The holiday you'll return from feeling 20 years younger

·9 min read
Two young women laughing cheerfully and enjoying their summer vacation - Shutterstock
Two young women laughing cheerfully and enjoying their summer vacation - Shutterstock

It was clear just two minutes into the holiday groceries chat – when all seven members of our “Mums Trip” WhatsApp group agreed to forego their usual milk alternatives for good old fashioned semi-skimmed (from a cow!) – that our long-awaited girls’ weekend in Mallorca was going to be bloody wild.

My closest girlfriends and I go back decades. Four of us met at primary school, while the newer additions blended seamlessly into the fold through the following pre-teen and university years amidst a haze of TV marathons, vodka-fuelled breakup tears, and plates of anaemic potato smileys.

Over the years, we’ve all been pretty good at keeping in touch, sticking to monthly dinners alongside afternoons spent in playgrounds – but it had been more than 20 years since we’d managed to pack our bags and get away from it all properly, just us. And so, last month, we hatched a plan, deciding to leave our panicked husbands and put-out children to jointly contend with a weekend of football schedules, dance classes and pre-summer funfairs on their own, and abscond to a villa in Mallorca. The week preceding our departure tallied multiple temperatures, runny noses and mysterious spots among both children and husbands alike, but all attempts at sabotage were unsuccessful – we were escaping, come what may.

For one long weekend (Thursday to Monday – the longest stretch we could still legitimately claim was a weekend and not an actual week away) nobody was going to shout mummy through a closed toilet door. Nobody was going to ask what was for dinner. We vowed to not switch on a washing machine, needlessly Dettol a surface, or wipe anyone else’s nose.

Back in time

As with any close-knit group, we each have our roles – amongst them the sergeant, the flake, the mediator. Though they’d been amplified in our twenties, they’d since mellowed as we matured – but as soon as we’d lugged those heaving suitcases onto the rolling conveyor belt at Luton Airport, it was as though they’d never been away. Suddenly free of the defining roles put upon us by adulthood, we immediately reverted to our pre-adulting types and – Duty Free Miraval rosé in-hand (thank you ‘practical one’) – bounded onto the aircraft as fast as our Birkenstock clogs could carry us, headed for sun, swimming pools and proper grown-up girl time.

And it was bliss. Of course, we each cherish our loving, supportive partners, and ever-growing broods of children – but over the years of mum-ing, careering, and pandemic navigation, it’s been easy to forget who we were before all that. Cocooned in our Mallorca villa, stretched out by the pool, Kindle in one hand and the blushing wine in the other, we could just breathe.

Group of mature female friends at a pool party by the water with inflatable rings - Getty Images/iStockphoto
Group of mature female friends at a pool party by the water with inflatable rings - Getty Images/iStockphoto

We spent hours reminiscing about our formative years – how ‘the naughty one’ would play pranks on our teachers; whether ‘the wild one’ really did do that thing with that boy on that boat – while in the background our children’s happy voices permeated the air through FaceTime, stealing virtual goodnight kisses. We cringed at our outlandish fashion faux-pas (pink hair extensions, anyone?) – though when it comes to double denim and Jane Norman cropped-tops, it seems the joke is on us, as our childhood dream wardrobes now stare back at us from the pages of our glossy style bibles.

We chatted frankly, bared our souls, said what we were really thinking. We admired the simultaneous stretch and hold of a Hunza G swimsuit (and who could still get away with one from H&M) and debated the merits of a one- or two-piece after inhaling a steaming seafood paella and a towering cone of gelato for lunch.

Though the tanning oil has long been traded for factor 50, it’s still hard to avoid the allure of a holiday tan. The sun beat down on us as we sat, side-by-side, on the edge of the infinity pool, enjoying the way the sailing boats gathered like ants along the horizon. From raucous laughter one moment, to comfortable silence the next, rarely 20 minutes went by without someone breathing a huge sigh of happiness and squealing “I can’t believe we actually pulled this off!”

Safety net

Secluded in our cocoon, we were vulnerable with one another in a way we can’t be as mothers on the job. Time was suddenly endless – conversations could be considered, not just snatched. And despite the years of friendship behind us, we each saw one another just that little bit deeper. We were safe to share our experiences and feelings about our relationships, our children, our roles, and our jobs (and – the big one – who has or hasn’t succumbed to Botox). We spoke honestly about what truly makes us happy, the things that scare us, the things we realise must change for us to truly manage. Some acknowledged that they needed to slow down, while others felt ready to take on new challenges, to continue discovering what could still define them in the chapters of their lives still unwritten. And all the while, we marvelled at how a few pre-midday glasses of rosé could feel quite so blimmin’ glorious.

Although we’d imagined braving a drunken night in the clubs (for old times’ sake), we let the memories of our last visit as a 20-somethings collective entertain us, as we whiled away the evenings in the buzzy port. We clinked our extortionate margaritas while devouring tapas, switching jelly shots and late-night KFC for Padron peppers, Iberian ham and oozing sobrasada croquettes, and unanimously agreed: we hadn’t felt this young in years.

Happy female friends toasting drinks at outdoor restaurant - Getty Images/Cavan Images
Happy female friends toasting drinks at outdoor restaurant - Getty Images/Cavan Images

We vowed to make this an annual trip, and smiled at how lucky we are to have friendships so deep-rooted, that they somehow felt both unchanged and irrevocably entrenched after a few days of just ‘being’ together.

Forget the sting of sunburn and morning-after Sambuca sickness that followed our teenage holiday benders – this time, we headed home to our families feeling rejuvenated and content, physically and emotionally, soothed as only time with lifelong friends can sooth… and, on touching down at Luton, ready to crack out the wet wipes.

How to do it: Wizz Air (0905 707 0000, wizzair.com) flies from London to Palma from £33 return. James Villas (0800 074 0122, jamesvillas.co.uk) offers seven-night holidays from £326 per person in July and £200 per person in August, based on villas sleeping seven.

Need to know

Shopping

If you’re staying in a rental apartment or villa, doing a pre-ordered grocery shop for either the day before (if whoever you book through can be there to receive it) or day of your arrival can prevent both finances and friendships going into the red. Carrefour (carrefour.com), Eroski (supermercado.eroski.es) and El Corte Ingles (elcorteingles.com) all offer Ocado-style deliveries around Spain (as well as the rest of Europe, for some), so you can pre-debate about the quality of your balsamic and how far an exorbitant jar of white asparagus will stretch.

Supermarket aisle bickering is not becoming, especially when you’ve come to get away from having to argue over what does and doesn’t constitute a balanced breakfast. Let one person do the shop – checking in with everyone’s basic dietary preferences, of course – and let the others transfer the funds at the end. Mums are used to making the weekly shop stretch, so let go, trust in ‘the organised one’ and worry about what shoes to pack.

Eating

Picking a restaurant on seven hungry stomachs isn’t easy, and everyone’s idea of the perfect meal can differ substantially depending on tastes, money and general appetite. Discuss first what everyone would deem a reasonable amount to spend (and consume) during a meal, and book ahead to save disappointment – or disagreements. Choose a range of restaurants – local cuisine, international, and perhaps a sushi joint for good measure – so all bases are covered, even if everyone doesn’t love every single choice. When it comes to splitting the bill, be mindful if there are some not drinking (or paella-ing). But don’t be a party pooper – if you’ve come along for the ride, go big or go home.

Book ahead and, if you’re opting for Mallorca as we did, don’t miss Ombu restaurant (ombupalma.com) for a broad selection of international tapas including mini burgers and tuna tartare cones in the heart of bustling Palma, Flanigan (flanigan.es) for a smart, classy, and authentic feast in the chic Puerto Portals, and Balneario (balnearioilletas.com) on Illetes beach for a delicious laid-back lunch by the sea (where you can also reserve sunbeds for the day).

Flying

Airport mode is a real thing in our house, where even the mildest natured turn satanic when faced with a heaving speedy-boarding queue. Always assume you’re going to be charged for excess baggage (they got us for both flights but only told us on the return), so pack a foldaway holdall – just in case you need to decant and carry those impulse Zara purchases. Cost per excess kilo amounts to far more than the charge for an extra bag when split between a group, so you could save hundreds of potential pounds by just being prepared. House of Bruar (houseofbruar.com) does a great foldaway nylon carry-on, ideal for last minute weight gains (although unfortunately can’t do much about those mysterious shrinking “short” shorts). On that note, always buy enough snacks to stretch – they’ll all change their minds about the mini Toblerone 20 minutes into the flight.

Covid rules

Vistors must show proof of full vaccination, or a negative Covid-19 test, or proof of recovery. For more information, see fco.gov.uk.

Have you had a holiday with your childhood friends? Please share your experiences in the comments below

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