Every year we take a couple of short breaks. It has come to my attention that some of the surrounding business owners think that our practice of going away at Christmas and Easter is overly indulgent and has caused us to become the target of much jealousy and criticism. What a joke!
As business owners, my husband and I work very hard. Much harder than we ever had to for our wages working for someone else. As a result of our efforts and the fact that hubbie is incredibly good at what he does, we book out for six to eight months in advance with work meaning that poor hubbie has to work all day and most nights until the wee hours of the morning to keep on top of it all. That will teach him to take pride in his work :p
As you can imagine, working 80 plus hours a week soon takes a toll on ones health and well being so we make sure to close for a week or so a couple of times a year for a recharge. If that makes us indulgent then so be it. I would rather be indulging by the beach for a short while than indulging in the mental health ward after a mammoth nervous breakdown but to each his own I guess!
This Easter we decided to go somewhere other than our usual beach destination. This time we went inland and booked a holiday house in the grampians, Halls Gap to be precise. For the second time in my life, I used stayz.com to source the accommodation. It was a long selection process due to the fact that almost every property in halls gap is a holiday rental and they are all roughly the same price. They really did not cut me a break in the sense of refining my search criteria.
A the end of the day I wasn’t looking for the Ritz, it just had to be comfortable, clean and with the modern conveniences one would expect. Namely heating, cooling, washing machine etc. I eventually made our choice after being phoned personally by the property owner after making an online enquiry. His answers to my questions along with the beautiful property photos sealed the deal and we booked and paid.
We worked long and hard and no matter how stressed we became, we just held on to the fact that come Easter we would have a week to unwind in the grampians. It was our life line. I should have known right there and then not to put so much stock into one thing. It was a recipe for disappointment.
The day of the holiday finally arrived. Google maps told me that it would be an easy two and a half hour drive to our destination and as we headed off I began to program our destination into the new GPS we had purchased as a joint Christmas present. The Navman seemed to have trouble finding this easy two and a half hour route and decided that the fastest it could get us there was in three hours. Oh well, I thought. We weren’t in a hurry so off we went. I chose the fastest route which also happened to be the most economical and the easiest according to the Navman.
Before long we were directed onto a series of narrow dirt roads that weaves through various farm paddocks and barren landscape. Never at any point were we warned about the inclusion of dirt roads in our route selection so it was quite a surprise. After quite a while of winding and weaving through the unknown we eventually came to a cross road where a sign informed us that we had intersected the Pyrenees highway. The Navman had decided that it would be best for us to ignore the presence of a sealed highway with a green sign pointing the way towards our destination. Instead it thought it best that we cross over the highway onto yet another unsealed road barely wide enough to accommodate our little Holden cruze.
Yeah right, not happening Navman . I threw that useless piece of junk into the glove box and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief once our tires were gliding effortlessly back on the bitumen. We had been winding through back roads for nearly an hour by this point so imagine my surprise to find out that we had actually only just managed to make it to a town that is no more than twenty mites from home.
Nerves were frayed, tempers were rising and child was beginning to whine in the back seat. We decided to pull over for a brief rest break to get back into a positive mind set. The drive continued and we headed towards Ararat where we intended to do some grocery shopping for the holiday house.
Pregnancy has begun to lay havoc with my back and shoulders with a lot of nerve pinching and muscle pulling of late. I have been struggling with a bit of sciatica which is interesting and painful but about 20 minutes from Ararat I became aware of a pinched nerve in my shoulder that started with a slow nervy throbbing. By the time we got to the supermarket, my shoulder and arm was on fire. Nerve spasms were racking through it and I was a as close to tears as I have been for a long time. My first instinct was to go for the nurofen. I ran into the supermarket and straight for the medicine aisle. There it was, nurofen, my saviour. I grabbed at the nearest packet and then remembered I was pregnant, I should check to see if this was ok for me to take. I nearly cried again when I read the back of the box.
” do not take during the first trimester of pregnancy and especially during the last 2 trimesters. ”
What the hell? So basically, don’t take it at all while pregnant. I was distraught and grabbed my iPad to google the reasons why. I was not convinced. Well it turns out it can cause birth defects of something so the box got roughly thrown back on the shelf. I bought what I thought I needed for the holiday but I was so racked with pain that I was incapable to stringing a sentence together let alone planning a menu.
When I got back to the car I remembered I had kids panadol in the luggage. Don’t judge me people but I was so desperate I ripped the lid off of that bottle and just took a big chug straight from the bottle. I fell back int the car and strapped myself in for the long wait to see if it would work.
The rest of the drive, thirty minutes or so was in eventful and we arrived at the holiday house just as the pain started to ease off in my shoulder. Which was great as I was going to need all the strength in my arms that I could muster to slam doors and cupboards as I walked around the holiday house from hell in a state of unadulterated fury.
Our “secluded and private” was surrounded on all sides by other houses, one of which we could clearly see into from our bedroom window. Secluded my ass. It turns out that the owner of the house is a photographer by profession so the carefully angled and filtered pictures served to lull us into believing that we were renting a lovely, private, modern and fully equipped holiday home.
What we actually got was a dilapidated weatherboard kit home from the mid seventies that had not even half of the inclusions we had been promised. Within minutes of arriving and still seething, there came a knock on the door. A plumber had arrived to fix the toilet that was not working. He informed us after about twenty minutes that he had done the best he could and that we could flush it but that it was leaking all over the floor so to keep towels down. He would not have time to fix the leak while we were there.
The washing machine was present but with a little hand written note on top informing us that it was not operational. Further inspection of the guest book showed that it had in fact been broken for nearly a year and the owner decided that he really couldn’t be bothered replacing it. Cupboard doors didn’t close, walls had cracks through them, exhaust fans were mouldy and the place was just generally filthy. The beds were horrid, the insects inside the house were unwelcome and the cutlery and crockery was dirty. I believe this to be due to the fact that there was no dishwasher so the previous visitors weren’t really all that fussed about not giving me food poisoning.
We ended up leaving early for two reasons. The first being that without the use of a washing machine, we soon ran out of clean clothes and towels. The nearest laundromat was a forty minute drive away so the thought of spending half a day driving and washing did not appeal. The second reason was the unwelcome visitor I had in my bedroom the night before we left.
If you have never been woken up by a huntsman spider the size of a slice of bread tap dancing across your face then I can tell you now not to bother adding the experience to your bucket list. Thinking of it even now still makes me shudder. I love nature, don’t get me wrong, just not nature with eight legs, on my face.
And of course any bitch session about holiday accommodation would be incomplete without photos….
enjoy, I know we didn’t!