Orlando got a trip to Bangkok. Then he planned a side trip to Cambodia. I couldn’t go with him so I reckoned I deserved a little trip for myself. Victoria can be wonderful, even in autumn, but the sea needed to feature in my odyssey. After weeks of over-thinking the damn thing, Lee said something random one afternoon and as soon as she had left I booked myself into the Cumberland resort in Lorne, less than two hours from Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road.
I left the city after a working lunch with the Blood Bank people (that’s about as glamorous as it gets around here) and headed off to miss the traffic. I made great time and was checked in and checking out my balcony by 4pm.
On the first floor, I was across the road from the town beach with a fantastic view. I had packed my paints and a decent-sized canvas, my running gear, a few good books and enough unguents to justify my insistence upon a spa suite.
By 4.15pm I was sitting on the sofa in abject panic, wondering how the hell I was going to fill the next 48 hours.
By 4.30pm I had changed into comfy clothes and was sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine and a bowl of gourmet chips.
By 4.35pm I was beginning to relax. I started watching the late-afternoon surfers and counting waves. That was a good one. Ooh, this one looks good – oh no, it petered out. Yes, that was a great one. Why did that surfer miss it? That one would have been good but too much leftover surf. Aah, a perfect wave…. And so on.
Suddenly it was almost 6pm, I was freezing cold and I was no longer afraid of how I would fill my time.
A leisurely stroll down the high street indicated no end of choice for dinner. I found an excellent Spanish tapas place at the far end of town, where the staff pre-shift dinner showed how good the cooking was. But, in true Mairead style, I opted for a decent pizza (large) and plenty more red wine.
Next morning I was up and out before breakfast. I went for a run along the cliff walk, looking out to sea as the surfers got going and the sun started to warm the autumn air. Up as far as the fishermen’s pier and beyond. I stopped to watch the waves breaking on the rocks and it reminded me of Malahide. Turning back I was proud of my 45 minute jog, given that I had not run for over a year.
Breakfast on the balcony – fresh local muesli and yoghurt, followed by a session with my canvas. Nothing to achieve this weekend but as many coats of multi-hued red acrylic paint I could manage. I retreated back to my kindergarten self, tongue sticking out as I daubed away.
After an acceptable artistic sojourn, it was time to break out the spa bath. I gave myself a manicure and pedicure whilst watching a cheesy afternoon movie, then lay in my bath, bubbles whirling away as I watched the waves and the surf. Divine.
Later, wandering down the street, I treated myself to some new clothes and had a lengthy chat to Eileen on the phone as I sipped Earl Grey and watched Weekend Lorne stroll past.
The evening got better and better, so I changed into (yet) another outfit and drove to Fairhaven Beach, a beautiful unspoilt expanse of empty beach ready for walkers, horse riders or dogs. I wandered the water’s edge watching the surf and the surfers up close. Almost time for an aperitif, I thought.
Too exhausted from my day of leisure to do anything else, I ordered room service. The paella was delivered promptly, it was piping hot and absolutely delicious. A bottle of Scrubby Rise washed it down as I watched rented DVDs and watched the stars come out from my balcony. I had only spoken to one person all day.
Next morning I checked out and headed for the last treat of the weekend, a rock salt and lavender scrub and massage at the Endota spa next door. I poured myself out the door almost two hours later, body glowing from head to toe.
Back home in the late afternoon, I slept like a baby that night.