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MindMyHouse News

MindMyHouse News 18 December 2005

by Susan Holtham

Edition six of MindMyHouse News (18 December 2005) has been brought to you by us – your ever loving editor and webmaster – in association with Santa. I hope you are feeling festive because we are! Tune into this edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: a few short breaks to help you really unwind this silly season, we express remorse for leaving our poor flat alone for three days, Helen Bergstein of Digsville recounts one of her most memorable swaps, and yet another snowbirder needs your help. And from the desk of the webmaster: check out the photos of some of our more photogenic house sitters, and why we set up an email alert for every member. Finally: the editor explains (again) why she really hates Hotmail accounts. Happy festivities!

Edition six of MindMyHouse News (18 December 2005) has been brought to you by us – your ever loving editor and webmaster – in association with Santa. Not really, but you know what I mean by this: he’s currently everywhere ringing his bells and reminding us to think about our fellow human beings a bit more. A good idea!

Even though it is colder outside this afternoon in London than the inside of our fridge we would like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new members. If you have recently joined us from the excellent home exchange website, Digsville, then we’d like to give you an especially warm howdy. It’s nice to have you all onboard. I hope you are feeling festive because we are!

Fancy a short vacation over the festive season?

If you fancy a short break over the holiday season (perhaps you would like to ‘avoid’ Christmas and New Years at the same time) there are plenty of home owners (and their pets) who could use your help. Here’s a few sitter wanted adverts that are currently live on our site. These home owners would love to hear from you!

  • Five days of peace in sunny Auckland (New Zealand)
  • Two weeks in snowy Vermont – with hot tub! (US)
  • Five days in Fairfax County, Virginia (US)

Don’t leave your home alone like we did!

We had a grim reminder recently of why it’s so important to have a house sitter. When we were offered a free, three-day winter break in Glasgow (Scotland) three weeks ago, we jumped at the chance. It all happened so quickly that we couldn’t arrange for a house sitter to mind our little flat. Well, here is what happens when you leave your home alone – even for three days. When we arrived home we could hardly open our front gate for the pile of stinking rubbish that had been dumped there by some ne’er-do-well. It gets worse: our neighbour told us of her extreme embarrassment to have had to clean up certain items containing medical waste out of the rubbish pile that had spilled onto the street where she was concerned that children might pick them up. Let’s just say that it seems someone may have been trying to hide the evidence of a romantic tryst. Nice.

Snowbirders need your help!

Whole flocks of Canadian, Alaskan and North American retirees are packing up and leaving their homes for the winter as I write! One such snowbirder (from 30 miles north of Denver, Colorado) asks that a kind house sitter (or two) make her home look ‘lived-in’ while she and hubby enjoy a cruise this February. With no pets to care for and nothing else to do, this could be your chance to really unwind for two weeks this winter.

More gold from the home exchange guru at Digsville.

Digsville (Ed: update, the Digsville site is now inactive, sorry)

MindMyHouse has teamed up with the excellent global home exchange site, Digsville. We wanted to create a strategic partnership to help our members find and benefit from each other’s online service. Helen Bergstein is the founder and expert-in-residence of the Digsville Home Exchange Club, providing members with step-by-step guidance to home and hospitality exchange since 1999. Helen recounts one of her most memorable exchanges:

The holidays are here and many Digsville Home Exchange members are scurrying to find their last minute home swaps just in time for the winter school breaks. Digsville members Liz and Ron from Sydney want a quick getaway for just the two of them in any European city. Dan and Gabriella from Montreal are eager to swap their very cool townhouse for any place that’s warm and close to a beach!I’ll cherish my own memories of holiday swaps always. However, one that really stands out is the time we exchanged our apartment in the city with a home only a few hours drive – but a world – away. It was a bit of a challenge as we were traveling with a teenager, toddler, and our parents – all with their own special needs! Read how I managed to have a totally harmonious, fun, and relaxing vacation that didn’t cost me a cent other than what I spent on gas, groceries, and a few candlelight dinners out with my hubby.

Peace and happy holidays to all, wherever ‘home’ shall find you at the coming of the new year.

Helen Bergstein
Founder and President
The Digsville Home Exchange Club

Take a look at some of our photogenic house sitters

After emailing our entire membership with details on how to upload photos to their sitter available adverts recently, it’s great to see that many of you have already embraced this new feature.

Here’s a few of our more ravishing house sitters for your perusal:

  • Husband and wife teaching team in Bolivia
  • Very experienced American house sitters David and Barbara
  • Professional young traveller taking on the world with an inflatable couch!
  • German artist couple StephanundVerena showcase their works
  • American RVers and workampers Joann and Nolan
  • Canadian lady, Brenda Marie, with more than 20 years house sitting experience
  • Married Kiwi couple looking for more house sitting adventures

Your alerts just became automatic

(I know that I just posted this out to all members by email but I thought it was worth repeating here.)

We realise that our house sitter members signed up with our service in order to find out about house sitting assignments. However, there may be a number of reasons why you aren’t seeing new (and often short-lived) sitter wanted adverts as soon as they go live on the site. We figured that we’d try and help our sitters find our owners’ adverts (a bit like conception, it’s all about the timing.) Thus if you haven’t set up your own email alert, when a new sitter wanted advert is uploaded to the site, you will now automatically receive an email alert containing a link to the advert. We hope you think this is a good thing!

You may be asking why you would be interested in that five-day break in New Zealand when you’ve only selected three major cities in the US as being available to house sit in. If you haven’t created your own sitter available advert we don’t know where you would like to house sit. Thus we’ve set up a simple alert (based on a search of all countries) for all of our house sitter members. This alert is now the default setting on the alerts page of your account area.

If you don’t want to be alerted to all new sitter wanted adverts, it’s easy to set up your own alert and thus be excluded from our new automated alert system. See this FAQ for more on how to set up your own email alert.

Is your inbox going overlimit?

I know that I covered this topic a few editions of MindMyHouse News ago but here I am again banging my drum about those dreadful Hotmail accounts that seem to be always going overlimit. Recently we posted a systems upgrade message to our entire mailing list (over 1000 people) and had 15 addresses bounce back as ‘inbox overlimit’. Would you believe that 13 of these addresses were for Hotmail accounts (and only 24% of our members have Hotmail accounts)! If you have a Hotmail account it may be going overlimit through no fault of your own – even a week’s worth of spam can send your disk storage hurtling past your pitiful 2mb limit. You are welcome to ditch these rather inadequate accounts for a vastly more reliable Yahoo or Gmail account.

If you didn’t receive either of the system messages that I mentioned in your inbox, then your email address may be letting you down. Consider opening up a new account to use with your membership – your future house sitting assignments could depend on it!

Cheers everyone, have a wonderful and safe festive season. Happy house sitting (or good luck with your sitters). And don’t forget to deck the halls with boughs of holly (tra la la la la la la la la)!

Susan Holtham
aka the team at MindMyHouse

Posted in: MindMyHouse News
Susan Holtham

About the author: Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!