I have them to thank for the fact I can even contemplate writing a post for our website while holidaying in Vietnam, let alone being able to check bookings, reply to enquiries, mark off payments and send invoices.
It may start to sound like not much of a holiday but all of this only takes an hour of the day and at 36 degrees with high humidity here in Hoi An, Vietnam, retiring to the air-conditioned room for a short break during the heat of the day is quite okay.
Things are as easy here as hooking into WiFi wherever we go – airports, our hotel, cafes, bars and even the most basic of street food restaurants and mini marts. Asia is so tech savvy, although connectivity can sometimes require the patience of a Buddhist monk.
Over the many years of our travels through Southeast Asia, we have stayed in some pretty remote areas. Most houses in these villages are very basic little huts, where three or four generations eat, sleep and socialise together in the same room. But there on the roof is a massive satellite dish, inside is a big flat screen TV, the whole family are on the internet (even grandma), and everybody has a mobile phone.
Almost 10 years ago we spent a couple of nights out in the middle of Halong Bay on a “junk” boat with two teenage daughters. Our eldest was happily texting her boyfriend from way out yonder on the water – thank goodness she had connection or we may have had to live with the consequences if she could not reach him.
Another time we were on a catamaran in rough seas on the Lombok Straight and as the waves washed over the bow and inside the boat, the said daughter was texting the said boyfriend again, telling him she was drowning – to be fair to her she probably panicked a bit when they played the theme from Titanic over the loudspeaker!
We have been lucky enough to escape the winter for a couple of weeks and leave the running of The Old Hospital with good friends. It has been an interesting mix of emotions leaving the guest house in the hands of someone else – (a bit like handing your baby to a babysitter for the first time), with the added thought they may just do a better job than us!
As we arrived at the airport (and checked our e-mails, Instagram, Facebook pages and What’s App’d the kids), we put our concerns behind us and were suddenly excited to be going on holidays. We knew that in the unlikely event our trusty relieving managers encountered a problem, we were only a mobile call, text, email or What’s App or Skype message away!
Thanks be to Tim and Steve.
A drive through the pretty hills around Loch Village in South Gippsland is rewarding not only for its picture postcard views but also the many gourmet delights on offer.
Guests staying at The Old Hospital have a plethora of options supplied by their hosts Peter and Michelle Campbell.
One option may take in the back road from Loch to Poowong and onto a single lane bitumen road winding its way through the Bass Valley where a wallaby or two can be seen. Onwards through the hills towards Jumbunna, dropping in to Prom Country Cheese for a morning tea platter. On a Sunday you can catch the Kongwak market and its quirky retro goods, food and fine coffee. From there a quiet country road leads on through the hills to the Kernot Store for a late lunch of delicious wood fired pizza. A short drive back towards Loch, popping in to the Gippsland Wine Company and Loch Brewery & Distillery for refreshments.
At the end of the day guests can relax, enjoying the comfortable facilities with friends while self catering or choosing to indulge with a fully catered package.
And this is just one day at The Old Hospital Loch!
But there is no sound of music. Just the peace and tranquility of NOTHING AT ALL – only the occasional sound of kookaburras and other birds, happy as we are to be living in South Gippsland.
Eighteen months ago, we decided it was time for a tree change. We had sold a business in the city, travelled far and wide, and generally took time out to smell the roses. All we could smell was gum trees.
The opportunity arose to create a life for ourselves in the country. So we took the bull by the horns, bought an old hospital, moved to Loch Village and the rest is history.
When all things “renovating” (i.e converting the building and dealing with all the permits required), overwhelmed and consumed us, we would take the afternoon off and head off to explore the surrounding hills. As we came upon a beautiful spot somewhere in the South Gippsland back roads, we would turn off the car’s engine and just sit and listen – to nothing, or maybe the distant moo of the odd cow. We were happy to get lost driving those endless remote roads of peace and tranquility. We reminded ourselves that this is why we made our tree change.
Even in our little village, the few cars, motorbikes, tractors, and cattle trucks that we do get passing through from time to time, all disappear upon dusk. Most times in Loch village “peak hour” means not one car to be seen in the main street – and that is what we love about the place! Nothing at all.
Sure, we head off to the city to visit friends and family, go to appointments and do the necessary shopping run, but when we turn off onto the South Gippsland Highway and look towards Nyora across the paddocks with dams and beautiful forests of gum trees, we breathe a sigh of relief – we relax and we are almost home.
Home to nothing at all.
Guests at The Old Hospital have been leaving some lovely Reviews, such as this recent one on TripAdvisor.
“Our group of 9 girls were delighted to have our own rooms, each with ensuite bathroom, and the beds were extremely comfortable. Showers and heating were also great. Sleeping areas are in a separate wing – so no chance of being disturbed by others. Lots of lovely spaces: including sun lounge, BBQ area, large deck, large sitting and dining area.
Extroadinarily well-equipped kitchen, with everything you could possibly need and lots of extras supplied, such as kitchen towel, cling wrap, sugar, tea etc. We even found a wide variety of cheese knives/cutters for our cheese platters.
The views of the rolling countryside from the lounge and dining room windows are very pleasant. The owners Michelle and Peter were very welcoming and pleasant. They were also very responsive and helpful whenever we had any questions or needed help.”
Thanks Anne and your book group friends.
Last month saw the arrival of Royalty at The Old Hospital.
The “Regal Rubies” bestowed a visit upon us for the weekend.
This group of energetic ladies are a division of the Red Hats – a ladies social group that has world wide affiliation and has gathered enormous momentum across the globe.
The “Rubies” were gems to host and dazzled us with their energy and enthusiasm for just having a good time. Each day they were off visiting local gardens, friends in the area and food & wine producers for a taste of what South Gippsland has to offer.
The Rubies were fit and active ladies of middle age and beyond – the most senior member of the Rubies was a tap dancing nonagenarian – just as elegant as Queen Elizabeth herself, but with a lot more fun and laughs than would be found beyond the walls at Windsor Castle.
In keeping with Royal protocol, they had invited four VIP guests to dine with them on the Saturday evening. The lucky VIP guests were two locals who were friends of the Rubies, and Peter and Michelle, the Rubies fortunate hosts for the weekend.
All guests were wined and dined on beautifully Royally red tablecloths, fine bone china, silver cutlery, and crystal glassware.Actually, I embellished that bit – we had red nylon tablecloths, everyday china, cutlery and glassware was the order of the evening, but we felt very special.
Our brains were then put to the test with a cryptic quiz – Michelle scored top points and won the major prize of two mini Easter eggs and the glory of being the first place winner.
We had the most enjoyable evening being invited as the groups guests, and served a delicious meal, in our own surrounds.
Thanks to the Regal Rubies for delightful company – we will be rolling out the red carpet for their next visit!
The Old Hospital has just opened the booking calendar for 2019 and bookings are starting to come in so if your group is thinking of a getaway in 2019 please book early to avoid disappointment.
We have had strong interest from the crafting community, who are enjoying all The Old Hospital (TOH) has to offer for their craft retreats.
When we first embarked on our renovation project, we anticipated the most interest from the cycling community. It wasn’t until a colleague mentioned that she was a quilter and loved heading off on a craft “retreat” for a few days, that we realised TOH was the ideal place for these groups to gather, relax and allow their creativity to run wild.
Our 8.5m x 6.5m activities room was calling out to us to welcome these groups. We asked the craft community what equipment they liked to have ready for their arrival. Even though a lot of crafters are mostly self sufficient, we wanted to offer a few gadgets to lighten their load when packing the car to head away. Comfortable chairs, lamps, ample light and lots of power outlets and power boards were top priority. We bought chairs with well padded backs and seats, as our crafters spend a lot of time sitting at their sewing machines. We even bought a couple of lumbar supports for those with a “niggle” here and there.
Our adjustable lamps have heavy bases for safety and daylight globes to make their projects a little brighter at anytime of the day (our last craft group were sewing away late at night). We had 11 sewing machines whirring away, lamps all ablaze, 2 irons pressing projects all at once and our commercial electrical switchboard was not fazed.
Having once, twice, three times been a busy commercial hub, TOH’s power supply rises to the challenge of coping with whatever we throw at it. Our onsite managers test& tag all the electrical appliances, giving our crafters peace of mind that all is safe when the demand for power is increased.
Our 4 big scrap bins soon filled with the unwanted remains of our crafters masterpieces. Our new, well lit cutting table & mat was placed looking into our glorious sunroom and across the surrounding hills of Loch.
Our crafters were pleased to abandon their creations temporarily and leave everything set up, so they could gather for a drink on the deck and share a meal in our dining area, which is connected to the kitchen by a big servery window. Even the designated cooks could join in the conversation. It was lovely to hear them happily chatting & laughing – clearly they were enjoying themselves! We know this because they have booked to return in November. We loved having the ladies, with their great sense of humour, stay at TOH and look forward to seeing them again. Thank you to Heather and friends….
The summer edition of Gippsland magazine was delivered personally to us last weekend – thank you to Doug Pell for his personalised service.
The two page story started at the beginning in 1940, going back to the origins of the building in the township and onto 12 months ago, when we took on the mighty project of transforming it into The Old Hospital. Rebecca, our intrepid journalist, visited with enthusiasm and was so pleased to see we had retained quite a few “hospital” features – the old wall plaques, ramps, the nurse call buttons, the rails on the walls in the long corridors and the rails in the shower cubicles, which are of great benefit for guests with disabilities – something many places do not offer. All the while, these old fashioned touches have not detracted from the warm and inviting accommodation which we have worked so hard to achieve – they are indeed complimentary and a charming touch.
Our entrance area is also a reminder of days gone by with a display cabinet of hospital related trinkets that we have squirrelled away, now taking pride of place and is a topic of great discussion to all who visit. Taking centre stage is a beautifully preserved nursing cape and old enamel badges. It’s these quirky little things that get guests chatting about a bygone era. All on display have been collected from Victorian hospitals from the 1940’s era until the present day, as a salute to it’s humble beginning.
Rebecca noted in particular our playful nod to the building – door mats and shower curtains continuing the cross theme, old fashioned galvanised waste buckets, fully equipped retro first aid kit, and our bedside lamps which everybody seems to love – the long gone laboratory style beaker lamps.
We have also paid respect to our little settlements in the surrounding areas, promoting each bedroom with an unusual choice of wall art – an industrial take on these beautiful spots guests may like to explore while they visit our area. Each bedroom is aptly named to match the photography that awaits when the door is opened by guests.
We could not have wished for a more glowing report from Rebecca, and we thank her for her efforts and for seeing our vision for the building so clearly.
The Loch Deck Monster is emerging from the back yard of our guest house accommodation in Loch, South Gippsland. Named by our builder due to the sheer size of the deck area which will accommodate up to 18 guests. The new north facing deck is the latest addition at The Old Hospital and includes stunning rural views of the surrounding Bass hills which can be taken in while guests enjoy a drink or a bbq with friends.
Demolition of the old cement ramp commenced two weeks ago involved three men and sledge hammers. Thirty centimetres depth of solid concrete and steel railing was removed and carted away in several loads.
The construction crew were kept well fed and hydrated throughout by Michelle.
Last weekend was a hive of activity with the craning in of our timber and then the arrival of the mini mix cement truck with our delivery of concrete. Before lunch all stumps were cemented into position and ready for inspection.
This weekend saw all bearers and decking completed with just one day left to finish off the railing and steps.
Just in time for those long summer evenings with a cool chardy and a sizzling steak.
Spring is revealing the fruits of our labour through those winter months in our garden at The Old Hospital, Loch Village. We celebrated our first rose of the season last week and this week our crab apple burst into the most beautiful blossom. It’s a great tree as it also delights guests with the most amazing autumn foliage too.
We watched with interest over the past two weeks as our liquid amber transformed from its wintery skeleton into lush foliage, providing our guests with a pretty outlook from the front bedrooms as well as respite from the warm summer sun.
Ajuga, rhododendron and pelargonium are all bursting into life adding to the plethora of colour throughout the garden. It is certainly a pleasure to be relaxing in such a serene and colourful setting.