We were in Byron Bay when Juz got assigned to a cartoon camp in Gosford for the school holidays. It was easy enough to get there on time, but we needed somewhere to stay for the week and Dave needed to be kept occupied while Juz was at work, so we consulted the Helpx website for a new assignment. We found a host near Gosford who needed help with clearing fallen trees in the garden and were willing to put up with us for a week. Perfect…
Nigel and Sophia live on a large block with their two boys Kit and Jeremy. Nigel is an artist while Sophia runs a home away from home dog kennel called Hip Hound Holidays. On our arrival, we found nearly a dozen dogs in the backyard and got initiated with a few paw prints on our pants.
The working week started with Juz heading off early to her job at the cartoon camp while Dave got started on a few tasks around the house. Apart from chopping wood for the fire, he also used a chainsaw to chop up branches from a fallen tree in the backyard, and then stacked them up to dry.
Due to a vicious storm that blew through in April, many trees in the Hunter Valley and surrounding area had fallen. The council collected the trees and turned them into free mulch, so another job was to collect a boot full of mulch and lay it out over the garden bed. Aside from the garden work, there was always playtime and patting time with the dogs, and we took a couple of them for a walk as well.
When Juz would come home, it was time to prepare dinner – not only for us but for the dogs as well. Each dog would have a unique dinner made up in their own bowl of various foods that the owner prescribed, such as chicken pieces or a mixture of wet and dry food. The dogs would watch from the windows with anticipation, and one by one, each dog would be invited inside for their evening meal.
Once the dogs were fed, it was the humans’ turn. Sophia is an incredible cook and made delicious curries while Nigel was a connoisseur of well-priced wine. This was our favourite time of the day – sitting around the dinner table, talking and swapping stories from the past. Juz would usually help to clear the table and wash up, as her way to contribute to the household duties.
On a few occasions, we cooked dinner. One night we did a huge feast of Dave’s special schnitzels with bacon potato salad, while on our last night, Juz wanted to cook some Hungarian favourites – lángos and chicken paprika.
Our time with Nigel and Sophia and their kids was great, and we appreciate that they took us in at such short notice. They were so welcoming and made us feel like part of the family.