Super-duper Hen Do

I’m afraid this post is a little late (sorry Kim!) since my hen do was actually 2 weeks ago now but things have been a bit busy around here. I can’t believe the wedding is next Saturday! A friend at work went to a 3 day wedding last week and the planning that must be involved in that is unimaginable to me.

Fortunately I had zero planning to do for the hen party as my fabulous maid of honour did all of the work and everything was a complete surprise to me. And what a lot of work she did too! Our group convened just before 2pm on Saturday and got home around 2am on Sunday after a four part party! Amazing.

Kim, planner extraordinaire, had been careful to make her hints about the day as cryptic and worrying as possible. For example, when I asked her what sort of clothes I should wear she answered that it would have to something I could bend down in for the daytime event. Hmmm… She did say she wasn’t going to make everyone wear something stupid… except for possibly me. Fortunately I escaped with a main ‘costume’ of a circlet veil and a ‘Bride To Be’ sash. She did make us look stupid though…

So part one of the hen do was bowling! This was not something I would have guessed since I knew we were staying in town and I didn’t know town had a bowling alley. Apparently it’s only been there a month or two. So off we went to All Star Lanes in the Great Northern which was appropriately American themed.

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It’s been a while since most of us had been bowling but we valiantly pressed on with the sides down. I got an impressive 9 on my first roll, only to follow it with 5, 5!, gutterballs. But once we got going the points started pouring in. We like to tell ourselves that anyway.

Kim

Kim

Susie

Susie

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Mom and I

Mom and I

Mom (who will now tell me off for putting up this picture of her.)

Mom (who will now tell me off for putting up this picture of her.)

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Annie

Annie

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Cris

Cris

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Katie

Katie

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She just had to go one better than the rest of us.

She just had to go one better than the rest of us.

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Kim had also prepared a variety of games, challenges and forfeits for the day. None of us were allowed to say the name of my fiance, Chris, which was made all the most amusing by having Cristina (who usually goes by Cris) in our group. We each had a name badge, her’s said ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’. Yes my friends are also geeks.

No one slipped up on this until after we had finished bowling but we didn’t make it out of the centre without me mentioning the cursed name. That was when I got the forfeit:

Possibly not my sexiest look.

Possibly not my sexiest look.

Kim had also arranged a less embarrassing forfeit for anyone who lost a game. I guess that is why she worked so hard to win at the bowling.

Bowling may not be our talent but it sure is fun.

Bowling may not be our talent but it sure is fun.

As the lowest scoring bowler my mother’s ‘Partner In Crime’ Annie had the forfeit:

I think she looks very glamorous.

I think she looks very glamorous.

After the working up an appetite bowling we headed down the road to Opus One for one of my favourite things, High Tea!

Kim and I have been here a couple of times before so we know they do a good spread.

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Most of us went for the traditional afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a variety of cakes. I think the scones were my favourite part of the meal, light and sweet. Cris had the gentleman’s high tea which has things like pork pie and mini fish and chips instead of sandwiches. It looked good although sadly I didn’t get any pictures of it. It looked so good that Kim commented to me that we should bring Kieran (her partner) and Chris out for one. Ooops…

She actually ended up using the 'C' word more than I did!

She actually ended up using the ‘C’ word more than I did!

To keep the fun flowing Kim also had a game for us to play during our meal and pulled out some post-its and pens from her bag of tricks. We played a hilarious game of couples Guess Who I Am while we waited for our food. I think the winner got theirs within four or five questions but there were several occasions of people using their 20 questions and being none the wiser. Katie got the glasses for this game having the only historical couple in the game. I was the only one who wrote a fictitious couple which I thought was interesting and Kim got the only non-romantic couple whom I had never even heard of.

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We did take the moustaches off to eat after I tried to drink with mine and failed miserably.

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I just thought the glasses would add something.

Since Kim had not made everyone wear something that made it obvious we were a hen do she insisted I came to the ladies’ with her as ‘context’ for her moustache. For the record, it is a very nice bathroom with real towels and everything.

Kim also used her sticky notes to have everyone write down a date for Chris and I, they are secrets and whenever we need a date after the wedding we can draw one at random. We then have to follow the instructions. I hope none of them say ‘Go to Spain’ because that could be tricky for a mid-week date.

Since we were on a hen do I also got a special present from the management.

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The chocolates were a rich fudge-like treat and I adore strawberries with melted chocolate.

We found this in the restaurant/hotel lobby. After all, what would a hen party be without one?

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After lunch it was time for a quick trip home to change into evening wear before heading out again (5 women, 1 bathroom, you do the maths!). Sadly Katie had to go home at this point but were joined by my lovely soon to be mother- and sister-in-law.

For our evening festivities we went to Manchester 235, the casino in the Great Northern. I think this was a great choice as it is a very glitzy, hen partyish thing to do. Also I have never been to a casino so it was very exciting!

When we arrived there we were ushered into the VIP lounge for our own private cocktail making class. Those of you who have read previous posts will know that Chris and I both enjoy making, and drinking, cocktails so this was particularly cool. Since Kim enjoys drinking the cocktails we make I guess it wasn’t an entirely self-choice of activity :p.

Anyone who has ever been out with me knows I am a complete lightweight so when they started me off on a shot of something strong and strawberry I was already well on my way. It may help explain the following pictures if I point out that Mom is as bad as I am and also that we made A LOT of cocktails so that even the hardiest drinker was giggling.

We started off with a cocktail everyone made.

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The first cocktail was strawberry vodka and amaretto topped up with bubbly and garnish with a strawberry. Yum yum. So good in fact that when Annie wasn’t looking Mom started drinking her’s as well!

For the other cocktails the guys teaching us would make a sample one and pass it round then ask for a couple of volunteers to try it themselves.

Firstly we had a cosmopolitan. As the bride (and someone who likes cosmopolitans) I thought I should be first to volunteer. This round was a straight up contest between Sandra (Chris’ Mom) and myself. She won and got to have a shot as her reward. I got to light a piece of orange peel though which was quite exciting.

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See the cosmopolitan in the front? I'm sure we took pictures of the cocktails up close but I don't seem to have them, they must have been on someone else's camera.

See the cosmopolitan in the front? I’m sure we took pictures of the cocktails up close but I don’t seem to have them, they must have been on someone else’s camera.

The next cocktail on the list was Kim’s favourite: the Mojito! My Mom and Susie took on this challenge as Kim wanted to taste both and be the judge.

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I'm not 100% sure how it got a moustache.

I’m not 100% sure how it got a moustache.

After this the challenges got more tricky with Sandra and Cris competing with Annie and Kim to make a coffee cocktail… only using one hand each!

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Next up was a Hudson/Hardman duo competition with Sandra and I competing against my Mom and Sandra’s daughter Vicky. To make it more interesting Mom and Mum were both blindfolded and Vicky and I had to guide them. They couldn’t decide which Sex on the Beach was best so we all got shots.

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They also made a personalised cocktail for me after asking my hens for some of my characteristics.

It was passionfruit, spiced rum and strawberry puree muddled together then chipped ice was added and the cocktail was topped up with champagne. While they were making it the manager came through and told them to use the good Crystal champagne which we later found out was £365 a bottle! This was definitely the most expensive drink I’ve ever had. It was good too. To top it off the hollowed out passionfruit skin was filled with 65% proof rum and set on fire and a strawberry was added to garnish. And, if that’s not enough pizzazz for you, cinnamon and sugar was sprinkled on top causing a whoosh!

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You can't see the flames as well here but Annie and I's reaction should speak volumes.

You can’t see the flames as well here but Annie and I’s reaction should speak volumes.

As well as the one they made Annie and I also made this cocktails. Annie put the correct 1 measure of rum in her’s. I couldn’t remember how much went in so I asked and was told ‘whatever you want’ so I put in two O:-).

There were so many names suggested that I couldn’t pick so I amalgamated them into one: Raunchy Rachel’s Fairy Cup of Tea on Fire! Delicious.

But the alcohol didn’t end there (sorry liver).

I believe this is called a Jaeger train? You lift the end cup and...

I believe this is called a Jaeger train? You lift the end cup and…

... the shot glasses end up in the larger cups, how clever is that! And I could even do it decidedly tipsy.

… the shot glasses end up in the larger cups, how clever is that! And I could even do it decidedly tipsy.

Many thanks to our good natured teacher, one of whom even ended up wearing a ‘I said Chris’ moustache over his real moustache.

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After the cocktail class we stayed at Manchester 235 for a 2 course dinner (with wine of course, we had free drinks vouchers after all).

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The food was very good as was the dinner time game of ‘I have never’. Amusing the ‘loser’ at this game was Chris’ Mum and the ‘winner’ was mine! My mother really is a child of the 60s and 70s.

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During dinner several other people had to wear the moustache (thank heavens, Kim and I were getting tired of our monopoly after several failures each).

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Adventurous moustache!

Adventurous moustache!

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But the evening wasn’t over yet!

Kim had also booked us in for a gambling lesson plus we had vouchers for a £5 bet each. As I said I had never been to a casino so this was a new and fun experience. The guy teaching us how to play was also excellent so I would highly recommend the casino.

First we learned blackjack, at which I was doing alright. Unfortunately finding a £2 in table after the lesson was hard, most of them were £5 in.

He even gamely wore our glasses.

Then we had a lesson in Roulette.

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I played a few real games of roulette as well and managed to turn my free £5 into £15 so I was pretty chuffed. Mom did significantly better at the fake game unfortunately, winning a fake fortune.

My winnings.

My winnings.

Susie won a pound but it was a fortuitous pound since on the way back from cashing it a random man playing blackjack bought each of us a drink. Win. Thank you random man.

So overall we had a great and hilarious night. Thank you to all my hens, you are so much fun! I hope you had as good a time as I did. And mostly a huge thank you to Kim who orchestrated everything perfectly.

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A Walk In The Woods…

 

Well… maybe not so much the woods as a park area with trees… least ways there were no bears!

 

So any way…

As anyone who has met my fiancé knows he is a huge 40k gamer geek. Actually he is a huge geek in many ways but particularly 40k, it’s even how we met!

As well as collecting the figures and other 40k paraphernalia Chris actually collects gaming stores so when he heard there was a big indy gaming store out in Davenport we had to go! And if Davenport just happens to be next to Stockport and we could ‘collect’ the Games Workshop there as well then that was just a convenient coincidence.

Being a good fiancée and also quite fond of an adventure (not to mention a wee bit geeky myself) I was up for the trip so Saturday afternoon off we duly went to Davenport.

We walked on the path, not the mud however!

Davenport actually looks fairly nice as small towns go: several parks and open spaces, several cosy looking cafés (a big must in my book) and some cute homes.

Yes I do realise this is only a door.

Eventually we got to the road Chris’ gaming store was supposed to be on. Now he had promised me that this place was open on Sundays. He had also told me he could find it. As you may guess things were not as simple as they seemed…

We entered a sort of warehouse plot with the rather offputting name of Alcatraz Building. I’ll spoil the ending… we managed to break out.

 

Since Chris was sure this was the place we had a look around and, even with instructions from a passer-by, no gaming store was forth coming. We did however find a pet shop and a bedding shop so not a total waste of time right?

I particularly like this picture.

Eventually we gave up, decided the place was closed and that we should walk to Stockport while it was sunny.

Initially we followed the road signs and went entirely the wrong way. Now I will admit this was my fault for foolishly trusting the council and thinking the signs pointing to Stockport actually went to Stockport (they went to Cheadle).

After that we followed Chris’ phone which felt less adventurous but did mean we should reach Stockport before it started raining. It really isn’t all that far if you actually go the right way.

Chris disappearing between the fae and human realms.

Fortunately upon reaching Stockport the Games Workshop at least was open. Here is Chris collecting it:

This is Chris’ “big boy smile”. Enough said I think.

Then, as we walked back to Stockport station to go home we saw this:

A shop called Marauder Games… in Stockport… next to the station… the very shop we had been looking for IN DAVENPORT! *unimpressed*

On the other hand this is the only bit of Autumn I have seen. Living in the city centre one looses all sense of seasons so it was almost a relief to go to a ‘real place’ where they still have them. Plus it was a sunny day and I got to go for a nice walk with my fiancé. Overall I’ll count it as a win. (But don’t tell Chris, I’m still giving him a hard time for dragging me all over the place.)

 

 

The Bunker, Grand Opening

So this one is definitely for my geeky friends.

Chris’s friend Sam has been spending most of his free time converting the basement at his house into a gaming room. Last night was the first time any of us had seen it and I have to say it was looking pretty good. Of course I am biased towards any room that contains antique rapiers, especially when no one seems to mind if I wear one of them ^_^. I figure I had to wear one, in spite of Sam assuring me that all the spiders were gone I was definitely keeping a sharp eye out, although I’m more likely to have screamed and hidden behind Chris than actually attempted to stab one had there been any spiders!

In order to celebrate the fact that ‘The Bunker’ (as Sam’s basement has now been christened) is officially open we reinforced a few stereotypes and had a game of Dungeons and Dragons with myself as the Dungeon Mistress. Sam has set up a large table in the middle of the room and I had one side of it to set up all my books and shiny dice and Chris, Tom, Sam and Martin sat facing me with their characters and the actual dungeon in middle. I felt like I was being interviewed. As far as the dungeon goes Sam had also cast some stairs, a vortex and a door, with more to come, plus some standard floor tiles. The Bunker is set to be a cracking gaming room (I’m being very nice so I’ll be invited back).

There was also cake.

A slice of cake. Made by Sam. It originally had an Aquila on it. It is yummy.

And for the men, whiskey. I’m not sure they should have been allowed whiskey…the less said the better…

This was Martin’s first ever game of D&D (so we bought him a d20). He also dislocated his knee about 6 weeks ago so we were all very happy that he could come and join us and we could teach him to be even more of a geek.

In our story so far…

A gladiator from a notable family had been kidnapped from the gladiatorial halls themselves, leaving behind nothing but some scratch marks on the floor, some burn marks and a mysterious vortex. His brother, who is himself a gladiator (and played by Sam) has requested the aid of some adventurers in finding and retrieving the lost Dragonborn gladiator. There was also the promise of quite a bit of gold.

Answering this call to arms and riches were a human paladin (Chris), a tiefling mage (Tom) and the dwarf fighter (Martin).

A hardy group. Real pictures to follow when I remember to take my camera.

In short, because I’m sleepy and may flesh it out later so that I actually remember what happened, the adventuring party managed to follow the kidnapped gladiator through the portal. Beyond the portal they found a room full of zombies (Zombie hulks with AC 20 and zombie chillborns [which are smaller and lower level] with AC 22. I find this funny but could not tell anyone at the time) which very nearly managed to wipe them out! Yet the adventurer’s prevailed, largely due to the healing powers of the Paladin and the DM’s generosity in not making the zombies come back to life. At the back of the room a shadowy figure watched the fight and then disappeared into another room. When the adventurer’s followed this figure they found a room with an alter that had an odd looking dragonborn creature on it. It was surrounded by 4 human lackeys (minions) and at the far end was a very large green dragon. Behind the dragon was another dragonborn that appeared to be being held by some sort of magic. On either side of the dragon were more of the almost dragonborn looking creatures. After attempting to barter with the dragon for their friend back (the paladin even nobly offered to swop places with the kidnaped dragonborn) the party eventually lost control of their gladiator who felt it a matter of honour to kill everything in the room. A fight insued in which the lackeys were quickly killed but the dragonborn creatures are still holding their own. One of them has been hacked apart by the gladiator and the paladin (with some help from the mage) and they discovered that the creatures appear to be an imitation of dragonborn made using clockwork and blood, presumably from the kidnap victim. Also that when they reach 0 hp they explode. Fun times. We left our gallant heroes fighting…

We also had pizza 😀

Halloween

When I was young we used to have a big Halloween party every year at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. My cousin’s and I would spend all day decorating the lounge and dinning room with spider webs, bugs, bottles of blood, pumpkins and bits of barbie doll (my sister had a tendency to accidently pull the arms, legs and heads off of her dolls when she was little). At University of course we always had big parties at the bar. Thus since living in my own place I have missed having an excuse to dress up and decorate. This year I finally managed to finally hold a small party at the flat.

I didn’t get to do any decorating but the dragons and candles did look nice. I did get to dress up! And also bake.

My friend Kim came over at around lunch time to help me make some cookies. The idea was to bake in the early afternoon, then decorate and then dress up. It failed! I went with Kim to pick up a package and on the way home we got distracted by a tea shop on Tibb street we haven’t been to before. We split a very yummy piece of chocolate cake and Kim had a mocha and I had a cafetiere of ceylon tea. We sat outside on a covered balcony which was lovely and the tea and coffee was brought to us there. However I did then have to go back inside to search for milk and sugar which was an awkward way of doing things I felt. Overall I would give it a 7/10.

We decided to make shortbread cookies and decided to look up a recipe on the internet. We made several bat shaped cookies and a lot of round cookies which we decorated as pumpkins, vampires and ghosts with icing. We found a few different recipes and ended up using one that was 1/2 cup of sugar blended with 230g of butter. It then said to add 3 cups of flour but after a 1.5 cups it was clear the correct texture had been reached. We then did a second batch and decided to try the BBC recipe of 1 part sugar to 2 parts butter to 3 parts flour, which was basically what we had ended up doing before. However when we did that there was not nearly enough flour so I ended up adding and an extra half a cup. The upshot of this is that shortcake really needs to be made by feel!

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The Bat Cookies. Unfortunately all the round ones were eaten before I remembered to photograph them.

Sadly after the baking Kim had to go home and could not come out with us for the evening. However my boyfriend Chris and I were joined by several of his friends. Chris dressed as Arthur Dent and made extra sure he knew where his towel was all evening. Sam came as a soldier of some description (hardly a surprise!); Tom came as the Phantom of the Opera, complete with mask and cloak (which he refused to allow to billow) and his girlfriend Katie came as a witch; the last of our party, Gary, came in a Ghostbusters outfit. I of course have been looking for an excuse to wear some the Venetian things Mom bought for me on her holidays. This included a gold mask with white feathers and beads hanging from it and a black lacy fan. I also wore a green velvet skirt to which I attached bells so it jingled as I walked and a light green top with a zigzag bottom and braided straps. On top of this I wore a green velvet coat with long black lace and velvet sleeves which tapers into a point at the back. The coat also has a deep hood. To accessorise I wore long, black satin gloves and silver flowers and butterflies in my hair.

We met at the Waterhouse, one of Chris and I’s favourite pubs. It’s a Weatherspoons pub which means it is reasonably priced and does a good selection of ales from smaller breweries as well as some good pub food. The Waterhouse is opposite the town hall and is basically a converted Victorian/Edwardian style house. It’s very comfortable and a quieter place to go for a drink and a chat.

Following our drink out we came back to the house here to watch Shaun of the Dead (about as close as I can get to a horror film although I still had to hide behind Chris on several occasions) and played Zombie, which I won by default since I was the only one on the helipad when everyone had to leave to catch the last tram home.

Overall Chris and I had a fun night and we hope everyone else did too!