For The Varnished Culture, it was a week of cancellations, most of which, surprisingly, suited us mightily.
1. We were groaning in the early cold and imagined damp, having packed late the previous evening, when the airline rang and said our morning flight to Melbourne was cancelled due to fog. So we got to fly at a more genteel time.
2. Above the clouds, we were warned that turbulence was expected, so hot drinks were not available. This meant free booze in economy – such a shame the flight was a shorty!
3. Our hire car’s handbrake had been cancelled in production, replaced with some sort of automatic park brake, that we suspiciously tested on a paltry verge.
4. At Hepburn Springs, we were told the boiler had broken – so no spa. L desolate but P, who can take spas or leave them (NB: See the scenes of Wagner and acolytes taking the waters, dunking themselves at the toll of specially timed bells, to fully appreciate the torture of the waters), was content with the happy end of a relaxation massage, with no funny business. L had a ‘mineral float on soft pack bed’, whatever that is – see L’s forthcoming blog.
5. After our spa experience, our promised refectory-style ‘spa’ lunch was ‘cancelled’ due to an internal breakdown in communication, and or competence – the excellent hostelry took full blame and then scrambled to get us a much better lunch in their lounge, in winged chairs near a fire – much, much better.
6. Clunes was cancelled. It was still a nice drive, in glorious wet green country.
7. P’s favourite show was cancelled. Then we learnt it was merely postponed. The following evening, we settled down before a roaring fire, with a bottle to aid our reading, in anticipation, when the power went out – throughout the entire valley. Unfortunately this seemed to engage both smoke alarms, that rang out like hyper-charged, World War II claxons, which P clumsily disabled in the pitch black with the aid of dim light from a mobile phone. This left us in absolute quiet, the only inside light the fire, our glasses still half-full, falling back (bleating) on our own resources. Wonderful! From the balcony, you could gaze across the nightscape of winter hills without the chills, totally devoid of illumination apart from a weak clouded moon and the occasional headlight. It was an inconvenient but welcome cancellation, P recalling the apt Elvis song, Country Darkness. No “flies buzzing around the bar”, however, thank goodness.
8. L had booked a ridiculously extravagant dinner in Melbourne Town, to be reviewed in the near future. One of our guests had to make a mad dash to Sydney and therefore cancelled. This was a pity, but we three still had a good time.
So as Robert Burns said, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”, but one can re-jig plans, or compensate, or palliate, so to avoid or stifle “grief an’ pain”. In The Varnished Culture‘s case, these problems were well first-world, and part of the ravaging joy of travel.
The Springs Retreat itself was very pretty in its winter coat, the gardens lush and formal, the villas neat and plush, nicely softened with fire and light. Its ‘Argus’ restaurant was very impressive, with good food, wine and nice background music, including the immortal Lou‘s Candy Island Baby. ‘Believe it or not, I wanted to drink marsanne for the Coach….’
In a nearby Daylesford pub, two hardy travellers from Scotland ran to the fire and declared they’d ‘never been so cold.’ So there. Yes, The Varnished Culture commends the winter wonderland of Daylesford and environs. “When fog and rain pay a call to your garden, do not suffer your heart to harden; rug yourself against winter chills and consider the reduction of your water bills.”