Emergency Exit Row

Rugged. Beautiful. Mysterious. Full of adventure. It was difficult to know if we were contemplating a driving holiday down the Great Ocean Road in Australia's south-east corner, or considering a dinner date with George Clooney. Though understandably a difficult decision we chose the former option, leaving weekday work and worries behind, dreaming of sumptuous dinners, hidden art galleries and sensational scenery. We would prove we could meander on the road just as well as any seasoned grey nomad.

Several days on, now relaxed and throwing caution and corners to the wind, my husband's need for speed, however, meant we were ready to challenge any grand-prix driver to a duel along coastal cliff. Obviously requiring an adventure to satiate his adrenaline appetite I agreed to forgo the ubiquitous devonshire tea for an afternoon of choosing to jump 12000 ft from a perfectly functioning aeroplane.

Suited up in bright yellow jumpsuits humming the theme tune to "Top Gun" we made our way to the aircraft. Although looking ridiculously like escaped prisoners the feeling of anticipation provided all the freedom we could desire. Invincible. Unstoppable. Secretly denying that a spa bath and sipping wine in front of an open fire at our bed-and-breakfast was nowhere near as fun as this.

The two tandem-dive instructors didn't look old enough to grow stubble, and spoke in a dialect known only to skydivers and surfers. However, the prowess with which they rolled the parachute into a tiny
bag would put any sleeping bag perfectionist to shame. We were in good hands.

It's an unusual feeling being in such close proximity to someone you have just met. It is even more alarming to realise that the waft of last night's madras curry is permeating the air. There's no polite
way of saying that the young man you are strapped to, about to jump out of a plane with, has just left the most incredible impression of rotten egg. Donning my best 'Superman' pose I practically throw
myself out the plane door. Relieved by the fresh air I am suddenly lost in the vastness of the sky. The world is big.

Forgetting that Stinky Pete is attached to my back, I am floating like never before. As the roads look less like spaghetti and the sea becomes a giant grinning mass of gnarled rocks and gnashing waves, the journey is over. In just four minutes of pain versus pleasure, I have negotiated the "no" and bargained with the "become". A view, surreal in the past, has been presented. Quietly I applaud the ying and yang in my relationship with my husband and our choice of holidays. And I have discovered the perfect form of torture for the children as they scramble to unwind the car window. "Sorry kids but the child lock is on!".

F McKenzie

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