25-30 March: Ticking off our final days in Australia

Author: Mrs A

Location: Sydney, Australia

We’ve had a busy week getting our final tasks completed in Sydney and saying a few farewells to our lovely friends.

Monday night saw us treated to an absolute gastronomic feast, delicious wine and food prepared by friends Cathy and Scott and hosted by Donna and Andy – we were incredibly spoilt, and it was so great to see them.

Tuesday was a little dusty after the excesses of the night before, but I headed off early to see my Gastroenterologist in St Leonards to hopefully be signed off to continue travelling. Thankfully I got the tick of approval, and Dr Smith also organised for all my notes to be sent across for me to take to the UK, should anything go awry.

In the afternoon, I had a bouncy blow dry to add that little bit of glamour before we headed to drinks with friends at King Street Wharf. Despite it being a Tuesday night we had a great turnout with about 17 friends joining us.

A little bit of bounce….

Wednesday was a great day to pack – we both are currently Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver – probably for the last time ever, so have plenty of luggage allowance – 42kg each! Still it was a good practice to get it organised and bags weighed in advance to settle any nerves.

In the evening we met up with more friends, Clive, Aisha, John and Eveliene for dinner and drinks in Circular Quay.

Thursday was the birthday of one of our kind hosts, Jenny, who is currently working her socks off closing down one of her framing shops, and upgrading another. She came home to a well deserved glass of champagne before we all jumped in an Uber and headed to a fabulous Asian restaurant in Coogee Beach, Sugarcane. Highly recommended if you’re looking for somewhere new to eat and are in the area.

After a crazy week, Friday was much quieter. Mr A and I went into the city for a few final tasks (Mark’s shaver broke, but thankfully within warranty and exchanged swiftly) and I had my final medical procedure – steroid injections into my airway. They’ve been working really well, and my Otolaryngologist (ENT, head and neck surgeon) showed me he was delighted with how the scar tissue is drawing back and opening out my trachea. We just hope it keeps on working. Again, he has given me notes and videos to take with me to the UK.

We had a quiet night with Jenny and David, all of us exhausted for our own reasons after a busy week.

Saturday morning finally arrived, and after a walk around the neighbourhood we packed up for real and did a final weigh in – thankfully all within our allowance still, despite a total of eleven bags.

Our Uber XL arrived on time and we loaded up the boot….

All piled up outside Jenny and David’s apartment block

We are finally off!

Enjoying the final breaths of Sydney air for a while

We have checked in seven bags, and are hoping we will see seven again at the other end. We have a kind friend who is driving through the early hours of Sunday morning in the UK to pick us up…not sure we are prepared for the 2 degrees centigrade forecast for our arrival though!

This will be the first time in 20 years we will spend more time in Europe than here!

Farewell Australia!

18-24 March: Nomadic life has its moments…

Author: Mr A

Location(s): Nowra, Berry, Sydney, Morton National Park, Orange

Let’s set the scene here. We have our worldly goods scattered around various locations in Sydney and surrounds. Our house contents are stored in two big cages in a warehouse in western Sydney. Our caravan and kayak had been stored nearly 6 hours drive west of Sydney. Various other bits and pieces are with friends in Matraville and Forestville. Life was getting complicated. It was time to rationalise the logistics!

We have found a storage business in Nowra that will take our caravan, car, kayak and bikes, and it was all under cover, with access to top up solar power. Oh and the guy who runs it said if we want work doing on the car (we do) or caravan (we hope not) then he can drop off and help organise. Perfect!

We headed for Berry last week after our Jervis Bay jaunt, and spent a few days parked up next to our friends’ property, and loved being welcome recipients of their delicious home grown produce!. They are such good company, always up to something interesting in that lively community down there.

Then it was back down to Nowra to drop the caravan at its new storage home before we loaded all our gear for the next 7 months of our UK/Europe trip into the car and hightailed it to Matraville. I had my bi-annual eye health check and Catherine was off to talk at a medical conference in Brisbane.

Sometimes this lugging around gear gets a bit tiresome, then we think “all in a good cause!”.

Tassie immediately settled back into ‘city pad’ mode.

Solar cat recharging on the balcony

She has three sets of fur parents who love her dearly. She’s a lucky lady.

I dashed into the city and was relieved of $500 plus dollars and got the good news of no further deterioration in my eyesight. Medical expenses between the two of us are crazy and mostly not covered by Medicare or our private health insurance. No wonder there is such a strong correlation here between income and health. Still, we are glad we live in Australia not the US.

Our next task on the storage juggle list was to visit our stored house contents in western Sydney. We figured we needed to access the winter clothes bag having checked the temperature in England (a top temperature of 11 degrees centigrade anticipated for our arrival!) – we fly this coming Saturday, straight into the Brexit Storm!

Next job – collect the kayak and other bits was had left out at our friends property out at Canowindra. A 5-6 hr drive out into western NSW. I devised a cunning plan though, after reading about a overnight bike trip some people had done in the national park inland from Nowra. Mrs A was up in Brisbane at a conference, so I headed down to Nowra collected the bike, dusted off the bikepacking gear, and headed for the hills. Well, I couldn’t actually see the hills through the driving rain and fog. Was this a smart idea? I consulted with my more optimistic half. Mrs A said “the forecast looks like it’s better further inland”, so I applied the right foot and started winding my up into the very wet high country.

I parked up at a pub close to the start of the ride (handy hey?), and got the camping gear loaded on my beast of a bike.

Ready to head off…and the sun is shining!

I love that bike, and still smile every time I throw a leg over the saddle. I didn’t get away until mid afternoon, but the rain had held up so was feeling pretty perky. Well until I remembered I had forgotten one of the most essential items of gear…my tea mug! Oh no! I had snuck in some Tim Tams (yummy Aussie chocolate biscuits) for my favourite ritual on these solo trips of getting the tent pitched somewhere gorgeous and getting a brew on. Still I pressed on regardless and was thrilled that the maps app and routing a friend had sent me was working a treat.

One happy bike-packer!

The route traverses into the Morton National Park which stretches for just under 200,000 hectares through sandstone plateau country crisscrossed by gorges. I had been reading about a 5-day ride through it called ‘Attack of the Buns‘, but only had time for two half days. I’d picked the section that several people had commented was through especially stunning and wild country. They weren’t wrong.

I started dropping down towards a small stream I had read about in the trip write up. Well the small stream was now a grown up river after all the rain. I paused, checked the time and decided to camp just before it and see what the morning brought weather wise. My reading of the forecast was they had no clue. Weather up in the hills here is notoriously unpredictable.

The tent was soon up and the issue of the lack of mug solved – use my empty Pringle container! Yes it is all health foods on these trips without the conscience on my shoulder of the lovely Mrs A. Now I can definitely say, do not pour boiling hot liquid into a cardboard Pringle container. It all went horribly wrong and the much better Plan B of drinking out of my food bowl was implemented.

Norman no-mates tent

I rose in the pre-dawn darkness and checked the river. I was going to have wet shoes for the rest of the trip but so what. I packed the gear and set off when it was just light enough to see where I was treading. It was up to the hubs but I pushed through, and I’m so glad I did. The riding from here was stunning.

Stream? A full blown river more like!
Made it!

Friends ask me why I always do these trips solo. My response – I can go at my own slow pace, and when I see country like this I’m so glad I can take my time to just stop and look. Silver cobwebs were hanging across the scrub. Mist was hanging over the cliffs. Not a person to be seen. The stillness is just something else. No other voices to break the spell.

Magical morning mist, birds, wallabies and not another person…
Dew coated spider webs sparkling in the morning light

I rode the somewhat soggy track but it was pretty easy going and eventually reached a point mid morning where I reluctantly had to turn round.

So tempting to keep on going…
A stream or my pathway ahead? Thank goodness for fat tyres

Perhaps to some people it would have seemed a lot of effort to get the bike all loaded up for one night. But not for me. I love the chance to ride and reflect, listen, smell and feel the bush. I’m going to miss it in the UK and Europe, but it will be replaced with country so different to this, country shaped and filled by human endeavour.

It was a long drive to Canowindra and I was running out of daylight. You really don’t want to be on these country roads at dusk with kamikaze kangaroos about. My eyes are also not good for night driving. So kayak collected, I headed over to Orange, where a friend had recently moved back to from Manly. It was her birthday so a great excuse for a catch up. We had a lovely time, wine tasting and eating at a brilliant restaurant called Mr Lim. Check it out if you’re in town.

Pre dinner drink at the very fancy local RSL in Orange

All too quickly it was time to point the car back to Nowra and store it there until early November. It’s really happening…we’re off for a whole new adventure.

30 January – 3 February: Exploring new areas of Sydney

Author: Mrs A

Location: Matraville, Sydney, La Perouse

After a few initial culture shocks of being back in Sydney (lots of traffic, very warm, and a lot of time spent complaining to Telstra!) we have settled back in with our generous ‘flat mates’ Jenny and David in Matraville. We have had a busy few days ticking off the usual medical appointments – a biopsy and 90 minutes in a dentist’s chair for Mr A, an airway procedure with an ENT specialist for me (with tentatively great news about how my airway is looking – nice and wide open!), plus a few nice experiences tossed in for luck – hairdressers and a catch up with friends at a new restaurant.

Saturday Mark and I decided we needed to get some fresh air and headed off a short drive from where we’re staying to the coast, just a 5 minute drive to Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

Ever wondered where Matraville and Botany Bay National Park is?

We have both lived in Sydney for more than 20 years, and could hardly believe we are still being introduced to beautiful natural areas such as this as we set off to explore somewhere new.

Dramatic skies accompany us as we walk along the cliff top

And not a breath of wind to stir the waters…

Our destination is Cape Banks, and the ‘island’ we reach via footbridge. We had no idea this existed before today and the grey humid skies only added to the mysterious atmosphere.

Mr A takes the bold step off mainland Australia onto the bridge to the island
Despite the calm winds the surf crashes over the rocks
We find a little rock shelter to watch the water from
More sculptural rocks…

Once on the island we have fabulous views over to the mouth of Botany Bay
Container ships constantly enter and leave from Botany Bay…
The Minmi – a ship wreck from 1937 – It was originally built in Glasgow, Scotland and is gradually disappearing into the sea
More of the Minmi wreck – two crew members died when it ran aground here

We continued our walk a little around the bay, driving around to Little Bay where we took to the beach and followed the soft sand around to Yarra Bay. We had never heard of Yarra Bay, but found out it is a nominee for the best beach in Australia. We called into the Skiff Club for lunch.Oysters and calamari sustaining us, we then decided to inflate our peak rafts (handily stowed in our backpacks) and paddle back to the start of the walk. Perfect!Our day concluded with a delicious barbecued roast lamb dinner with Jenny and David, simply delicious.

Sunday morning saw us joining Jenny and David for another new experience, strolling along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk from Vaucluse to Nielsen Park. Just a short 1.8km each way, it links several little bays alongside Sydney Harbour and provides some gorgeous views.

Our first view of the bridge, helping justify the high price of property in this area
Jen, David & Mark set off along the walkway

A lovely crested bird – a Shrike-Tit perhaps?

My favourite view of all, through a sculptural tree creating multiple windows…

We farewelled Jenny and David after a swim and returning to the start of the walk, and headed off to Sydney’s north shore for a catch up with two more friends, Donna and Andy.

They treated us to a couple of delicious gin and tonics – including a non-alcoholic one for Mark as he was driving. Together with a delicious platter of cheese, biscuits and pickles and a great catch-up, it was as ever, lovely to spend time with our friends.

An exotic selection of gins and tonic waters

Soon though, it was time for more farewells as we drove to our final destination for the night and the coming days, Forestville with more friends, John and Eveliene.

I’m about to head into hospital for an operation and they have kindly offered a bed for my convalescence. It’s a strange feeling being ‘homeless’ in what has been our home town for so many years, moving from destination to destination with a car full of cases and possessions. We couldn’t do this without the kindness and generosity of our friends here in Sydney, and for that we will be forever grateful.

Goodbye NZ we will miss you!

Author: Mr A

Location: Auckland New Zealand

Well it’s nearly time to head to the airport and bid goodbye to this fabulous country and people. She has touched our hearts again with the beauty of the mountains and coastline, the fresh produce that can be brought at roadside stalls, the cooling breezes that even on a hot day provide a tingle of freshness.

Leaving Omokoroa was hard. We feel priveldged to have watched the sun set over the hills there so many times. To watch the clouds swirling round the peaks of the Kaimai Range in in the distance as we sat on the patio and chatted with Richard and Sue. To watch the flocks of godwits as the tide changes make their daily flight back and forward to their preferred feeding grounds, never failing to make us “ooh and ahhh”. To stand on the beach and breathe in that air that is so fresh and clean it makes your nose tingle. These are the memories we will store away.

The tidal mudflats, a feeding ground for so many birds
Oyster Catchers flying in to join their flock
We wish we could communicate the bird calls across the sands, the geese, the godwits, the swans, oyster catchers, stilts and more…
The sense of peace and serenity here is second to none

We once again have experienced the kindness of people as we travel. Yesterday was such a great example of that. Collected from our hotel, we were whisked out to a friend’s house in the posh end of Auckland’s coastal suburbs. It was a day we will always remember.

Friends reunited – strolling along the waterfront at Mission Bay
Excited to be seeing somewhere new
A little post lunch margarita action to celebrate Auckland Day
Bonnie the gorgeous cat-dog knows a good lap when she finds one!

The lively conversation with the whole family engaged. The fabulously long lunch down on the water. The sharing of stories, music and jokes. Suddenly 10 hours had passed in a blink, but the deeper friendship forged will last I think a lifetime. This surely is what life should be about if you have managed to carve yourself some space from the day to day pressure of earning a crust.

The sad fact of travel though is that you do have to say goodbye a lot, and we’ve said a few over the last days. However, we look forward to seeing the Sydney mob again. Fasten your seat belts we’re incoming!

December 5-8: Mothballing the car & Zone

Author: Mrs A

Location: Canowindra, Bathurst and Sydney

Tuesday: Everyone awoke feeling a little dusty after our impromptu celebration on Monday night, but life on a farm must go on, however foggy the heads! Jo somehow found time to show Mark and I around the old house that sits on the property, the central parts still pretty sound after nearly 100 years standing. Jo and Alan have some exciting plans for a new home, office and guest quarters on the site, with building hopefully starting next year.Mr A and I drove into sleepy Canowindra to send off the last of our eBay sales, a couple of Christmas gifts to the UK, and return our tyre-pressure monitoring kit back to the factory for testing. Despite fully reinstalling the monitors from scratch in the morning, they still failed to show all our wheels on the system.

We were more or less the only people on the streets – it’s amazing how the handful of clothes, craft and trinket shops survive with such light traffic.

Alan, Jo, Mark and I finished off the day by heading into the nearby small town of Cowra, hoping to eat dinner at the Indian restaurant there. Mr A and I had dined there last year, finding the food delicious, and definitely up there with our favourite meals. Sadly, on arrival we found the restaurant in darkness, the phone number seemingly disconnected. What a shame. We opted for the local pub instead, The Oxley, which was buzzing and provided some tasty dinners.

Wednesday: We awoke knowing we had a challenging task ahead of us – to decide what items to take out from the caravan and back to Sydney with us. We were now leaving the caravan until February so had to think about all eventualities. Finally we had packed our bags, done a final tidy up and took the Zone to its undercover storage place. The Zone looked dwarfed by the barn, and we feel sure it’ll be protected from the elements, settled amongst fabulous views over the coming weeks.We farewelled Jo and Alan and drove to our next destination, Bathurst. There we stopped the night with friend David and his two boys, Felix and Rory, enjoying steak and salad and a good night’s sleep. This is where the Cruiser will spend the next few weeks while we are in New Zealand.

Thursday: David dropped us at Bathurst station and Mr A and I began our slow journey back to Sydney. Boarding a coach to Lithgow at 10am, we finally reached our next accomodation in Matraville around 4.30pm. A long hard slog!

It was great to see Miss Tassie though, and soon our patient and generous flat mates Jenny and David arrived home from work for dinner and a catch up.

We’re definitely clocking up the favours, and feel very fortunate for the strong friendships we have built up over the past 20 years in Australia which are allowing us to enjoy the lifestyle we have chosen.

Friday: After a very sedentary few days, we were determined to get out for a walk. It’s a gorgeous temperature here at the moment, mid 20s, and perfect for a stroll. We walked down to South Maroubra Beach and back, clocking up over 12km – very pretty scenery.The afternoon was spent doing a little Christmas shopping and a visit to my ENT surgeon (iSGS followers – I had my first awake steroid injection into my stenosis!).

Saturday: A hair cut was in order for me – I decided to get quite a bit chopped off and it’s now the shortest its been in several years – thank you Toni for fitting me in and doing a great job as usual! Jenny and David had invited a bunch of their friends over for Christmas drinks and nibbles in the evening, so Mr A and I helped prepare the apartment for visitors, starting with quality testing the beverages – a glass of French Champagne before the guests arrived.A fun evening proceeded – delicious food and drink accompanied by much laughter and interesting conversations. Fabulous!

10 October- 28 November: The seven week sprint

Authors: Mr & Mrs A

What a whirlwind of a seven weeks we have had since arriving back in Australia from the USA! Our goal was to get the house rented again before the Christmas lull, and set ourselves up to be free and funded to travel for the next few years. We decided that meant renting our place longer term and unfurnished, to prevent further deterioration of our contents and allow us to access our things from storage if we needed to either stop travelling and rent, our swap over clothes and gear.

In parallel to finding a new real estate agent (that we would have confidence in to protect our asset), we needed to slim down what we were going to store – restricting ourselves to only the things we felt were high value to us, financially and emotionally. That left a lot of stuff we needed to re-home, either through selling or donating to friends/charity.

We also needed to ensure our health was in optimum shape before hitting the road, and lastly but most importantly we wanted to spend as much time with Sydney based friends as possible, as we plan to be spending a lot less time there in the coming years.

So here’s the summary of how we have spent our time, and what we have accomplished. We make a good team with very different skills, and this scorecard reminds us of that.

Social scorecard

This photo says it all, lots of laughs and drinks, and great food (eventually!). Our friends were so generous with the their time and support. We couldn’t contemplate what we are doing without their help and it is much appreciated.

Catch-ups with friends: 12 awesome breaking bread occasions that created some great memories to take on our travels with us.

Medical

Of course heading home means a chance to see the dentist and get all essential check ups done…and to have a few doses of general anaesthetic drugs too – in Mrs A’s case at least – Mr A is a finely tuned machine…ah-hem….

GP visits: Mr A: 3 / Mrs A: 2

Pathology/tests : Mr A: 1 / Mrs A: 2

Specialist visits: Mr A: 3 / Mrs A: 3

Operations: Mr A: 0 / Mrs A: 2 (with another one booked for February 2019)

Dental visits: Mr A: 1 / Mrs A: 1

Friends visited in hospital: 1 (Eric, you’re a champ!)

Trips to vet: 1 (Princess Tassie in fine form)

So it has been a busy period on the health front – trying to both manage excising conditions, and be proactive about monitoring our general health. Getting health care whilst of no fixed abode is a real challenge.

House Rental

We have learnt a lot from our first two experiences as landlords. We wanted to apply that knowledge now and do things a little differently. So we found a new agent, thanks to a great recommendation from friends, and had a much better experience through the marketing and sales process, culminating in a signed agreement within three weeks. Well done Jacquelynn and Jessica of Ray White Freshwater!

Prep time: We lost count of the number of days we spent cleaning and fixing things in the house and garden. Suffice to say there was much that needed doing to ready it for showing to prospective tenants at the premium end of the price range that we are at.

Open house: 1

Viewings: 2

Cubic metres of contents eventually stored: 40m

Compared to our previous experience it was quite painless. We are were properly briefed on prospective tenants, good advice was given and a new tenancy agreement signed.

Selling/donating

There’s nothing like living in a small space (a caravan) to refocus the mind about what you really need to live comfortably! We (Ok lets be honest here, Mrs A played the lead role in this activity) decided on a long list of things we wanted to sell or give away. When we looked at the cost of storage (a tortuous process in itself to find that out!), we quickly realised it made no sense to store things that weren’t really valuable. So it was time to “let go” of furniture we had had for some time, and sell it while it had at least some residual value. There were also things that we felt we wouldn’t need in this next phase of our travels.

For instance our bike and boat fleets have been reduced. Six bikes down to two, and sold one kayak and two packrafts, although we have replaced the latter with smaller, lighter versions for flat water only. We even sold old cameras, sunglasses, a GPS unit, the list goes on. Every item for sale had to be carefully photographed and presented well, with accurate descriptions, then packed and sent off. Time consuming but the payback was fantastic, both financially and the feeling we got from decluttering our home and garage.

Furniture & items sold/donated to friends/neighbours: 40

Trips to Vinnies/Lifeline: 8

Furniture sold on Gumtree: 4

Items sold on eBay: 19

Items sold on Facebook groups: 2

Original artwork sold: 9

Funds raised from all the above: $12,000!

Financial

We had a few things to sort out. Our first step as always was a review meeting with our financial planner. As usual he provided us with a really high quality assessment of where our investments stand, and what strategies we should use to maximise them going forward. We came away feeling confident that the life plan we have for the next few years (travelling both in Australia and internationally), is affordable now we have set up the house to provide a predicable income supplement to Mr A’s super.

We have mixed feelings about being told how lucky we are to be able to do this. Yes luck has played a part, i.e. some things that were outside of our control have gone well. However, we also feel we have played our part in determining where we find ourselves now, with smart decision making and sacrifices made along the way.

Money saved on insurance: Its amazing what deals can be done if you look hard enough and on a fixed income now we are very motivated to do that. For instance, why should our car be registered in an expensively rated city area when it won’t be there? Or through persisting with our storage insurance research we secured a deal saving 66% off our initial quote, saving thousands off our annual bill.

No home address?: Some companies are still slow to enable their systems to deal with those of us who choose to have no fixed abode for long periods. We found through research that there is often no legal reason companies need a physical address for you, but they will often tell you there is. Old habits die hard, and they do so love somewhere to send their marketing material.

So what’s next?

After 7 weeks, the sprint to achieve our goal of being able to set ourselves up to extend our travelling lifestyle is over. We drove out of Sydney yesterday, turning our back on a lovely home, plumbing connected to a sewerage system, dishwashers and ironing boards. We headed south to Kiama and will spend the next 10 days visiting some friends before storing the caravan and car, eventually retuning to Sydney a few days before our New Zealand trip.Sadly Tassie can’t be with us on every part of our travels, but she is being so very well looked after in feline foster care with all the warm spots and cuddles she needs.

We have certainly picked an interesting time to leave the security of our home, as the biggest storm in 40 years hits us. The caravan is swaying in the wind and we were warned last night we might be marooned in our caravan park by a flooding river. Well, so what? We have everything we need in here (except a blue Burmese cat to snuggle up to!)…the next adventure begins!

November: A new phase of our life about to begin!

Author: Mr A

Location: Curl Curl, NSW

We sit surrounded by packing crates. Our cat looks as bemused as we do at the state of the house! Our prized possessions being taped up and sealed in crates, with Catherine and I having no clue as to when and where we will open them again!Two weeks today we will pull out of our driveway unsure as to when we will be back. We have rented the house out again, but this time unfurnished, as we want to continue to travel for at least a year and more likely longer, and offering the place unfurnished means longer more stable rental income. Well thats the plan anyway. We’ve locked in our first tenant with the help of Ray White Real Estate, who will manage the rental while we are away.

So we have spent the last few weeks decluttering, selling furniture and stuff we don’t want to store. It’s been hard to let some things ago, but also liberating now as we look around at a more streamlined set of possessions. It all sounds pretty good, and it is, apart from the fact that we will be separated from our fur child Tasmania. She will be in superb foster care though with a couple of sets of friends, but of course will be sorely missed by us. With any direction you take in life there are always compromises to be made. Giving away our treasured book collection yesterday for instance – that was tough – but it made no sense to store them – we are trying to get our costs down of course as we will need to live off the rental income and my super.So as well as finalising the packing we are organising the multitude of things that you need to change if you will no longer have a permanent address. Of course this has been so much easier now almost everyone can transact with you without sending mail, except the RTA of course, bless them. Oh and CIL, the specialist caravan insurer who would have a huge percentage of their customers of no fixed abode! Some companies are still struggling with the digital transition it seems.

So what happens next?

Lots of people have been asking us that question, so here’s the summary. When we leave the house we will spend a few days in southern NSW catching up with friends, and then make our way back to Sydney minus the van and the car, which will be stored with some of those friends who don’t live in Sydney and therefore have nice large driveways! Thank you if you’re reading this! Then it’s off to the North Island of New Zealand on the 12 December for 6 weeks, basing ourselves with some of Catherine’s family just outside of Tauranga.

Then the plot thickens. We will spent February and March around southern NSW and Victoria, then head off to Europe in early April.

Once there, we are going to be motorhome based nomads, starting in the UK then heading over to Europe in May, which will of course be a seperate economic area by then, so our plans are pretty flexible based on what agreements are reached on Brexit. For example, maximum stays of 3 months for UK passport holders is one option being debated. We will see have to see how it all unfolds.

Lots of excitement and unknowns in the Anderson household at the moment. Catherine has some ongoing health issues which will need to be treated and managed within these plans, so we will need to be flexible.

We so appreciate the support of friends who are helping us make this happen, offering foster care for Tassie, helping me fix things (I need a lot of help). Leaving our friends behind as we spend less time in Sydney is going to be tough. However, we have been offered the opportunity so we think we should grab it.

4 November: Escape to the bush

Author: Mrs A

Location: Sydney, Australia

Since our last post we have been really busy – sorting out our house, choosing which furniture to keep and store, and which to sell or donate to charity, interjected with occasional frenzied cleaning and tidying in order to present our home as a show house to tempt future tenants in. All this activity has been interjected with some great catch ups with friends.

Today, we finally allowed ourselves a bit of a break. We headed up to our favourite Sunday Food Market in Frenchs Forest first thing, treating ourselves to Japanese pancakes for breakfast and topping up our vegetable supplies.

From there we headed down to Garigal National Park, where we did a great 8.5km hike. Just 20 minutes from home, it was a fabulous reminder of the lovely scenery here on our doorstep in Sydney.It was great to be back out amongst the gum trees, the beautiful scents of the Australian bush reminding us what all our hard work the past few weeks has been about.Kookaburras flew across our path, and up in the trees there were the constant squarks of sulpha crested cockatoos and the calls of the eastern whip birds and superb fairy wrens.There was a bit of climbing involved, and I felt so grateful to be breathing easily again – the first real test since my surgery a few weeks ago.We followed the pretty Carroll Creek, winding alongside Sydney sandstone.

Before we reached the car on our return leg, we’d spotted more wildlife including a gorgeous chocolate brown bush wallaby and a rarely seen echidna.Getting out there amongst nature definitely relieved some of the stress of the past few weeks, and we are determined to do more of it.

We have more busy times ahead, with the task of packing to get started on and this week choosing where to store our furniture long term.

More adventures are definitely in our future, and the big task of emptying our house is our first step along that next journey. Hopefully you’ll continue to join us along the way!

13-20 October: An extremely busy week

Author: Mrs A

Location: Sydney, Australia

I can hardly believe we have been back in our home a single week, so much has happened!

As well as unpacking the caravan, restoring our bits and pieces into the house and restocking food supplies, we also took seven sacks of donations up the the nearby St Vincent do Paul Charity shop. It’s incredible how living in a space not much larger than your kitchen can refocus the mind, making you realise all the things you don’t need after all. It also helped that many of the clothes and shoes we gave away had been locked up for the past 18 months and we didn’t miss them. It is far better they’re used by someone who will appreciate them.

We managed to fit a few walks down to our local beach for some fresh air and to stretch the legs.This week was also about medical visits. I had a few tests and saw a doctor about my sore foot – he believes my issues are not neuroma after all, but torn ligaments around my toe – something that can take about 18 months to heal, but can be helped with an orthotic insert. Excellent! I had been fearing surgery was my next step (so to say!).

Mr A saw his eye surgeon for extensive field tests to check out his glaucoma and again heard positive news there, with no decline in his vision, fabulous news.

And I was in hospital for an operation on my airway. I’m starting a new procedure with a new surgeon and hope my idiopathic subglottic stenosis can be kept at bay so more unhindered fun can be had in the great outdoors in the coming months.

Recovery from that op has been slowed by both Mr A and I catching colds – not ideal after surgery, but probably inevitable, and only a cold after all. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger so they say!

In addition to charity donations this week, we have been sorting out some things to sell. First of all my artwork. You probably have noticed I enjoy putting paint to paper on the odd occasion, and in the past have done a few exhibitions. No time for that right now, so I’m listing everything for sale here and on my Facebook page. If there is anything that interests you, let me know!There will be a few eBay/GumTree sales coming up too – a few household items, plus our packrafts and Mr A’s single kayak. So lots of work ahead.Miss Tassie has been enjoying having a wide choice of sunny spots to stretch out in, and has settled in nicely to being back in the house for the time being.

9-12 October: Returning down under…

Author: Mrs A

Location: Sydney, Australia

Wednesday: We finally stepped out of Sydney International Airport into a gloomy grey spring day, drizzle in the air and a chilly southerly breeze blowing. It was around 7.30am, yet our lovely friend Jenny was there to pick us up, breathing sunshine into our morning.

Before long we were back at her apartment and the kettle was on – yes, US folk, an electric kettle. You can’t beat a nice cup of tea after 29 hours of travelling!

The drizzle progressed into torrential rain and throughout the day we did all our washing and drying with a short afternoon nap. We needed to get ourselves rebooted ready for a jovial evening.

Jenny and David had invited mutual friends, Colin and Di over for dinner. We last saw Colin and Di on our travels through Provence a couple of years ago, where we spent a fun weekend in their gorgeous French villa helping to celebrate Colin’s birthday and eating and drinking fine food (for a change, ha ha!).

It was a fun catch up with lots of laughter – keeping us awake til after midnight and staving off the jet lag…or so we hoped.

Friday: Another wet and gloomy day where jet lag provided another early awakening. During the morning a friend called to let us know our friend Eric had been taken into hospital on Tuesday for surgery to remove a tumour. It turned out the hospital is just 20 minutes drive away from where we were staying with Jenny and David. It’s funny how fate intervenes.

We jumped in the car and paid Eric a visit. It was great to see him in such good spirits despite what must have been a painful procedure, and we had a good chat and laugh with him, and are hopeful the surgeons have been successful in removing all the cancer.We finished off our day with another meal at Jenny and David’s local family owned Italian restaurant – more delicious food concluding with a Limoncello (two each for the boys!), in that great Italian tradition. Cheers!As much as we have loved our time with Jenny and David, we’re hopeful our house will be ready for us to move back in tomorrow. Fingers crossed!