Hi northsiders! Rover reporter Ted the Puggle here. I’ve had a grrrr-eat chat with my mate Mintie the Jack Russell who is the official gift shop meeter and licker at Nutcote, the heritage listed Neutral Bay home of children’s author, illustrator and national icon, May Gibbs.
Article first appeared in Ted Walks, northsider 2020. Nutcote is currently closed due to current NSW Gov. Covid-19 stay at home orders.
Ted: Hi Mintie! Thank you for taking time out from your busy day to chat. How did you start welcoming visitors to Nutcote?
Mintie: Officially I started coming to work with the curator, Stephanie, because there was building work at home. But I knew that really it was because they needed me to be the welcoming face of Nutcote in the gift shop.
T: What do you do in a day?
M: I’m the official meeter and licker. I make sure all visitors are welcome and I like to give them balls to play with. I’ve also been told I’m a husband distractor for ladies who like to spend lots of money gift shopping. I get to nap in the sun before we open and I also model some lovely doggie bandanas we sell that are very jaunty.
T: Are people surprised to see you? I bet you get lots of pats!
M: I’m often told that people aren’t coming in just to play ball with me and that they’re here to visit the Museum. But I’m sure they want to visit me as well. Humans tell me about their dogs at home and my waggy tail gets lots of smiles.
Clockwise from top: Me enjoying the sunshine on a break from my greeting and licking duties; me outside Nutcote, May Gibbs’ home in Neutral Bay; May Gibbs’ in the garden at Nutcote with her beloved Scottish terrier; an outtake from one of my modelling shoots. I do love a bandana and a May Gibbs’ illustration of Scotty in Gumnut Land. He’s my fave character.
T: I’ve heard there are some excellent cakes at the tea room. Do you ever get to have some?!
M: The ladies who bake the scones and cakes are some of my favourite humans! But I’m not allowed in the tearoom to play with them when the Museum is open. A magpie family lives in the garden and have been known to steal a scone or two. Of course I’d never be so naughty!
T: Who’s your favourite workmate and why?
M: Nutcote has lots of volunteers in the house, garden and tearoom and they’re all my friends. It was very sad not playing with them when the Museum was closed because of Covid-19. We get to play again now and every day a friend comes in, sometimes with a ball or a treat.
T: What’s the best thing about coming to work? I like the snacks : )
M: I get to meet so many people and have so many friends who live locally and walk past the gate to say hello. I also get so many cuddles! I’ve been told I shouldn’t be kissing everyone at the moment because of social distancing, so I find that very hard.
T: Where are your favourite spots locally?
M: Warringa Park near Anderson Park is great to run around and chase balls. There’s a lovely beach near Hayes Street and the Cremorne Point walk is so much fun. Sometimes I meet brush turkeys!
T: Who’s your favourite May Gibbs’ character?
M: It has to be Scotty in Gumnut Land. Scotty is a Scottish terrier dog, based on May Gibbs’ favourite breed. He escapes to Gumnut Land and has all these adventures with the Gumnut Babies. The name Nutcote means the home of the Gumnut Babies. If you want to see them, you have to be very quiet of course. I find that very hard as I’m always so excited.
T: May Gibbs loved dogs didn’t she? Tell us about the special doggie day at Nutcote.
M: May Gibbs was a fantastic artist and author and she loved all animals, especially dogs. She designed many illustrations for the RSPCA and left land she owned in the Blue Mountains to them. Every year we celebrate her birthday in January with a Scotty Dog Birthday Party. So far, I’m not allowed to go. But maybe if I get a costume, I could sneak in…hopefully you can come too Ted!
T: Wow! Thanks Mintie, I love parties! I’d better start looking for a costume…
For more info on visiting Nutcote (and Mintie!) head to maygibbs.com.au and follow @maygibbsnutcote on Instagram. Nutcote, 5 Wallaringa Avenue, Kurraba Point.