Hello You, looking in at your screen – yes You! You look lovely 👋
I went to the Hunter Valley once. There was a Love Boat.
Back then, I’d landed in Sydney for a week away from the throbbing metropolis of Auckland, where I’d been living for almost a year. I’d fled to Auckland from Hong Kong with a suitcase and one way ticket to try and find my rampantly missing self who’d been left behind somewhere in the Sahara before I was ten. Why I chose New Zealand is another story. Later folks, later.
Gosh, did you see what we did then, we almost went round the world in one paragraph. Stay with me though ok, while we return to Sydney?
I’d rented a car and taken off north up the F1 to see where it went. I do that sometimes, just go somewhere and see where it goes. Well before kids I did, not so much now, Saturday sport and all that.
The Hunter Valley seemed like a good place to stop because it’s a winery district, also it seemed like a waste to turn around and go home again, so I pulled in at the local booking office with the big ‘i’ to see what beds were available for the night.
My husband knows all too well to his great financial cost and much rolling of eyes, I have a pathological loathing of crappy hotel rooms. Most likely my preciousness stems from the part night spent in a concrete diving lodge in Cebu in the Philippines, where my travelling buddy and I had just settled in for the night in our respective sleeping bags, congratulating ourselves on our awesome $5/night cabin discovery when whammo, a flight of buzzing B52s dive-bombed our heads in the dark.
Note to self; you don’t ever congratulate yourself on something in a Smug kind of way, because Smug always, always comes back to bite you on the arse. Smug says “oh my newborn baby sleeps all night, hasn’t been a problem since we came home from the hospital.” Tonight is your night, new parents, Smug is out to get you.
And Smug with her louder friend, Self-congratulatory Gloating, is perhaps how two half-naked, twenty-something year old girls could be heard one summer night for miles around, screaming and jumping around flapping their arms as they fended off swarms of giant flying cockroaches the size of bats, on a Philippine island.
Ok so maybe they weren’t quite batsize but not far off, and anyway who cares at that hour of the morning, they were flying COCKROACHES, urgh. We hotfooted to the Shangri-La where we stayed from the 3am check in for the next three days. I have pictures somewhere but it might take an awful long time to find them and then this post won’t get posted.
But we were in the Hunter Valley weren’t we? Sorry, I was trying to explain something about hotel rooms. There were none available, except at one place where they kindly offered me a room called The Love Boat.
Here it is, in case you don’t believe me:
I kid you not, the alternative options were the Suzi Wong, the Italian Bordello or the French Boudoir. In a Hunter Valley motel.
Somehow all the romance seems kinds of wasted on a single girl away on a solo road trip doesn’t it? Even romance to spew over.
There was a point to this story, in case you’re wondering. Before adjourning from the cosy Love Boat to dinner, which was to be served in the main restaurant and not the Officers Mess or the brothel dining room, I saw MY FIRST REAL KANGAROO!
For a Pom, seeing your first kangaroo is like being an Eskimo seeing the beach. I imagine but not being an Eskimo I couldn’t be sure.
What’s the collective noun for a group of kangaroos? A hop? A box? There were so many kangaroos I was overwhelmed with a purple squishy feeling in my tummy.
I sat on the deck of my little Love Boat that evening, all alone until the sun went down, deep and pink over the horizon, and watched entranced as the roos grazed and hopped. Perhaps it was the very moment I decided Australia was where I wanted to live. For ever. Perhaps I found a little something of myself in those moments; a sense of place, a moment of peace.
And there were no flying cockroaches. Bonzer.
What have been your most horrible hotel and most bestest new country moments?