Calling in on the country

by Andy Bryenton

So, you’ve managed to become the one relative in the entire extended clan who happens to run a successful farm, or who has retreated from the big city to enjoy the lifestyle block ‘good life’. The rural idyll — complete with lots of hard work, of course — looks pretty appealing to suburban siblings as the holidays roll around, and your position amidst the green hills or near the coast suddenly becomes a magnet for family and friends.

If you’re generous and game enough to play host to all those cousins, aunties, uncles, kids and grandkids (not to mention old university mates, work buddies and sports’ team acquaintances) who ‘were just in the area’ over Christmas and New Years, then we salute you. But there are a few things to know which will make preparing for the coming ‘tent city’ that little bit easier.

First, tell them what to expect. A holiday in the country is not the Ritz-Carlton, and that’s a big part of its appeal. Be straight up and honest about the need for your rellys to bring plenty of insect repellent, and all the gear to keep their little camp site self sufficient.

Running countless cables from the barn, house and garage for fridges, xboxes, televisions and hair straighteners isn’t really camping, is it? If you’re playing host while summer farming chores are still ongoing, it’s also good to gently remind the folks that the concept of a ‘holiday’ is a bit blurry in the agricultural sector. 

And that a farm comes with hazards for the unwary. 

That being said, there’s something great about helping teach the young ones just where their breakfast eggs and milk come from.

The hard part of hosting your family and friends out in the country is not becoming like John Cleese’s mad hotelier Basil Fawlty. 

There’s such a thing as being a gracious host, but don’t try to be a chef, butler, valet and tour guide as well. Expect your guests to pitch in and they’ll likely be happy to help. 

Remember that sometimes a gentle reminder that you can’t take hour long showers on tank water in summer goes a long way. 

That a bit of help around the barbie and the beer fridge goes along way toward securing next year’s hearty welcome.