This summer Mr Stark and I spent some time in Australia. Mostly we stayed in perfectly nice but unremarkable corporate type hotels but for Mr Starke's two actual holi-days we skipped away to a couple of quite different places.
First off to Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort, a tiny coral atoll at the south end of the Great Barrier Reef. Of course being an island we couldn't skip there, our early bird taxi took us out to Redcliffe airstrip where we made sure to avoid the sky divers' queue and boarded a 12 seater for our trip out to the island. Any cloud induced glumps lifted as they did and then disappeared completely as our pilot took us down to get a closer look at migrating whales and a first glimpse of our destination.
Now tight rubber isn't usually my thing particularly set off with fetching little ankle bootees but the fishes have probably seen worse and to be honest weren't likely to care. Me? I've never seen anything like them.
We signed up for a sunset cruise, Mr Starke wasn't that enthusiastic but there were snacks and fizz. And then there were whales...
Whales. Huge humpbacked whales. None of my photos do them justice. They were elegant and truly awesome. They knew we were there and could have flipped our boat but they just kept on doing their thing. I've rarely felt so small. Never in daylight. They swam around us and then away, the sun sank below the horizon and the birds flew home to roost. We returned for dinner and bed.
And so to the leaky roof. Our day on the island had been sunny and bright but night brought rain. Heavy,heavy rain. Imagine the scene, I'm lying in bed listening to the rain rattling on the iron roof, thinking my espadrilles left outside to dry would get wetter, but at least it would be fresh wetness. And then my goodness how suggestible am I? I'm listening to the rain and thinking my arm is feeling wet. My arm is feeling wet. Rain is dripping through the ceiling. It's only dripping through a tiny spot though and the bed is fairly big so I move to a drier bit and snuggle down again. Next morning all is dry even my espadrilles.
Don't assume the leaky roof means a rackety resort. Next day the staff were hugely apologetic but I didn't mind anyway. It's not a fancy place, there aren't butlers at your beck and call. The staff are friendly and helpful, meals are hearty but not fine dining and the rooms are comfortable and clean (mostly watertight!); there is one phone and one Internet access point but the modern world is not why you go. The luxury is in the surroundings, whether you snorkel, dive or simply laze around you're surrounded by nature, sometimes wet, sometimes noisy and messy (I'm thinking of the bird breeding season) but to be cherished and celebrated.
Now all I need is for Australia to move a little closer to Scotland and I'll be back in a flash.
(Mrs Starke does not like long haul flying but that's another story)