Book - Sample

Housesitting in Australia has a variety of chapters, from all you need to know about housesitting to the inspirational to the hilarious. This preview includes the first chapter which is shorter than the others and introduces my life as it is now. I have also included the beginning of the sixth chapter called "Who Needs a House Sitter?"
The book has eighteen chapters plus two pages of websites you might find useful.
Housesitting has been the passport to adventure and fun for me and all on the tiniest of budgets.


The Dream - Introduction

      The sand on this beach looks like raw sugar mingled with white sugar and laced with honey coloured flecks and the odd miniscule stone chip or shell fragment.
      Running my hands through it reminds me of Japanese raked gardens. I make curved line patterns in the sand with my fingers as I watch the sun set, in a blaze of gold over the mangrove trees on the mainland shore.
      I am in paradise. My body glows inside and out. The sun is just the width of my hand up in the sky and still warm and soothing. It feels nice on my skin and I am enjoying topping up my fading Queensland tan.
      This morning I went scuba diving. The diving instructor was kind. He didn’t laugh when I said I had a prehistoric diving license I had not used since 1970. Then he assessed me as needing a women’s regular sized suit. It was like trying to stuff 20 kilos of bread dough into a 10-kilo black rubber pouch. I had to return it for one two sizes bigger but I was immensely flattered.
      Within meters of the shore, and less than three meters down, my ears began to hurt badly. I danced, I hovered, and I floated up and down holding my nose and puffing madly. I pictured the air bubbles exploding in the canals of my ears and worried about permanent damage.
      Finally, the pain subsided and we started down into a stunning world of colourful coral and remarkable sea life.
      The coral fingered and clumped into lunar like patterns in subdued purples and neon orange. There was a spiny, spiky puffed up stonefish and several little stingrays that whirled off quickly, leathery wings swaying gracefully.
       My instructor pointed out a sea hare, looking like two huge fans hiding a little stem between the large brown leaves and little black plants that curled in their leafy fronds as we touched them. 
      A small turtle swam cautiously by along with a little orange boxfish that looked like it had been blown full of air. A blind shark lay still on the seabed, playing dead in the water. 
      Suddenly a huge blue sideways flying saucer of a fish appeared heading straight for me. He had a fearsome looking droopy lower jaw with dangly looking teeth that looked like he had lost a fight with a pit bull. At 20cm he was larger than a flattened basketball, bulbous, bright blue and scarily intimidating. He swam up close. I held my breath.
      Taking my cue from my dive instructor, I stayed calm and gingerly put out my hand to touch him. He circled me and swam off lazily.
      This is Nelsons Bay, a marine park on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia and this is typical of my life now. Could it be any better?
      While my previous workmates are heading off to offices in their air-conditioned high rises, I am often outside enjoying myself. I could be setting up a web page about 5 minute chocolate mug cakes, or maybe exploring a beautiful Aussie Park looking for hidden treasure. I write, I explore and I learn. Most of all I have fun and an enormous amount of free time.
      In the last year, I have lived on an organic health farm and a hobby farm, in a recently constructed urban ghetto development, a Midwest country town, and several up market homes in inner city Brisbane. I have spent the night in a luxury Brisbane High Rise overlooking the city and in a shabby pub room that another tenant described as, “like staying in the back of a stock truck”.
      I have started riding a beautiful old yellow Honda 250cc motorbike and have done over 8000 kilometres even though it has been off the road many times for repairs. I have taken it around lower east Queensland and through to the western slopes of New South Wales. I have taken it down to Melbourne and across Tasmania, not bad for a fifty-year-old grandmother.
      I do what I enjoy and I love it. It amazes me when I think about how my life has changed in the last year.  I am living proof that age is no barrier to changing your life for the better. In this book, I will show you how I managed on a small amount of money each week, while having the time of my life.
      Maybe you could too. You can become a motorbike riding Granny or a perpetual explorer or something completely different. Where do you want to be in a year’s time? Plan it, dream it and do it. I hope this book inspires you and gives you some ideas to increase the joy in your own life. 
      My life is amazing now and it is all thanks to the magic of housesitting: the job that is not really a job.

 Who Needs a House Sitter? (Chapter 6 excerpt)

House sitting is one of the best examples of a win/win situation that I have ever seen. The homeowner has someone to look after their home and pets while they are away and the house sitter gets free accommodation, power and a phone line.
Maybe you could be a house sitter. I have had some wonderful times house sitting and I can thoroughly recommend it. It is a fun thing to do and allows you so much freedom over what you do during the day that you only need to work very short hours to live like a king or queen. I love it.
Most of my families were away on vacation, but some were away on a working assignment or visiting family. People go away for a variety of reasons. While they are away, they want the house to be as safe as possible. Having a house sitter in their home can allow them to relax, knowing that someone is there to look after it and let them know if anything happens.
People put a lot of time, effort and money into their homes. Even people who are renting might want someone in the house to look after their belongings.
Empty homes are a target for burglars and several people have shown me neighbours’ homes that were ransacked while the owners were away. With a house sitter coming and going each day, the home looks occupied. There is probably a car in the driveway and shoes by the door. Someone is collecting the mail, putting out the rubbish and turning lights on and off.  When a home looks lived in it is less attractive to burglars. Having someone in the home is peace of mind for the homeowner.
Some years ago, a friend of mine was on holiday and her husband thought he would be helpful and turn off the electricity while they were away. By the time she called me to go and check, there was a putrid, melted, maggoty mess in the freezer where hundreds of dollars of meat used to be. A house sitter would have noticed the loss of power in time to save the food and avoid a nasty messy clean up.

(The rest of this chapter covers things such as, what a homeowner is looking for in a house sitter and some of the benefits for both the homeowner and the house sitter)

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