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A Holiday? For my 50th? What could go wrong?

This year is the year of my 50th birthday. I didn’t want a big party, a cruise or diamonds – I wanted a memorable holiday somewhere warm with local gin and good company; it wasn’t a big ask. I’ve organised quite a few trips around the world and set my own schedules, what could possibly go wrong? “Let’s get a villa for a week in Menorca” the invite said and was tentatively sent to 17 girlfriends who I knew would get on well. I thought I’d be lucky to rustle up a handful of peeps who would voluntarily spend a week in the company of not only 11 strangers but to also have to endure my sense of humour for 7 days; I admit, it was a big ask but to my great astonishment, 11 risk-takers said “aye awright” (well, 7 did, the others were from London) We started planning… Menorca was chosen for a number of reasons – a few of us had never been there, only one flight from Glasgow, 3 hours air time, affordability, childhood holiday memories for one but the main deciding factor is that they have the best gin and with that, no other location considered. A breath-taking, cliff top villa with steps down to the marina was found overlooking the Balearic sea with private pool and a 45-minute walk from the distillery.

Does anyone have any concerns before we part with any cash? “Could I get a mattress topper from somewhere or pack one in a bag?” It’s ok, we can deal with that nearer the time. “Can we get t-shirts printed with the birthday girl on them?” – no you can’t. (I secretly recruit 2 holiday members to halt any possible preparation of this) “Do you think my passport will arrive in time?” – yes, but do it now and keep it in a safe place. “Do you think I can take knitting needles on the flight?” – surprisingly, yes you can. “Are there any other runners going?” – yes, but it’s not me. “Do you think anyone will want to go night-clubbing?” – yes, but again it won’t be me. (I realise the benefits of going in a large crowd, my anxiety eases…) Deposit paid. Job done. Now onto flights… While the London four had made a great find with British Airways, I chose Thomas Cook for us Glasgow-8 (you can see what’s coming…) Cheap flights were booked and high-fives virtually shared across the group chat, “Menorca, lock up your gin cellars, we’re coming for you”. Exchange rates discussed, tortoise spotting at dawn planned, a private mini-bus for the day booked and we engage the services of a beauty salon to come and pamper us in the villa for a day. Paddle-boarding, a cliff side bar, hill climbing, rustic beach bars, snorkelling, night-clubbing, the island has it all, and we were going to do the majority of it in comfy shoes, hipflasks and floppy hats (the knitters and readers decide to sit the mini-bus out) There are grumblings that Thomas Cook are in trouble, later in the week they announced they’ve entered compulsory liquidation. Bugger. Flights only do not come with ATOL protection so a battle ensued between me, Opodo (booking platform) and Barclaycard. Barclaycard thankfully gave a full refund. After many weeks of stress and by tripling the budget, a night in London (with a day trip to Brighton) and flights with British Airways were booked and we would be flying on the same flight as the London-4. What else could possibly go wrong? Late February – Coronavirus hits. Oh jeepers, surely it will be gone by June but as June quickly approaches, worldwide freedom and dreams of the ‘trip of a lifetime’ are looking decidedly unlikely. We decide to hold fire until with British Airways and/or Spain tell us otherwise…. I wake this morning to hear the news that British Airways have had to make 12,000 staff redundant. Absolutely gutted that this virus is continuing to make its devastating impact across the globe… It never occurred to me that an iconic organisation such as British Airways wouldn’t be invincible… I write this tongue in cheek and in good spirits (and needing a good, Spanish gin more than ever). These small glitches we have encountered are nothing compared to the world's current situation – on the economy and on the health of the planet. Whatever your plans are for this year, accept your fate and plan for the future because next year and onwards, every country is going to need us spending money in the UK and abroad more than ever. And in the meantime, if anyone has ideas on how to pack a memory foam, mattress topper into a case, please let me know…

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