Twisted House Cats

There is a reason that cats are so popular online. 

They can be crazy.

This is a picture of our cat “relaxing”.

Traingle Cat

He is adorable and one of the reasons I stopped house sitting. I wanted my own pets.
I had some weird and wonderful experiences with pets, but I missed having my own.

My husband and I have four pets; fat cat, an anxious border collie, and two heritage chickens. At various times, we also have a visiting bush turkey, a goanna, koalas, and a snake.

This picture is a snake hiding in our garage after a huge meal. You may be able to see the huge bulge in his middle. 

Satisfied Snake

At least this time he didn’t come into the house ... or live in the ceiling like he did at one home I stayed at.

Pets (at least the furry kind) are good for our health, and if you don’t have your own, house sitting is a great way to have some pet cuddles with a variety of interesting pets.

During my time house sitting, I looked after two elegant Siamese cats, a cat that could not climb, a three-legged cat, and two cats that would not stay in the same room together.

The dogs were fun too. There was a drooling dog, a nervous dog, three mismatched dogs, and a little dog that bit my finger and cleared out the dog park with her attitude (not backed up with anything by the way).

If you are considering house sitting, meeting new and interesting pets is just one of the many benefits. 

To learn more about house sitting, along with fun house sitting stories and tales of my adventures around Australia, go to or see the link above right to buy one of my books.

The Echidna in my Street

As some of you may remember, I have had numerous encounters with Australian wildlife.
  • A snake visited my living room - to watch TV with me
  • A frog moved in upstairs (also spiders, ants, geckos)
  • A giant hare attempted to decimate my garden
  • I discovered stained glass window bugs
  • I rescued a lizard from my pool
  • I chased a goanna around a tree
  • And I shepherded a kangaroo out the gate when he became trapped in my fenced garden

Just to mention a few.

But this was the first echidna I have ever seen in the wild. And it was sick.

It waddled along the road verge, looking hot, and bothered, and very vulnerable without any cover.  It should have been hiding somewhere and, judging by its size, possibly still in the care of its mother.
It should have looked perky and interested..

Instead it was tired and frail looking.

It is hard to know what to do when a wild animal needs help, but luckily one of our neighbours is a wildlife carer and I know that because she helped me once before when there was a snake on the road.

It was heading away from the forest and into the garden next door. When this brave lady happened by, she simply picked it up by its tail and dragged it back to the safety of the national park land over the road.

I was very impressed.

The year before when I had a snake slither into my house and take up residence in the TV room, it took five people, a walking stick, and a large plastic recycling bin on wheels to remove it. See that story here.

This brave and kind lady, scooped up the echidna using a cardigan, put it in a box, and drove it to the veterinarians.

Hopefully, the next time I see this echidna it will be healthy and happy and will scuttle off into the bush.


Sailing into Trouble

I have written a new book.

Yes, I know you might not find that astounding. A writer writing a book.

But this one is different. I went sailing and it was AMAZING! So I wrote about it. and called it 'Is the Davit Supposed to Fall Off?'.

The only sailing I had done before this trip, was a short sail out into the harbor to test the yacht we later bought, and a few hours on a sleek new club yacht. On that trip, I got to hold the wheel and wind a few ropes, but mostly spent the time sipping cool drinks and sampling the catered lunch.

Sailing on our own forty-foot, 1970’s, ex-fishing yacht was not at all the same. It was challenging, surprising, sometimes scary, and ultimately satisfying. We visited parts of New Zealand I have never seen, despite living there for most of my life. We sailed overnight and through wild seas, then cruised smoothly past New Zealand’s active offshore volcano.

It was exciting too. We turned circles in front of a tanker, almost ran into an island cliff in the dark, and tried to tow another yacht out to sea with us, making its owner more than a little cross.

If this sounds like a story you might be interested in, then take a peek at the sample page, or read this summary from the back cover.

If a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, then Nikki is in luck. The sea is in turmoil, the wind is on the nose, and the yacht is bouncing around like a bath toy.
Nikki and her husband, need to bring their old yacht from New Zealand to Australia. But first they have to negotiate New Zealand’s rugged East Coast from Napier to Cape Reinga. It’s a trip designed to test the most experienced sailor, and Nikki doesn’t know a boom from a jib.
Phil has to plot the course, steer the ship, and trim the sails, while Nikki begins the sailing trip of a lifetime more bilious than a rabbit on a roller coaster, and more like cargo than crew. 
Phil is great at smoothing over problems, and fixing   everything from tangled ropes to broken fan belts, but even he can’t fix the weather, and a cyclone threatens. Getting to Australia is looking unlikely when even getting from one town to another is a challenge.

If you are interested in sailing (or just want to read a good story) jump over to the sample page to see more.

If not, there is more to come. I am working on a novel about a missing toddler, as well as a memoir tentatively called ‘A Middle-Aged Junk Mail Princess’. Stay tuned.

Happy Travels everyone.

To learn more about house sitting, along with fun house sitting stories and tales of my adventures around Australia, go to or visit any good online store including


Stick to It

I have a confession to make and an apology.

Some months ago, Kidecals sent me a few samples of their stickers to try. So I tried them. Said I would review them. Then promptly forgot about them.

Then the other day, I threw away my dilapidated, torn and grubby looking phone cover and the “contact me” sticker was still there. It still looked shiny and pretty despite being scratched on, spilled on, wiped, washed, and glued to something that became worn and grubby. So here is my review. They are good. Very good.

I remembered I had some keyboard stickers too. I brought them out and updated my keyboard.
It made me smile.

We need more smiles and we need more beauty. Whether it is in tiny ways, or huge.
Have you seen a sunset lately? Or studied a babies tiny wrinkled fingers? Or just sat and watched a cat play?

No matter what challenges are happening in life, small changes that bring beauty to your life are uplifting to the soul.

Today, I put spent one minute putting stickers on my keyboard and they brought a teeny bit more happiness into my life. What tiny change can you make?

Wishing you smiles of your own today.

To learn more about house sitting, go to or visit any good online store including


Ye Olde Worlde Computer

I am writing this on a modern and streamlined Windows Surface Pro. The keyboard snaps on with such a satisfying click that the ad for this product includes happy users snapping the keyboard on as background percussion. It can format a full length novel with page numbers, chapter headings, and footnotes, and when I am done it can run a speedy game of “Fruit Ninja” if I want to.

I don’t want to.

What I want to do is install my brand new satellite phone so my husband and I can contact the internet when we are at sea on our yacht next week. While I will most likely update Facebook and write a few blogs, this connection is more important than that.

With the internet, we can get wind speed predictions, the height of ocean swells, and should we need it, hurricane warnings. A satellite connection could be the difference between a gentle sail across the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, or a nightmare voyage tossed about by gale force winds, lost somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Pacific Ocean.

And my new computer won’t help. Apparently the modern satellite phone, purchased just weeks ago, will not work with Windows 8.

So now the brand new portable combination pad/computer that was going to do everything, might be relegated to a video player to help us pass the time. Maybe a bit of reading on the kindle app, or writing on the snazzy keyboard with the satisfying click.

Luckily we have a six year old computer that can take up the slack.
It weighs at least four times as much as my new machine and is slow and clunky, but it has lots more connections around its bulky edge. Seventeen to be exact. There are pin connectors, and slide out slots, and four USB ports. I don’t even know what most of them are for.

The new one boasts just one USB port.

The old one plays CD’s and DVD’s all by itself, and has a built in card reader that used to be so useful for copying photos to the hard drive. It also has a connection that will connect to the GPS on our boat.

Too bad it won’t run our navigation program. That needs the same part of my new computer that plays Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds.

So, we will have two computer systems running on our boat. One for navigation and one for internet connection out at sea. One for making sure we don’t get lost, and one to make sure we know what our chances are of getting sucked into a whirlwind, or being swamped by a tsunami.

Last week, I went to get a car charger for my new computer, and the fresh faced young tech expert in the store scoffed at my request. “We don’t carry accessories for that model anymore” he said. It seems our ‘new’ computer is out of date even though we bought it about eight months ago.

I wonder what he would make of our old computer. Dark ages perhaps? I bet he would never guess that it is the one that will connect us to satellite across the world. Sometimes old really is better.

To learn more about house sitting, along with fun house sitting stories and tales of my adventures around Australia, go to or visit any good online store including


One Surprising Benefit of House Sitting

My favorite shampoo reminds me of tropical breezes and eating coconuts on the beach in Samoa or sipping juice in Malaysia. It is cruelty free, grey water safe, and comes in a recycled bottle that costs the same as most budget brands. It not only makes my hair smell faintly of fruit salad, but it leaves it soft as well as clean.

You might wonder; how did I find this virtuous and useful product? I found it through house sitting.

I first smelled it when a lady I was staying with used it. I was informed that it was an organic product sold in the small nearby rural township. After lurking in the local organic produce section for several days in a row, asking silly questions such as “do you have any shampoo that smells like banana?” and furtively sniffing all the bottle lids, I finally asked the right person and found it in the local supermarket. And, to my delight, it was one of the cheapest brands.

Since then I have been introduced to dozens of new products as a result of staying in other people’s homes. Without delving too much into people’s personal things, I still learn a lot about them. If their sheets smell lovely, I might take note of what brand washing powder they use. If their can opener is easy to use, I might choose to get one when I settle down.

I get ideas on room set up, wall decorations, storage ideas, and bathroom products.

House sitting is a great way to save money, while doing something helpful for another home owner. It might also introduce you to shinier, healthier hair. You never know.


Motorbike Taxis; The Good, the Bad, and the Grumpy

She was about five years old and chocolate box cute. She tossed back her hair and angled up her chin as she checked out her reflection in the mirror of her dad’s motorbike taxi. He smiled indulgently.

We were on our way to the small market town of Donsol in the Philippines, and had flagged them down as they passed on the road. After agreeing on a modest fare, equivalent to less than an Australian dollar, Phil got on back and I climbed into the cab with the girl. She smiled self-consciously as we set off for town.

“How about we look around town first?” we asked. “No problem” the driver said and we took a loop around the narrow streets and past the local homes. Suddenly the little girl called out loudly, waving excitedly. Is that your house? I asked and was rewarded with another shy smile.

We passed her school and stopped at the shops. “We will wait for you” the driver said.

“Oh no” we protested. “We will be a while.” He seemed disappointed, and for a moment I thought he was going to wait anyhow, but finally he and his cute little girl left.

We wandered around the town, looking and feeling like frogs in a fish pond. This far from Manila, we were the only tourists in town. Phil got a great haircut for the kind of spare change you find down the back of a couch. I bought a drinking coconut complete with straw, and a plastic bag of an unidentified meat dinner. Then we decided to go back to the hotel.

We looked around nervously. For the first twenty minutes we had been accosted by various drivers asking if we wanted a ride somewhere. After refusing many times, and spending so long trying not to catch the eye of any more drivers, we now had to decide who to choose.
Before we could decide, our taxi came back around the corner and stopped to see if we wanted to go home.

Since we knew the fare, we added a small bonus, and gave the girl her own little tip. They smiled appreciatively.

Later that day, we decided to go back to town for dinner. A girl from the hotel offered to call a “taxi” for us, so we went outside, expecting another friendly and colourful local. Instead an unhappy looking young man pulled into the drive on the most beat up old motorbike and battered sidecar, I had ever seen.

Other people's accommodation
The girl from the hotel was sitting behind him and said she was going to be our tour guide. I was confused. We only wanted to go up the road a bit, then into town again.

We drove left along a road I had walked earlier because I wanted to show Phil the lovely old homes there. I knew the road was rough, broken, and steep, but I didn’t expect that the bike would stutter and slide and that we would have to get out and walk to reach the top.

Typical Filipino Roadworks
As we started back to town, I got even more nervous. It was getting dark and we had no lights. I mentioned the lack of lights to Phil.

Suddenly the driver turned on his headlights. I suspect he was saving his battery or something. I wasn’t impressed. I was determined not to use this bike and the grumpy driver on the way back.

When we arrived in town, the girl insisted they would wait for us, and again we said no thanks. The young man looked annoyed. He argued with the girl, but since it was in Tagalog, I could only assume that she had told him we would need him all night and he would get good money. Not our fault if she had.

He looked sullen and grumpy. Eventually we asked what it cost. He still looked like we had stolen his last dollar and then he asked for four times what we had paid the other driver. It was still a small amount, equivalent to a few Australian dollars, so we paid it just to get rid of him.

Motorbikes and motorbike taxis are everywhere here. I have seen up to four adults and a baby on one bike. Often the adults are sitting sideways on the back texting or maybe updating their Facebook status. “Still riding into town. Saw a couple of foreigners walking by.”

Bikes are also good for transporting goods or busloads of people. Once we passed a bike with a huge oxen sitting in the sidecar, looking like Dino in the Flintstone cartoon, about to tip over the whole vehicle if it just twitched too much.

Taxis of all kinds, even one carrying pigs.
Getting around in the Philippines is half the fun. It’s cheap, efficient, and a great way to meet the locals; both the friendly and, unfortunately, the grumpy.