paws for thought


Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Living - by Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is edi­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

Over the sum­mer break, we lived in our car. Not lit­er­ally of course, although at times it felt like it. And when we weren’t driv­ing or eat­ing de­li­ciously bad things, we were ei­ther sleep­ing on a friend’s mat­tress, al­beit one with a very chi-chi Mel­bourne post­code, or in a ser­viced apart­ment with a view of some garbage bins. And then there was the cute weath­er­board cot­tage with a bar­rel of Tim Tams, a fluffy rein­deer and an out­door TV. Damn near nir­vana af­ter a hot day be­hind the wheel. Not very Vogue Liv­ing per­haps, but let me of­fer one sim­ple word of ex­pla­na­tion. Dogs.

When you road trip with your hounds (one of life’s finest ex­pe­ri­ences, in my book), you take your ac­com­mo­da­tion where you can find it. And whether it’s a fi­bro shack down a dirt road (tick) or a frayed couch with­out springs (ditto), it will re­sem­ble – at least through their eyes and wet noses – Crown Tow­ers or the Plaza Athénée.

So why am I mulling all this over? Per­haps be­cause my job comes with an ex­pec­ta­tion that my travel itin­er­ary will read St Barts/klosters and not Castle­maine/maf­fra; that I will be book­ing through Mr & Mrs Smith and not dog­son­hol­i­, and be­cause our road trip was quite pos­si­bly one of the best hol­i­days. #Ever

My edi­tor’s right brain ag­o­nises over whether a beach house should be more Hamp­tons than Caribbean, whether the cush­ions are the right shade of ma­rine blue or the tongue-and-groove Cape Cod enough. A friend’s beach house in Van­u­atu ticked all the boxes. It was per­fect in a lazy, sand-between-the-toes kind of way and I can’t wait to re­turn de­spite the in­hos­pitable flight times and jagged co­ral reef. Other friends, how­ever, had a beach house as re­laxed as the Palace of Ver­sailles. Maybe it was the manda­tory vac­u­um­ing and syn­chro­nised mise en place (aka cush­ion-fuss­ing) that jarred. Was sit­ting al­lowed? I re­ally can’t re­mem­ber.

Our favourite week­ender has handme-down fur­ni­ture and a gas cooker that 1967 would have mocked. And guess what? No TV and neg­li­gi­ble wi-fi. So no life, surely? Quite the re­verse. We wouldn’t trade it (or its se­cret lo­ca­tion) for a world of Moroc­can rugs or Dan­ish chairs. It’s real, as is every breath and every smile in that happy, pri­vate place. Sud­denly we’re liv­ing, laugh­ing and lov­ing, the dogs and us. The way it should be.

CREA­TURE COMFORTS (clock­wise from top) Neale Whi­taker with his part­ner David No­vak-piper; an idyl­lic re­treat in Bun­de­wal­lah, NSW; pooches Otis and Ol­lie.

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