There are all sorts of reasons people sign up for a Flavours Holiday. For some, it’s the need for me-time or a reaction to a life event, while others might be learning a new skill or simply enjoy food whipped up by a private chef.
Whatever the prompt, it’s a step into the unknown. We never know who we will meet and how our lives might change as a result of the decisions we make. And, out of all the decisions, jetting off with a like-minded group to a beautiful villa in the Tuscan hills, doesn’t sound like it could go too badly wrong.
We love hearing about the unexpected stories that come out of our holidays and for these Flavours’ guests, their week in Italy effected their lives long after they came home. Like twist of fate, these holiday goers seemed to meet the right people at the right time, creating friendships that they didn’t know they needed.
Here Lorna, Alan and Stevie share their Flavours memories and the unexpected friendships that came out of them.
“The end of a relationship was the beginning of two very special friendships”
Lorna went on a journey of self-discovery after a holiday that almost went wrong. “When i first found Flavours, I was in a three-year relationship which had started to turn a little scal. As someone who loves cooking, I liked the sound of travelling to Amalfi and learning the region’s cuisine from a local chef, so i suggested that myself and my partner try a group trip – thinking, perhaps, it would bring us closer together. ‘He was a quiet, closed person and wasn’t initially keen on the idea but I managed to persuade him and we booked on in March, due to go in the October. Over the next six months our relationship continued to dwindle and by the time the holiday came around I had serious doubts, but thought this could be one last hurrah.
‘I spotted Lynn and Julia almost as soon as we arrived at the airport. A similar age to me, there was something about them that immediately seemed familiar or relatable and I guessed they might be going to Amalfi, too. After a quick hello and confirmation that yes, they too were part of the Flavours group, we planned to chat properly at the pick-up point once we reached Italy – and chat we did! Lynn and Julia were already friends, but as a three we instantly clicked and the conversation flowed.
‘Anyone who has been on a Flavours Holiday will know that the first evening, and every evening after that, is an easily enjoyed mix of prosecco, food and great views. While there might be some initial trepidation it’s hard not to relax and have fun in that kind of setting. Most people were getting involved, learning more about each other and making friends, but my partner seemed resistant and on edge of the group. Even with the male guests he didn’t seem to gel. I felt bad for spending my time chatting excitedly with my new friends, but deep down I knew the relationship was beyond repair.
‘By the third day of the trip, tensions were running high. My partner wasn’t enjoying the food and generally grumbling about the whole experience. As the group ate lunch together it was clear he had an issue with the meal and started to complain which quickly spiralled into an outburst. Suddenly, he was on his feet shouting: “I can’t take this anymore! I don’t like the food, I don’t want to be here, I’m going home!”
‘I couldn’t believe it. I tried speaking to him; it had been expensive for us to book the trip, going home alone would mean paying for us to book the trip, going home alone would mean paying a transfer fee alone and a new flight? But no, he was adamant and after causing an embarrasing scene, he stormed off. After he left, Lynn and Julia were right by my side. They worried I’d be emotional but after the initial shock, I was relieved!
‘They took me under their wing and we settled down with several Aperol Spritzer, speaking well into the night. We talked for what felt like forever and I discovered that both of them had been dealt a similar hand in life to mine. We connected as women, put the world to rights and really formed a bond. The next few days were fantastic and while I think we would have always become firm friends it added another dimension that we had a chuckle about this silly man who had made a fool of himself.
‘I was delighted to learn that Lynn and Julia lived only an hour away from me and it was clear that we didn’t get on only thanks to the beautiful location and glasses of fizz. I had always thought that I needed a man in my life, but it was as a relationship ended and two new friendships were born that I realised no, I bloody don’t!
‘These women talked me through the following months and inspired me with ideas of groups to become involved with in, from the National Women’s Register to the University of the Third Age. Over the last six years they’ve visited my home and I theirs, we’ve been to the theatre, for weekends away, drinks and even a trip to India! Seeing the Taj Mahal was on my bucket list and we had a blast!
‘Flavours brought us together and made me realise that I just need good friends and family in my life – I’ve never been happier, and don’t think I’ll be in a relationship again. Lynn and Julia helped me with this new chapter of my life and these women who will stay with in my life forever.’