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A Deep Breath Out

Hello there. Did you survive Christmas? Are you still speaking to any of your family? Did anyone lose an eye when the top button of your pants pinged off and richocheted around the room after you forced one too many ham sandwiches down on Christmas night? Have you broken all your gifts yet? Did you like anything anyone gave you? Were you convincing with your present face when you opened something that was, shall we say, not to your taste? Me neither.

Since last I wrote, H, May Blossom and I have been to Perth and back. We were there for four nights, staying in the home of our friends who had gone to Canada for the holidays. Their house was beyond awesome. Quite apart from being considerably huger than our flat, it was full of things that work, and places to put the things that work. Amazing. It was arranged completely sensibly, and intuitively, so they really had no need to leave us any instructions. Whenever we needed something, we thought for a moment about where it would be most conveniently kept and voila! There it was. I filed away every detail for my One Day House.

I don’t know if you did Geography at school, but Perth is what’s known in geographical parlance as Bloody Far Away From Sydney. Especially on a plane that smelled like it was transporting the National Farting Team on their end-of-season trip, which was how we came home. Our flight also featured a young and obnoxious South African couple travelling with a baby. When the man whose bought-and-paid-for ticket entitled him to occupy the third seat in their row of three attempted to sit down, they loudly and affrontedly declared that they had SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED a third seat be reserved next to them because they were TRAVELLING WITH A BABY and could he go and find somewhere else to sit on the full flight because they had SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED the third seat be left free. They honestly weren’t going to let him sit there, despite only having paid for two seats. That’s no way to make friends on a long flight.

Nor is falling asleep so soundly that a shouting flight attendant and the assorted jabs and pokes of five passengers fail to wake you, which is what the man in front of us did. Being unconscious in the aisle seat meant that when he couldn’t be roused, he trapped the two women sitting beside him, who were desperate for the toilet. That bloke was very lucky they didn’t just urinate on him.

But that’s all in the past now. After only three or four showers, we all felt mostly back to normal again after landing. We’ve now embarked on Phase 3 of the holiday: The Country Part. To that end we have driven a couple of hours out of town to old house on a former dairy farm where my parents are planning to retire when my younger brother leaves school. (That plan could use updating: said brother has left school, university and is fast approaching thirty.) We’ve been coming here for weekends and holidays  for twenty-eight years, and it’s probably my favourite place in the world.

Over the next few days I’ll give you a little tour of some of the best bits, I think, but for now I’ll leave you with a picture of the oldest of the three cats here. This is Sid and he is seventeen. He has weathered to match the boards on the verandah. This is likely to be his last summer. May Blossom kisses him at least thirty times a day.

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