THIS weekend isn't only a chance to indulge in flag-waving and ockerisms, to get out the scones or the lamingtons, or to put an extra six-pack in the fridge. It is also a chance to try a bit of lingerie-waving and eroticism, retrieve scented massage oil and pop a bit of French in the cooler.
I'm talking about the dirty weekend, not just the long weekend - a chance for stressed, overworked and erotically deprived people everywhere to catch up on the national average of sex 106 times a year.
Right now you're doing the figure work, right? Don't fret. If you have children under five, you can probably halve that number. Toddlers and steamy sex don't really mix and, if anyone has found out a way to, I'd like to know. Personally I think children of this age are an excellent contraceptive - their schedules, not their personalities - and have been underemployed as a family planning device.
Maybe for this reason the traditional dirty weekend is taken away from home, somewhere away from children, the cleaning, the cooking and the DIY. Not many blokes can feel particularly erotic when they're looking at the painting/bathroom/ceiling that has to be done, and nor can their partner. Somewhere with a view and a comfortable bed and lovely linen and a chance to dine out is nice, with a few bells and whistles, and maybe some pretty solid communal walls. That said, preferably somewhere that isn't ball-breakingly expensive is better - the thought of how much it's adding to your credit card bill can make any sexual urges go limp.
Once you have all of that organised, the secret is to hope for the best, although not necessarily a replay of the 1980s B-grade smash 9 ½ Weeks. I did say catch up on the national average, not set a record.
Last time I embarked on a small sojourn with Mr Big, he was so exhausted from a long stint of parenting that the position I mostly saw him in was foetal. Yes, I think he slept about 50% of the time through our two-day getaway, emerging only to yawn and stretch and scratch his man parts before plunging headlong into the duvet again. Surprisingly, I took this stoically. However, when he suggested we have another run at it in the interest of R&R versus patriotism - he does own a drawer-load of wife-beaters, but none featuring the Australian flag - I was, understandably, less keen. I mean, we could sleep at home, and it wouldn't cost $500.
Nevertheless, any objections have been overcome and, as you read this, we will be among the great wave of wired and tired adults travelling north or south in search of rest, relaxation, new surrounds and a little steamy sex. I have faith that three out of four of these objectives may be achieved.
So what should you take on your dirty weekend? A book is always good, in case you don't feel like working your way through the Kama Sutra for the entire weekend. Or maybe take a book on the Kama Sutra, and study up in between. Sex toys can add a bit of spice.
When choosing a venue, consider whether you want somewhere self-contained where you see no one - it's been a long time between drinks - or whether you are happy to have long conversations with your host, or share the bathroom with other guests in a cosy B&B. You may also like to take your own linen, says Mr Big, who feels uncomfortable about leaving the bed sheets with what he calls "the language of love freshly written all over them". Me, not so much. I fell asleep in a fancy hotel with a packet of Maltesers.
Other extras: a good attitude, a mobile phone with a reliable provider so you don't worry about what the kids or pets are doing at other peoples' homes, contraceptives (you've left the toddler, remember), and perhaps some painkillers for the inevitable hangover or sprained muscle.
All packed? Good luck then. If all else fails, there's always the six-pack, the lamingtons and the national anthem.