2017 June - October, Mosman, Oyster Bay, Bolton Point, Belrose, NSW

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October 14th 2017
Published: October 14th 2017
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Mosman June 2017
For me it was a very short stay in Mosman. Tomas got there a week earlier than me but I finished the house sit in Toorak Gardens, in Adelaide and then started the following house sit in Oyster Bay while he remained in Mosman. It worked out tidily for us in the fact that we could seamlessly move from one to the other, without any gaps.

We have got to know Boomer and Lyla, the 2 posh poodles well now, as well as their parents Robert and Barbara as this was our third time house sitting for them. They were our first house sit through the Aussie House sitters website and we feel they took a huge gamble on appointing us when we were still living in New Zealand and had few references to show. They are the ones we credit for setting us up so well and we have been great to each other since. They are very kind to us, as well. We are always welcome to stay when we are homeless and they are happy to have our company when sailing in the harbour.

Boomer and Lyla are energetic, big dogs and keep us out and about. Even without them we love walking around this area as there are so many beautiful places to visit. Walks to Cremorne Point, Balmoral Beach, Neutral Bay shops, I even went exploring as far as Artarmon, which gave me the advantage of orientating where we were better in the area further afield.

It was the middle of winter when we were here and it was dark early but days were still sunny and bright.

I moved to Oyster Bay a week before Tomas finished up in Mosman and when Robert and Barbara returned we were treated to a stunning winter day sailing the Harbour on Robert's new yacht finishing with a late chicken lunch.

Oyster Bay July/Aug 2017

My baby in Oyster Bay was a chocolate Labrador called Yogi Bear also known to me as YoYo and Mr Bear.

I got very comfortable here and got to know the area well after so many weeks. Yogi and I became very good company for each other. I was substituting his regular family Annette, Luke and young Charlie who went on a road trip to Cape York and slept mainly camping from the back of their van in a camper trailer. It was an ambitious trip and we kept in great contact, so I felt like I lived through their holiday as well. They badly missed their baby and by the end badly missed their beds as well. Shortly after I started this house sit and Tomas finished off in Oyster Bay he took off to Sweden for a month to re- connect with family only after a week with me.

I had a stressful start when my National bowel cancer screen test came back positive and I had to arrange a colonoscopy which I had to wait a few months for. I was anxious that it could be completed before leaving for New Zealand and for what it would reveal. It added a stressful period that ended up being unnecessary, as the result of the test which was eventually in October ended up completely negative. I was certain the whole time that something had gone wrong with my body again after having experienced that before. Luckily I got to know a very lovely GP in the area, who I made good use of while I was there.

Yogi was only 3 years old and took anti anxiety medication. He also had poor hips which was unfortunate for such a young dog. At first we walked a lot, as I wanted to orientate myself with where we were. I took him on walks to Como and the dog park and every oval in the area on different days. Once his hips started playing up we eased off and finally settled into routines of 2 easy walks a day. He was a plodder, in any case and took half an hour to an hour walking and not getting very far. He would thoroughly examine every bush and crevice in case there was a morsel of food as reward. He was a Labrador so could be forgiven for his obsession with food. On our walks we met many locals and discovered many hidden bays. This area was a true hidden treasure in Sydney. Many Sydney people don't get the opportunity to get to know as much of their city as we have had the chance to.

Yogi and I also spent many days lying in the sunny garden together. I would sometimes scatter treats on the lawn for him to search for, which he thought was great fun.

We had use of bicycles and a car. We only used the car in the local area to get to the train station other than that the bikes helped us explore to the golf course and Westfield Shops at Miranda and one day I even cycled to Cronulla and back. It was easy to fill days with the bicycle and good weather. Once Tomas returned we made a regular weekly outing to the Kareela Golf Club for their special lunch for $10 including a chicken schnitzel and beer. Not only was the food great but the restaurant and views were unbeatable, so it was a no-brainer, luxurious bargain lunch for us.

Every Sunday I would drive to Como Station and take the train on a day trip somewhere. Yogi would get a mega-bone on this day and it made him very happy that it was easy for him to forgive my absence.

I will try to remember each of my Sunday Day Trips. Every week we were lucky enough to get brilliant sunny weather. Sydney experienced the driest winter on record. I only remember 2 days of rain over the entire period.

• On the first Sunday Tomas was still in Mosman so I went back to spend the day with him and since I had moved to Oyster Bay the day before I did a second trip to carry our luggage to our new location.
• An indulgent day sailing with Robert and Barbara on Sydney Harbour departing from the Mosman Sailing Club on Robert's new boat. Ending with a very special lunch on the deck which made us feel very special and appreciated.
• Balmoral Beach for most of the day, reading the paper in the sun then walking across the Harbour Bridge before ending at the Markets, which I did every Sunday, so that I didn't need to spend much time shopping the rest of the week.
• Coledale Markets, which ended up not being on, despite my double checking the night before. A morning post that I had missed declared that they were closed due to hazardous high winds, It was still a beautifully sunny day. I continued to Kiama with the train for the rest of the day.
• Wollongong where I caught a bus, which took me to the beach and botanical gardens.
• Balmoral Beach, Dee Why Beach and Chatswood shops, where I got lost in the Westfield Shopping Centre.
• Tomas was back and had a terrible cold, as he usually does after being in an aeroplane. We started the day for a coffee at The Grounds of Alexandria with intention to visit our next house sit in Macquarie Hills. I had organised visiting this house sit 3 weeks ago, while Tomas was away, confirming regularly. It would have been a 3 hour trip from Oyster Bay one way and we were on our way when we were cancelled at the very last minutes they were insecure about having strangers. This was upsetting, as I had waved off many others while waiting for this to be confirmed but ended up working out to our advantage, as we secured one of our best house sits in the end because of this cancellation. We ended up spending an easy familiar day trip at Balmoral Beach, where there ended up being a food and wine festival.
• A walk along Manly Beach to the very tip watching the surfers on both the ocean and bay side. There were some wonderful cafes at the point but we got there a little to late for lunch serving.
• A short visit to the zoo to catch the gondola to the top before visiting a family in Belrose who was offering us our next house sit. 4 cats a bunny rabbit and payment, with the possibility of it being a regular engagement. We then got dropped off at the Queen Victoria Building and discovered the shopping precinct of the city which we had never found before.
• Balmain and then a ride on a short ferry trip that took longer than anticipated to get us back to Circular Quay.

I finished most Sundays with a trip to the fruit and Veg markets where I loaded up for the week. I was very healthy while living here.

Bolton Point Sept 2017
On the day Yogi got his family back, October 6 we moved 2.5hrs north of Sydney towards Newcastle to an area that we had never visited before called Bolton Point on the shores of Lake Macquarie.We had not previewed this house sit but had booked it months before when we were in Klemzig in April.
Lynette and Roger picked us up from Fassifern Station and introduced us to Sasha and their house a few hours before they went on their holiday to South America Machu Picchu area for 2 weeks.

We loved Sasha as she was so thankful for any attention she was given. She was a very big but very gentle and loving girl. Although constantly struggling with her failing hips and heavy breathing as she walked she lived for the walks we took her on along the lake front twice a day. We loved to see her so happy. She was also shedding her winter coat so by the end of her 2 weeks with us had been brushed back to her shiny youthful looking coat after removing bags of matted clumps of winter fur.

She got 2 walks a day during which time we became familiar with the neighbours and the beautiful Lake Macquarie frontage, which was across the road from where we lived.. We were able to go on day trips to the nearest town, Toronto and for walks in the nearby Conservation Park and around the lake. Toronto had all the shops that we needed and we made it a regular weekly walk.

The Hunter Valley was a 40 minute drive away, so a day trip with the car was necessary to cross it off our bucket list. We visited 2 wineries and a cheese shop where the head cheese maker gave an hour group talk on how cheese is made. It was the highlight of our day.We stopped for lunch at Pokolbin where there were a few touristy shops and picnic areas. We didn't stay so long; having left the house at 9am we were back by 3pm.

There were many hot windy days on the Lake and on one particular day there were nearby fires which filled the air with smoke, making it quite unpleasant.

We did a few other day trips from Bolton Point. Our first was to Warners Bay and Spears Point where we didn't find so much on offer, except a small local market. Next was a day in Newcastle, where we attempted to start at the Tourist Information Centre, which wasn't very informative. We spent a few hours walking along the cafe strip on the lake front and then to the beaches where people were parenting but really didn't get a feel that the trip had been worthwhile travelling the distance for. Our favourite outing was to the Central Coast starting at Gosford. The success of the day was due to some fortunate events. We started by taking a bus to the water front, which did not offer so much. The tourist Information was closed. We then asked another bus driver for suggestions and since our driver was from Ettalong he suggested we go to some markets which were on every weekend. There we found a buzz of people and an Armenian Cafe, which Tomas enjoyed for lunch. On route to Ettalong we passed Umina Beach which was also buzzing so we returned there and the bus driver told us of the monthly Beach Markets which we walked to and were delighted to find. We caught the train back to Fassifern from Woy Woy.

When Roger and Lynette returned from their holiday we stayed and extra night with them and had a candlelit dinner in their back patio. We left early on our final Sunday morning to complete the 3 hour trip to Belrose where our next pets were waiting for our arrival.

Belrose Sept 2017

The Belrose House sit came about after another had been painfully cancelled at short notice. The owners became insecure about using people that they didn't know. That was not an issue except for the fact that we had committed to them and disregarded any other offers for a month until Tomas had returned from Sweden and we could visit them together. They cancelled on the morning that we were on our way to meet them, half way though the 3 hour journey.

The owner of the 4 cats, bunny and fish in Belrose was also feeling very insecure about leaving her beloved babies while on holidays to someone she didn't know so it took plenty of reassurance on the lead up and she offered to compensate us some finances in order for us to commit fully.

This housesit turned out to be one of the best and most favourite. The fact that we were rewarded certainly helped and the 4 cats and especially the 2 rag doll kittens had such personality and were so delightful. As soon as we arrived we reassured the owners and sent daily communication.

Romeo and Leo were the 2 indoor kittens and Tommy and Daphne the outdoor cats. Milly, the rabbit and a gold fish plus 2 little fishies.

The house needed plenty of cleaning when we arrived. We got this over with in a day and a half and once that was done we were very comfortable with 2 TV's so we could each watch what we wanted plenty of space to stretch out and, of course, the Sydney weather continued to bless us with amazing warmth and sun right until our final week. The shops and library were 10 minute walk away and Tomas and I ate well and enjoyed the local area.

I had my colonoscopy while we were staying here, which was scheduled at the North Shore Hospital, just by luck and it was easy to get to. Every thing was clear and it was a relief. To add to our relief on the same day Tommy, the cat returned after not having seen him for 3 days.

A Sunday outing for our first Sunday was an unexpected bonus. The morning was spent at Dee Why beach and then the afternoon at Manly. We were lucky enough to come across the Manly Jazz Festival on the day that we were there and it was such a great, lively, colourful atmosphere, we spent the whole day there. There were thousands of people on the beach and bay and musicians every where. So summery and warm. Our whole time in Sydney had been amazingly beautiful weather, even in the middle of winter right up until the final week when the cold and rain came. It felt more wintery in a few short days in October than I had remembered even in June. We really have to count our blessings because for me good weather makes me so much happier and sunnier inside and out.

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