I’ve had the same best mate since I was 15. The friends I’d been hanging around with for a few months suddenly decided to ditch me (aren’t teenage girls lovely?) so I was suddenly friend-less. I plonked myself down next to a quiet but friendly bunch in the school dinner hall, one day, and ended up totally clicking with one of them – we had a shared love of Take That (which, together, grew into a full-blown obsession) and I always tease her that I made her a bit cooler and she made me a bit calmer and better behaved! We were the perfect combination of best mates.
22 years on, and we’re still friends. Of course it can be tricky to fit in time for your friends – especially long-time mates you’ve known for years – when you both have careers and partners and busy lives. So every now and then, we arrange a best mate date. We take the day off work and plan some fun activities for the whole day, sometimes going into the evening. Some of my favourite places to go for a best mate date are….
1. The spa!
This one seems obvious but there’s something brilliant about leaving your phone in a locker, popping on a bathrobe and just chilling out with a friend. You don’t even have to fork out money on treatments (although a nice facial is a bonus), just having time in a spa, dipping in and out of the pool, popping into the sauna, and having a spot of lunch, is enough for a special day. Some of my favourites are Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire and Aqua Sana in Suffolk (part of Center Parcs but don’t let that put you off – there are no kiddos in the spa!)
Me, sans-make up at Ragdale Hall
2. A museum or gallery, then lunch
I’ll admit, I’m not the BIGGEST fan of a gallery or museum. There has to be a really good exhibition on that captures my imagination and interest, and even then, I tend to whizz around it and not bother with the rest of the place. Is that bad? (Also, sidenote: one of my biggest bugbears in life is when an exhibition is busy and people ‘queue’ to walk around it slowly. I usually dip in and out, ignoring the tuts from the queuers!) But anyway, back to the point: If there’s a great exhibition, like the Vogue exhibition, which was in London and is now in Manchester until October, then it’s perfect for a bit of culture and then lunch. In London, some lunch spots I love are Caravan Kings Cross, The Riding House Cafe, Meat Liquor and Granger and Co.
Avocado and eggs at Caravan KX
3. Something quirky like The Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London: The Making of Harry Potter
This is where my best mate and I went on our most recent day out together – we both LOVED reading the Harry Potter books and have seen all the films. We’re big HP fans, so a day out to the Warner Bros Studio Tour was the perfect place for us. We went with City Wonders, who do the only fully guided tour of the studio, and we both had a brilliant Harry Potter geekfest of a day. The train and bus journey there and back, plus lunch at the Backlot Cafe gives you enough time to gossip and catch up, in between Harry Potter-ness. Read more about our day there over on Space In Your Case.
4. A matinee show at the theatre and then dinner
I feel really lucky to live so near London and able to see so many amazing productions at the theatre. But our local theatre catches the UK tours of shows too, so wherever you live in the UK you’re never too far away from a great show at the theatre. I’ve caught a few shows with my best mate – Chicago, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Legally Blonde (can you see a theme here – anything with amazing feel good songs and strong female (or male-dressed-as-female) characters goes down well with us). Seeing a matinee and then going for dinner is my favourite way to do it, as then you feel like you’re getting two nights out in one.
Me and my best mate about to watch a West End show
Writing this has reminded me how much I love a best mate date, so I’m going to text her and arrange another one…. where shall we go?