Ladies Nights - you can't beat them. And if you can't beat them, you can't even join them, because they are strictly GIRLS ONLY. Girly nights with my closest mates are few and far between these days as our lives have plonked us in different cities, with different schedules, doing different things and keeping us always so vair busy, but the quality of the occasions on which we do meet more than makes up for the rarity. Instead of lots of average affairs, we have a couple of humdingers per annum that light us up like fireworks and send others running for cover.
Girls Nights (or should that be 'Ladies'?) are so much more than the fun of the night itself. There's the preparation, the new shoes, the dress, the gifts, the build-up, the beautifying, the baking of cakes and the plumping of cushions ready for us all to finally crash together in the chosen hostesses home, instantly ruin the cushions, crack open the 1st of 15 bottles of White Zinfandel and let the night take care of us.
This weekend I'm reunited with my Manchester ladies, plus one Sheffield and one Liverpool - the Golden Triangle of girls that without fail always out-sparkles even the shapes we pull on the dance-floor. The last time we got together back in December, it involved at least 20 bottles of wine, a huge amount of dancing, cocktails in teapots, mulled wine cupcakes, Harriet-cooked chili, a kitten, present swapping, tummy-ache laughing, an inexplicable amount of 4am fried chicken and a solid half an hour rendition of the Nandos skank to an unfortunate taxi driver, over and over over. I don't need to point out how much I'm looking forward to this weekend's monkeyshines.
As much as the sheer sillyness of Girls Nights is precisely what makes them, there is always that underlying serious vibe letting us know our friends are always there, always supporting, always laughing, always ready to pour us the next drink, always ready to laugh at us when we hula hoop our way round the chosen city. Good friends are the sparkle in our eyes, the confidence in our step and the laughter in our conversation.
While I'm looking forward to being silly, this time around our gathering is also super special - one of my very best friends in the world got engaged just before Christmas and this weekend we will witness the celebrations. Not just any celebrations! I can honestly say I have never been happier for anyone. The lady in question is one in a billion and deserves every ounce of happiness that comes her way - the girl (girl lady lady girl?! its a minefield!) almost single-handedly pulled me up out of a mess a few years ago and had faith in me when I was showing no signs of having any in myself. Today, I am stronger and happier than ever and I owe so much to her. She, meanwhile, is a beautiful soul inside and out, and soon she'll be tying the knot with her more than worthy match. So while I'm ready for Nando's skank round 2 (or is it 3?!) and at least a year's worth of laughs, this time everything will have that extra frosting and I want us all to remember it (easy on the wine then ladies...).
It's a few hours until kick off and the excitement has really set in - the chances of my feet touching the ground between now and Sunday morning are slim. See you on the other side...
Here's my girls weekend checklist - what's yours?
- The ensemble - now that these occasions are so special, a new outfit is usually due/a reasonable request. I had some vouchers leftover from Christmas so treated myself to a selection and now have a choice between polka-dot Red Topshop skinny jeans or a burgundy polka-dot tea-dress from H&M (seeing a theme?) with Mary-Jane shoes. Hmmm.
- Beautifying - sometime around 48 hours before I can usually be found waxing, shaving (no not my face), exfoliating, mani/pedi-ing, moisturising, sometimes tanning and tying myself up in a big fat ribbon ready to be unleashed onto the girls. Well, we can at least smell nice when we see each other.
- Packing - Girls Night packing is a serious process, miss a single item and your whole night could be hindered. I always make a list and remember to pack spare tights, spare shoes, ALWAYS a plan B outfit, a hoody for when you are still up chatting at 4am and a camera! These are the things so often forgotten but so necessary. Oh, and your toothbrush.
- WINE - Usually sparkling. Usually pink. When all else is done, the very best bit of a girly weekend is popping to the shops with wet hair, buying your favourite tipple, plonking it in the fridge and knowing that at least 24 hours of undiluted fun waits on the other side of that train/bus/car journey/5pm finish at work.