In the past I have used my blog writing as a form of personal diary, happy to have others who are interested follow along for the ride.
I've always simply wanted to live my own life in my own way, and for the past five years, since I last did any serious blog writing, that's exactly what I have been doing.
In 2015 Vanessa and I went to live in China for a while to work as English Teachers, in order to top up our depleted travel funds.
I wrote a couple of blogs during our time in China, but focussed more on just enjoying life without bothering to document it too much.
Since leaving China I've done much the same, although Vanessa and I have written quite a lot for our online publication, House Sitting Magazine, recording what we have experienced together.
This post is just a quick recap of five years. It is as much for me as it is for you, as I think Vanessa and I are at the start of a new phase, beginning a new adventure, changing the way we are trying to continue to live our lifestyle of freedom.
As we left China at the end of 2015 our employers offered us positions as online English teachers. For me this was the lightbulb moment when everything fell into place. We had done a few house sits in Panama and in the States, and knew this is what we wanted to do going forward.
With no debt and no home base, very low living expenses due to "working" as house and pet sitters, and an online income that could be made wherever we were in the world, we'd managed to create a lifestyle of great freedom.
What follows is a very quick run-through of our freedom lifestyle highlights from 2016 to 2019.
(Dec 2015 to Jan 2016)
House sitting in the Victorian Alps. This was our first proper long term house sit. Two months looking after two cats and a beautiful home high in the hills with an amazing view. We also had the use of a big 4-wheel drive truck, a motorbike, two mountain bikes and two canoes.
(Feb - Mar)
In Fiji we looked after a small boutique resort during off-season maintenance, including dealing with a Category 5 cyclone and its aftermath. We became good friends with our neighbours, and after the cyclone we looked after their pool too, nursing it back to crystal clear condition.
One of our biggest highlights there was the "shark feed dive", which was an open water experience, surrounded by dozens of sharks, including a couple of big Bull Sharks.
(Apr - May)
House sitting in Perth, WA. Back in Australia we caught up with a few old friends, and enjoyed a couple of very nice house sits in the Perth suburbs.
Visiting my brother in Delhi, and finally getting to visit the Taj Mahal properly, instead of just seeing it from a distance. See Goal #84
We stopped over in the UK on our way from India to Mexico, fitting in a couple of house sits and spending time catching up with friends and family.
This is when we started publishing House Sitting Magazine. The first issue was created during these weeks, while house sitting in England.
(July - Aug)
We flew into Cancun in Mexico, and visited Chichén Itzá, Goal #52 of my original 100 goals. From there we travelled via Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, where the house sit for 6 cats was to become a bit of a regular fixture on our calendar.
(Aug - Sept)
We passed through Mexico city again, flying from there down to Costa Rica, and crossing over into Panama, where we looked after one of my old neighbour's home in Bocas del Toro. We spent a lot of our time there catching up with friends.
(Sept - Oct)
We travelled north again, through Costa Rica once more and into Nicaragua, where we looked after 4 cats and a beautiful boxer dog in the lakefront city of Granada.
(Oct - Nov)
Flying north from Nicaragua we enjoyed a "between house sits" travel adventure staying in various places around the shore of Lake Atitlan, and visiting an incredible kite festival.
(Nov 2016 - Jan 2017)
Back in Mexico we enjoyed a few days at the beach in Puerto Vallarta before heading back to San Miguel de Allende, where we returned to look after 6 cats again, enjoying a wonderful Christmas and New Year in this flamboyant city.
With a few weeks to fill at the start of the year before our flight to the US Virgin Islands we rented a little off-grid house high in the hills above San Miguel, and spent much of our time hiking in the mountains.
US Virgin Islands
Using Cancun as a fly-in fly-out base we headed out to the US Virgin Islands to stay with Jack & Carrie, our neighbours from Fiji from the previous year.
(Feb - Mar)
There were many highlights during our month of travel and exploration in Cuba. For me one of the most memorable experiences was negotiating in Spanish for a taxi, and jokingly suggesting we would agree to the price if I could drive. After a quick discussion between the owners of the vehicle there was a surprise acceptance of my terms. I got to drive a 1954 Chevrolet 50km through the Cuban countryside.
Before we returned to San Miguel again for our third and final sit there at the house with 6 cats we spent a few days in the colourful mountain town of Guanajuato.
(May - July)
England became our next hub for our trip to Botswana, which included time in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe too. Our house sit in Maun, on the banks of the River Boteti was for 3 months.
(Aug - Oct)
Barbados offered the opportunity for another 3 month house sit in a lovely location, with just one cat to care for. I made most of the opportunity of minimal pet responsibilities by taking a couple of free-diving courses.
We spent a month in England again, adding in a few house sits, and catching up with friends and family again.
Australia - Perth
Winter is coming in England. Time to fly south for another Australian summer. We stopped over for a few days in Kuala Lumpur on the way, then did a couple of lovely house sits in Perth.
Australia - road trip and southern WA
(Jan - Feb)
Our final house sit in Perth was for friends while they headed off to New Zealand for a month. Then we bought an old car for our southern road trip, which included house sitting for a dog and cat in a beautiful olive grove in the countryside.
We did a bit of island hopping in Thailand for a couple of weeks before settling down to study on a hands-on intensive sailing course, where we both gained our Offshore Skipper qualifications.
We had a brief stopover in England again, fitting in a couple of house sits, and visiting as many people as we could, before heading off to the Caribbean again.
St Vincent & The Grenadines
(May - July)
We flew to St Vincent via Barbados, staying with friends there for a couple of days. Our two house sit in St Vincent were in beautiful locations, and we took time to explore the island as much as possible.
St Vincent & The Grenadines sailing adventure
This was the reason for doing the sailing course in Thailand. Now qualified, we were able to charter a sailing boat for 2 weeks, and sailed down the magnificent Grenadines chain of islands.
UK - 52 sits in 52 weeks
(Aug 2018 - Aug 2019)
With family matters requiring us to be in the UK for a while, we decided to set ourselves a little challenge. Could we complete 52 house sits in 52 weeks? We bought a little van to travel around in, big enough to carry clothes for all seasons, and a couple of bikes too.
We did manage one trip abroad as part of our "52sits" challenge, looking after 3 dogs at a lovely house high in the mountains, among the olive groves.
UK - 52 sits in 52 weeks
(Aug 2018 - Aug 2019)
Our "52sits" challenge continued in to 2019, as we "enjoyed" winter in England, for me the for the first time in almost 20 years. We had some great sits, looked after some lovely pets, and saw lots of areas in England that neither of us had seen before.
The House & Pet Sitting Conference
We spent a long time planning and preparing for the first ever House & Pet Sitting Conference, which took place over the weekend of 20th to 22nd September in Swindon
(Oct - Nov)
A return to Spain, first to stay in a friends' villa in Mijas, followed by a repeat house it in the olive groves in the mountains.
(Nov - Dec)
Back to the UK again for our second winter in a row. House sits in Yorkshire over Christmas and New Year meant we had a proper family Christmas dinner, my first with my family in 20 years.
Coming next... 2020
It's looking like another great year ahead....
We have made plans for a house sit in Brooklyn, New York beginning in mid-April, then another in a small town in Massachusetts, followed by a return to St Vincent & The Grenadines in the Caribbean for another couple of months there.
What could possibly go wrong !?!