I am currently sitting on the couch at my sister’s place in Melbourne. It’s been a hot day and the night is balmy and warm meaning that we have every possible window and door open in an effort to catch the breeze. It’s my bi-annual pilgrimage Down Under for a family Christmas, it’s day number two and with Christmas Day looking like a scorcher, I couldn’t be much further away from the chill of a London winter.
It’s a long way so as is my usual habit, I paused for a week on the way through to soak up some sun, read lots of books and enjoy some amazing food. This time the pause was in Hua Hin in Thailand at the gorgeous Anantara Resort.
I had a room overlooking the pool…
After a ‘busy’ day poolside, I would spend a couple of hours curled up on this comfortable couch before heading out for dinner.
…and there was a lovely message from Dow, my room housekeeper, on my pillow every evening.
Speaking of locals, there were elephants everywhere – this cutie was my favourite…
A welcoming hello at the entrance, just one of the Elephant Parade installation scattered throughout the grounds.
…and Alex, the resident blue and green macaw, was a colourful sight around the resort.
Apparently Alex is bi-lingual (English and Thai in case you were wondering)
All up nature was at her best whether big and breathtaking…
View from the beach bar at the Anantara Hua Hin resort…it’s a tough life for some.
…small and delicate…
There are orchids of all sorts everywhere. I passed this one every day on the way to breakfast.
…or there for just a moment.
This water lily had blossomed overnight so I got this shot on the way to breakfast in the morning – the flower had drooped by mid afternoon and was gone by the evening.
The food was delicious..
A traditional Thai appetiser. Take a leaf and add a bit of everything – peanuts, dried shrimp, dried coconut, shallot, garlic, lime, chilli and palm sugar paste. Wrap up the little parcel and pop it in your mouth. Delicious!
…and the cocktails many and varied across the balmy evenings…
Hua Hin Sling
…but in the main, I lay by the pool – cooling off with a dip in the water every so often – and read.
I devoured four magazines (two Vanity Fair and one each of Raconteur and The Economist’s 1843) and five books: Emma Donoghue’s absorbing The Wonder, Jeffrey Archer’s sixth in The Clifton Chronicles (Cometh the Hour) and the eighth novel in Bernard Cornwell’s Viking series (The Empty Throne), a light and fluffy Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein and the utterly gripping How I Lost You from Jenny Blackhurst. I was also halfway through Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings when I left.
It was such a blissfully solitary and self-indulgent week. Reading is my favourite thing to do and is exactly what I book the holiday for (as well as a much-needed dose of sun). It also stands me in good stead for the next phase of my trip – a little me-time before the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the inevitable flurry of activity with family and friends.
Which brings me back to where I started – a balmy night in the Melbourne suburbs on the night before Christmas. So before I embark on the various opporunities for festive cheer scheduled in the days ahead, all that remains for me to do is wish you a happy holiday season however and wherever you are spending it.