We are currently house sitting in Bayview on the Northern beaches in our home city of Sydney. When we first started our house sitting adventure we never would have imagined that we would have the opportunity to explore our home city in this way. In fact, during the past twelve months, we have been fortunate to explore various suburbs of Sydney, some of which were familiar and some of which were completely unkown.
George and Gracie are two of the most adorable fluff ball cats and we had the pleasure of minding them for a week in their owners ‘Emporium’. They were such cheeky cats and each morning (around 4am!), George would wake us to be fed. Amanda, their owner had warned us of this routine and said it was easier to get up and feed the cats rather than ignore them. We soon found out why! If you didn’t attend to them, George would begin knocking things off the bedside table and if still not fed, would put his paw behind the wall pictures and start knocking them so they made a noise to disturb you. Gracie meanwhile would be watching every move and we suspect she was the instigator of this ritual but always looked innocent. Our time in Mosman was filled with ferry rides and catching up with friends. Amanda’s apartment was delightful as she is a very talented artist and her unit is filled with wonderful artwork, interesting books and intriguing bric-a-brac. In fact, she sells her artwork on Etsy – click here. Whilst we had mutual friends in the theatre, we didn’t realise how many common acquaintances we had until we started seeing each other pop up on each other’s Facebook feeds. We haven’t had the opportunity to meet Amanda in person as our check-in and check-out meant our paths didn’t cross but we look forward to catching up with her (and getting cuddles with George & Gracie) sometime soon.
One thing we have found in our house sitting is that friends, once they find out we do this sort of thing, contact us to mind their home and pets whilst they go away. This was the case with Sue and Michael who needed someone to take care of Flash (8 year old border collie) and Boots (moggie) during their trip to Myanmar. Andrew had worked with Sue previously and kept in contact so it was wonderful to be able to help them out. The day we started house sitting was Boxing Day which meant we had great views of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race from the end of the street. The backyard pool was also well used and we thoroughly enjoyed taking Flash for a walk and playing with him. He was water obsessed so loved being in the pool or playing in the water from the hose. Boots was very aloof and would appear particularly at dinner time when we would sneak the odd cuddle. It’s amazing how things work out as during this time, Christopher’s father was admitted to hospital and subsequently diagnosed with dementia. So whilst it was a bit of a trek from Balgowlah to Bankstown Hospital each day, at least we were in Sydney to be able to be there and sort things out.
Andrew’s yoga connection provided the next house sit as Sonia (a yoga classmate) needed someone to care for Potus (a black kelpie cross) whilst she and her family travelled to Indonesia. Her home was literally just around the corner from where we used to live and walking Potus each morning took us past our apartment. It was a little surreal to be back in the same neighbourhood we had lived in for 12 years, yet in a different location. Potus was very energetic and loved her early morning walks. It was also an opportunity to catch up with old neighbours and friends from the area and Andrew even returned to his old yoga school (The Yoga Nook) for a couple of classes. Sonia is an art dealer and gallery curator so her home was covered in an eclectic mix of artwork from modern to traditional.
Following Bill’s (Christopher’s dad) hospital admission and subsequent diagnosis of dementia in December 2016 he moved into aged care in late January 2017 and we celebrated his 90th birthday shortly after. This meant his townhouse in Panania was now vacant and we spent three months there. He also had a bird, called ‘Birdie’ so we were able to care for it prior to finding it a permanent home through a friend of ours who lives in Wamboin, near Canberra. Whilst living in Panania we were able to visit Bill regularly and ensure he was settled in his new home whilst also tending to the garden and sorting out all the necessary paperwork and other practicalities. We often spoke how lucky we were to be around during this time and that Bill’s place and car were available to us. It also meant we were able to catch up with friends and Andrew started yoga teacher training back at his original studio in Dulwich Hill. (Read about his yoga journey here.) We visited our friend Jenny in Wamboin, taking advantage of a car relocation that meant we only paid for fuel to take the car from Sydney to Canberra and Jenny drove us back to Sydney and we went to the theatre together to see Mark Colvin’s Kidney. The Sydney traffic continues to annoy us and we know that the life of full time house sitting is definitely what we want to do for the foreseeable future.
Another colleague of Andrew’s whom he had taught with nearly twenty years ago has a beautiful home in the Northern Beaches suburb of Bayview, near Palm Beach. Clem and her husband Jim were going “grey nomading” around Australia for six months and we were asked to care for their home whilst they were away, for whatever time we were available. They don’t have any pets at the moment so it would just involve taking care of the house and we committed to two months following our time in Mt Tamborine. The views over the bay are spectacular and the walks along the foreshore are very relaxing. We have discovered the local and quite amazing Friday Farmer’s Markets, particularly the quinoa porridge which is just perfect during Winter. Whilst we don’t have any pets to look after there is a nearby doggy park that is very popular so we have been known to walk there to meet some of the local pooches. The ferry trip from Palm Beach to Ettalong is amazing with spectacular views and we have done it twice – once to catch up with friends for lunch near Ettalong (we hadn’t seen them for more than eight years) and the other time to help a friend fine-tune her new Airbnb property, known as Hardys Bayside Blue. One thing about our lifestyle is that it is certainly varied and we love the various opportunities that come our way.
We have also spent a few days in Drummoyne between sits, looking after an apartment of another of Andrew’s colleagues and we also spent a few days with a friend Jenny in Miranda in Southern Sydney. Our friends Cath and Di have also opened their home for us in Earlwood and they have three dogs which we are always willing to spoil. Whilst initially we wouldn’t have actively sought out house sits in Sydney, we have enjoyed spending time in various locales across the city and living like a local in different suburbs, visiting local cafes, doing bushwalks and investigating what the local area has to offer.