I’ve taken myself on a little road trip this week; nothing fancy, just up the New England Highway to Armidale for a visit with my uni supervisor about a research project. I earmarked Monday to prepare so I could get away at dawn and avoid driving in the dark on those hilly country roads. Well anyway, I’m damned if I know what I did all day yesterday because, despite getting up at first light, I didn’t manage to roll out of the garage doors until noon. I partially blame this on my dear friends Noel and Sue Nicholson for planning a trip to Siberia in the midst of the current crisis because I awoke to the dulcet tones of an incoming Facebook message complete with photos depicting them literally being escorted from the premises.
In his typical Indiana Jones style, Noel decided to laugh in the face of danger and take more photographs of the event even though I warned him that Russians tend to take exception to things being pointed at them. Naturally I spent almost an hour Googling the hell out of every news outlet from Al Jazeera’s Almanac to the Zimbabwe Zoo Weekly to make sure I didn’t need to organise a rescue effort for my dear friends. It’s a shame they’re safe really because I envisaged an ‘Argo’ type adventure starring another friend, the Blue Gnome. I figured he wouldn’t have looked out of place in Siberia, just a little hypothermic, and he does a nice subtle visual of ‘Go Fuck Yourself’.
Anyway, the second spanner in the works involved the devastated faces of the pugs when they realised I was packing a suitcase. I recently discovered that a group of pugs is called a grumble. I can’t dispute that, although in this case they sat silently miserable to the point where I was overcome with guilt and shunned their outrageously expensive weight control food in favour of scrambled eggs with a side of bacon and peanut butter. It was just a oncer and I was able to leave with a clear conscience although if any of them drop dead with clogged arteries this week I’ll deny everything. You can bet the farm they won’t have left a shred of evidence between them.
You can see now how I found myself behind schedule. I’m three paragraphs into the story and am still yet to mention anything beyond the front gate plus I haven’t mentioned the crucial stuff about ironing Sparky’s favourite socks and filling the fridge with male-friendly food. I know, I know…. cheap attempt at Woman of the Year but I do need to take the opportunities as they present themselves, and seriously, it was just a bag of gourmet sausages and a spag bol with ready-made garlic bread. And chocolate Tim Tams – they’re my ace in the sleeve. On the down side I left a sink full of dishes and I didn’t mention that the washing machine is failing to spin properly but, in my defence, I had to draw the line or I’d be typing this from Macca’s at Cessnock.
Eventually I hit the road at 11.54 a.m. – almost three hours after my anticipated time of departure. In a valiant effort to make up for lost time, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and drove past Pattison’s Patisserie at St Ives, defaulting on the best beef and burgundy pies in the country. To be absolutely truthful there wasn’t a parking spot available or I may have succumbed, even though I’d diligently packed myself a healthy salad roll and a pear. (Note to self: never doing that again). Not only was the roll as mushy as fuck but you try untangling clad wrap with one hand when you’re doing a hundred and ten on the freeway. Plus I think the pear was a cricket ball in its last life. Sparky phoned when I was just going past that island in the Hawkesbury River that used to be an asylum for the insane and when I confessed my whereabouts, God bless him, he made no snide remarks and even pretended to be surprised that I was only an hour up the road. I’m not fooled however, he’ll be saving his comments for later.
I absolutely love the Australian countryside and once I’d manoeuvred my way around the Hexham bypass and found the highway – despite the Road and Traffic Authority’s attempts to bamboozle everyone with their hilarious policy of no signage – the grassy, cow dotted landscape did wonders to lower my stress levels. I soon forgot about the washing machine that doesn’t spin and the Oscar winning performance of my grumbling grandpugs. (And the niggling feeling that I forgot to buy onions for the sausage sangers). I had my iPod recently refurbed and there’s nothing as freeing as flying down the highway belting out Viva La Vida and old favourites like Little Piece of My Heart. I will also confess to a bit of John Denver. And ABBA.
The only disappointing moment was my planned coffee break at Scone. Apparently closing at four o’clock means switching off the coffee machine at three forty-five. Richard Branson would be disgusted, although arguably no more than I was. I don’t know what annoyed me more: the guy’s deadpan expression when I reminded him it was still fifteen minutes until closing time or his smirk when he advised me that he was the only ‘barista’ in town. I had to refrain from suggesting that he should try the recent trend of coffee enemas, although I wouldn’t have phrased it so politely.
Anyway, here I am in my little hotel room, all by myself, trying not to think about the Bates Motel and wishing Sparky was here. Not that I’m really scared to be on my own, it’s just that since I’ve been here, I’ve managed to knock the air conditioner remote control off the wall and according to my iPhone it’s only 4 degrees. Also, when I opened the fridge, the door fell off the freezer and stubbornly refuses to go back on. Worst of all, I’m pretty sure I forgot to tick the tomato sauce option on the breakfast menu for my boiled egg in the morning and no-one is answering at reception. I’m confident the chef will pick up on my omission however because frankly, I don’t know anyone in the world who eats eggs without tomato sauce.