I miss a lot of things about the real world: coffee, pastries, picking up things and smelling them in Lush, buying nail varnish, putting my forehead on a restaurant table when someone tells me a terrible story about the man they’re seeing, trying on hats. But I don’t think I miss anything as much as I miss women. God, I miss women. I love my boyfriend and I'm routinely amazed at how well we’re doing at pretty much exclusively seeing one another, but I miss the physical presence of women with a dull ache that sits at the centre of my chest.

I miss the long dinners, the nights-out, and the nights-in spent slumped on one another re-watching Sex and the City. But I also miss the very specific energy that comes with spending a lot of time together in an exclusively female group. I miss the comfortable silliness of 'Holidays With The Girls', and I have spent the majority of my days bookmarking the adventures we’re going to go on once this is all over. There are so many women I want to go away with, and so many different kinds of holidays I want to have with them.

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Caroline and a friend get active in Perpignan ©Caroline O'Donoghue

The One We Do Every Year

Every year, around July, my friends and I fly to Perpignan and drive 90 minutes to Arles-sur-Tech, a tiny region nestled in Northern Catalonia. When we drive, we are constantly dipping in and out of Spain and France; when we’re at home, we are constantly dipping in and out of delicacy and savagery. We skinny-dip in the river, an image that would be far more erotic if we weren’t also wearing Crocs and riding pool noodles. We prepare elaborate meals while wearing gauzy, Sofia Coppola-style outfits, then spend the majority of the evening eating slices of ham with our bare hands. Long afternoons of quiet reading, followed by bursts of running around the garden bare-arsed. This will be the first summer in a long time that we haven’t indulged ourselves in this strange orgy of female comforts, and I already mourn the witchy energy that my year will lose because of it. As soon as lockdown lifts: Perpignan, I’m on my way.

Two women wade in a lake
"I already mourn the witchy energy that my year will lose" ©Caroline O'Donoghue

The One To Cement The Friendship

I have a friend who my boyfriend has dubbed my “Bad Influence Friend”. We have not been friends very long, but we’ve fallen into it like a couple of teenagers: we find one another hysterically funny, we talk on the phone for hours, and we’re unable to see each other without getting shitfaced. It is the exact kind of friendship you build with someone when you’re 18, and therefore, I want to have the kind of holiday I used to have aged 18.

I want us to rent a tiny self-catered apartment in Corfu, where all the windows have those heavy shop shutters on them, and inside them you have the deepest, darkest, most sweat-drenched hungover sleeps of your life. I want a small balcony to chain-smoke on. I want a dinner plate to re-christen as an ashtray. I want a huge, crap nightclub that is one-and-a-half miles from our accommodation, a place where we get a taxi to at midnight and walk home from at 5am, freezing and jacketless, wading into the sea. I want to read Maeve Binchy books in a still-wet bikini, a half-empty beer stuck in the sand and a huge bag of Lays crisps between us. I want my bad influence friend to be my friend for years and years, and I want this holiday as glittering proof of our insufferable effect on one another.

The One We’ve Been Dreaming About For Years

Neither Ella, Tash nor I have spent much time with horses in the last decade, but all of us spent our childhoods committed to various forms of HorseGirlism. The only cure for Horse Girl is exposure therapy: if you want to cure your daughter of the affliction, you must force her to work for free at a nearby stable every Saturday, or better yet, buy her a pony to grow resentful of. If you are never lucky enough to receive such a cure, you simply go on being a Horse Girl forever. This is the state me and my friends are constantly locked in. For a long time, we’ve been planning on booking a week-long holiday with HorseXplore, a riding holiday company whose website I find so pleasing that sometimes I just go there to relax. I will literally sit there for hours, scrolling through various horse holidays, reading testimonials, sending my friends links to horse breaks in Iceland, Bulgaria, and Mexico. I will send them notes like “this one is good for beginners!” and “this horse looks friendly!” and “what’s everyone doing in April!?” This September, we had planned to do a week-long trek of the Balkan mountains in Bulgaria – this, sadly, now won’t be possible. Look out 2021, for I will be pony trekking in you.

Caroline's second novel Scenes of a Graphic Nature is out in August.

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