paws for thought
HOLIDAYING WITH PETS CALLS FOR A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF LUXURY
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 dogsonholidays.com.au, 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.