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Tag: housesitting (Page 1 of 3)

A Mitey Housesit

For a couple of days the Smalls and I lived in the caravan on the property of our friends who have 20 acres in Hastings. They had asked us if we would like to housesit while they went caravanning for a week and we jumped at the chance. They were to be leaving on Friday…but that turned into Saturday…and that turned into 3pm Sunday…

I love them dearly, but the temptation of having a WHOLE HOUSE to myself, while they extended their leaving time by two days was a bit of a torment. Once they were gone I finally felt able to stuff our food into their fridge, put the Thermomix on their bench and start doing a load of washing. Bliss…

We are in charge of some sheep, an aged cat and about 20 chickens. My relationship with the latter did not begin well – I had been showed by my farmer-friend how to crowbar a few of the hens out of their nests to check for eggs. She did it in a heartbeat – me? I was poking around, worried I was going to hurt the chicken – the chicken could sense my fear and would not budge… and then I felt something strange.

I looked down and saw (ok, so it might not have been hundreds, but it felt like MILLIONS) of tiny mites crawling over my hands and up my wrists. There were some on the Smalls too – they had been helping me. Small Z, hater of such things, ran inside to wash her hands. I wiped them off and continued with my duties. But I could still feel them. Yuuuuuuck….

Later I bathed the Smalls and took a looooong shower and scrubbed my whole self. But after drying off and sorting out dinner, I was STILL finding them 🙁 They are super-tiny, like the head of a needle (not a pin) and almost translucent. I was so grossed out. I had contacted my farmer-friend, who called me and said that she had not known the chooks had mites – they usually treated them with sulphur – but that it was a very stinky and messy job. 

Our first night in the house was less than stellar. I could feel small creatures walking around on me. Small DB had chosen to sleep in a different bedroom and woke up twice, calling for me. The morning dawned on three very grumpy people – eventually I took us all to meet up with the WildThings at the beach, and that was a welcome circuit breaker. 

On the way home I went into a workwear place and spent $10 on a full body disposable suit – the kind you use for spray-painting. I looked like I worked in a nuclear power plant. But when I checked the eggs, I remained mite-free! The victory would have been sweeter if the suit itself hadn’t stunk like some kind of cheap skanko plastic, requiring another long scrubby shower…

I didn’t check the eggs yesterday – I am hoping that M – who is having a Dadda Day, will do the honours. He continues to spend all his time at the boat, readying it for life aboard ‘on the hard’ (that is the boat-savvy way of saying that the boat is not in the water – it is on the land).  

Other than the mites our two days of house-sitting have been pretty awesome. There are many plums, stupid amounts of zucchini and I stewed some of the peaches that had been starting to look unhappy. The Smalls don’t want to leave! My farmer-friend is a crafting goddess and in a former life used to be an art teacher – there are bountiful supplies for us to get making – I am hoping the next two days will involve some of that.

It’s 6am again. Dark. And I am on a train to work to do an 11 hour day or so – this is working better for us all at the moment – giving M an extra day at the boat. I don’t seem to have found any other time to type! 

The kindness of strangers

Under the weather since the birthday of Small DB, I have been waking each morning clagged up with crud. That wears off and I instead am just hugely tired. So when I told M that I was taking the Smalls on a house-sitting getaway, he didn’t exactly say I was mad, but helpfully suggested it might be better to go on my own. But of course that would mean more days lost from getting the boat ready —> the thing to avoid at all costs. If we have to spend Summer in the boatyard I will perish (or quickly find a Plan B).

We set off yesterday – driving the slowest old Mercedes the world has ever seen. I usually drive the sedan, but the lack of a radiator meant we took the station wagon. I’m not kidding, we traversed 40% of the journey at 40kmph – snailing our way through the Gembrook hills with 4WD’s snarling in our wake.

“Give them the iPads to play with!” suggested M, before we left.
“Never.”
“But there’s no radio, no iPod in that car – they’ll be bored!! Make it easy for yourself!!”
I gritted my teeth.
“I just can’t do it. I cannot cope with Smalls with screens as I drive. They can read or look out the goddamn window.”
I threw in some precautionary extra library books.

As it played out, there was no drama. Small Z travelled with her head submerged in ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ and Small DB made up songs, pointed out signs and horses and alpacas – and the road – becoming twistier! and steeper! they both went on ‘hill watch’. We drove for thirty long kilometres on a particular stretch and there was a hill that had Small Z squealing.
“It’s SO BIG, mama – that hill!! Ohhhhhh – I don’t think I can take it – we’re not going to make it!!”

I was glad she’d given me warning, because it was a MASSIVE hill. I gunned Merky and got a good run up, ascending three quarters of the hill before we dropped down to 30kmph to reach the top. It all took a little longer than Google maps foretold, because Google maps is unaware of the speed restrictions of a 1980 Mercedes 300TD.

We spent the last 10km wondering about the house. A month or two ago one of the people I follow on Instagram had asked whether we were ever interested in housesitting. I said we were, for short periods, and she advised that she would be away in September. The closer September came, the more I thought I could do with a getaway… so we locked it in. Anna and I have never met, but through our mutual photo appreciation of each other – I decided that she was not an axe murderer luring us to certain death, and she decided that we probably wouldn’t trash her house, take her jewellery, max out her internet or just refuse to move out.

“I don’t know what this house is like,” I warned the Smalls. I decided to embrace the worst case scenario. “There may not be a heater – it might be like a big, um, shed?”
“It won’t be, mama,” said Small Z, optimistic as ever. “It will be great.”

It’s better than great. This house – imagine the kind of design and thoughtfulness that has Kevin McCloud getting his knickers in a twist.

Kevin. Looking interested.

Our temporary abode.

And it’s not just the house, but it is all about what is inside it. Open spaces, high ceilings, beautiful pieces of furniture – not untouchably beautiful furniture, but comforting, gorgeous and functional.

Some of the beautiful things...

There is art. Large scale art! There is a composting toilet. Open fire, upstairs bedrooms, two living spaces downstairs – it’s the kind of house I like to try and imagine having, and now – the floorplan has seduced me – I can’t think of any other suitable alternative.

Bits and bobs at the foot of the stairs.

Arthurs Seat

The thing about housesitting is that despite your best intentions at the beginning, as the days go by you start to relax. As you relax, things get spread around and you start to forget where they came from. That blanket was from the chair upstairs, that puzzle was in the playroom – where did that deck of cards come from? In addition, there’s our food. It sits in bags on the kitchen floor and on the bench. Being coeliac, we have to bring all our own food and when, like I did, you forget your bread board, you cut up everything on the largest plate you can find – plates don’t harbour stray gluten crumbs.

We have been here for three nights. It’s always a punt – I had no idea if this house was going to be an uninsulated faux brick McMansion monstrosity or a bungalow at the back of someone’s property. As it turns out – it’s neither. We are on an acre of beautiful big trees – oak, eucalyptus, mulberry, plum, apple, liquid amber – all in amongst a garden that was obviously planted many years ago, with stone steps, raspberry canes, a beautiful chook home and two lovely chooks.

339/365 • so I turned into a digital hermit over Christmas 😳 - actually a hermit in general. However... The Smalls and I have been lucky enough to housesit for @mostlyskipper for the last few days - it is heavenly here. This is the view from the w

Quite honestly, if the owner called me and said she was going to stay away another six weeks, I would be perfectly happy. The house is old-school – many rooms – a playroom, artroom, dining room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an upstairs (always a bonus), a huge loungeroom – it really is like someone threw us the perfect place to visit.

Block Party
We have been given free rein in the artroom, which is full of pencils, paper, pastels, paints, kinetic sand, wooden toys, a dollshouse – the view out the window is sublime – five minutes ago a huge white cockatoo came down to drink some water we’ve left out for the birds.

Art in progress

For all these reasons, I would prefer not to go anywhere! I didn’t know, when I made a doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago, that by the time it came around I would be somewhere I didn’t want to move from.

A good morning

It’s 10am. The sun is already brutal although the breeze is still light. The day holds the promise that the wind will have the breath of a hot oven. The hum of flies, the rustle of small birds in the underbrush, the soft clucks of the chickens. I have handwashed a few clothes in a bucket – we are on tank water here. Similar to the boat, the sound of the pump when you turn on the tap is a tangible reminder of your water use.

I tip the washing water on to the tomatoes, and after rinsing, another bucketful irrigates the hydrangeas. They are one of the more heat intolerant plants – inevitably wilting by the end of a 36 degree day, sometimes with their leaves burnt brown around the edges. The clothesline is supported by pole – a big strong almost-branch – that is holding it up in the middle as it traverses the backyard.

Water sprinkles my feet as I wring out the bits and pieces and hang them up, still dripping. They’ll be dry in an hour or so – standing in the direct sun I can feel the burn through the back of my t-shirt. In the shade the day remains peaceful and tolerable – the buzz of insects and chirping of the crickets.

340/365 • unintentionally spent waaaay too much money on cherries - the Smalls and I went cherry picking this morning and four kilograms later... 💲💲💲😳 However we just made cherry sorbet for des

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