This is just about a comprehensive collection of all the pets I looked after in 2017 as Bill The Housesitter.
With the exception of a few fish and hamsters. And several chooks.
It literally is a collection from A to Y.
As I was compiling these photos, I realised I’d inadvertently put them in alphabetical location order: from Algester (Qld) to Yeppoon (Qld)!
In housesitting years gone by, I could have told you at any tick of the clock how many housesits I was up to for that year at that point in time.
But 2017 was such an absolute mess, I totally lost track along the way.
Just now, I’ve used a very scientific method (i.e. counting on fingers as this video ran through its paces) to come up with the definitive count for the year: twenty three (23).
From Machan’s Beach (Cairns) in the north to Baulkham Hills (Sydney) in the south.
(2017 housesit locations. Not pictured: Baulkham Hills (Sydney), New South Wales.)
So, with a little favourite music in the background, and arrayed in alphabetical order, here are my feathery, furry, and finned clients of 2017:
Here’s to 2018 and all who sail in her!
Bill The Housesitter
Sydney, New South Wales
Scarborough was yet another one of my short housesits, however, at eight nights it was starting to hit median length for my 2017 records.
I was already in wind-down mode in Queensland, with this being my penultimate housesit, divided by a week in my old faithful haunt, the Brisbane City YHA.
The small unit at Scarborough was ideally suited for a quiet, relaxing week before heading back into the city, perched pretty much at the absolute tip of the Redcliffe peninsula. From the front gate, there was a road, some parkland, and the bay. Pretty hard to take.
Misty the Jack Russell was in that mama bear range of being not too young, not too old. She liked to be around me, but was perfectly happy to keep her own company as well. Though come sundown, the back door was locked because, left to her own devices, she’d be out there chasing down anything that went bump, rustle or squeak in the night.
A question I get asked more and more these days is, “What’s been your favourite housesit?”
Try as I might, I never have a good and/or definitive answer for this. There are just too many variants: location, number of animals, sociability of those animals, comfort level of accommodation, TV and media choices in the home, and so and so and so.
I can honestly not pick one.
However, there are other metrics I can easily use to pick ‘The Most Something’ of a housesit and this is one. Namely, it’s been the shortest!
Initially intended to be a little over 24 hours, this short housesit at Wynnum West ended up falling about five hours short of two whole days. The family had forgotten that they had a Saturday morning obligation or two for their kids, and so rather than meandering slowly back from the Gold Coast on a pleasant Saturday morning/afternoon, they came barrelling back up the M1 early, and I’d barely (in two senses of the word) stepped out of the shower when they were back.
25 minutes later I was on the westbound platform at Lindum train station!
I was a little wary of returning to the Ipswich area after two previous housesits in the region had proven to be… challenging! To put it diplomatically. But, to quote a mantra from my old HR days, there are no such things as problems, only opportunities. Allegedly!
I shouldn’t have worried. This one was an absolute delight.
After seeing my ad on Gumtree, Emily had contacted me earlier in the year, about the time I was in the north of Brisbane and about to head way, way up north of the state. We met on my return in July, and locked in this two and a half week sit spanning October and November.
I had no other obligations or responsibilities during that time, other than to see the end of the baseball World Series on their fabulous cable sports TV (yay!), reunite with a local social group and attend a few trivia nights, and of course spend a lot of quality time with my two furry clients: Sandy and Piper the Kelpie crosses.
Being Kelpies, they were both of course incredibly intelligent and savvy. Sandy in particular had that amazing quality some dogs have: she honestly knew sometimes what I was about to do before I did it, and would move herself into place accordingly.
Following a trend for taking housesits in relatively far-flung parts of Brisbane, I spent two weeks in the deep south in a suburb called Berrinba with Cinnamon the Manx cat.
To be honest, I hesitated when it came up on my pick list. Just across the freeway from Berrinba are the localities of Woodridge and Logan, which have a reputation for being a bit dicey. If you’re familiar with the work of Jim Croce, and in particular his ballad of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, then imagine his depiction of the south side of Chicago!
But I suspended disbelief, let my fingers do the walking to Google Maps Street View, and found the pictures of its streets uncluttered by pictures of knife-wielding gangs or cars on fire, and within a few days I was meeting with Annette and Bob.
Cinnamon definitely had the run of the joint, especially since as a 23.5 hours a day inside cat, she was absolutely queen of her domain. Her first couple of days were spent in master’s bedroom, but by and by she started spending more time with me on my sole pursuit for much of the two weeks: the league championship series and start of the World Series of baseball on their glorious Fox Sports cable TV.
For the other half an hour a day, Cinnamon got to have time in the exercise yard (read: small patio and grassed backyard), though we had to skip a couple of days as we were on the receiving end of a mighty amount of precipitation for the duration.
That aside, I spent a couple of days a week with a public relations mob in Logan, but Cinnamon was amply able to keep herself occupied on those days, as that’s what she’s used to her with her pack leaders. Continue reading
On the face of it, Oxenford was an ideally-suited small jigsaw puzzle piece, slotting in nicely between Ascot (cats) and Capalaba (dogs).
Rather than on the Gold Coast itself, Oxenford is in the hinterland, very close to the big theme parks that are the draw card for the area. The locality sits right on top of the Gold Coast Motorway (which I variously refer to as the Gold Coast Speedway or Car Park), so it’s also very much the dormitory suburb for Brisbane.
The couple were very open about the fact that the place would be a bit bare bones because they were in the process of selling up and moving interstate. I was relieved to hear that the Foxtel Sports would be very much still in situ while I was there.
The only fly in the ointment of the eight day housesit came three days before I was due to arrive. At about 6.30pm on Wednesday 10 August 2016 as I sat in Ascot, I got the terrible phone call that my mother Mary had just died in Westmead Hospital in Sydney, just three weeks shy of her 80th birthday.
Mum had not been completely healthy all of her life, and epilepsy had added a very challenging dimension to her life from the age of 46 onwards with regularly irregularly visits to hospital, including a lot of ICU, and a few administrations of the Last Rites.
I mention this only by way of thanks to my hosts who were very understanding of my need to absent myself for a day during the week for the funeral. They also made their second car available for me to drive down to Gold Coast Airport. That was a rather long, big travel day. Up at 4am, collapse back onto the couch at 10pm, after a drive, fly, train, walk, bus, lift, lift, walk, train, train, fly, drive day.
But all that aside, it was a very relaxing week with my two little tour guides for the area. The house is on an estate where the infamous Russ Hinze used to have his horses. In the valley of the Coomera River, there are some lovely walks along its banks, and the streets are quiet and safe.
We never had a routine; we just went roughly in the same direction every time, doing a loop down to the lake and back by the main access road to the riverside parks.
Apart from that, the little whippet was very ball-oriented, so we spent a lot of time in the yard with the ball-chucker (that’s a plastic aparatus, not me! My shoulder is slowly getting back to scratch after the November 2015 accident. Well, not accident. Me pretending I’m 19 again: how does that sound?)
It was a quiet and contemplative week, and a shame I won’t get to go back as the household is transplanting itself hundreds of miles away.
This is the reference they left me on my Bill The Housesitter Facebook page:
Bill house sat (more importantly – dog sat!) for us for a week in August 2016.
Bill made the effort to meet us and our dogs prior to the sitting. Our girls were happy and relaxed upon our return.
We invited Bill to stay the first night of our return, before he moved onto the next house sit the following day. This was a great opportunity to know him better. He spoke fondly of the pets he had cared for as he described many pet personalities he had met. We would recommend his services to anyone needing a house sitter.
Nothing really much to say here except that it’s a delight to spend time with these two dogs, and we use a few little training tips every day in play and walking time.
Here’s what some of it looks like.
One of the great joys (of the many to be had) when you housesit is when you strike upon a winning formula with two new furry friends from the get-go.
I’m here in beautiful Capalaba, south east of Brisbane, a short drive from the coastline including Cleveland, Raby Bay and Redland Bay, with Wynnum and Manly a little to the north. It’s then a hop, skip and a jump to the ferry terminal down south for the islands: Stradbroke and Russell to name just two I can think of without consulting a map!
My house-sit in Wavell Heights was one of a few I’d lined up while still in Sydney, so it was great that a few people like Samantha and Dan were prepared to take me on, sight unseen, before I had even arrived in the great south east of Queensland back in February 2016.
(And it’s also a testament to the value of collecting these references, and I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has provided them for me.)
Like a good one-third to two-thirds of the places I visit, I’d never heard of Wavell Heights before I lobbed there in June 2016. Put a gun to my head and there’s no way I could have pointed to it on a map of Greater Brisbane.