Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wacey in Wedding-Land: The Wonder Hen

Today I feel so happy, but so sleepy. Sleepy like a Dormouse maybe?

Yesterday I got home from what shall henceforth be known as The Wonder Hen. One of my Disney Princess besties, Claire, is getting married in June. To celebrate, we embarked upon a hen do of epic proportions to Matlock Bath and loosely themed around Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass (OMG, OMG. OMG!!!). Let me expand...

On Friday afternoon we convened Chez Wacey and boarded the Booze Bus for...

Wacey's Journey to Wonderland

Wacey's Wonder Bus

Two (almost three) toilet stops before reaching Watford, thrice around a north London one way system, multiple "beep and waves" and four replays of a Musical Extravaganza compilation CD (Guess the Hen that picked the song! Guess! Guess!) and we arrived at Portland House c1870 in Matlock Bath to a glass of welcome fizz and a mini house tour.

Hiding behind the bar (yup, there was a bar room, complete with vintage billiard table, jelly-mould chandelier and iPod-wearing taxidermy. Totes. A. Maze. a whole house of Kitsch Clutter) were two very special guests that had been little house elves all morning, allocating rooms, stocking the giant fridge and decorating every nook and cranny with glitter and glitz. There were tears. It was glorious.

We all found our beds, rummaged in our welcome pack goody bags (Haribo - YES!!!!), ran around like Mallory Towers characters full up on e-numbers (or in fact prosecco and rocky road mini bites) for an hour or so and then convened in the dining room for home-cooked lasagne, salad and caramel roulade. Yum.

Room allocation

Then the door bell rang....

"STRIPPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screamed the Bride-to-Be as she peeked through the curtains.

Nope. Mixologist! And so began...
Wacey through the Cocktail Glass

We were divided in to two teams, and two at a time got behind the bar to make a number of different cocktails, competing against each other in terms of skill, flair and of course, taste. We rounded off the session with a little competitive cocktail creation, following the mixology rules we'd been taught (something strong, weak, sour and sweet) and a little of our own imagination (hulled out pineapple and a filthy mind), fuelled by the copious amounts of alcohol consumed for the past seven hours!

Cocktail competitiveness
I'm not at all biased when I say that my team was clearly the winning team. We used a whole pineapple for goodness sake. How could we lose?

After all that excitement we burned off all those calories with sofa dancing, karaoke singing screeching and Gangnam Styling in our PJs and Onesies.

Saturday morning began with shouts of "ORANGE JUICE!" from one of the first floor bedrooms and slowly we began crawling from our beds to help ourselves to coffee, tea, toast, crumpets and warm pastries for breakfast before getting ready for...

Mad Wacey's Tea Party!

We all got dressed up either as characters from Alice in Wonderland or tea party guests, with the bride taking the role of the Mad Hatter, and made our way down a very steep hill to a local pub for a photo shoot. The idea being that as the bride is a stylist, we'd provide her with a Harpers Bazaar/Vanity Fair style photo shoot to get her teeth in to. I was the caterpillar and to put a slightly more "photo-shoot-glam" spin on the costume, rather than local am-dram production, I took inspiration from the smoking characteristic and turned the costume in to a bit of a Holly Golightly-esque caterpillar... slinky dress, hair piled up, long gloves all accessorised with a hookah pipe in place of a cigarette holder. Everyone put in so much effort and the morning was a kaleidoscope of colour full of glitter, glitz, sequins (fake) cake and bonkers props. Our squeals of delight and extravagant costumes took the quaint little town by storm as we trooped through the middle of the road to pose by the river/hang off signs/lay in the road/hold up the traffic etc etc etc.

We worked up a good appetite with all that posing, seat rotating (as seen in the film) and attention -grabbing antics in the village and so we climbed back up the hill for an actual tea party back at the house with finger sandwiches, giant scones and miniature cakes. And of course fizz. Always fizz.

Time for (actual) tea...

This Way? That Way? - The Scavenger Hunt

The team line up
After tea, cakes and fizz (and unsuccesful attempts at glitter removal) we all gathered in the garden in our team t-shirts for our pre-scavenger hunt briefing, accessory collection (ears, wigs, glasses and tashes - guess which my team got?) and team tactic talks. I was team leader for the greens (aka The Snot Rockets) and my team talk went something like this: "Hustle hard. Run fast. Survival of the fittest. WIN!"

The mid-afternoon bonus point checkpoint required a cable car trip to the top of the Heights of Abraham (eeeeeek!) to meet at the entrance to an old mine. We then took a short tour of the underground caverns (more eeeeek!), learning about minerals, mining, miners and a teeny bit of geology before hustling for the 100 points for being the first ones back.

WINNERS!!!!! Yay!

Prizes for the Mr and Mrs Game
Some snacking and chatting in the late afternoon sunshine provided a little bit of down time before the madness of the ubiquitous Mr and Mrs game which got us all excited for...

Wacey in the Looking Glass

Back down that sheer drop in our killer heels to the local pub which, we discovered, had not only a great taste in wallpaper, but also a live band performing excellent covers of some of our fave rock songs and power ballads. Score! We ate dinner and danced the night away in our own private area in our "looking glass" wigs (bright red, to mirror Claire's Ariel-esque locks), shocked the locals with a little bit of stage invasion and then clamped on our cleats and carabiners to climb back to the house for more onesie/unitard sofa dancing, a little bit of musical beds and then deep, deep sleep!

Off with their heads! The Queen's Shooting Ground

Sunday began with bacon sandwiches and tea in the sunshine then we all wrapped up and headed off for clay pigeon shooting... which was less about the shooting and more about girly giggling as we teased the poor instructor every time his gun-related innuendos accidentally slipped out! Oops.

Top marks for our chief hen for 5-out-of-5 on her first round only to be surpassed by Rina-Hen for her double hit (there is a technical term but I forgot it. I suppose the archery equivalent would be splitting the arrow!).

Bang... Bang!

a clay pigeon massacre
After all that excitement and massacring of clay pigeons we popped in to a cute local fish and chip shop for a Daily Special (fish, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter, tea and ice cream for £5.75 - since you asked) then a short walk home to pack up and re-board the Booze Bus, which actually became the Snooze Bus for the trip back to London.

Oh how well I slept that night.

Once I'd edited and uploaded all my hundreds of photos... obvs.

So, to finish I'd like to tell you what I learned on Claire's Wonder-Hen:
  1. The sun actually will come out tomorrow
  2. The monkey fell out of his bunk (BANG)
  3. He was NOT drunk (HIC)
  4. Those safety tips on not wearing iPods when out running after dark are probably true. Even for woodland creatures.
  5. Some mixologists are actually just mixologists
  6. ...and their girlfriends are not in appreciation of stripping requests.
  7. Walsh's Love Juice must always be drunk from a pineapple
  8. ... as must everything else...
  9. Particularly ORANGE JUICE
  10. ...which will magically appear in your room if you shout it loud enough
  11. Matlock Bathonians have been mining lead galena for hundreds of years
  12. Mountain climbing is optional, but for some, it's necessary. Even in wedge trainers and flip flops.
  13. Is is also totally acceptable to rock climb in glittery stilettos and a Chanel sequinned tuxedo. There's a handrail. What's your problem?
  14. There IS in fact taramasalata in the fridge
  15. Gemma did not buy any of the presents. Well, maybe one.
  16. Claire should join the cast of the Muppet Show. And so should the bassist.
  17. Matlock Bath has a warm enough climate that a gilet can be worn with no other under garments
  18. But also cold enough that bobble hats must be worn indoors
  19. Just because he sounds like Jon Bon Jovi, does not mean he looks like Jon Bon Jovi
  20. Shoe phone always tells you what you want to hear
  21. Parklife is not often on the play list of a rock legend cover band night. Nor is Ooops Upside Your Head.
  22. Sleeping Rabbis is TOTALLY a game
  23. God is Omnipotent. He can hear you singing both in and outside the church yard.
  24. The verger is not.
  25. Not everyone is called John
  26. ...but most people are
  27. If you're right handed, you can do things, like play air guitar and pool with your other hand...
  28. ... except point
  29. Don't write in the damage book until all buses have vacated the premises
  30. A broom handle is a perfect replacement for a safety door 

Until the wedding....