In flight from a pest-ridden house…

About two weeks ago my Airbnb guests got back to find the contents of my food cupboard in a plastic crate on the front doorstep and several of my jumpers in the freezer. As you do…

The preparations aka Military Campaign for my extended trip overseas to spend all important time with family began about a month ago. I needed to finish up two jobs – one of them a maternity cover contract with high expectations and ambitious KPIs, organise my travel plans and get my house and garden in order ready to rent out – a job in itself.

I was doing pretty well, even if running on adrenalin, and found it a good opportunity to test drive some of the time-management strategies suggested by Brendon Burchard of the Performance Academy (as mentioned in my last post). To share a few of them: he recommends not checking any social media for the first hour of the day and, instead, focussing on what you need to achieve. I found that to be so simple and effective in freeing up and clearing my headspace. Because, as he points out, the minute we tune into the emails and messages we’re taking on other people’s agendas and demands, and we lose our focus. I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to bed and leave it like that until after breakfast. He also advocates dividing the working day into 50-minute blocks broken up by drinking water and stretching. And, importantly, ditching the social media and screens again at the end of the day and finding some time to meditate or do something that gets us into a less thought-driven and more grounded space before bed.

But then I discovered critters in my cupboards. I was getting ready for a meeting with my new boss (I have an exciting new job starting later this year) when I Googled ‘how to get rid of moths’ and up came ‘how to get rid of moths in the pantry’ and ‘how to get rid of moths in clothes’. My initial search was prompted by holes in my jumpers but then I realised, with a sense of panic, that the worm-like creatures lurking in my food cupboard and on the ceiling were pantry moths – well the larvae anyway. I’d never even heard of pantry moths before, let alone seem them. The hour that I had set aside to compose myself for the meeting was spent frantically chucking out dry foods – the larvae get everywhere even under lids of spice jars. Some were even inching their way across foil sachets of Miso soup while others were hanging out in the rice noodles. Yikes! I scrubbed the shelves and left them clear for several days – hence the food that I had not yet inspected being relocated to the doorstep – until I blasted them with barrier spray and then set up tent-like moth traps that I bought in the hardware store. Fingers crossed that they don’t stage a comeback when my guests move in a week after I leave.

A pantry moth larvae

A pantry moth larvae

My sister has been through the whole saga of moths in her clothes and instructed me to wash all my jumpers and then put them in the freezer for a few days before placing them into individual plastic bags. Sounds simple enough but not when you’re working 12-hour days, getting ready to go overseas AND have about 50 items of wool in your wardrobe. At the time of writing, my departure is about 12 hours away and I am just cycling the last woollies through the freezer and into vacuum-packed bags. The trouble with these critters is that they are discerning and choose the highest quality wool and cashmere, leaving aside the more ordinary sweaters made of acrylic and other man-made fibres, damn them. And, from what I read, they can graduate to other areas of the house and tuck into rugs, linens, towels and curtains. Perhaps I will come home to find my house full of holes like a piece of Swiss cheese…

Just some of my many woollen items

Just some of my many woollen items

deep-freezing my jumpers

deep-freezing my jumpers

One of my mother’s favourite expressions is ‘what a pest!’ meaning what a nuisance. Now I know just how much of a nuisance. My house and garden seem to be ultra attractive to pests. Mid-packing I’ve just zipped out and zapped my lemon tree as some kind of leaf mite was chomping its way through the leaves, then I noticed a bulge where a gall wasp had set up home, and THEN I came back inside and there was one of those European cockroaches crawling across my kitchen tiles. As you might know none of this has anything to do with cleanliness. Regular readers know that I’m a bit of stickler when it comes to cleaning. So maybe it’s payback for something I did in a past life – who knows?!

Needless to say I have not talked about bugs and beasts in the detailed house manual I have prepared for my tenants. But maybe I should have; listening to the science program in the car the other day I learnt that having a pet spider in the house is a great way of keeping other creepy crawlies at bay as the spiders eat them for dinner. The program gave spiders a very good rap.In one of my more Buddhist moments a few years ago, I did allow a Huntsman spider to live in the corner of my study window. The only trouble was that, after a few months, lots of tiny black dots appeared in the web and I realised they were babies. Did I really want to share my house with about 30 spiders? Needless to say I had to dispatch the spider and its babies to the next life. There’s a limit to this co-habitation thing; I’m finding the Airbnb guests enough.

But now it’s my turn to take flight and be a guest myself. By the time this goes out, I’ll be on my way to England to spend precious time with family and friends especially my elderly parents. And true to the original meaning of the word holiday(s), as in holy day(s) – a rest from the daily grind – the blog and are going off air and taking a break to rest and recharge away from the keyboard, the emails and all the stuff I do in my day job! That way I’ll be more available for my family and for new adventures. We’ll be back in October. Stay tuned.

A bit of fun – the Liebster Award

My grateful thanks to Chloe who writes a fascinating blog about life in Georgia (, for nominating me for the Liebster Award, an initiative started by the blogging community to promote and share favourite blogs, giving them increased exposure. Chloe’s blog is a great read and gives a very visceral feel for living in a country that was once part of Soviet Russia. I highly recommend it.


Please see the last section of this post for how the Liebster Award works if you are a fellow blogger. In nutshell, the person who nominates you asks you 11 questions and also asks you to provide 11 random facts about yourself. I thought 11 ‘About Me’ questions was quite enough so cheated and didn’t provide the random facts! As the nominee I, in turn, nominate 5-10 of my favourite blogs and ask them 11 questions. And so it goes on.

So here, dear readers, are my answers.

1: Where is your dream travel destination?

Europe, Europe, Europe – plonk me in just about any city in Europe and I’ll be happy. OK, so maybe not somewhere like Preston in Lancashire (sorry Lancastrians, no offence meant)… Although I live in Australia, I love to visit Europe whenever I get the chance. I aim to explore a new city every time I return to see relatives in the UK. In recent years I’ve visited Krakow, Copenhagen and Zurich. Give me cobbled streets, cafes with newspapers on racks, church spires, Royal palaces, Baroque, Rococo, Art Nouveau and more. I love the history, culture and elegance of everything European.

2: Dogs or cats?
Dogs every time! Just ask Bertie. In fact, we’ve just got in from a walk and he barked like mad at a couple of cats who had the ‘temerity’ to remain on the pavement as we approached.

3: Do you have any hidden talent?
I think I’m a frustrated actor. I recently went to an interactive Murder Mystery dinner – see the picture below – and had a lot of fun playing a character called Ursula Eades-Jones who was big in the suffragette movement – the play is set in the 1920s!

That's me in the middle

That’s me in the middle

4: Can you speak any foreign languages?
I speak passable French and I did a degree in German and Spanish, both of which are a bit rusty nowadays! However, I try to keep them going by watching foreign language news on SBS and going to the French, German and Spanish film festivals.

5: What is your favourite type of flower?
I adore roses!

6: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ooh, well. Perhaps retired from the formal side of work with a published book or two under my belt…

7: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

A one hundred and ten percenter, funny (as in ha-ha, not peculiar) and all heart (when my busy head is not running the show, that is).

8: Tea or coffee?
Tea – there are so many wonderful teas to enjoy from caffeinated ones to herbal infusions. But you can’t beat a good English Breakfast!

9: What are you currently reading?
Autumn Laing by Alex Miller which is (and I quote from the ABC website) “loosely based on painter Sidney Nolan’s formative years with his patron, muse and lover, Sunday Reed, and explores the doomed affair between an artist and the woman who aspires to change his life”. It’s beautifully written and an engrossing read.

10: What’s the first thing you see if you turn your head right?
A framed poster featuring two Scottie dogs and advertising ‘Black and White’ Scotch Whisky.

11: If you have any pets, what are their names?
Bertie is my two-year old spaniel. Love him to bits!!

Now, that’s quite enough of me!

I am nominating the following blogs for the Liebster Award. No offence taken if any of my nominees don’t wish to take part. I hope that you are anyway happy to be nominated! – Anne marie – A writers’ path
Kiwi Bee at – Farmer Fi – Harriet – Sara – Mark

The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award (non-bloggers do not need to read on..)

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

These are:

1. What is your all-time favourite film
2. What does your ideal Sunday morning look like?
3. Town or country or both?
4. What is your favourite meal – feel free to share your recipe!
5. What would you do if you won the lottery?
6. Arts or Science?
7. How would you feel if you had no TV, phone or internet access for a week?
8. Most memorable travel adventure to date
9. Favourite drink – alcoholic or otherwise
10. What world issue most concerns you today?
11. If your fairy godmother could grant you one wish, what would it be?

4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)