It is so long since we updated the blog that we couldn’t remember what the last post was about. And checking back we see that we didn’t finish writing about NZ – our final month was missing. So before updating on what we have done since we left NZ 3 months ago, here is how we spent our final month there.
We spent 3 weeks house and pet sitting in the coastal town of Timaru. It’s a functional supply town for the Canterbury plains, little visited by tourists, but with nice views of the snow covered mountains 50ks away. We had 2 dogs to care for, a high octane labrador/collie mix called Gus, whose chief desire in life was to fetch balls, and Ted, a cairn terrier who alarmed us daily with his disappearances on our walks. There were also 3 cats and a 5 month old kitten, and 3 pet sheep who kept the grass trimmed.
[Gus, with Ted keeping an eye on him]
[Gus making a new friend at the beach]
We arrived a day before the home owners – Andy and Julia and their 2 children -headed away on their trip and we used the day to see what kind of care the animals were used to. It was pretty straightforward, and apart from feeding the animals (about 10 minutes work), all we needed to do was to take the dogs on a morning walk, either on the beach or alongside a nearby river. The rest of our day was free. As we waved Andy and Julia off, we looked forward to comprehensive planning of our Australia trip and massive progress with our French and Italian study.
[William having a power nap before storming out to the garden
[Buckley, one cool cat and responsible for most of the cat hair on our clothes]
We knew the dogs were used to constant company, and it was no surprise when Ted claimed a spot on our bed on the very first night. The cats too seemed to quickly identify us as soft touches, and we had the kitten in our bed every night, curled up with us under the covers. And 2 of the other cats barely left the house, sometimes sleeping with us, or else in the lounge. During the day every sofa and chair seemed to have a sleeping animal of some kind, and at night we had constant company. On one occasion when we had the bed to ourselves for a few hours, we felt like something was missing. William, the kitten, was a total delight, and we spent half the day watching his antics in the back garden, playing with him or photographing him as he stretched out and slept. Even the 3 sheep turned out to be more than just lawn mowers. As soon as we emerged from the house they came running up to us, eager for their morning hay, or for some company and a bit of a scratch on their necks.
So, we didn’t actually do very much during our 3 weeks there. We didn’t plan any trip, Australia or otherwise, nor do any study. We spent half the night letting dogs or cats in or out of the bedroom, or out the back door. And when we weren’t playing with the animals, Clara worked her way through their crime fiction section of the book shelves, while Daniel read the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. We baked and we cooked and we watched trashy TV in the evening and generally whittled away the 3 weeks with nothing to show for it, except plenty of dog and cat hair on our clothes.
During the 3 weeks we regularly sent photos to Andy and Julia and they were relieved to see the animals looked happy and cared for. When they returned they very kindly gave us a little photo album with prints of the dogs and cats, obviously knowing we would miss them once we left. Post housesitting we spent our precious remaining days on the Banks peninsula, appreciating the fresh air, the gorgeous scenery and the warmth of the Kiwis, before flying to Melbourne and beginning phase 2 of our adventure!