Telling it like it is

My an­nual girls’ trip is bet­ter than ther­apy

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

‘it re­minds us life can be happy’

It started af­ter a cruel cou­ple of years. one of my dear­est friends got breast can­cer. She fought, suf­fered hideous side ef­fects, and re­cov­ered. Then she got can­cer again. She went through the hell of more treat­ment – and re­cov­ered again. when she reached the end of that dark tun­nel, there was a light: Ibiza, where her favourite un­cle lived and she’d hol­i­dayed as a child. It felt cru­cial to re­turn some­where with good mem­o­ries, so six friends and I plot­ted a trip to help her (and us) feel care­free again.

That was five years ago, and that unique ad­ven­ture has evolved into an an­nual week-long rit­ual that re­minds us life can be happy. It might not be as wild as the re­cent $100m-gross­ing Girls Trip movie, or as hip as Cara Delev­ingne’s all-fe­male 25th birth­day ex­trav­a­ganza to Mex­ico this year, but there is laugh­ter – so much laugh­ter – and we do get up to some shenani­gans, which I won’t share here.

It’s usu­ally the same eight women, all in our 40s and 50s, who unite at Stansted ev­ery Septem­ber clutch­ing pass­ports and tick­ets to Aerop­uerto de Ibiza, deliri­ous with an­tic­i­pa­tion and chat­ter­ing like manic spar­rows. We’ve known each other for decades, hav­ing met work­ing on var­i­ous mag­a­zines. Although jobs, fam­ily and life mean we don’t catch up as reg­u­larly as we’d like, this week – stamped in our di­aries and booked a year in ad­vance – pulls us to­gether into one amor­phous heap of ex­cite­ment.

Back in our early 20s, we en­joyed other sorts of shared fe­male hol­i­days. There were sin­gle­ton trips to Cuba, where Ron Collins cock­tails never left our hands and we salsa-danced with boys beau­ti­ful enough to be Bruce We­ber mod­els. Later, there were mother-and-baby trips to York­shire, where we’d cosy up in a cot­tage and nod off to Strictly. But our Ibiza breaks are a dif­fer­ent story. Most of us now have grown-up chil­dren, some of us are mar­ried. One has just moved to a house in the coun­try. We work, we look af­ter el­derly par­ents, we man­age com­pli­cated lives. We’ve had our fair share of dif­fi­cul­ties.

This an­nual week away is a chance to give our usual ex­is­tence the heave-ho. We are op­por­tunists for seven days, ut­terly free to do what we want. One year we stayed in an ul­tra-swanky villa (be­tween us, it was pretty af­ford­able). An­other, we char­tered a speed­boat and cat­a­pulted off the side into the glit­ter­ing wa­ter, scream­ing like teenagers.

For my friend Su­san, the woman who started it all, the ben­e­fits are pre­cious. ‘The first trip was about be­ing sur­rounded by my clos­est girl­friends,’ she says. ‘Then, when I be­came ill the sec­ond time, I vowed to squeeze as much fun out of life as I pos­si­bly could and our hol­i­days are a big part of that.’

There are ben­e­fits for our friend­ships, too: a deep sense of feel­ing prover­bially

snug­gled to­gether un­der a se­cu­rity blan­ket dur­ing those pre­cious days away. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, as you get older, the bonds of friend­ship are of­ten dif­fi­cult to main­tain – the odd night out for din­ner isn’t al­ways long enough to delve into the nu­ances of life’s dilem­mas, and when friends move away or have an in­tense work sched­ule, an email ev­ery now and again doesn’t quite cut it.

There’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to tem­po­rar­ily cast off the shack­les of rou­tine. Fiona, my best friend since 1985 and part of our Ibiza girl tribe, tells me, ‘As a moth­erof-three and a nov­el­ist, I’m en­trenched in fam­ily and a busy work­ing life. When I first de­cided to come on this trip, I’d for­got­ten how lovely it is to just be with my friends. Us to­gether, laugh­ing, talk­ing non-stop, then laugh­ing even more.’

Of course, I love my fam­ily get­aways too (if you’re read­ing this, hus­band, truly I do), though they come with many com­pro­mises. I have two teenage boys, and hol­i­days to them in­clude a sea­wor­thy in­flat­able dough­nut and an ex­cuse to swig lager for brunch. When I em­bark on these all-women trips, our pri­or­i­ties change and it be­comes all about, well, what we want. We al­most com­bust with ex­cite­ment while try­ing to de­cide how to spend the ap­proach­ing night hours. Who is think­ing about what to get the kids for tea? No one, that’s who!

But, then, when I do re­turn to my every­day life – and don’t get me wrong, I love go­ing back, see­ing my boys and get­ting back to nor­mal­ity – I some­times catch my­self smil­ing. You see, there is some­where called Las Sali­nas beach and it is my Happy Place. Last time I was there, our tribe gath­ered on the sand out­side a bar, and the DJ was play­ing Frankie Knuck­les’ Tears. The swelling crowd singing along looked like a golden mass of toasted flesh in the sun­set. And there I was, bang in the mid­dle, bare­foot, san­gria in hand, danc­ing next to a top­less woman who had ob­vi­ously had a gen­er­ous boob job. Call me shal­low, but, in that ex­cep­tional mo­ment, I ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing rare and glo­ri­ous: sheer hap­pi­ness.

As an­other mem­ber of my girls’ trip tribe re­cently an­nounced, ‘Us go­ing away to­gether ev­ery year... it’s bet­ter than ther­apy.’ Now that is the truth.

‘There i was danc­ing bare­foot’

Su­san, Lisa, Wendy, Jenny, Kath and Laura on Las Sali­nas Cheers: Fiona and Kath grab a cheeky cock­tail En­joy­ing the ocean’s waves on a boat trip

There has been a 230% rise in women-only travel com­pa­nies over the past six years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.