Not Going on Holidays

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice, tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

In the summertime, nearly everyone went away on holidays. Benson’s friend Mick and his family were going to the beach for a week, and Alejandro and his family were going camping at a lake, and Uncle Elton and Elmer were going to a holiday camp in the national park.

Benson asked his mother, “Where are we going for the holidays?”

“I’m sorry, Benson,” she said, “Aunt Moss still isn’t well enough to go anywhere, and Aunt Lillibet and I don’t want to leave her by herself.” Aunt Moss had been very sick, and she still had a bad cough. Benson’s mother and Aunt Lillibet were worn out from looking after her.

“Can’t Nanna look after her?” Benson asked. He didn’t want to stay home for the whole holidays.

“I don’t want Nanna to catch what Aunt Moss had,” his mother said.

Benson was really disappointed. Not only were they not going anywhere, all his friends were going away and there’d be no-one to play with.

Aunt Lillibet said, “You and Benson could go somewhere. I can look after Moss.”

Benson’s mother said, “That’s very kind, Lillibet, but I know you’re just as tired as I am. This year we’ll just have a nice, restful holiday at home.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “You know what they say, a change is as good as a holiday.”

Benson said, “But staying home isn’t a change, it’s the same as we are now.”

Benson’s mother was thinking. “You know, Lillibet, that’s not such a bad idea.” She turned to Aunt Moss, who was wrapped up in two blankets, with three boxes of tissues. “Aunt Moss, if you could go on holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go?”

Aunt Moss said wistfully, “I’ve always wanted to go to Spain.”

Benson had never heard of Spain. “Is it near the beach?” he asked.

“It’s a whole different country on the other side of the world,” his mother said. “They have wonderful music and dancing, and fantastic food, rice and beans and oranges…”

“Oranges?” said Benson. He liked oranges.

“Oranges everywhere, in the streets and the cafes, even painted on the buildings,” his mother said.

“So many beautiful buildings,” Aunt Moss sighed.

“Bull-fighting!” Aunt Lillibet said. Her eyes lit up. She put two fingers on her head like horns and said, “Olé!”

Benson’s mother said, “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we go to Spain for our holidays – right here!”

Benson liked the first part of the idea, but not the second part.

“Here is boring,” he said.

“Just wait and see,” said his mother. “I’ll be in charge of food. Benson, you can be in charge of art and architecture.”

“What’s that?” Benson asked.

“It’s buildings and things,” his mother said. “Aunt Moss knows all about it.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Can I be in charge of bull-fighting?”

“No,” said Benson’s mother, “you can be in charge of music.”

Everyone set to work. Aunt Moss told Benson about all the beautiful buildings in Spain and he painted bridges and archways and buildings with oranges painted on them on big sheets of paper and stuck them up on the walls. Before long the whole room started to look like they were actually in Spain. Then she told him about the most famous artists in Spain, and he painted bulls and battles and put them up on the walls too.

His mother cooked a big pan of yellow rice with sultanas and nuts and things, and a big pot of beans, and orange cake and orange juice and orange pancakes.

Aunt Lillibet made an amazing dress covered in ruffles, and a red cape. She sent Benson over to Mr Fenn’s place to ask if he could play his guitar for them. Aunt Lillibet put on the ruffly dress and Mr Fenn played the guitar really fast, and Benson’s mother had jars full of rice to be maracas and Aunt Moss hit two spoons together for castanets. Everyone danced and laughed until they couldn’t dance any more.

Then Aunt Lillibet got the red cape, and Mr Fenn pretended he was a bull and ran at the cape while Aunt Lillibet twirled it around and everyone shouted “Olé!” and stamped their feet as hard as they could. Then Benson had a turn at being the bull and then Aunt Lillibet wanted to be the bull and she ran around snorting and yelling, “Olé!” until Benson’s mother said that was quite enough and it was time to eat.

They all sat down and had rice and beans and cake. After lunch Aunt Lillibet wanted to play bull-fighting again, but Benson’s mother said it was time for Aunt Moss’s nap and they could all do with some quiet time.

Mr Fenn went home and Aunt Lillibet had a nap too, and Benson drew oranges all over the buildings in the pictures on the walls, and in one corner he painted a bull-fighter with a red cape and a lady in a ruffled dress.

Just before bedtime Benson’s friend Mick came around to say goodbye before they went on their holidays. “You must be mad that you’re not going anywhere,” he said to Benson.

“No,” said Benson, his eyes shining. “Today we went to Spain, and tomorrow we’re going to Italy! I’m going to build a giant leaning tower and we’re going to stick paintings on the ceiling. We’re going to have spaghetti and macaroni and cannoli and ravioli, and Nanna is going to come over and sing opera and teach us to say things in Italian. Aunt Lillibet wants to fill up the kitchen with water and paddle a boat around, but I don’t think she’s allowed.”

Mick said, “Oh. Sounds boring,” but it didn’t sound boring at all. “I’ll see you after the holidays, then,” he said.

Ciao!” said Benson.

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