Date: 29 August 2016.
Location: Ciutadella, Menorca, Baleric Islands, Spain!
It's been almost a year since I was around these parts last — the infamous Ibiza trip.
This trip, to be a much more sedate affair, was an impulse purchase. The August bank holiday (the first since May, the last before Christmas) loomed and I had no plans. I needed a break, some sun. Kitty suggested Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. I suggested we find anywhere with a beach that was a cheap flight from both of Leeds (where she is) and London. She found Menorca on her phone and WhatsApp-ed some compelling images of Balearic beaches. I was sold and booked flights on my phone whilst on the bus the next day.
7am flights from Gatwick. Such flights give rise to what I tend to call Saturday Mornings Of Doom. These are a not-infrequent occurrence for the typical young(ish) Australian living in London. They look at lot like this: Friday starts with the best of intentions — you tell everyone you need to go straight home after work and pack, no drinks for you! — then the work day draws to a close and, filled with youthful Friday fervour, you allow yourself to be swept along in the tide of bodies to the pub across the street and somehow 'one glass of Chardonnay, no I'll buy it, I don't think it's smart to join in on a bottle today, I have to pack, haha' rapidly evolves into a whole bottle to yourself, lots of giggling about God knows what you'll pack now, a tipsy tube ride home. There, you stuff your face with whatever is lurking in your pre-holiday mostly-empty fridge (one mango, a boiled egg) whilst making a cup of tea and packing, showering and shaving your legs for once and coming out to a cold and neglected cup of tea, collapsing into bed, passing out. You shudder awake at 4:45 am in the dark (cat mewling furiously as you push her off the bed), jerking self from bed like Frankenstein's monster when first reluctantly and unnaturally conjured into life, splash water to the face, throw final accoutrements into suitcase (PJs, toothbrush, phone charger), collect hangbag and hand-luggage, step out door into the uber waiting in the darkness of impending Autumn mornings,. You make it to — depending on the airport — Kings Cross to stumble down the stairs to the Piccadilly line or to St Pancras and the train to Brighton (via Gatwick) — and settle for an hour with whatever horrid Starbucks sandwich you blearily misidentified as egg. Then, at last, it's the bright lights of the airport, other sticky-eyed humans, security, coffee, a plane ride, perhaps a disorientating nap. After all of that you step out of a foreign airport into something new: perhaps the crunch of snow underfoot and mountains in the background as in Innsbruck, the colourful, dirndl-clad gingerbread chaos of Oktoberfest in Munich. You feel like Lucy through the wardrobe for the first time. You forget the morning and wonder, how did I get here?
Today we step out into the bristling heat of Menorca, palm trees helping to set the scene. How did I get here?
If I'm being honest (and, let's face it, if I'm not honest here in my personal records then what's the point?) I was rather dreading this weekend. I had inadvertently thrown together two friends at the opposite ends of my friend spectrum. I think we all have a friend spectrum, a range of different people who uniquely but strongly appeal to different aspects of our personalities so that those friends of yours clustered about the middle of your spectrum have loads in common and would get on great at a party but those at the far ends are unlikely to ever be at the same party in the first place. It used to baffle me that Lady Lovelylocks's — now ex — boyfriend could simply not click with our group of friends. She loved him, she loved us, we are, naturally, a delight — so why the disconnect? Eventually I worked out that he was at one end of her friend spectrum (the end that appealed to her most serious, introverted, calm and artistic attributes) and almost our entire friendship group sat right at the other end (the end that appealed to her sporty, lively, silly, snappy and sparky attributes). And that's the situation I faced here.
Kitty and I are so alike it's funny. We share a taste in books, men, tea, gin varietals, snarky humour, English history. She is on the part of my spectrum where bode people with whom I'd get drunk on gin and Whisky and play a wicked gamed of Jane Austen themed Cards Against Humanity in a pub in the Highlands whilst it poured with Scottish summer rain.
Legally Blonde and I are more different. However, we share a taste for discussing men, drinking cocktails at new bars, D&M's about the meaning of life and feminism and marriage and kids, a tendency to be perceived as ditzy. She is on the far end of my spectrum where hang out the people I'd go get a blow dry and drink actual champagne in preparation for Royal Ascot whilst sharing/giggling about our recent car-crashes both in work and dating.
The girls knew of eachother's existemce from when we all worked at the same firm a few years and, no doubt, had their own ideas about one another. Kitty was sub-thrilled when I confessed that, after a Sunday drinking at The Albion, I'd cheerfully invited along LB to our girls weekend.
I was nervous.
What I'd forgotten was that both girls have more in common than they have different really. Dissimilar as they are, it was naive of me to forget that, in the grand scheme of things, my friendship circle is not so diverse after all. It wasn't as though Kitty is a refugee introvert Librarian with English as a second language and seven masters degrees and LB a drug-dealing kid from the streets who'd dropped out of high school. They're both around the same age, Australian (and, indeed, neither of them from central Melbourne), they're both pretty professionals living in England, ridiculously smart, ridiculously fun coffee-fuelled babes. From the cab ride I sensed that, actually, this was going to be fine. And, truly, it was.
The hotel that Kitty had booked, Port de Ciutadella, perched on the edge of rocky shoreline overlooking a glittering cove with water so clear and turquoise my iPhone camera could not do it any justice. We had been upgraded to a suite. There was cava on arrival. The little town of Ciutadella de Menorca was a five minute walk away and was ripe for meandering and coffee breaks. I was struck dumb, and I think they were too, by just how handsome the Spanish old town — all faded stone and lovely churches — was. The port was adorable. The people spoke a dialect of Catalan instead of Spanish, which I found amazing. The food was perfect. Nothing was too expensive.
There was briefly muttering of exploring the island and seeking out of some of it's better known beaches but, in the end, we amicably agreed that what we had on our doorstep was pretty bloody good and failed to even other with the famous 'cave bar' across the other side of the admittedly tiny island.
And so that was that. For three days we slept, gorged on buffet breakfast (melted chocolate and cava were involved), wandered into town for proper morning cortados, wandered back, laid out on the cliffs, jumped off them a few times, slunk back into town for lunch, slunk back to the pool for more tanning, gratefully accepted a few gin-based cocktails (Pomadas, made from local gin, Xoriguer, the island's passion for the spirit a delightful relic from English occupation in the eighteenth century), made ourselves pretty, tripped into town for seafood dinners, came home, slept, repeated. It was the sort of holiday that makes for a very dull re-telling but that utterly relaxes me. And, perhaps, forms a new friendship? We'll see.