The weekend away! The unsung hero of the holiday family. Short enough to be spontaneous and affordable whilst long enough to get yourselves into the kind of high jinks that the Famous Five* would be proud of!
*if the Famous Five had been less into exploring smugglers coves and more into pounding rose like it might run out in a pub that resembles your local in all ways except that its 100 miles away from it…
I’ve been on a few kids, so without further ado here’s your guide to having a truly excellent weekend away…
Plan your journey
I find that a good rule of thumb when journeying anywhere is to assume that every single thing will go wrong and then account for it in your timings.
This is especially true when travelling in and around London. Whether you’re going to Kings Cross, Gatwick or your corner shop you best leave an hour at least or there’s no way you will make it.
Take it from a group of girls who merrily relied on ordering an Uber a mere half an hour before their train to Edinburgh: ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD.
Unless, by some small chance, you really enjoy flinging yourself across the road in the middle of London rush hour, approximately 2 minutes before your train is due to depart, whilst screeching ‘EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF’ as your closest friend in the world falls chin first into the road and quite literally eats your dust. Unless your favourite thing in the world is sprinting to a train, sweating like a hog and crying before begging a train guard to hold the train for your equally sweaty mates I’d say book that taxi the night before. Just not worth it my friends. Not worth it at all.
I have a fairly interesting relationship with airports. Whilst for most people they are nice relaxing hubs of seafood and champagne bars and a light spot of shopping before a flight for me they tend to be fraught with stress, sweat and accusations of harbouring bombs in my whistles backpack.
That last one is actually true. Nothing like having your backpack test positive for explosives and having some hefty woman with a moustache barking in your face ‘HAVE YOU VISITED AN ARMY BARRACKS?? DO YOU WORK IN A CHEMICAL LAB???’ to really get your holiday off to an excellent start. I’d also like to point out to old Hairy Mc Jobsworth that I feel it was spectacularly unkind to smirk quite so openly when, having driven me to the point of mental breakdown, I freaked out and just shouted “no I haven’t been anywhere except the PUB ok!! THE PUB AND WORK THAT’S IT”.
Also thanks to my really nice mates for filming it and not helping. The end.
That incident aside there was the time when I missed a flight in Bali meaning I’d overstayed my visa and had to pay a 50 dollar fine only to find out that my friend hadn’t had to pay said fine because she was, and I quote ‘nice handsome lady’ whereas I was…not.
There was the time that I had to change at Paris and some security woman took offence to me and unpacked my entire hand luggage weekend bag in front of a very long queue of people. A very long queue of people who now know exactly how many pairs of ginormous pants I’d thought I’d need for two days in Paris. YAY. Or the time in Rome airport where me, B and T accidentally caused a full airport riot because we’d tried to sneakily cut the passport control queue. Sigh.
All those times were quite bad sure. But nothing compares to my fateful trip to Amsterdam with my pal K. Buckle in kids.
Arrive at Heathrow ready for trip to Amsterdam. Feel weirdly calm and organised. Celebrate by having eight pale rose’s with pal K.
Full of joie de vivre in the face of our jolly holidays head off to security gate. See large signs everywhere warning that if you have more than one hand luggage you will be put to death. Recognise that rucksack (of explosives fame) and wheely suitcase thing you are carrying do count as two bags. Shrug this off as not applicable to you.
Arrive at gate and watch officious gate lady making disgruntled passengers check hand luggage into the hold. Become a genius and hide your rucksack under your coat so you resemble the hunchback of Notredame. Soak up applause from your boozed pal as you revel in your intelligence.
Saunter through the gate with breezy quips to distract from the giant rucksack shaped hump on back (“Have you lovely flight yourself *peers with one eye open at name label* Belinda”)
Get halfway down ramp to plane before you are accosted by an irrationally angry man named Fernando who does not react well to you greeting him with an out of tune version of ABBA’s Fernando. He is not in good humour.
Things go downhill from here. Fernando seems to take the smuggling of the rucksack as a personal affront to him.
Fernando: “You are DECEITFUL”
Me: “no honestly I just…um…forgot it was there”
Me: “alright Fernando…can’t we just…”
Fernando: “LOOK AT YOURSELVES. LIARS!!!”
Passerby: “calm down mate”
Mad Fernando: “I’ll take you off the flight! You are RUDE!”
It’s barely an exaggeration I swear. Fernando loses his shit so spectacularly that you end up running away from him towards the plane, breathless and in tears.
As you and your pal slink shamefacedly on to said plane and huddle in your seats you realise to your horror that Fernando the Bag Vigilante is not done with you yet. He gets on the plane and starts loudly ranting about it whilst pointing at you down the aisle. You busy yourself by looking pointedly at the safety booklet and doing your ‘absorbed and interested’ face you usually reserve for meetings.
Spend rest of the flight fielding weird looks from the air hostesses.
Have 103 gins to make yourself feel better.
So yeah everyone – one hand luggage ok. Lest Fernando sniffs you out!!
Choose your accommodation wisely
Just the other weekend myself and two of my best pals headed down to Brighton for a weekend of fun*
*booze, more booze, chips and booze.
We’d got the weekend off to a pretty merry start when we’d cracked open a bottle of prosecco on our train. Our 10 am train. I know. We are bloody huge legends aren’t we.
Fast forward three hours and we were truly in holiday mode and vair high spirits. Spirits that had been encouraged rather by the vat of alcohol we had hastily put away. We were young, we were free, no one had been shat on by a seagull. GOOD TIMES.
As a result of this we’d become rather boisterous (aka hugely obnoxious).
I’ll admit at this point, that we probably did not approach the Air BnB in a manner that was entirely reassuring for a host hoping to get his flat back in one piece at the end of the weekend. I don’t know about you but I don’t think two drunk idiots screeching with laughter at the third drunk idiot who had shouted ‘I’m a LEGGGENNNNDDD’ before promptly falling over her own feet really says ‘responsible house sitters’. However, it really was no excuse for what followed.
“Hello kind sir!” we bellowed at the man standing nervously outside his Air BnB, eyeing us as one might eye an unattended bag on the tube.
Him: In a HUSHED WHISPER “please take off your shoes”
Him: SSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the flat isn’t soundproofed.
This did not bode well.
Him: (in an almost comical whisper) please do not wear shoes in the flat, do not speak in the flat, please stand perfectly still like statues in the flat at all times*
*this may have been slightly exaggerated.
What is not exaggerated is that after literally 10 mins of quietly changing our clothes into sluttier clothes to go out in we received a note under the door from the neighbours asking if we had actually removed our shoes.
On reviewing the Air BnB add we were forced to admit that there had been warning signs we had overlooked. So, if you know that you are loud lunatics like we are, maybe book somewhere that allows you to be yourselves rather than playing music on your phone and whispering over a gin and tonic. That is no one’s idea of fun.
Have fun but know thyselves
Sometimes you get furthest in life by accepting certain unchangeable truths. In the same way that I imagine I look like a dainty ballerina with my hair in a bun yet I must accept I will always resemble Miss Trunchbull I must also accept that whilst my friends and I would like to resemble some cool lady gang we actually are the female in-betweeners and nothing shall change this.
Sure – I’d love to go on a sophisticated weekend away which we could look back at fondly and sigh things like ‘gosh what an excellent array of cathedrals we saw….and that lovely three course meal we ate slowly in that piazza…just glorious’.
Instead I must accept that until we are at least 75 our reminiscing will consist of blurry half formed accusations such as ‘well who the fuck lost the map then?! Not ME was it!!’ or “Well who’s idea was it to do ten million shots with that pervy moustache man and go to that hideous club?! YOU KNEW OUR FLIGHT WAS AT 7’.
I must accept that some of my fondest holiday memories will never be a sun dappled mixture of smiling shots over the river Tiber but instead consist of
- Stumbling out of a bar in Rome to see my friend B asking sophisticated Italians where the ‘PAPI’ was in a shrieking banshee voice before doing her best (and probably quite offensive) impression of the pope.
- A dear nameless pal attempting to smoke a spliff in Amsterdam which resulted in her pacing our apartment back and forth flapping her arms shouting, ‘this is the only way I feel normal!!!’ before heading to the shower for a good hour and responding only with ‘I’m in the shower, showering in the shower at present’ when anyone shouted through the door to make sure she was still alive. Then lying on the sofa like a mummy shouting ‘STOP LAUGHING AT ME’ any time anyone made a noise before uttering the famous last words ‘this is what happened last time…….’.
- Attempting – and dear readers this is the most shameful experience of all – to gate crash a party full of cool Copenhagen types in the flat below our air BnB in a moment of drunk joie de vivre only to be unceremoniously refused entry and left on the landing clutching a bottle of vodka we had stolen from the living room before sadly trooping back up the stairs in front of all the cool landing smokers who were also attending said party. SHAMEEEEEEEEEE.
Be mindful of your flight time
This sounds like a very smug mum piece of advice but please take it from someone who knows. It will seem like a huge hilarious joke to go out until 7am when you have a flight that requires you to leave the air BNB at 7.30am. It might seem to you that you are Copenhagen’s answer to Kate Moss, swanning from bar to bar chain smoking and downing wine into the wee hours.
But you’re not.
You are in fact a loser, look nothing like Kate Moss unless Kate Moss robbed a doughnut shop every day for a year and tomorrow is going to be hell on earth. *
*fun fact – now that you’re in your late twenties you are also an old loser so Monday will also be hell on earth. Hello two-day hangover how nice to meet you EVERY.TIME.I. DRINK.
Oh, sure at the time you’ll merrily joke with each other about how you might feel a little rough on your return journey.
“Gosh our flights in five hours” you’ll say as you cackle like a witch and quaff more cheap wine that no one wants or needs. “What absolute larks!” you’ll say as you down a mysterious shot that some awful man with a creepy moustache has handed you with not a care in the world. In your head, you’ll wake up slightly groggy, pull on a pair of sunglasses and sleep on the plane. Sleep is for the WEAK anyway. Who needs it? Not you. You huge legend.
Let me tell you how that morning ACTUALLY goes.
Your one sensible (aka got so drunk at 10pm and had to be put to bed so now feels fine) friend wakes up at the allotted time of 7am only to realise she is surrounded by carnage and five snoring idiots for mates. When she heads for the usually very sensible mother hen figure and tries to shake her awake said sensible mother hen lifts up her eye-mask and hisses FUCK.OFF. into her face.
Everyone else doesn’t even bother to open an eyelid.
Your taxi is now arriving in 10 minutes. GOOD.
Finally, the poor desperate dog manages to rouse the half-drunk half hideously hungover monsters she once considered her friends from their pits of despair and you will crash around the house like mentally unhinged bison desperately trying to pack all the clothes you seemingly decided to fling into the furthers corners of the house last night in under two minutes flat.
It’s then you remember that you decided to have a ‘party’ in the beautiful scandi-style living room the night before and burnt all their expensive candles into huge puddles of wax all over the oak dining table. Vague memories will filter back to you of pushing the wax around with your finger and exclaiming ‘well they said make yourself at home so we blurr will! PUT CARLY RAE JEPSEN ON NOW’ as you swig from an expensive bottle of vodka you found in a locked cupboard.
It’s now your job to scrape said wax off the table in under 30 seconds as the taxi honks at you from outside the apartment and you desperately try to keep your impending vomit inside your face as your heart bangs wildly in your chest. YAAAYY. Simultaneously your mate will be desperately topping the vodka bottle up with water whilst shaking like a leaf.
You’ll go down to the taxi to find that the group has split dramatically. One half is wildly hysterical and basically still drunk (aka having a lovely time). The other half wants to kill itself.
Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like swinging open the door of a people carrier taxi whilst bellowing ‘be…our…GUEST’ (beauty and the beast) to be greeted by the face of one of your bestest pals who looks like she’s sat on an electrical rod, with eyes wide with terror as she bleats ‘I don’t think I can do this. I think I may actually DIE.’
Genuine words of fear my friends.
You’ll make it to the airport although god knows how and drag yourselves through security loudly and obnoxiously and deposit yourselves around the nearest café like a smelly troop of dead bumblebees.
It will be then that the wildly hysterical drunk ones also hit the ‘would it be so awful if I just curled up and died here?’ stage and you’ll all sit in miserable silence eating bizarre food for the time of day and drinking every fizzy drink you can get your hands on. Think lasagna and a diet coke at 9am. Yep. Awful.
So, if you really fancy being part of that group, if you really and truly want to be the ones on the plane that no one wants to sit anywhere near on account of the fact that you all smell like the inside of a bottle of gin and a nameless member of your party has dropped a hangover fart that smells like the inside of a dead cow, then by all means. Go ahead. Just don’t come crying to me.