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Stories III

I can’t help myself can I? More on the weird and wonderful world of house sitting for your reading pleasure.

Have mop, will travel: a new wave of caretakers

Hey look it’s me again… A nice little piece about those seeking a ‘sea-change’ in their lives via caretaking. Not so much a ‘how-to’ but a ‘can-do’.

MindMyHouse Wordle

Hi folks, we thought you might be interested in this amazing image featured called a “Wordle”. The words within the image come from our very own MindMyHouse website. Greater prominence is given to words that appear more frequently on our website. Credit: Images of Wordles are licensed by

Who needs to be a millionaire?

Tom Hill and Linda Worthington say they feel like they are living the lifestyle of millionaires. Yet they earned only UK 10,000 pounds between them in the 2006-2007 tax year. Huh? It would seem that the secret to all of this contentment and their feeling of having ‘riches’ is their ability to borrow other people’s homes all year long. On the European continent that is. Nice.

Tom Hill is a regular contributor to our Community Area. If you want a bit of this kind of action too, read this summary of Tom and Lin’s ‘how to do as we do’ guide. Better still, wait for the publication!

Country matters: Stand by to repel boarders

Two weeks away from home during a balmy English autumn has left British journalist, Duff Hart-Davis’ garden bereft. Diana, the very capable house sitter, had her hands more than full with the family’s considerable menagerie, so was not to blame for the windblown apples, the invasion of moles, the poplar’s new suckers or the pebbles on the lawn which would disable any mower. This is what it takes to get it all back on track.

House sitting

Rock bassist, published poet and academic, Tim Morris, is having a helluva time waiting for home owners to relieve him while on house sitting assignment. The vagaries of electricity supply and the wind seem to be his undoing. But baseball in the dark? Here at MindMyHouse we don’t recommend this!

Five personal growth lessons learned while house sitting

Self-empowerment guru and proud blogger, Aaron Potts, has a small epiphany while on house sitting assignment. It seems that your perception of your own little Universe can shift a degree or two when you do something as simple as getting out of your car and walking around your own streets or minding a neighbour’s house for a time.

I think our membership are already in tune with Aaron’s message. When asked, a full 32% of our house sitter members state ‘wanting a change of scene’ as their main reason for house sitting. Yes!

But Aaron says it best:

‘Your life is out there right now waiting for you to experience it. Get outside of your comfort zone, break out of your routine, try new things, peek around new corners, and see what life is like outside of your little box. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find out!’

Return from vacation. If you dare.

Former New York Times gossip columnist, Joyce Wadler, dishes the dirt on the perilous nature of house sitting for home owners, their properties and their animals (not to mention their underwear!) Timed to coincide with the start of New York’s house sitting season (June), this article is indeed cringe worthy. Ouch!

When interviewed by Maureen Langan and Diane Dimond – the ‘Radio Ritas’ of American feminist-style syndicated talk radio – about how to prevent a house sitter from wearing your underwear in your absence, my response was most likely inadequate. To say, ‘Erm…our house sitter members don’t do that sort of thing!’ was probably a little naiive. Having had a chance to think about it, I would say ‘lock your undies away before you leave!’

Reflections of an apprentice first mate

‘Almost’ boat sitter, Lynn Redmond, is excited about getting ‘up close and personal’ with someone else’s boat as she starts her enthusiastic journey to owning a boat of her own one day. While she’s avidly studying the boat’s navigation systems and the like a little detail of the design lets her down big time…

The artists, and others, of the floating world

A very young Peter Watts escaped his parents’ Surrey home to become a boat sitter for an English summer. Seven years later he declares that for him, ‘boat life’ is over. And what was life like as part of the floating world moored on a strip of water near some of London’s Boho areas? It sounded…eventful.

Tony’s old gaff for hire

Journalist Ian Griffiths had this remarkable challenge for the UK’s Labour leader and long-time prime minister, Tony Blair, upon his election in 1997: let me house sit your now-empty family home for you. Was it a dare or a bluff?

A yelp for help

It is astounding what a dog will eat to get themselves in trouble: tennis balls, underwear, tin cans, pop cans, wedding bands, toadstools, towels, gasoline, socks, rocks, Popsicle sticks, ear plugs, Prozac, birth control pills, batteries, kite string, horse wormer, marijuana brownies, loaves of bread dough, and so much ribbon their intestines pleated. One dog downed two pounds of sand.

House and pet sitters take note! A tiny bit of prevention can be much less expensive than a whole lot of cure. Don’t let your charge become a ‘chocolate dog’ or worse. This tale of the plight of the patients of the Pet Emergency Clinic in Spokane, Washington state (USA) over a single weekend in 2000 will have your eyes watering.

Overseas – and experienced

Kiwi ex-pat journalist, Rachel Helyer Donaldson, has unearthed a massive trend in the demographic profile of New Zealanders flooding into Europe to do what is traditionally known as the ‘OE’ (overseas experience). It seems that it is now overwhelmingly the over 50s who are keen on some footloose adventure based in what for most is the ‘mother country’ (the UK). Good luck to them! If you are a younger Kiwi abroad, be warned that your folks (or your friends’ folks) may be eyeing up your couch for some free accommodation.

Surprisingly, this journalist claims you can only house sit in London if you are over 40 and have owned your own home. Not so!

The emptied-home mystery

Simon Watts left his rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco’s North Beach area in the capable hands of a house sitter while he made is annual pilgrimage home. Nothing strange there. However, when she left the flat empty for four days to go on a boat trip, something bizarre happened along the lines of the plot of Dr Seuss’ book ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’. And the moral of this story? Don’t leave your home alone (even for four days)!

All I want is a grand mansion somewhere…

Gothic chick and graphic illustrator for the pre-teen market, Angela Martini lives in a ‘railway apartment’ in New York. (So-called because you walk through various rooms en route to other rooms the same as you would on a train.) A childhood spent growing up in tiny, dark apartments has fuelled Angela’s dream of living in a gothic mansion on a moor with turrets and sweeping staircases. But what is it they say about how you should never try and live out your fantasies?

Follow your dreams (for next to nothing)

US-based journalist and animal lover, Judith Reitman, decided to spend her birthday on a mystery caretaking assignment in France. In between preparing fresh fish fillets for the four resident cats she found herself changed by time spent in a medieval-style region in south-west France. From talking to other caretakers worldwide, it seems that many of those engaged in caretaking properties worldwide are finding the whole thing as addictive.

Concerned about leaving our home abandoned…

Did you know that home owners will go to extraordinary lengths to protect their number one asset while they’re away RVing – except for getting in their own house sitter that is. Read this fascinating forum discussion as nine part-time RVers talk about just what needs to be done to stop the vermin moving in, mildew taking over, wood drying out, sewer smells persisting, food decomposing. Eeeeeeeuuuuuuuwwwwwww – I agree with RVer number five who says that ‘a trusted house sitter is best’. Yes!

Need help planning your next vacation?

‘The point is that the act of readying myself, my husband and our three children for vacation is so time-consuming, so fraught with anxiety and so weighted with ontological questions about the passage of time and the relationship of self to surroundings that it’s a miracle I survive it.’ So begins Jennifer Moses’ treatise on how to worry yourself out of the house and onto the plane. The question is: will a house sitter wreck or save her home during the four weeks while they’re away?

Instructions for a teenage housesit (from notebook found on 38th and 9th, NYC)

Canadian writer, Pasha Malla, indulges himself in this spoof on the fine art of leaving written instructions for your house sitter. It seems that the young Miss Higginsbottom-Baxter is in for a rough ride while the erstwhile home owner and patriarch absents himself on a tour of British Rhodesia. While it is nice to know exactly what a home owner expects of you, who could follow all of these rules?!

The non interference rule

MindMyHouse’s resident Blogger on Assignment, Clare, continues to bravely housesit a variety of Brisbane’s more comfortable suburban properties. This third post from Clare is all to do with hard lessons learned about how good intentions need to be reigned in least things go wrong!

My story: True confessions of a yuppie lawyer

Linda Breen Pierce is a happy convert to the Simple Living movement that is sweeping the Developed World. Finding herself in a lavish home she couldn’t afford, Linda realised that while she had, in her own opinion, become a successful ‘someone’ she didn’t feel like she was living an authentic life.

Two events gave Linda and husband Jim the freedom to remake their lives: a three-year house sitting gig and stumbling across others’ writing on Simple Living. Since the early 1990s, Linda and Jim have tried to live according to their understanding of Simple Living: wanting less, spending less and celebrating the simple things in their daily lives. This is Linda’s story of her journey into her happier and fuller Simple Life.