Roughing it: The Country Experience

My one criteria in booking places for our holidays is that they must exude ‘character’. I can put up with a lot in terms of lack of convenience if the abode possesses this mysterious quality. Sometimes this factor becomes our downfall, and other times it pays off in spades. This time… I’m not so sure.
By the time we were half an hour out from our destination, it was getting pretty grim. Two out of three were cracking it and we were nearing the witching hour where all would need food before they settled down again. “Just call and order pizza in Bemboka”, Dave helpfully suggested. Google produced no leads, however, and we soon discovered why- even the town (and I use this term loosely) General Store was ‘closed until further notice’. Oh dear. We pressed on, no dinner supplies, and the minutes striding by. 
Giba Gunyah Country Cottages finally loomed into view and we cautiously stepped into our little cottage. Hexagonally designed, it was quaint and rustic, and it did have that elusive quality I specified. Still, spending two nights in a tiny two bedroom shack with paper thin walls in the company of a snorer and three restless children made me feel a little apprehensive. 
On the way I had remarked to Dave how inspired I was by the concept that Dan Barber had alluded to in the recent episode of Chef’s Table when he suggested all great cuisines were borne out of scarcity and hardship, forcing creativity from limited ingredients. Well, I got my chance to practice my newfound vision that evening. Though, I should mention, we were saved considerably by the provision of fresh breakfast supplies in the cottage. Pantry items: fresh bread, eggs, carrots, butter, marmalade and baby spinach. Half an hour later we tucked into sunny side up eggs on crusty bread, with a side of marmalade sauted carrots and fresh greens. Eli exclaimed, “this is my favorite meal!”
The setting of the cottage was pure magic. Nestled into a valley, with rolling hills to either side, calves grazing by our back fence and creeping blossoms spilling over the verandah. Eli and Hudson basked in the sun, squirting each other with their water toys and practicing cricket skills into the twilight. Misty, the family dog, came to join in the fun and relished playing catch, though was somewhat perplexed by the concept of returning the ball. 
We took a jaunt into Bega and enjoyed our new staple picnic of fresh bread and salami, stopping off at a local playground and, of course, an op shop, thanks to which I am now the proud owner of two right footed slippers. Whoops. 
Dave and I spent our nights by the roaring fire, sampling Pinot Noir and challenging each other to read chapters of random books adorning the shelves. We managed to get through the nights, strategizing with various adult/child configurations so we could avoid repeating the first night mishap of Eli flooding the living room (where Ivy was sound asleep) with light because he had a bad dream and couldn’t figure out which room we were in.
I’m so chuffed that the boys got to experience a rural getaway, it brought back so many memories of my own childhood jaunts to my grandparents’ farm and walks through the paddocks to their billabong. Plucking wild blackberries and picking up bleached cattle bones as we walked. Stepping cautiously (petrified!) around sleeping snakes on the dusty path. The muffled creak of tired floorboards as we tiptoed up the hallway to snuggle under frilly floral bedspreads. The sound of trilling birds welcoming us to the morning and the carefully labeled homemade jam, ginger beer, relish and fruit leather collections. I remember serenading the family with the assistance of the electric organ and opening matching Christmas presents with lollipops taped to the festive paper. It is such a privilege to be able to share some of this with the boys and see their faces light up as they make their own treasured memories.

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