Finally, my 3rd post for this countdown series- feels like ages since I’ve posted about getting married and all that jazz…
So, I had my “Hen Party” last weekend with my cousin, Kelly and two very close friends, Nicola and Jess, who have stuck by me over the years and know me pretty much inside out! I use the term “Hen Party” quite loosely, as it was a pre-marriage celebration and it did involve ladies in my life, however, I really just wanted to do something different… I’m planning on celebrating with other groups of people, like my Karate Family and my school friends, so (again) I guess I’m not the most traditional bride.
If you aren’t from the UK, a Hen Party and a Stag Do is a Batchelor and Batchelorette party, only they do seem to be getting bigger and more expensive- traditionally they are just a night out with maybe a game of paintballing or something prior; now it’s more like a week in Spain with VIP treatment! BUT the traditional concept is that the bride and groom have one last night on the town as a “single” person the night before the wedding. As you can gather, I find this concept ridiculous, as most single people in Britain go out to get bladdered and quite often meeting random men/women. I don’t class myself as single and neither will many many other people in long term committed relationships that may not ever get married and that’s fine- I’m very family orientated, therefore, I agree with the concept of marriage and having that family name.
So, once again fighting tradition on this one- I really am not a getting-dressed-up-and-going-out type of girl, and we aren’t exactly the bunch of clucking hens you see in Blackpool or Brighton- just four reserved girls wanting to explore the Cotswolds, have fun and eat out and eating out, we did plenty of! I chose the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire because I fancied some of the water-based activities they have on offer down there. I love the water and I can’t often swim because of my reaction to chlorine in public swimming pools 😦 I much prefer swimming in natural sources anyway- I feel fresh and closer to nature! We had talked about a city break, but hey, I live in a city now- it’s nothing special, I hate crowds and my inner-child just wanted to be in the countryside with my hens- where hens belong…
Day 1: The Zoo & Our Amazing Apartment!
After my cousin’s fiance brought everyone on the long, late trip from Cumbria the night before, we arose early on Friday to hit the road to the Cotswolds! Dean was having a mini, very untraditional “Stag Do” at ours over the weekend while we were away, along with Kelly’s fiance, Steven and his gamer friends to play Dungeons and Dragons ALL NIGHT! Yes, it was extreme and I’m not ashamed to be marrying a nerd 🙂
We decided to make a stop at Cotswolds Wildlife Park & Gardens on the way to our accommodation for the weekend. We are all animal mad and I saw this as an excellent photography opportunity too- I’m not in many photos from the weekend because I was mainly taking all the photos and video (the story of my life). So here are a few of my favourite shots from the Wildlife Park:
I was very proud of that Blackbird shot! I found it interesting that many native garden birds were still so interesting and beautiful amongst the other wild more exotic species.
After the zoo, we were all ready to freshen up and go find a country pub for an evening meal. This was when we were greeted with our magnificent, rather luxurious apartment! We hired a two bedroom apartment with a balcony- we got two bedrooms, two balconies, two bathrooms and a MASSIVE lounge with kitchen and dining area! I was literally cartwheeling down the living room!
We were staying at the De Vere Hotel and apartment complex- our apartment seemed like it used to be 3 hotel rooms and has been transformed into this amazing space! We really felt relaxed and happy here- if you watch my vlog (when it comes out) you will see how excited we got in our first impressions!
After we got over the excitement of our accommodation space, Nicola had some surprise goody bags for us! This was just about the only traditional aspect of the trip, but definitely the most fun part of the tradition! From candies to wine to props and games, we were definitely very spoilt little hens 🙂 Thank you again, Nicola, for the thought and effort your put into these gifts!
We headed into the nearby village of South Cerney for some breakfast supplies, snacks and evening meal. Staying in a rural area, it was absolutely vital to have a car on this trip- luckily I enjoy driving and navigating around new places 🙂
When we got back to the apartment, we were all so sleepy, however, I did set up some snacks and a cheeky truth-or-dare kind of game that was in our goody bags. We were up late catching up and having the kind of conversations you have in high school- very nostalgic!
NO IDEA what’s happening in that picture- I think I was enjoying the space…
Day 2: Epic Water Park & Exploring Cirencester
Once again, we were up early and off for a morning of water fun and a relaxing afternoon, looking around Cirencester, which was just a 10-minute drive from our apartment complex.
When we arrived at Cotswold Water Park & Beach in the morning, there were lots of activities Nicola and I were so excited to try out. Jess and Kelly were more happy to sit by the lake as they didn’t fancy the water this weekend. We were just going to swim at the swimming beach, however, there was an exciting inflatable assault course which really got us hyped up for the water! For just £15 we got a whole hour’s fun and games on this thing! It’s called a Wibit and apparently they are contracted in various places- check out their website here (not sponsored). Right after the Wibit, we hired kayaks for an hour on the lake which was a really cool way to dry off as well as giving the arms a good old workout!
Thanks to Jess and Kelly for getting some awesome shots of Nicola and I on the Wibit!
So after we were all dried off and freshened up, we drove into the local market town of Cirencester in the afternoon sunshine. There were plenty of shops to browse and places to eat, however, we had decided to go back and try out the pub on our holiday complex to as we wanted a longer evening in the apartment on the final night.
The local pub on the complex was called The Old Boathouse and had a great selection on the menu, however it was on the pricey side with it being part of the complex. After dining here, we retired to the apartment for a photoshoot and games night in. Jess and I had our tarot cards, so we also had tarot readings each before bed.
I love this little collection of posed yet natural photos! Notice I didn’t dress up and put make-up on for this- I never actually packed any make-up! I wanted to be real and be myself on this unique trip with the closest girls in my life. Looking at the photo of me and Kelly on our own reflects the way we were in photos as kids and this is what makes it really cool 🙂
Day 3: Burford & Homeward Bound
On the way home, we drove through the tourist village of Burford, so decided to stop here for some food and browse the local stores. After parking up on the FREE car park, we found a cute little book store called The Mad Hatter and various other gifts shops, where I actually got a new wallet and a book called The Life of Elves. We ate in a lovely pub called The Mermaid which, to my delight, serves vegetarian and gluten free options! There was also a little robin which bobbed it’s way into the pub, but unfortuneately flew away before I got my camera out!
Burford is such a picturesque place, I couldn’t put my video or photography camera away while walking around- I looked like a tourist threw up on me, but it was so worth it to get these shots…
It was getting into mid-afternoon by the time we got back on the road and Nicola kept me on track with my new road map, I bought in Cirencester, on the road home. Once back in Sheffield, we had a little catch up with the boys and to see how their gaming weekend went before Steven and my hens began the 4 hour drive back to Cumbria.
Overview: A Beautiful & Unique Trip
I’m so pleased I got my little country weekend break for a “Hen-Do”. The weather was kind to us, the apartment was more exciting and more humungous than we expected and the company was just the best! Thank you to Steven for driving down from Cumbria to spend the time with Dean and bring down the girls, thank you so much to Jess, Nicola and Kelly for making the weekend so fun and amazing! My sides are still hurting from all the laughs and jokes we shared. I can’t wait for us to do something together again as we made a hell of a good team!