While Belrose our previous home was lovely, it did feel a little lost in suburbia and involved a daily commute of over an hour each way for both Joella and I. It’s easy to understand why we were bloody excited for our next house sit then, situated in the rather well-to-do inner-west of Sydney: Balmain.
Feeling posh: Cat sitting in fancy Balmain
Following a rather hectic morning of packing up the last of our belongings and waving goodbye to Belrose, we found ourselves trundling along the impressive little brother of Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge: the Anzac Bridge, on our way to the affluent neighbourhood of Balmain (originally founded by a fellow Scot – William Balmain). Annoyingly I had to then skedaddle off to work, leaving Joella to make friends with our lovely new feline companions: Kimchi and Banchan.
Our time in Balmain was nicely peppered with boutique cafe’s, cosmopolitan wine bars, refined restaurants, mesmerising harbour side walks and runs, while constantly commenting on how cute and quaint all the rows of unique houses were.
Sick dogs and shaved cats: Treacherous house sitting in Balgowlah
Before we knew it, we found ourselves packing our bags once again, ready for a new house sitting appointment, this time in the leafy suburbs of Northern Balgowlah. Although it was further out of the city than Balmain, it wasn’t as far out as Belrose, and provided both of us with relatively easy commutes, as well as being just a stone’s throw away from the happening beach neighbourhood of Manly. Little did we know that our run of good luck while house sitting was about to come to a close…
After noticing that Rosie (one of two Jack Russels) had lost her appetite, we knew something wasn’t right, so frantically rushed her off to the emergency 24 hour vet. Just as well! It turned out she had a life threatening gastro-infection, and was immediately hooked up to a drip. All we could do was go home and hope that she’d be able to pull through…
We were over the moon, and Bailey even gladder once his sister Rosie was allowed home three days later, but that wasn’t our only run-in with the vet, oh no! Just a week later Joella was greeted with Andy the cat acting rather drunk, and falling down the stairs! After carefully using a towel and our trusty esky to cage her (she wasn’t the friendliest feline), Joella managed to score a lift from the neighbour and soon found herself waiting eagerly at the vets. It turned out that Joella’s immediate diagnosis was correct – Andy had a paralysis tick, and had to be completely shaved to find it. As you can probably tell by the photo, Andy wasn’t best pleased with her new haircut, but it’s a small price to pay for your life!
Although our animals had been a hand-full, we still made time for extra curricular actives in the form of lush espresso martinis and wave jumping down in Manly, as well as super mellow surf tunes from Jack Johnson, overlooked by the stunning Sydney Opera House.
Food heaven and open-air cinemas: A break from house sitting in hipster Chippendale
Deciding to take a break from house sitting, Joella managed to find us a 2 bed house share, which was brilliantly located just 3 minutes walk from my work! The two bedroom apartment was nestled in hipster Chippendale, and featured a rather satisfying rooftop terrace to gaze across at the twinkling lights of Sydney’s CBD.
We took the opportunity of not having any animals to care for, and found ourselves busy every evening; from crashing university open days, to open air cinemas, to mini pub crawls in neighbouring Newtown, to street food eating in the melting pot of Asian delicacies that is ‘Spice Alley’.
Christmas BBQs and beaches: Festive dog sitting in Wolli Creek
Our last house sitting adventure of 2017 saw us looking after 2 cute little chihuahuas – Michi and Top, in a three floor penthouse, overlooking the sky-rise jungle of Wolli Creek in the South of Sydney. Both Michi and Topo made for great company and entertainment – Topo’s effort to guilt trip more food from us while sitting on his hind legs never got old! The apartment featured lots of funky art, numerous air plants, stunning bonsai trees, unique cacti and an epic whisky collection (I managed to resist the temptation). There was even a shared pool and gym that we both made plenty of use of 🙂
Despite valid attempts to avoid excess when doing our Christmas food shop, we still managed to buy enough to feed and intoxify a large family! Much of this was as a result of wanting to experience an Ozzy Christmas, without compromising on our British traditions. Similarly our Christmas Day was quite a busy affair, as we made time for a BBQ brunch, afternoon swims in the sea, roast dinner, cheese and crackers, charades and skype calls home. By the end of the day we were suitably knackered, full and a tiny little bit tipsy – falling asleep was not an issue!
On Boxing Day we enjoyed the great yachting spectacle that is the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, without needing to splash out on luxury yacht charters; instead we hopped aboard the Sydney to Manly ferry, with my Uncle and Aunty. We didn’t know which way to look as swarms of boats of all shapes, sizes and colours surrounded us!
For New Years Eve we decided to avoid large crowds and expensive tickets, and instead enjoyed drinks, cinema and food out. We saw ‘Downsizing’, a film about little people, which I expected to be a light-hearted family comedy and adventure. Instead it proved to be more serious than expected, to my bemusement and Joella’s amusement (everyone else I talked to knew it was more of an adult film…). Our dinner at 4Fourteen was one of the best I’ve ever had, and the ‘Snickers’ dessert was out of this world! We made it back home just in time to enjoy the new year fireworks flood Sydney’s skyline, from the convenience of our rooftop terrace, with our Spanish neighbours providing plenty of woops and ah’s to add to the atmosphere.
On New Year’s Day, as we were miraculously hangover-free, we decided to explore Botany Bay where Captain Cook famously first set foot on Australian soil. before then cooling off in the mesmerisingly clear sea with our new snorkels.
Constantly moving around was often tiresome, but we more than happy to continue doing so thanks to the opportunities we had to meet lots of lovely animals and their owners, as well as explore new and interesting neighbourhoods (saving dollars on accommodation was mightily handy too)!