It’s 6.30pm and I’m sitting on my suitcase on a packed train from Victoria to Gatwick. There’s a pungent smell of biscuits – the majority of our group went for a spray tan at lunchtime - and we’re off to Ibiza (where it's tradition to look browner at the start of the holiday than at the end).
Over the last few weeks, there have been 200 emails, 150 What’s App messages and lord knows how many texts. And for once I wasn't involved in any of them. Because 12 of my closest mates, led by my brilliant sister Hannah, have worked overtime sweating and plotting to plan me a combined birthday AND hen do (Birthday + Hen = Ben and my fiancé is called Ben so it quickly became known as my ‘Bendo’).
From the minute I arrived in the airport I was bombarded with brilliance. First there were the tribute vests [designed cunningly by Stag And Hen T-shirts] complete with pictures of me in my ‘Anthea Turner meets Princess Diana’ phase and a naked picture of Ben post Shipwrecked 2007 that he hoped had been erased from existence.
Then the necklaces: Everyone was decorated with my surname and became a ‘Cavegirl’ thanks to Tatty Devine. (P.S. the first necklace pic was taken against a sofa… that is not my leathery chest).
To top it off, Hannah made us all our own goody bags packed with holiday essentials from the likes of Accessorize, New Look and Hawaiian Tropic to take on the beach.
It’s fair to say I was spoilt rotten and I still haven’t recovered from just how many surprises were thrown at me over the course of the next few days. Here are some of the things I learnt from having a hen do in Ibiza…
1. Comedy costumes will suddenly seem quite comforting
After years of mocking stags and hen do’s I found myself magnetically drawn to anyone dressed in stupid attire... And even when my mate Dil later made me put on a Peperami costume in a bar FULL OF PEOPLE I embraced the power it gave me. You can get away with murder dressed as a spicy sausage…
2. Flying anywhere with a group of girls equals drama (translated: always check in online and don't leave your passport in the loo)
Of the twelve girls on our trip, two nearly didn't make it. Lola, who trekked all the way from Stockholm, forgot to check in online and was told she didn't have a seat. Luckily she's a good crier so after a few waterworks, someone took pity on her. Cat, on the other hand seemed destined not to get there at all. Having also forgotten to check in online and initially being told she couldn't travel, she then got to duty free, went to buy some booze and realized she'd (somehow!) left her passport in the loo. By this time, the airport was empty and the toilet attendants had gone home. She finally found it at security with five minutes to go before take off...
3. You will always pack way more stuff than you need
For a grand total of five days I bought about 16 bikinis (mainly thanks to Seafolly and Huit) and approximately 180 different outfits. I found some perfect Ibizan billowy jumpsuits and dresses from Dancing Leopard and Free People. Because it’s a sad fact that the clothes you think you look nice in at home, always make you feel like Bridget Jones when you’re abroad.
4. Make sure your nails look the part
Pah! to constantly repainting your sand-stained nails on holiday. Get yourself some gels that stay put no matter how much Tequila you pour over them. The ladies at Bio Sculpture painted mine like the seaside (which means I can still stare at them wistfully now I've returned with the holiday blues).
5. Hope you have imaginative friends so they get you some well cool hen ‘props’
My mate Amy found these genius shades from Logo Lenses (and despite appearances, we could all see through them without walking into a door), the girls all had 'I heart Lucie' and I had 'I heart Ben'. And Lola found a brilliant shop in Stockholm that carved a picture of me and Ben into a wooden ink stamp for us to plaster ourselves with temporary tattoos.
Joma jewellery made us all some cute bespoke ‘Bendo’ Bracelets and also sent me an extra bracelet fitted with ‘something blue’ for my wedding day. As did my stylist pal Bronagh Meere. I almost shed a tear when I saw them all. Although admittedly I was five glasses of wine down by then...
AND my clever friend Emma somehow whipped me up a bridal kimono (which I loved so much I wore it out clubbing later that night) along with some ‘bride to be’ slippers, an eye mask… plus a knitted version of my fiancé Ben complete with a very well proportioned cock and balls [he did have clothes on at the beginning].
6. Be prepared for an onslaught of dodgy photos and stories
My writer mate Jo Carnegie penned me an ‘ode’, complete with tales about me going to University with a brief case (sadly true) and sniffing glue as a teenager (er, not true). And thanks to friends like Chessex who has kept every photo of me ever (especially bad ones), and my mum (who I’m convinced has ‘Post it’ notes on all embarrassing pictures), I was presented with a book called ‘This was your single life’. And judging by these beauties I’m surprised I managed to get any dates. Ever.
7. You might be getting on a bit but your friends will still expect you to PARTAY HARD
My other mate Jo Parkerson (also known as the 'one woman nightclub') was in charge of partying and hooked up with Essential Ibiza, a one-stop shop for everything Ibiza related - from club tickets and tables to VIP beach beds, boat and private jet charter. They took us to 'Ants’ – a heaving club night held at Ushuaia every Saturday, famed for its incredible light and laser show (and in my opinion one of the best clubbing experiences on the isle).
This was followed by some serious VIP treatment at their album launch party ‘ANTS The Mix’ with Defected Records. We didn’t win any dancing contests but a very beardy Callum Best did attempt to pull one of my friends (she politely declined). The early hours of the morning were spent in crazy late night haunt Glitter Box at Boom where the music was so good my friend Trish got whiplash from flicking her hair about so much (that’s not even a joke).
8. You will want to eat more than a piece of cheese
Step forward: Holgar the Hogman, sometimes known as The Flying Pig. A bonkers, brilliant German who after putting on an impromptu roast for a friend's 50th now runs an amazing catering company. He arrived at our villa in his ‘love truck’ a refurbed 1960s van – which came kitted with a Sambuca bottle and shot glass over the steering wheel. He opened his hatch (no pun intended) and the party began, with Mexican tapas and margeritas on tap. Find him at Hogman Ibiza.
And on my actual birthday, I was surprised with a banquet cooked by the delightful Tess Prince [below], who lives in Ibiza and is both a makeup artist AND chef (although sadly she doesn’t do them at the same time).
9. If you hint enough times that you REALLY WANT TO GO ON A BOAT, they might just do it to you to shut you up
After a few unsubtle texts from me, the girls arranged for me to be zipped around the island by Mamboats Ibiza complete with booze and a special playlist created by the DJs on the island who’ve compiled every tune to suit your mood (in our case: very pissed).
10. You’ll get back to England and still think it's appropriate to drink rose at 10am
In Ibiza it's always booze o’clock – and hanging out in beach bars like Nassau Beach club (lovely chilled beachside lounge spot with not-too-shabby looking male waiters) on Playa de Bossa and Experimental beach near Salinas [www.eccbeach.com] means you can order your body weight in wine all day and no one will bat an eyelid.
At Nassau they even give you blankets if you get cold.
Try that in Starbucks when you get home and you might get a few odd looks.
11. Don’t forget to chill…
After collectively sleeping for about two hours in five days, my friend Fraggle timed the last surprise perfectly - I got a massage in the villa on our last day. Nice one ladies.
So that was my Ibizan Bendo. And while I want to thank all my mates for being the perros huevos (look it up) and showing me the best time ever – I also probably need to apologise to anyone on my Twitter feed. My mate Emma remarked, ‘I have never seen a group of people take so many bloody Selfies in my whole life…’
Just one quick note: If you happen to be heading to Ibiza, be warned that my fiancé Ben is having his very own ‘Ben do’ – his stag – there this weekend. Although he’s slightly disappointed because a few of the guys he invited have dropped out. So now there’s only a small, low-key group of THIRTY FIVE OF THEM. Good luck crossing paths with that lot…
A Big Thanks To...
Goody bag products included:
L’Anvin Éclat d’arpege perfume, Armani foundation, Dove deodorant, Carmex lip balm, Simple eye makeup remover, Hawaiian tropic suncream, Soap and Glory shower gel, Sainsburys skin therapy day and night creams, M&S beauty face wipes, Kiss lashes, Blanx toothpaste, the sanctuary spa treatments, Charles Worthington shampoo.
VIP tickets and fun: Essentialibiza.com
Boat hire and party trips: Mamboats.com
Day/night beach club: Nassaubeachclub.com
Club nights: www.ushuaiaibiza.com, www.booomibiza.com
Private dining: www.facebook.com/hogmanibiza, firstname.lastname@example.org