3 days, so the saying goes, is the expiry date of both fish in the fridge and family staying (and I would suggest visitors in general, as a rule). This is one of my dictums and after venting about this weekend’s houseguests when it was only Friday, I was told the Roman orator & philosopher Cicero was responsible for this quote. A quick Google search, however, seems to suggest it was actually Benjamin Franklin. Not sure how much he had in common with Cicero but hey, I don’t know much about either.
Regardless of who said it, they clearly hadn’t met our latest houseguests, who barely lasted 3 hours before the shine wore off. In fact, Mr L looked as though he was over them by the time he walked through the door after picking them up from the airport. And so, considerate hostess (or host, depending on how you feel about non gender-specific nouns) that I am, I have compiled a “how to” guide to a harmonious visit that will have us want to see you again.
- Mode of transportation– ideally you should have your own. We have a lot of overseas and interstate friends. There are many car-hire companies in Sydney for those who choose to arrive by plane. This provides the added bonus of being able to travel independently of us once you are here (at either our suggestion or yours). Failing this, there are taxi and private transfer companies who will transport you in their car for a moderate fee (excuse us for not living within a 10km/$20 radius of the airport, but we are not airline employees).
- Time of arrival– particularly relevant if you do decide to arrive by plane and expect to be met at the airport. It would be appreciated if you could a) not subject your nominated chauffeur to peak-hour traffic b) not leave the non-chauffeur home alone with the kids for witching hour and the bath-story-bed rigmarole c) consider arriving within the time-frame actually suggested by your hosts as convenient to pick you up.
- Associated guests– if possible, do not bring your children. If this means you cannot come either, that’s ok. If you want to know why, read this. Dogs and other pets are also unwelcome.
- Gifts– consumable gifts are much appreciated (particularly alcohol & chocolate). These can be purchased at the airport duty free by overseas visitors. Interstate visitors will have to pay GST and other relevant taxes. Non-consumables should be small, tasteful and unlikely to contribute to household clutter, to which I am seriously averse.
- Cleanliness and tidiness– please note the state of the house when you arrive. I know you like to think I have gone to great lengths to clean and tidy in honour of your arrival but I have not. My house usually looks like this. Please do not transform it into a pig-sty. You will be provided with a generously-sized bedroom for your stay. Your bags, shoes, i-pads and other belongings should fit comfortably into this room. Similarly, note the absence of crumbs on the dining room table, dirty nappies on the kitchen bench, toothpaste in the sink and skid-marks in the toilet. I know I begrudgingly clean up my children’s food and excrement but I don’t want to clean up yours.
- Electronic appliances– we like to think of ourselves as technologically savvy in this house. We have a dishwasher. A sophisticated machine, it will clean your cutlery and crockery at the push of a button. It does, however, require these items to be placed into it before it can wash them. We have yet to find a model that collects your dirty dishes from the sink/bench/table and loads them automatically. Our washing machine is slightly more basic but it does require you to press “On/Off” and then “Start” before it will work. Most straight-forward of all is our clothes dryer. This will rapidly shrink woollens so please, do not put my favourite cardigan (which you have graciously admired and I have admitted to you wasn’t cheap) into it. I will suspect you of sartorial sabotage.
- Data allowance– international visitors will be surprised to know in Australia, data is dollars. (Are dollars, probably more correctly). We will give you our wi-fi password but only if you promise NOT to download entire TV series as you fight your jet-lag.
- Meals– in contrast to point (5), I do actually make some effort as far as meals go. Factors I consider are a) individual likes and dislikes b) time of year c) number of people d) flexibility re mealtimes e) maximum “wow” factor: effort ratio. I generally aim to serve a dessert on approximately 50% of your nights here. I also attempt to have a constant supply of milk and bread as well as some lunch-staples. Often I have either bought chocolate biscuits or made something yummy to offer you with your cup of tea. It would be good if you could say “thank you”, great if you could wash-up and absolutely fantastic if you could do some minor ooh-ing and aah-ing about what an amazing cook I am. You can even ask for the recipe, but I’d appreciate it if you could write it out yourself.
- Tea & coffee– we drink a lot of both here, upward of 8 cups a day. Please do not assume that just because I had a cup an hour ago I will not want another one now. Do not ask me if you can have one. Ask me instead if I would like another.
- Check-out– the same considerations re airport transfers apply as on arrival. Please do not “make” your bed before you go. I always change the sheets between guests, even if they have only stayed one night, so arranging the duvet and pillows neatly is a total waste of time as I will mess it all up 5 minutes after you leave. Strip the beds. For extra brownie points, press “On/Off’ and then “Start” on the washing machine, as described above. The same goes for your towels.
Above all, enjoy your stay, we were excited about your visit and we look forward to seeing you again. Or at least, that’s what we’ll tell you….