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.
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