Se­crets of a pic­turesque hol­i­day

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

ANitem ap­peared on myFace­book news feed re­cently about the world’s most unattrac­tive real es­tate ads. One showed a pic­ture of a build­ing with an ex­te­rior wall miss­ing; it looked as if it had been bombed and gave a new per­spec­tive to in­dus­try jar­gon such as ‘‘loads of nat­u­ral light’’ and ‘‘in­door-out­door liv­ing’’.

Myfriend David has been trawl­ing the net for hol­i­day rental ac­com­mo­da­tion on the NSWnorth coast and we have been hav­ing a bit of a hoot about what he’s found. Manya­gents and own­ers think any old iPhone snap will do, no mat­ter that the mod­u­lar so­fas are Har­vey Nor­man cat­a­logue circa 1985.

In­te­rior decor is a sub­jec­tive thing but sales­man­ship is all about tricks of the trade, which the main­stream tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try knows full well. Glossy hol­i­day brochures pro­mote im­ages of ro­mance and ease and keep the lead­ing sil­ver foxes of this world in full em­ploy­ment. The same tanned and tai­lored chap of a cer­tain age (wholooks just like that hand­some Mark Har­mon, with­out his NCIS sil­very crew cut) pops up in just about ev­ery cruise brochure, typ­i­cally with his slightly younger wife, toned and blonded and with a cashmere sweater slung ef­fort­lessly around her shoul­ders, faith­fully at his side.

Back in hol­i­day rental ac­com­mo­da­tion land, I am re­minded of childhood hol­i­days with Mother and Dad and what fun it was to re­dec­o­rate the var­i­ous hell­hole cot­tages we se­cured over many a sum­mer. In those days there were no online pic­tures or video tours and you had to rely on the ad­vice of an agent. ‘‘It won’t last long,’’ they would say of a cheapie. And they were right. It would be on its last (fi­bro) legs but we didn’t much care be­cause we were daggy and would al­ways be smug­gling in a gin­ger cat or two and didn’t want any­where posh.

Mother and I fan­cied our­selves as stylists (we were, per­haps, the orig­i­nal pop-up de­sign­ers) and would move all the fur­ni­ture about and put the bright throws we had brought with us over the most of­fend­ing items. We­had an aver­sion to ver­ti­cal blinds and Dad would have to thun­der at us not to redo the hol­i­day house win­dows with our In­dian cot­ton bed­spreads mas­querad­ing as cur­tains. He­said if he stood still in the lounge­room he would be mis­taken for a stan­dard lamp and we’d toss a mir­rored Ra­jasthani throw on his head.

I still have a few of those long-ago cam­ou­flage tex­tiles and will be tossing one or two into David’s hol­i­day port.

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