Before I talk about our holiday, I need to explain something.
My husband does not do ‘impulsive’ terribly well. In fact, if you could describe my husband, one of the very first words you would use would be “not” and the second would be “impulsive”. For all of his excellent qualities, he’s not what you would call… a go-getter. The man still has clothes in his wardrobe from when he was 16 and a $5 note in his wallet from 18 months ago. No, he’s not a spender either.
So when he walked into my office on Saturday morning and said, like it was no big deal, “hey, we should go for a drive to Busselton and stay for 2 nights”, he may as well have said “I have decided I want to be a lady and I am going to go on tour with the drag burlesque travelling circus, k?” and I would have reacted in much the same way. OK, not really, I probably would have expected the second.
But, he suggested it, and after checking for signs of a stroke and giving him the all-clear, I agreed, and we booked into the Abbey Beach Resort based on their website. On the beach? Wireless? Check. Mini bar? Check. Restaurants with room service? Check… and check. $600 for 2 nights? Well, if it has wireless and is luxurious and has room service and a spa, well… let’s just indulge for a little while. We have a funeral on Monday afternoon we’d rather not think about.
Let’s not forget, we have 3 children — all of whom are not known for being the most flexible on the planet. But, they roll with it as much as they can and are happy to come along. Which is just as well because we blew our load on the hotel room and can’t afford a babysitter. So, it was basically a choice between a holiday or being locked under the stairs.
But of course, it doesn’t take long for the feral to kick in and I feel the urge to do both of those things.
We arrive at a $300 a night “beachfront” resort that has glimpses of the beach (if you look past the 3 tennis courts and the giant tree, over the car park), no mini bar, no room service in the apartments. The wireless costs $10 for 2 hours, but doesn’t reach our apartment. There is a queen-size bed, which we can live with but we are not used to, and our children are that lovely combination of excited and cranky at the same time. So, about every 3 minutes or so the jumping around and screaming will be interrupted by crying. And then the baby will head straight for the dishwasher buttons, then the knife drawer… whilst Jason and I try to figure out how the hell we are going to have dinner in our room because the kids are too tired for the restaurant.
So I decide to hit up the lounge bar with my laptop, check emails and drink a glass of wine whilst I wait for our takeaway dinners. They arrive on 4 massive dinner plates and a tray. I have a laptop and a half empty bottle of wine in my hand, so I have a fun juggle on my hands.
As a side point, it should be noted that the restaurant is roughly equidistant to our room and the lobby… and they decide to bring me the meals to the lobby after refusing room service. Which was nice of them, but I a) don’t understand why they can’t just bring it to the room and b) I now have to carry 4 plates and a tray, a laptop and my best friend wine back to our room. I smile through gritted teeth. Confused, perplexed gritted teeth. I make that face that is an equal combination of polite smile and eyes that will set them on fire.
But I soldier on and get back to the room.
By this point the baby is screaming and won’t go to sleep. Mina and Jules are basically ready to hit up the drawer with the baby and have a knife fight with each other, and I am at my wit’s end because I have had to carry food across a $300 a night resort with no wifi and am grumbling to myself how holidays are so much fun with kids.
We finally get the kids to sleep around 11pm and I decide to have a spa. A spa that, as it turns out, has a drain 2/3 up the side to prevent you filling it above that point. Apparently they’ve had issues with it flooding because people overfill it. And then it occurs to me that bogans ruin EVERYTHING. So I sit in a spa that tickles the very top of my butt-crack due to the low water levels, and try to make the best of it.
“Hey, I’ll have one of these “indulgent” hot chocolate sachets they’ve laid out. It totally says indulgent on the packet…. Mmmm, powdery, lumpy, snotty cocoa.
Did I mention that the baby threw a spatula off the balcony yet?
We then go to bed for a very uncomfortable night’s sleep and wake up with the day ahead of us. Tired, cranky children but we manage to have a nice breakfast, where the resort redeems itself just a little bit. We stop by the resort playground, where the baby manages a triple somersault onto his face and Jules throws a tantrum or two. We hit up the beaches, go into Dunsborough, have look around and take some photos. The kids start complaining of dying hunger (despite having huge plates of ginger pancakes an hour and a half earlier), so we go and get them McDonald’s. Yes, the Brennan children are all about our lovely local Southwest cuisine.
And then we head down to the Busselton Jetty and go for a walk. Mina and Jules go down onto the beach and I take some photos. And before we know it, both of my children are in the water, in full clothes, having the time of their lives. For a brief moment, I want to tell them to get out of the freezing water, but instead I just roll with it and take pictures. And laugh. And relax a little and realise that they are having fun and so am I, for the first time in a very long time, and we just enjoy the moment.
And boy, did I get some photos.
We return to the hotel room (where I have managed to purchase wireless access from the Caravan park next door), the kids are happy, soaking wet, getting out of their clothes. They jump in that crappy spa, Angus goes down for a nap (after again trying to eat a dishwasher detergent block), the kids start whingeing and Mina gets belligerent.
But I say “fuck it” and go and have a nap.
I wake up to Mina complaining she’s bored and Jules playing Angry Birds on the iPad. Jason and I then see fit to tell our children what OUR childhood vacations consisted of: poo in a bucket, showering from a bucket (at which point I said to Jason that I hope it wasn’t the same bucket), hanging around a holiday village where the most thrilling thing was a trampoline… and 7 people in one caravan. And here our daughter was complaining that the resort playground was boring. Hum. The older two again start bickering and we endure dinner in the Brasserie, where they make so much mess it is embarrassing, I am wearing dress boots with tracksuit pants (because I forgot a bag), and the baby smears $30 seafood risotto all over his face.
And the carpet. And his brother’s hair.
I look over at the young honeymooners at the table near the fire and realise that we are that family that either ruined their honeymoon, put them off having children for the next 10 years, or if their wedding was because of a baby in her tummy already, scare the crap out of them that they are just a few short years away from wearing tracksuit pants in a restaurant, drinking wine a little too fast, and barking at her kids to sit down every 45 seconds.
Naturally, we have to leave the restaurant and take dessert back to our room because the kids are tired and bickering… and we finally get them to bed at 7:30, get to enjoy each other’s company for a little while, watch the first episode of Mad Men on DVD and then off to sleep I go because… well… I drank my wine a little too fast during dinner and needed to lie down.
And this morning we’ll be having breakfast, where they’ll find new and creative ways in which to embarrass us with food smears and tantrums, and then we head home for my Grandma’s funeral and one of the hardest days of my life. But, in amongst all of this, I realise that this was the best idea ever and even though holidays are exhausting, frustrating, and sometimes downright disappointing, it really is all about a moment.
This $1200 moment.