Carry on, up the coast

I always found it difficult to understand why people would want to holiday in their own country. Surely half the fun of going on holiday is the stressful two hours it takes to get the the airport, the further stressful two hours you spend at the airport having your body scanned and your bags X-Rayed and buying duty free items you don’t want, but feel you ought to get. On top of this, for me, is the terrifying [insert number of flight hours here] hours of actual air travel, before trying to get a taxi without being ripped off, or ordering food that does not contain some animal’s testicles, while being charged a year’s salary by your mobile phone company for daring to switch your device on overseas.

Yeah, who would want to go on a holiday that did not include all of that? Well, me actually, as it happens. Not all the time, but sometimes it is nice to travel a little way to stay somewhere else but without all the stress of air travel and terrorism.

I do love to travel abroad (except the whole airplane thing – but that is why God allowed man to invent tranquilizers), but a recent added complication is that we have two dogs. Lucy, the Jack Russell was a rescue dog and spent some time in a shelter, running her tin cup up and down the railings, before I decided to do a complete U-turn on my criteria of not a white dog, not a dog that moults and definitely not a Jack Russell, because she was just too sweet to leave the shelter without her. Archie spent 13 months in foster care because he is untrainable and can not be trusted at all. Whilst we love them both dearly, Lucy would not cope well in kennels and Archie sometimes makes getting a house sitter a challenge, because Archie does need a firm hand. Even though he is not bigger than a Scottie Dog, he can make the most innocuous of walks into a life-and-death challenge. Not for nothing is one of his nicknames, ‘Tardis arse’ and biker beware, he will take you down – along with whoever is attached to him by a lead at the time.

So once again – and in order to hopefully allow my knee to recuperate, we have travelled up the coast a bit, to a cottage with a big garden, which the dogs do not have at our home so love, to get away from our usual routine and enjoy a bit of quality time away from the Big Smoke.

There was a little concern about the trip up. As the only driver, it fell to me – less than a week after my knee operation – to drive the way, but it is not a difficult route and my car does not work like Fred Flinstone’s. Once I had manoeuvred myself into the driver’s seat – something of a struggle, given my knee does not bend fully yet – there was little work for me to do. There are a good few overtaking lanes and I was determined to remain patient if stuck behind anyone doing less than the speed limit. It is difficult though. Once free of the city and the pesky travel lights, the speed limit opens up to 110km per hour, which may as well be 120km/h – ah heck, what’s 130 km/h between friends? The traffic is light and as long as you don’t get stuck behind a caravan – or have a bunch of people who would rather be travelling at 150km/h hovering behind you, then it is pretty easy. Nevertheless, as someone recently out of surgery, everyone seemed pretty relieved that I got us here in one piece, me included.

The weather was hot – it was stinking when we left Perth, and as as we travelled up as if to remind us, one side of the highway was lined with trees with bark as black as coal and bright copper leaves having recently been scorched by bushfire. The dogs were wearing damp kneckerchiefs and we had the aircon on full blast. They were in the back seat and took it in turns to place their paws on the console between the front seats and look out through the front window.

Soon enough we pulled into the driveway of the cottage we had rented – our third visit to this place, largely because it is on the non-ocean side of the highway and very quiet, but also because of the garden for the dogs. Archie immediately demonstrated just what a spectacular pain in the arse he can be. This animal has the ability to go from rag doll to Terminator in the blink of an eye. I opened the driver’s door and before I could close it, he had leapt from the back and was out and running free.

At these times, ‘Archie, come here!’ Does not cut it, so I hobbled after him, my mind running through a hundred different alternatives in trying to recover him/his bloodied corpse/ his kidnapped self/ his snake bitten remains while I gave pursuit.

Fortunately, he does love to pee, and so stopped briefly to mark his scent over the area. That was his mistake and I swooped him up and clipped on his lead. He had got no further than the front garden.

Someone had thoughtfully left the air conditioner on to welcome us, and it was a welcome relief to step in to the cool, dark interior of the cottage. My husband brought all the the bags and boxes in from the car and I hobbled about inside sorting stuff as it arrived. 

As I write this, my husband has gone for a quick pint – I wanted to give my leg a rest, given the intense hobbling to the pub I expect it to do this week. Archie has found a crack in the fence that allows him to smell next door’s chickens and Lucy is waiting by the gate until we are all reunited. Our stuff is unpacked, the bed is made, the wine is in the fridge and tomorrow, the holiday begins.

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