Love Chunks, Sapphire, Sapphire's friend Juliet, Milly and I have just returned from a weekend away: two nights in a cosy Bed-and-Breakfast that was dog-friendly.
Actually, it was more than 'friendly', it allowed dogs inside. And no, the accommodation wasn't a one-star kennel featuring a self-serviced cement run and sackcloth hammock but a rather nice four star cottage featuring the usual floral curtains, watercolours of blue wrens, blue-and-lemon themed cushions, curtains and dinner plates as befitting the sixty-something proprietor and owner of a poodle named Pattie.
As we know, BnBs are the lifeblood of twee little country towns and villages that are fortunate enough to be located within a one or two hour drive from any big city. Stressed-out slickers arrive on a Friday night, congratulating themselves on having beaten the damn traffic and in finding the hidden key to the cottage that'll help them get away from it all. Then they lug in their fifteen overnight bags + laptops, golf buggy, K2-standard hiking boots, half-dozen bottles from the cellar and corolla-sized goretex jackets inside before struggling to get the f***ing fire lit.
Our BnB featured the deepest domestic spa bath I'd ever seen. Sure, Conde Naste travel writers might have lowered their arses into more swirling jets than I have, but this particular tub required a deep breath and a small prayer before stepping over the edge and down, down, d-o-w-n into the black, dark deepness of an abandoned well.
The girls swam in there for two hours, even going so far as daring each other to do underwater somersaults. By bedtime, they were ready for another meal due to their exertions and Sapphire's eyes were so fogged up with lemon-myrtle moisturising bath gel she bumped into a nest of lacquered side tables.
The following morning at 6am Love Chunks and I rubbed the sleep from our eyes, wondering what lucky, innocent and clever childless yuppies were doing in our one-kilometre BnB border (sleeping in until 11am presumably), as we were jarred awake by the giggles of two 10-year old girls lumbering around the jiggling weatherboard house on stilts with all the delicacy of a dozen deranged elephants. They were accompanied by an excited a dog who'd earlier decided to drop a few fragrant butt nuggets on the carpet by the back door.
The PAL-odorous pong meant that ignoring the chaos, or shouting out, "You can put a DVD on and make yourself some hot milo" wasn't good enough. As such, we reluctantly flung back the warm, down-filled, floral-frilled quilt, flicked on the brass-edged lights and dealt with a Saturday morning start up that was most definitely anti the spirit of a BnB (Bed and Bludge). The poo was immediately exorcised, the kids fed and we adults ingested some stray grains of coffee via a dusty plunger. Three long hours later it was 9am and deemed a suitable time to leave the cottage and check out the quaint little town.
It must be a contractural obligation for main streets reliant on BnB dollars to have at least four coffee shops (all with 'cosy log fires'), a sweets shop, a chocolate and cake store, two bookshops (one catering for gay and lesbian interests), three organic bakeries, a historical society, a beautician and day spa complex, a Tarot reader and seventeen gift and curio shops. Naturally, by 11am we'd drunk three coffees (adults), two milkshakes (kids, with leftovers consumed by one adult), eaten eight hand-made chocolates each, shared two gluten-free friands, purchased several books, two hand-stitched fabric key rings with a dog and turtle motif and were looking for something to do that didn't involve hanging around outside.
.....or eating anything with cocoa, dates, toffee, caffeine, hard rock candy or lemon butter in it.
Wandering around a drafty old stable complex looking at over-priced antiques generally leaves me feeling about as fascinated as a insomniac on an anaesthetist's table but it's a hell of a lot more fun than standing outside in the street with merciless knife blades of freezing rain attacking my face from a sideways angle. Plus, in a couple of hours it would be lunchtime, and an opportunity to replace my sugars with salts, fats, starches and meats.
Never have two hours passed so entertainingly. The girls were fascinated with the jewellery, books, 1980s fashions, toys and games on display and Love Chunks and I punctuated our fascinated strolls with "You've got to be kidding" or "Eighty dollars for pink trousers that my Dad rejected in the seventies? They're dreamin'!"
We felt sorry for the poor model who had to pose - nude and frozen, at an angle that surely would only excite a Chiropractor setting up their business in the town:
We wondered if this author - and the featured knitter - was sober when this book was dreamed up and why the RSPCA merely stood idly by and allowed the poor little creature to suffer so cruelly:
.......and questioned how bored, stoned, lonely or public toilet door head-buttingly bonkers you'd have to be to find this one a fascinating read:
No matter. It was time for our wood-oven-fired pizza lunch with the ubiquitous wedges, rocket salad and another gallon of coffee for us and lime spiders for the girls.
Naturally, no trip to BnB land would be complete without a visit to the local chocolatier. The first one - a gorgeous little shop that also sold coffee and cakes - was friendly, affordable and enthusiastic.
The second one, located out of town and after our antiques entertainment and lunch was a tad more Nazi-ish:
"Please buy bottled water. We are unable to give you water to drink because we are only on rainwater and health restrictions do not permit us."
"RACV Top 101 Tourism Experiences in Victoria" screamed their brochure.
'Not just a shop in town.'
But yes, I bought some chocolate. And ate it.