So there’s an ugly rumour that I may have a big birthday approaching in a few months time. I say big, this thing is looming over me like a giant tax bill wearing a high vis jacket and as much as I’m attempting to embrace it, it’s a little daunting to say the least. But, in a brave attempt to a) encourage the realisation of said birthday and b) a pretty fine excuse for a bloody good get together with the girls, a few of us headed off for a weekend away at Centerparcs to be at one with nature, catch up on some R&R and be thoroughly outdoorsy. Or, to look at it from another point of view, to sit on a patio drinking prosecco and eating our body weight in cheese until it’s time to come home.
With that in mind I thought I’d put together a few observations that hit me this weekend. Going straight in at number one……
- Barbecuing is NOT difficult. I was a barbecue virgin before this weekend and I have to say, seeing various family members and friends (always male in my experience) over the years preside over the barbie wielding a pair of tongs as though their life depended on it I thought there was obviously some sort of art in it all. No. However, I can confirm I now totally “get it”. There is something immensely satisfying about throwing those sausages on, giving them a little twirl now and again, sipping a cold one whilst doing it all and then presenting it to the hungry masses. I loved it so much I decided to do the ultimate cliche and ….
- ……..Toast some marshmallows. My God, these are so good and was possibly my most popular idea all weekend aside from “lets have beer for breakfast.” For reference, you absolutely need massive marshmallows, not the daft little ones, chocolate sauce is a fabulous added extra and even the serious doubters will think you a culinary genius rather than believing your idea is a throwback from Girl Guide camp in the 80’s.
- It’s not just five year old girls who like pottery painting. Again, there were serious doubters in the camp to begin with but it’s amazing what a few pots of paint, the challenge of coming up with something that doesn’t look as though it was thrown together by a two year old and an hour and a half time allowance does for you. From pet bowls and cupcakes to a cat mug for the craziest cat lady I know, the girls did good. Yes, we were the only adults in there without children but when would you ever not want a pottery cupcake on your kitchen windowsill??
- A spa experience on paper is pure relaxation. In real life? It’s five women wandering into various steam rooms, trying not to sit on anyones lap because you can’t see a bloody thing and spending approximately ten seconds of blissful relaxation before loudly exclaiming “it’s hot isn’t it?” before being given daggers (not that you can see them) or the oh-so-British cough of disapproval. Then repeating this process for all six areas of zen-like pamperage until you reach the end, lie down on a sunbed outside, wish you’d done this bit all along and nod off, dribbling slightly before being woken as your time limit is up. Oh and when they say each steam room has delightful aromas they don’t tell you that one in particular smelt of what we could only pin down as sage and onion stuffing. Not that pleasant when all you can think of is a roast dinner and you look a bit like a basted chicken.
- It doesn’t matter how long you’ve all been friends for, how much you love them and how you would do anything for each other, when it comes to mini golf it gets competitive. Friendships end when you collect that golf club and may only return, often with a grimace when the scores are announced. Every hole is started with “where do I have to go again?” and ended with someone feeling they’ve either just put on the green jacket at The Masters or has totally lost count of their shots, lost the ball or frankly lost the will. Oh and not that it matters but I WON!
- When the party leader books roller skating as an activity, it definitely has to be cancelled. Five women who struggle in high heels at the best of times are not really going to do brilliantly on wheels. There was fear of maiming a small child, also of sustaining broken bones which wouldn’t be good to explain in the real world. Back to the patio girls, back to the patio….
And what a patio it was. Hot sunshine all weekend, jokes that only friends who have absolutely no filter appreciate, a steady supply of olives, cheese and nibbles and enough Mickey taking out of the soon to be birthday girl to make me feel slightly better about the whole thing. Better enough to consider celebrating this a LOT over the next few months.
I could get used to this…..