Bring­ing up baby . . . and piz­zas I have known

THE FAM­ILY TOURIST

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LOUISE STE­WART

IT is when the piz­zas ar­rive that I re­mem­ber the Can­berra In­ci­dent (more of which later).

Stand­ing alone at the ser­viced apart­ment’s in­ter­com as the de­liv­ery chap buzzes, I re­alise I will ei­ther have to leave baby Flo alone with the door un­locked while I race down­stairs to pick up the piz­zas we’ve or­dered for din­ner or wake her up and cop the screams.

My beloved Jon and I are hav­ing a week­end in Queens­land and have opted for a ser­viced apart­ment. He’s popped out on a wine mis­sion and un­til the in­ter­com rang, I was lazily en­joy­ing a calm­ing sea view.

(It turns out the piz­zas ri­val the so- called cheese­burger I once had in Perth, Scot­land, as the worst food I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced. The cheese­burger was ac­tu­ally just cheese and two beef pat­ties, squished to­gether, bat­tered and deep fried. No bread. No salad. Barely cheese.)

But it isn’t that disas­ter that brings up, as it were, the sickly mem­ory. It’s just that when­ever Jon leaves me with Flo things seem to go pear-shaped . . .

A few months ear­lier, it was 6.30pm on fed­eral bud­get night and we were in a poky ho­tel room with 80s decor in Can­berra. Jon had left the room not five min­utes ear­lier to do some­thing work-re­lated and bud­gety. I was with our hap­pyas-a-lark seven-months baby wrig­gling in my arms while I tried des­per­ately not to dip her in the litres of milky vomit she’d just de­posited on the bed.

I felt sick. Not as sick as her, granted, but ill at the thought of hav­ing to deal with this sit­u­a­tion. Th­ese aren’t my sheets, I thought. Clearly, some­one else is go­ing to have to get in­volved here. When you have a small child, bod­ily flu­ids are part of the reg­u­lar laun­dry, but never had I dealt with such vol­ume.

The bed­spread, shiny through years of use, was not ab­sorbent. Lift­ing it by the cor­ners to es­tab­lish a con­tain­ment area, I gath­ered up the bed­clothes like a gi­ant moz­zarella and stashed the ball in the far­thest cor­ner of the room. I looked at it, mor­ti­fied. It gen­tly sighed back at me, and drib­bled a lit­tle.

‘‘Hello? Is this re­cep­tion? I am afraid my baby has been sick and some of it has got on to the bed. No, she seems fine now, but good to know a doc­tor isn’t far away if we need one. Thank you so very much. And . . . could I or­der a ham­burger?’’

With just a few re­as­sur­ing words, all was cool.

The sheets would be taken away to be laun­dered (or in­cin­er­ated). I could spend my time ad­min­is­ter­ing cud­dles to lit­tle Flo. And get­ting ex­cited about be­ing brought food I hadn’t cooked, that I wouldn’t have to clean up af­ter, and that I could eat from bed while watch­ing the bud­get cov­er­age.

It is the Can­berra In­ci­dent that leaps to mind with Flo scream­ing on my hip in Queens­land (per­haps in a rather ac­cu­rate com­men­tary on the state of the pizza).

Clearly, when trav­el­ling with a lit­tle one there are se­ri­ous ad­van­tages to the perks of 24-hour ser­vice.

Jon hasn’t ar­rived with the wine and with his mo­bile out of bat­tery (as usual), I can’t even call to get an ETA The apart­ment has three bed­rooms, two bath­rooms and three bal­conies. There are two huge tele­vi­sions, three cream so­fas and a glis­ten­ing white kitchen, But as the cheese con­geals and Flo sobs, I think I’d rather be in a poky ho­tel room with 24-hour re­cep­tion — even in Can­berra.

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