ARM­CHAIR TRAV­ELLER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

Is the land of Stars and Stripes ready for the likes of carer Lou and wheel­chair-bound Andy or the com­puter-says-no re­cep­tion­ist Carol Beer? Sun­day, 9.50pm, Ten.

It’s spring and all is bloom­ing, so the green-thumbed team is off to Can­berra’s Flo­ri­ade and Toowoomba’s Car­ni­val of Flow­ers. Fri­day, 7.30pm, Seven. Su­san Kuro­sawa gloomy, I-can’t-be­lieve-that-we-left-our-nice-house-to­come-and-live-here-for-a-week kind of way. But it’s the lit­tle things that make the dif­fer­ence. Such as the fact the vol­ume but­ton on the tele­vi­sion doesn’t work and the oven has a mind of its own, and the dish­washer needs not just pow­der but salt and Rinse-aid (and the near­est shop sell­ing Rinse-aid at this time of night is on the planet Pluto). And the toaster works only if you hold the but­ton down, which is dif­fi­cult when you have two kids un­der the age of three and the plate drawer is 10 paces away. And that once you open a win­dow, you can’t shut it.

And the big things, too. Such as the fact Wife had asked chain­saw­ing farmer if our ac­com­mo­da­tion was prop­erly sep­a­rate and he’d said it was, ex­cept for a con­nect­ing util­ity room. But in re­al­ity our liv­ing room is joined to his kitchen by a door­way, across which he has at­tached a thin piece of what I would call ply­wood. We can hear ev­ery clink and clank from his sink. We can smell ev­ery kitchen smell.

He can prob­a­bly hear me say­ing, ‘‘ This is the worst place in the world ever and I never want to come to Devon again.’’ (Which is an ex­ag­ger­a­tion but re­mem­ber I have flu and I am mis­er­able and I just want my hol­i­day cot­tage to be, well, nice.)

The two hip­pies who live in a bus at the top of the field (have I not men­tioned them?) are very friendly. They are study­ing some­thing like or­ganic farm­ing and yoga, which I never knew was a de­gree, but they take our tod­dler, who thinks the mud is bril­liant, and they show him how cows and sheep and pigs work. The farmer takes Wife and kids out on a trap, which is also nice. For them. And I sit, holed up for five whole days, watch­ing ru­ing the mo­ment I agreed to the con­cept of a 1940s farm in win­ter.

We leave a day early on the pre­text of con­tin­ued ill­ness, all po­lite hand­shakes and grat­i­tude. I’m an­noyed I don’t say any­thing about the gen­eral un­suit­abil­ity of the place for fam­i­lies in win­ter or the ply­wood par­ti­tion, but that’s the English for you.

At least I get one thing out of the hol­i­day: a con­tract, signed by Wife, stat­ing that for the next 40 years, I can choose the hol­i­days. And that shire horses are not com­pul­sory. But that a Blu-Ray disc player is. And pos­si­bly a PS3. The Sun­day Times Su­san Kuro­sawa’s later this month.

DEALS OF THE WEEK

col­umn re­turns Nine-day tour of north­ern In­dia with Real Travel; ev­ery sec­ond night’s ac­com­mo­da­tion at Fiji’s Koro Sun Re­sort on the is­land of Vanua Levu for just $1; cruis­ing China’s Yangtze River; Queens­land spring spe­cials; great sav­ings on World Ex­pe­di­tions’ Po­lar Ex­pe­ri­ence cruises; low-cost air fares to Africa. Th­ese and other money-sav­ing of­fers are fea­tured in

hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily: www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel/dd

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