August 16, 2013


There are many, many reasons why I love my mum. She is warm and loving, buys nice clothes in the wrong size which end up in my wardrobe, cleans my fridge whenever she visits and, much to my brother's delight, has stopped putting sultanas in savoury dishes.

But most of all, I love that when I emailed her a couple of months ago and asked her if she would come up to Sydney from Melbourne and mind the kids for four nights, she didn't hesitate to swap all golfing and other retirement-related activities for toddler-wrangling and school runs.

You see, John and I had devised a madcap scheme to shirk all work and parental duties for a four night getaway to Thredbo where we planned to ski, eat, drink, sleep and apres-ski our irresponsible butts off, something we never could have done without Mum agreeing to shoulder the burden.

What? You think just because she had three kids before the age of twenty-one and worked her fingers to the bone supporting us for 25 years that she should be having a rest and enjoying her retirement? Don't be ridiculous. Looking after my kids is her REWARD after all those years. Just ask her.

Mum? . . . . .

Oh, she's probably at the golf club showing her friends the adorable videos she took of the kids while she was here and telling them all how SELFLESS I am for allowing her to spend such a chunk of quality time with her grandchildren.

Anyhoo, moving on!

A gazillion thank yous darling mother - our little snowy getaway was heavenly.

You can't even begin to imagine how liberating it was to spend six hours in a car without a single "are we there yet?" or "can we stop for Maccas?" or suffering a sustained whiplash from passing endless food options to a toddler.

Last year when we drove to Crescent Head, we spent five hours listening to the world's loudest toddler crying and whinging, only to have her fall asleep within 15 minutes of home. We felt like we'd been trapped in a war zone, finally escaping the car with ashen faces and the glazed-over look of the undead. The deaf undead.

Giddy with excitement about our alpine adventure, we literally leaped out of bed at 5.30am, shrugged on the clothes we'd laid out the night before, and without so much as dragging a toothbrush through our mouth or kissing the kids goodbye, we tiptoed out to the car, which was all packed up, and made our getaway.

Leaving the coast and the sunrise behind us

Next stop - Goulburn for brekkie!
We stopped for breakfast at the historic Paragon Cafe in Goulburn, where the waitress, bless her, didn't even blink at my request for gluten free toast (no) or decaf coffee (yes). In fact, she must have been used to city slickers like me, with our silly new age food requests and ridiculous caffeine-free notions, because she said they really should start providing gluten-free items. Or perhaps she was just being lovely and wanting to make me feel less silly and ridiculous. Namaste nice Paragon waitress.

Now one thing that you always hope for when you go to the snow is . . . well . . . snow. The whole week leading up to our trip, the snow cams at Thredbo showed a distinct lack of snow and a disturbing amount of dirt and rocks. So you can imagine our joy, just outside Canberra, when we spied the white powdery stuff on the hills. Coming through Cooma, we practically cried tears of joy as the cars lumbering past us on their way back from the mountains had giant white snowy mattresses on their roofs. 

A welcome sight on our way to Jindabyne
Our four nights at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel and five days swishing down the slopes were everything we hoped for. We skiied from 9am until last lifts most days, ate goulash and soup and cake at every cafe on the mountain, scoffed mini Snickers bars on chairlifts, listened to live music every night before dinner, dined on whole river trout and Brazilian barbeque fare, slept in till 8am each morning and generally just enjoyed every last second.
The Thredbo Alpine Hotel likes to offer its guests a swim in the hot Swedish pool and a hot cider after a hard day's skiing. Guess which one I went for?!?
So I didn't choose 'pool'. Surprised?
John declared that the Tuesday was quite possibly the best day out of 15 years together. I'm assuming he's not counting our wedding day or the days we welcomed two new babies into the world, or the day we picked up the Golf GTI (his dream car for years apparently).

And the skiing? We were lucky, lucky, lucky. There was snow and no lift queues which meant no crowds which meant the likelihood of me careening into someone or having them crash into me was minimized. This is a good thing. I am not the world's most proficient skiier. I'm a blue run gal all the way. I love the rush I get from skiing down a perfectly groomed, powdery slope, and in my head I look incredibly stylish and elegant whilst doing so. The reality is that I look like a red and white teddy bear with knock knees. Check it out . . .

But really, for me, the goals are to get down that mountain in one piece, stay as warm as possible and unwrap mini-Snickers bars on chairlifts without losing a glove or pole, all of which I managed to achieve. Huzzah!

I also managed a fabulous bed-in on the third day. Leaving John on the slopes, I took to the king size bed for the rest of the day, snoozing and reading and a little more snoozing. Exactly the kind of battery-recharge session I needed.

Did I miss the children? Oh most definitely. There were many occasions when we'd say things like "Oh Jack would love this" (but interestingly not as many occasions when we'd wish a curious, loud, opinionated toddler was with us - go figure!) However, while it felt like a little part of us was missing, we also kept coming back to the happy fact of our coupledom. To forget about the washing up and whose turn it was to get up with the kids and what to cook for dinner. To leave the petty gripes and parental guilt at home with the piles of washing. How good it felt to spend this time together - to remember 'us' and each other and ourselves as individuals too.

Whether it's the snow or a hotel in the city or sending the kids around to your mums for a night, I highly recommend, if it's at all possible under your circumstances, that you go on an extended date with your partner. You might even find out you still like each other.

And whatever you do and wherever you go, schnapps shots are compulsory. Prost!

At least I look the part (thank you Aldi & your affordable ski gear)
Coffee-in-the-sun o'clock!
No ski boots allowed in the main hotel so this was my footwear solution for trips to and from the boot room. Nice huh?
* Music is Strauss's Blue Danube - courtesy EMI

Red Hippo

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