Usually when I go on holidays, it’s not about rest and relaxation. It’s all go go go with activities and sightseeing and squeezing in as much as possible, taking photos, taking notes, sampling as much of the local cuisine as possible. Either that or spending time with family and being busy in lots of other ways. But not this time – this little trip I’m doing something completely different.
I’m staying in a lovely light-filled and airy house (perhaps it’s a homestead) up on a hill overlooking Hume Dam and out in the sticks. Well, I’m a city girl so ‘out in the sticks’ is a relative term but secluded according to my normal existence. It’s actually only a few kilometres to the nearest little township and about 20 minutes drive from Albury but it feels forever away.
It has views for days, which change hue as the day progresses, and I wake up to pale pinks and muted blues and greens and the sight of hills and water. There’s a couple of horses in the paddock to the right and a herd of cattle that come strolling by every once in a while. Lovely.
We had friends stay with us the first couple of nights but then more days of just hanging with no plans or agendas and time to spend doing very little. It’s not something I often do and it makes a rather welcome change. I don’t think it’s going to alter my usual vacation mode but I’m certainly savouring these quiet days while I can.
I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even bother anymore to take a book with me on holidays as I never get near to opening them. This time though, I’ve had my nose in a lovely book that was in the house and golly gosh, I’m actually going to finish it by the time I leave. Occasionally I look up to watch the colours of the lake and hills transform.
Strangely it’s a book I have myself at home, yet despite having owned it for ten years I’ve never got around to reading it there. This is what down time must be all about – doing those things you don’t normally let yourself do.
As I sit reading that book with a glass of wine I ponder on how connected this world is. That book is of France, Paris and St Remy de Provence, two areas I have visited and love. In fact, we visited places and shops in that village suggested in that book and brought home chocolates purchased on its recommendation. It’s written by the wife of someone I worked for many moons ago in Sydney, in my second ever job, a job I loved. Just three of us in the entire company in a little suite of offices high overlooking Sydney Harbour. As read I sip a chilled chardonnay from Italy, from a young Australian wine maker (whose wife is from Canberra) who we met while holidaying in the Piedmont in Northern Italy. I’m looking across to the mighty Hume Dam which I discover is being upgraded with money (many millions of dollars of it) my husband worked to secure in his previous life as a public servant. Just out to the left is the Bonegilla migrant site, now an ‘experience’ for tourists to discover the past where I visited and caught a video of an immigration officer from the 1940s: it’s a face I know and the father of a good friend.
Ah, what a connected little world we inhabit.
When my feet get itchy from too much sitting, I wander around and venture out with camera in hand to catch some photos in the glow of evening light. Sometimes it’s successful and sometimes not.
I’m reminded that capturing moving and back-lit black angus cattle in the fast fading evening light is a bit tricky. That sounds was a not successful.
Not far from our holiday abode is Albury and I did make it in there for a visit. It’s the town where my mum grew up for 10 years and where my parents met and ‘courted’. I find her previous family home: just as she described overlooking the botanic gardens and looking rather grand. I imagine it looks pretty much as it did back then and I wonder how many of the trees and plants in the gardens were once tended by my grandfather, a keen gardener, and back then the local newsagent. I think I’ll take a copy of the photo we have of that house from the 1950s and send it to the current owners.
Not far away, somewhere on the banks of the Murray, was where my Dad proposed. It makes me happy to think of that. He would have been so pleased when she said yes. I’m glad she did too.
This little country stay has been about kicking back. It’s been a different sort of break for me, these days of slow relaxation. I imagine this is how many people usually take their holidays.
I’ll savour it for the moment because next time I’m away I’ll no doubt be back to my usual hectic self.