we had contacted her son Mitchell and daughter in law Nicola to do this house sit, and I had hoped we would also meet Christine while we were here.

Wednesday was the day of the funeral and the family have included her many blogging friends in the community by sharing a moving post of the service and photos.

Now we are settled in to this beautiful house with gas ducted heating and a cosy log fire in the lounge and Millie, the dog, to keep us company and take us for walks AND a very good internet connection. The next 3 months will fly by.

So welcome to Canberra the capital city of Australia.

But first I will sort through the photos and over the next few days show you some of the highlights of the Great Southern area of Western Australia.

Categories: Airbnb, Australia, Margaret River, Perth, photos, travel, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

Garden Update and Goodbye.

We have been here 8 weeks that only seem like 2, the time has slipped by so quickly. Tomorrow Naomi arrives home from her adventures in Indonesia, and it will be time for us to move on.

But before we leave I would like to show you how the garden has grown. Do you remember the post 6 weeks ago? It hadn’t rained for a long time, the 3 rainwater tanks were almost empty and I had to nurse the tiny seedlings along with regular watering. Then it rained. Since then we have had showers on a couple of days every week, and the plants have thrived.

 This was 6 weeks ago, look at them now.

The beans are flowering

The beans are flowering

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These are the last 2 tomatoes from this plant.

These are the last 2 tomatoes from this plant.

No worries here are the next ones.

No worries here are the next ones.

Cucumbers flowering well and if you look closely you will see a tiny cucumber.

Cucumbers flowering well and if you look closely you will see a tiny cucumber.

I will maybe get a meal from the kale before we leave

I will maybe get a meal from the kale before we leave

A couple of dragon fruit have just ripened in time for Naomi to enjoy them

A couple of dragon fruit have just ripened in time for Naomi to enjoy them

We have enjoyed our stay but next week it will be back on the road again. So it is “Goodbye” for a while. We will not have a constant internet connection, in fact maybe none. I will miss my daily fix of meandering through cyberspace visiting my lovely community. But I will no doubt have hundreds of photographs to sort and show and tell in a months time when we settle in to our next house sit at Canberra. 

Categories: Australia, garden, Geraldton, house sitting, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

Gardening in the Round.

I have mentioned that I love gardening and one of the pleasures I get from house sitting is to see and learn from other peoples gardens. Every one is different, every one is a joy to look after.

Now this garden is probably one of the most challenging. Being so close to the ocean the soil is pure sand. I’ve mentioned the strong winds (see my previous post here about the leaning trees) Great for wind surfers and sky divers, but plants hate the strong, sand ladened winds. To top it off it is a very dry climate. I don’t know when they last had a decent rain here, but of the 3 large rain water storage tanks only one has a small amount of water left in it.

Naomi also loves gardening, she likes to grow her own organic vegetables and being a very resourceful person she has installed old corrugated water tanks and created raised beds.

Come for a look round

, Come for a look round

Gardening in the round

Gardening in the round

This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry and at the moment not many veggies have survived, with the exception of chilli bushes, lots of them, lemon grass and a few other herbs. Before Naomi left she scattered seeds around. The weather should be getting cooler and normally some rain arrives during the winter months. But so far it has just been clear blue skies, sun and relentless wind. I water the raised garden beds each evening and amazingly seeds are popping up every where. At this point I can’t identify them so treat them all with loving care.

Can you see the beans?

Can you see the beans? look carefully and you will see the Indian Ocean…

A couple of the beds are still empty so on Sunday at the markets when we came across a delightful bloke called “Freddie Fresh” who specialises in seedlings of all sorts we bought some lettuce, basil and 2 tomato plants. That evening, when the heat had gone out of the day we carefully planted them. First digging a large hole, incorporating compost and soaking the area before tenderly bedding them in.

Mescalin and cos lettuce with an existing plant of eggplant. A very healthy dragon fruit is climbing the trellis

Mescalin and cos lettuce with an existing plant of eggplant. A very healthy dragon fruit is climbing the trellis

Have you ever tried Dragon fruit? They are delicious and this plant is laden with them. I hope they ripen soon.

More lettuce and basil, with the tomato planted against the back pole

More lettuce and basil, with the tomato planted against the back pole

They are all going to need more help if they are to survive the 30c+ temperature of the sun. These beds are in the full sun. So to give them a helping hand until they have settled in we searched around and found some shade cloth that Jack put up.

 

Maybe doesn't look very attractive, but it should do the job

Maybe doesn’t look very attractive, but it should do the job

Follow me around the side of the house.

The side garden. Can you see the Huge spider web?

The side garden. Can you see the Huge spider web? Lets take a closer look…

 As I said before this house is built on sand and the back of the garden is a large sand-hill. Naomi has come up with a clever solution. Using old tractor tyres that she has sourced from a tyre firm in town, collecting them in a trailer, pulled by Troopy, then, one by one, rolling them into place. (Go here to read about Naomi’s hard labour in creating this monument.)

This is finally taking shape, “the great wall of Drummond’s”

First roll the tyres into place

First roll the tyres into place

Rendering comes next

Rendering comes next

Still a lot more to do...

Still a lot more to do. The hole in the sand is going to be a pond with a waterfall cascading into it.

I feel tired just thinking about all the work.

So let’s go back up to the deck to watch the sun set.

The garden shows a collection of Naomi's interests.

The garden shows a collection of Naomi’s interests.

Looking out to the west the setting sun lights the deck in a golden glow

Looking out to the west the setting sun lights the deck in a golden glow

Have a glass of wine and watch the sun set

Have a glass of wine and watch the sun set

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The inspiration for this post has come from Sue of “A word in your ear” this week her challenge has been the word “ROUND” that has popped up from her dictionary.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk with me around the garden.

Categories: A word a week photo challenge, Australia, garden, Geraldton, house sitting, photos, round, sunsets, vegetable garden, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Harvest time then heading home.

Just look at these beautiful Russian Red tomatoes

Just look at these beautiful Russian Red tomatoes

It has been a productive and enjoyable 3 months staying here and for the past few weeks we have enjoyed the fruits of our labours. The garden has flourished and I have had fresh vegetables from the garden every day. Beans by the bucket full, silverbeet, lettuce, radish, carrots, celery, zucchini and tomatoes. Lyn had planted 6 different varieties before we arrived and I have nurtured them and just look at these beauties. They are a variety called Russian Red and they are the most delicious tasting tomatoes I have ever eaten. They are juicy and thin-skinned and give a burst of rich tomatoe flavour. They taste like summer.

6 different types of tomatoes

6 different types of tomatoes, can you spot them all?

Lyn and David arrived home from their adventures on the weekend and we have spent 3 delightful days swapping travel stories and sharing meals together, But now it is time to head home.

Matilda is packed and today we head south. It is going to be a slower journey than the trip here, the weather is hotter and we do not have a time frame so we will meander back 2000 kilometres and possibly take about 2 to 3 weeks depending on what discoveries we make on the way.

Internet connections will be sporadic so you may not hear from me for a while so until I reach home “Cheerio” to you all….

 

Categories: Australia, garden, house sitting, photos, tomatoes | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

How does the garden grow?

Our own private rainforest

Our own private rainforest

We are custodian/house-sitters of a 2.5 acre tropical North Queensland property. It is lush and green and has a small stand of tropical rainforest surrounding it. So far I have not seen any snakes or tree kangaroos lurking in the bush or up in the canopy, but I love to wander through it. Though first of all I smother my skin with tick repellent to prevent those insidious little nasties latching on to me.

Come with me for a look at part of my backyard…

Does anyone know the name of this creeper?

Does anyone know the name of this creeper?

Just look at this gorgeous flower. It is a vine and twines its way through the trees. I do not know what it is called. Here is another unusual tropical climbing vine.

Thank you Deanna Tennant Masterson for identifying the plants for me.

The yellow flower is: Thunbergia mysorensis (Wight) T.Anderson Common name(s): clock vine, lady’s slipper vine, dolls’ shoes, brick and butter vine.

The red flower is: Scientific name: Passiflora racemosa Brot. Common name(s): red passion flower

I wonder if anyone can tell me the name of this unusual flower.

I wonder if anyone can tell me the name of this unusual flower.

Here is a closer look.

Here is a closer look.

Meanwhile over in the vegetable patch every thing is flourishing. despite the up hill battle against slugs and snails, caterpillars and a sneaky little bandicoot. He finds the smallest gaps in the fence to push his way in. He does not eat plants or seedlings but digs down to find a feed of worms and in the process up-roots any thing in his way. At the moment I am winning the battle against the bandicoot after Jack reinforced the bottom of the fence. Pyrethrum, derris dust and a dish of beer seems to be helping keep the numbers of slugs, bugs and insects down.

Gardening is a challenge, but a pleasure to see the plants growing. Nothing tastes better than home-grown produce straight from the garden to the plate.

Part of the vegetable patch

Part of the vegetable patch

Courgettes and sweet corn

Courgettes and sweet corn

The tomatoes will soon be ready, but who will get to them first the bugs, birds or me

The tomatoes will soon be ready, but who will get to them first the bugs, birds or me

Categories: Atherton Tableland, Australia, house sitting, Malanda, photos, rain forest, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

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