And baby makes three
EVEN an outing to the supermarket can be ambitious with a newborn. I have three nappies, a small squeaking giraffe and a spare shirt for me in my handbag. Which, it turns out, I need before we get to the front door. Sod it, dinner tonight will be fish fingers with a side of olives.
Five months later, however, I amitching to escape our inner-city Sydney enclave. The only mountains I’ve seen are those of laundry. And so Jon and I decide to take our first holiday with daughter Florence.
We want a three-night break within a two-hour drive and find just the place on Stayz.com.au. For $200 a night, we can have the run of an old timber house surrounded by nothing but bushland.
Packing is a feat of logistics. Wehave now become the cliched couple in a city car advertisement. Into a hatchback we squeeze a travel cot, pram, baby car seat, assorted absorbent accoutrements and enough baby clothes for the most vomitous days. Florence’s stuff engulfs the boot and back seat. Ours fits in the footwell.
The trip starts promisingly. The ca-donk-ca-donk sound of the concrete freeway lulls Florence to sleep. We get to our turn-off and wind through the bush, gliding round mountainous bends. Nowweare that cliched couple in an SUV advertisement. Meanwhile, mobile reception is dropping off: four bars, two bars, none. Google Maps is no more. Connectivity nil. I realise I should have written down the address. We have no red pin to guide us. No pulsating blue dot to reassure us we exist. If a tree falls in a forest without Instagram, does it exist?
We push on, free from the shackles (oh safe, reliable shackles) of the modern world; navigating by intuition we find the house. It’s perfectly lovely. The original building has stood for more than 100 years. Recent additions include a wide deck and swimming pool fringed by rocks, complete with sunbathing goanna.
After unpacking we sit on the deck to have a victory beer. Rain begins to fall noisily on the corrugated tin roof. A tree-covered mountain rises from the mist in front of us and we can’t see another house. If peace is what we were after, we have found it.
Of course, peace takes on a new meaning with a bub, and it’s not long before the baby wrangling begins again. But here there’s a different hallway to pace and the space and serenity give my mind what it needs to declutter. We spend our day curled on the sofa reading, cooking for pleasure and making plans for our future as a family.
That evening I locate the visitors book to scour the entries for tips on how to make the best use of our precious days here. The words leap off the page — ticks, leeches, spiders. Indeed, creepy crawlies are a common theme. Holiday-makers have been savaged by mosquitoes, ‘‘communed a little too closely with nature’’ and one family has even come across funnel webs in the pool.
I must be alert, not alarmed. And so that night, while Florence and Jon snooze blissfully unaware, I remain sleepless, in a state of high alert. Are those possums on the roof? Are they attracted by baby poo? Can mice scale a travel cot? Surely their little claws would make light work of the mesh sides seemingly designed to facilitate the ascent of rodents?
With the dawn comes relief from such nocturnal nonsense, extinguished by Florence’s smiling dial. She chuckles as I pick her up from the mouse-free cot and reminds me that when travelling with little ones, you should just relax and go with the Flo.