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When your worst nightmares come true!


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After all the excitement of the Big Smoke in Sydney we enjoyed an easy few days around lake MacQuarie on our way to Nelson Bay where we had a house-sitting appointment lined up for 5 days.

The Entrance

We moseyed along the coast line, watched the Pelicans beady eyes as they waited to be thrown a fish from the pier and generally soaked up the incredible array of blues the Pacific was throwing our way and the variety of sand beneath our wiggling toes.

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Finally arriving in Nelson Bay we knew we had found a gem of a spot to take root for a while. House sitting is an ideal way for us to get to know a place and an even bigger bonus is that it is free. We basically live in someones home and take care of their pets if they have them, the garden and generally take care of their house while they are away. We love to do it as it gives us ‘down time’ from the van AND we get a token pet for a while which we love..not to mention a real shower. For this house-sit we took care of a lovely 14 year old ginger Tomcat called Flores. The big soft Dutch house cat was a real character. Full of chatter, eager for snuggles and unable to lay out on his back without rolling over due to his very comfortable living he was just lovely, he even LOVED to be combed, well, I have NEVER seen a cat that liked to be groomed by a human!

Flores

We settled in quickly to our spot 5 minutes from the beach and continued our development on the new website (I hope you are all as excited about this as we are). We cooked, worked and did laundry solidly for the first 2 days and then we had a morning to ourselves relaxing on the porch in the sun. We had only been out there an hour when we realised we had not seen Flores for a while. He wasn’t in his basket or on his blanket in the garden. He wasn’t even under the tree in the pile of leaves in the shade. He certainly hadn’t gone out of the front door and there had been no mention of him going exploring by his owners. We immediately panicked. Our worst house-sitting nightmares had come true.

We checked every nook and cranny in the house, shaking his bag of treats, we took the rake and poked all the bushes and piles of leaves, we even looked over all of the spider infested fences calling his name and shaking the stinky treat bag. Nothing. Flores was MISSING!

We wandered the streets calling him, shining a torch into the bushes to see if we could see the reflection of his eyes in the dark spaces…not wanting to stick our arms in there due to spiders…we are in Australia after all, but still, no sign of him. The panic set in, I began to cry, Alex was incredulous, it just didn’t seem in Flores’s personality to run away, he had just had smoked salmon for his elevenses for goodness sake…what cat would run away from that?

MISSING!

MISSING!

Not knowing what else to do we called into the vets, rang the police, rang the council, rang the kitty catcher and then the vets again. Everyone we called laughed at our accents in describing our missing portly ginger tom but there was still no sign of him. Our worst nightmare had come true, we had lost our charge. We had lost someone else’s 14 year old cat! Can you imagine the horror? Odette, his owner had gone to all of the trouble to bring him all the way to Australia from Holland…just for us to lose him. I could have died!

Alex stayed brave and in a last ditched attempt sent a text message to Odette to ask if there was a hiding place we didn’t know about and that we hadn’t seen him for a while. In total we had been looking for him for an hour which might not seem a lot but it was like time stood still! Odette text straight back and to our relief told us he often went exploring for a few hours at a time and that she was sure he would be back.

I still couldn’t rest until I knew he was safe and paced the house waiting, checking the garden every few minutes until finally I looked and there he was! Pulling his smug face and knowing he had us!

It was a good lesson for us. When cat sitting always ask the following –

Does your ‘house cat’ roam?

How long is s/he usually gone for? When do we begin to panic?

Does the cat have any hiding places?

Is your cat the most adorable cat in the world and will I immediately fall in love with him and not want to leave him after just 5 days?

It was SUCH a scary experience that I never want to relive. We didn’t tell Odette and Stephen about the escapades, we merely let them know he was home safe when he returned. We didn’t tell them because, as it happens, we just over-reacted but it was because we hadn’t asked ALL of the questions! I know now it was just Flores’s way of testing us. He never left my side after that and slept on my chest every night. He woke me up at around 3 every morning for snuggles and at 6.30 for breakfast, he had me wrapped around his furry little finger.

The day before our last at the house sit we were invited…well, actually, we invited ourselves over to see some friends about 100km away along the coast. We had met John and Tracey back in  Cuzco, Peru in 2012 in Starbucks of all places. The 4 of us searching for some respite and some coffee made in something other than a sock, happened upon each other that fateful afternoon. Back then we were hellbent on living in Australia and had threatened Jon and Tracey that when we arrived we would come looking for them…so we did.

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It was fate that our house sit was so close and we spent the afternoon at their home with their family catching up and swapping travel tales. It was just such a pleasure to see them. It made us realise that when you meet someone you get along with you should make the effort to spend time with them wherever you can, whatever it takes. We merely met John and Tracy for an hour or so all those years ago, since then we have exchanged a few emails but when we arrived at their home it was like we had always known one another. We all just gelled and had a wonderful afternoon together and I know we will get the opportunity to return their hospitality one day as we will all continue to make the effort to remain in touch.

The 100km drive back to the house took longer than expected but we arrived back to find Flores looking for us through the glass of the front door, he was happy we were home and welcomed us with meows of happiness…and hunger I’m sure but he snuggled up with us all night.

Of course the day we left he knew we were leaving and threw a full strop sat with a sad face on his blanket the whole day. I threw a strop too knowing I would never see him again and that our midnight snuggles were over. Alex told me as we drove away how tired I looked and that I should probably not have babies (furry or otherwise) as I would be too selfless and would probably kill myself trying to make then happy 24/7. I explained to him that that is exactly what being a parent is. But that is a story for another day!

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Bird spotting in Nelson Bay

Bird spotting in Nelson Bay

Incredible trees!

Incredible trees!

 

comments

  1. Franca says:

    I know exactly what you mean, if that happened to us I’d have panicked too. When we housesit I feel extra responsible for the pets we look after especially considering I don’t fully know their habits. I’m glad everything was fine at the end 🙂

    1. Lisa & Alex says:

      Exactly Franca! Absolutely lost my mind with worry. Such a big responsibility that can’t be taken lightly. I am the WORST too as I fall in love with the pets so quickly and HATE to leave! I was SO pleased he came right back, it just didn’t seem in his personality but you never know how they are going to react with having strangers around! Xx

  2. Mike says:

    wow….that is scary….thankfully our next house-sit is just a garden…..although i have to say it comes with its own risks, lol.

    1. Lisa & Alex says:

      Very true Mike…I was in a panic every day in Auckland that I had over-watered the seedlings and under-picked the courgettes!A big responsibility…and then there is all the ‘other’ risks 🙁 x

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