Tuesday, 26 April 2011

the hen do and the hangover

So, I am back from my hen do, exhausted but very happy. The weekend, as many of you know was almost a complete surprise, in that I knew I was going, but I had no idea where we might be headed or what it would involve. I’m going to tell you the story below, with pics to follow. This is by far and away the most obvious post I’ve ever done, so if anyone I know stumbles across this blog, I’ll definitely be discovered. But never mind – I’m still going to share.

So – Friday. Several of the hens convened at out flat at 9.30 in the morning, ready to be picked up by hen/best lady L. We drove out of London on the M40 (with me in the back, under strict instructions not to look at the sat nav).

We drove out, past Oxford, and our favourite wild swimming spot and then carried on, off the motorway, and up the A40. We got deep into the Cotswolds and then up a single track road, leading me to believe we were almost there. And then we pulled into a sort of farm set up – five giant cottages set in the middle of fields. Beautiful!

When we arrived, another friend pulled out a box of decorations she’d made: bunting, garlands, hearts etc. I was in awe of her craftiness and she was recruited to team bunting. We strung it up and admired. Then we found a 1000 piece Charles and Diana commemorative Royal Wedding jigsaw in a drawer. I considered stealing it.

We dumped our stuff and then started sunbathing and picnicking on the grass while waiting for the other hens. I still had no idea what was going on but it was just lovely to see everyone. There was some top class gossip going on.

I had anticipated a mixture of civilised activity and debauchery and this is what happened. My first activity was revealed: a trip to a spa in Cheltenham, where we had a three hour ‘twilight’ session booked – and they had booked me a massage! I have never felt luckier to have such disgracefully wonderful friends.

Spa attendant: ... and over there, you’ll see a table with water and magazines. Make sure you drink plenty as it’s very warm in here. [Leaves]

Friend J, staring at the patrons in the pool drinking huge glasses of red wine, panicking slightly: But where’s the bar? They told us where the water was, but where’s the bar?

We lazed around for three hours, gossiping, reading trashy mags, some of us drinking wine, dipping in and out of the pool and steam room and going for our treatments. Bliss. Really, no, absolute absolute bliss.

Then a trip to the pub – a pub dinner, then back to the cottage for wine, where we broke the first bottle opener on the immense stash of wine. There were 12 people. There were approximately 40 bottles – plus gin, martini and homemade schnapps.

The next morning: breakfast and an activity solely designed to allow for serious gossip and proper catching up. I think this was my favourite bit of the whole weekend but it’s not really in keeping with the theme of a raucous hen weekend. Dear reader: we went to a National Trust garden. You can dock even more cool points as I got in for free, being a member. Yes, this whole 20-something bride to be malarkey is just a front for a 75 year old retiree. Sssh...

This involved a picnic, cava and then a retreat to a quaint village for cake. There was a lot of cake.

Then we went back to the cottage, I was banished to my room to get ready while my amazing hens prepared a three course meal, a series of games and upped the decoration quotient. When I was allowed back in, my place was marked by a single item of hen paraphernalia – a fluffy halo. Quite restrained of them, I think and as tasteful /cute as hen paraphernalia could be.

We ate some antipasti type snacks, broke another bottle opener and played the games – beginning with a wonderful Mr and Mrs quiz. Dinner was consumed, plus most of the wine. Then we played more games. I won’t lie – I didn’t think I’d enjoy this bit, but it was actually brilliant fun. Even when I stood on a chair and two teams created me some very stylish wedding dresses out of bog roll.

Someone then decided it was time for shots. But what to do with no shot glasses? Oh dear. Eggcups.

Then there was dancing. More dancing. Dancing. There was dancing until 4am. Some of it may have been with a broom version of J with balloon arms and legs and a felt-tipped head. I couldn’t possibly confirm this.

The next morning, my friends got up bright and early at 8.30 sodding AM. I could barely move.

Friend W: What do you normally do when you get a hangover like this?

Me: lying in bed, blocking out light with head under duvet: I don’t normally get hangovers

Of course, all friends thought this was hilarious and even documented it with photos. I breakfasted lavishly on two paracetamol and a nausea-inducing cup of black tea. Around midday, I managed some toast.

We had to get in the car and go home. I eventually managed to pack my case, which in an attempt to find some crucial item at 2am the night before, I had scattered the contents thereof far and wide.

I spent the journey to Oxford with my eyes closed, drinking gallons of water. We stopped at the services and I visited the loo. Out of the haze, my eyes closed on an advert on the back of the door, promoting the deliciousness of a range of crisps. A neuron fired in my brain: SALT. It said. You need SALT. I sat on the loo, gazing at the ad, deciding between Salt and Vinegar Discos and Bacon Wheat Crunchies.

The Crunchies won and I left the bathroom as fast as my weak legs would carry me in search of SALT. I bought the crisps (Grab Bag – oh joy) and a bottle of water and almost opened them in desperation while in the queue. I had stuffed half a bag by the time my friends came back to the car and we’d all had the same thought – the others had turned up with crisps, Burger King fries, onion rings. The effects were magical – we’d all clearly had too much water and no salt and I felt a lot better – well enough to sustain a conversation for the first time that day.

Which I think, is as it should be.


  1. Sounds IMMENSE - what a great weekend. I love a NT garden myself - perhaps we should form a secret shame club (I think I've been middle aged since my early 20s...). And cake. Always happy with anything that involves cake... Looking forward to the pics!


  2. Sounds awesome - we're planning something quite similar for friend's do in October, but shhhhh, don't tell her :-)