I'm a Londoner get me outta here. If you're like me and sometimes find yourself, almost bleeding in love for a fantastical yet exhausting city, yearning to look out at nothing but a field or the sea? Then I have something for you. I recently took 23 people out of the hustle and bustle for the best weekend away, I think I've ever had. Though, In truth it was hellish to organise, hellish in contrast to the eventual bliss.
So, I've designed this for you (and I) to print out and keep, a super special step by step recipe to hauling not only your frazzled, burnt out, double ended candle ass, but all, I repeat ALL of your friend's too.
• A gigantic house somewhere relatively peaceful that will fit you all in and let you feel like you can do whatever you want.
• Endless enthusiasm is key. If you're the main organiser you must feel shameless about talking awkward financial detail and generally sending hounding group emails, all the while with a big 'supposed' grin on your face.
Research a giant property that is ready for Prosecco popping.
I went for some exquisite four walls in the unsuspecting quiet, but feels a bit like people make spells there, fishing village of Mevagissey, Cornwall, it sleeps 16, has its own pool, BBQ, tennis court and most importantly its own disco including decks and swirly lights. Everything is wipe clean yet fancy, spacious and set up for a shindig to make you feel like you're in sort of Cornish Miami. See it to believe it here. There are other incredible suggestions here too.
Email everyone, at least 8 weeks in advance as previously stated. Make it all seem really simple. Round up the combined cost of accommodation, food and drinks for the weekend (see STEP 4 for food tips). Like bespoke all-inclusive package holiday.
Think of a fun theme and send Google images at the same time as hounding politely for commitment. Only when you've got the big 'YES DEFFO UP FOR IT' from everyone should you put down a deposit and book. Or you could find your resentful self sauntering around a giant gaff in a silk nightgown alone and an irreparable pounding to your account.
We went for 1920's Cornish Riviera.
It may seem bossy, but it's best to make decisions that regard matters of the tummy yourself. So work out 3 good meals that are easy to make for a ravines hungover mass and don't cost an arm and a leg to provide, obviously consider dietary requirements, but most friends eat alike right?
We went for Spaghetti Bolognese on the Fri, a mixture of fish and beef stout pies on the Saturday night and a roast pork joint on the BBQ on the Sunday (along with literally WHATEVER else was left in the fridge).
Be prepared for the travel arrangements to be a nightmare, especially if you are travelling over 3 hours' drive away. Best thing is to research how much the train costs at initial planning stages it doesn't put pressure on those that drive, to drive those that eat sweets in the back. Train wise, there are group discounts to be found. Just make sure you book in advance as you'd be flabbergasted how quickly the prices go up.
We travelled with First Great Western Trains and got a group discount by calling their Customer Service line. They are also massively responsive and helpful on their twitter @FGW.
Order your food & drink to be delivered to the address & liaise with the housekeeper to be there to collect it on the morning of your arrival. That way it'll in the fridge and looking plentiful when you get there.
We went for Tesco, who also deliver affordable wine crates here.
As momentum builds, encourage everyone to create a Spotify playlist fit for a dancing queen's dreams (though it does mean more group emails, so tag it onto the bottom of one you were going to send anyway) and do the same yourself.
Print out a room plan before arrival and configure rooms before anyone actually sees any (everyone pretends not to care, but they so do). Sending some sort of sign in advance to be put by each door works a treat.
HAVE THE BEST TIME EVER, don't plan too much, London is for planning. Laze, scoff and boogie. No one wants to play planned games or partake in activities that you've put in place last minute becuase you're worried everyone won't have a good time. A big group of Friends with enough food alcohol, beds to jump on (refer to INGREDIENTS section about being prepared for love to bloom), favourite music and each other is enough.
Once it's all over put your pics in a drop box so that people can add their own and print in hi-res quality.
STEP 11: Do it all over again the next year, with the power of all the organising knowledge you learnt the year before.
Follow Gemma Cairney on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@gemcairn