I was young free and single with no immediate plans to venture out looking for love. Nearly all my friends during this time were women, whether gay, straight or whatever. I still spent a lot of time going back and forth between London and Somerset and that suited me quite well.
Everyone one was planning for my brothers wedding which would be taking place at the end of March. Ryan and Gemma had a pretty long engagement and had spend months planning their perfect day. Ryan had his stag party before we got around to the hen weekend. I must admit although I’m not one of the lads I was still hoping to get an invite to the stag, after all I’d probably enjoy the entertainment and antics of the stag party more than the hen party.
Ryan and his friends spent a long weekend up in the North East, they spend a night out in Edinburgh and then the next night in Newcastle. There was traditional Scottish attire as they dressed my brother up in a kilt, enough alcohol for my Dad to lose his phone when they were in Newcastle and a lot of bleary eyes when they all returned home.
When it was the weekend for the Hens we stayed local (local for those guys, I was the Londoner now). We spent a night out in Bath that, a day at a spa and an evening in drinking cocktails and playing silly games. It was a really good weekend in all and Gemma’s friends were all friendly and happy to laugh a lot. The night out in Bath was perhaps the funniest.
Despite my New Years out with my family and friends I still wasn’t used to heading out in Bath to anywhere that wasn’t exclusively a gay bar. There weren’t many choices of where to go in Bath for gay venues, in fact there was only one at the time but it was still where I felt most comfortable, still is. So all the places we went to I had never been before so it could have been just like going to another city to me for all I knew.
We started the night off at a Greek restaurant called Opa after we had all met at Mother of the Brides and gotten a stretch hummer into Bath. A number of Gemma’s other friends and people who worked for her/colleagues would be joining us after dinner. We moved on to a bar at the top of the high street where we had a small function room to ourselves and table service for our drinks.
Then there were the butlers in the buff… now they were nice guys and yes they were attractive and clearly spent a lot of time in the gym but obviously they weren’t my cup of tea. However that didn’t stop me acting up with the rest of the girls, I mean just look at that featured image and yes, that really is me. The poor guy had no idea I was posing for that photo behind him. Ah well, when in Rome and all that.
The night came to an end far too quickly and I didn’t even feel drunk. Perhaps that was just as well we had another day and night to get through yet. The Mother of the Bride and her future Mother-in-law wouldn’t be invited to the slumber party antics, that’s when we’d really get to let loose and drink as much as we liked. However before we could all enjoy Hen Party Part II there was the Spa Day.
Now the whole concept of Spa Day strikes fear into the heart of me. No I do not want to pay some stranger to rub my wobbly bits, I certainly don’t want to get all caked in mud, or dangle my feet in a fish tank, or sweat it out in a sauna. Every single one of those things makes me want to scream and seems so far detached from any idea of relaxation that I was actually quite anxious about the whole affair. Add that together with the face that this particular Spa resort was located in a certain Forested Holiday Park where my first girlfriend and her number of her friends happened to work and over time it had become quite clear that they didn’t like me.
It’s not like I wouldn’t go somewhere just so I’d get to avoid them, far from it actually. It’s just the idea of putting yourself through something that makes you feel so uncomfortable anyway to have that possibility of running into someone you really don’t want to see added into the mix it’s a little unbearable. However this weekend wasn’t about me so I sucked it up and soldiered on through it. I needn’t have worried about the ex-factor, didn’t see anyone outside of our group that I knew the whole day.
I steered clear of any of the treatments and preferred to opt for the steam rooms and the jacuzzi, it was february and we’d had snow that year so it was bloody cold when I ventured outside to dash across a less than 5m walkway into the sauna. I guess it was relaxing in a strange way, I’ve never focussed so much attention on doing nothing and I wished I’d brought a book with me to pass the time. I was glad there weren’t any clocks in sight or I would have drove myself mad counting the hours, minutes and seconds tick by.
There’s something about doing nothing (hey, that sounds almost Shakespearean) that makes you really tired. By the time we were done at the Spa I just wanted a nap, I’d almost forgotten about the sleepover we all had planned. The maid of honour had planned games and I had brought all of my cocktail kit back home with me to ensure we were all suitably inebriated for the occasion.
I believe I was the first one to crash that night. I made everyone lots of very sweet and very strong cocktails. There were red, yellow and green and looked like a collection of traffic lights around the table. I had one classic Cosmopolitan recipe and two concoctions of my own. One that I’d come up with after a drunken night in with my gay family many months before and one that was just a bit of trial and error. There were straw shaped like willies and other rude things that I don’t even remember.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time and after a few of the games were done with we decided to watch some girly chick flicks. They were about to put on Dirty Dancing, I absolutely love the film so had every intention of staying awake through it. However the last thing I remember is that they couldn’t figure out how to work the many remote controls for the TV, Bluray, Surround Sound and everything else, they had to call Ryan even though he was out for the night to find out how to put a dvd on. That was quite funny.
I think almost as soon as the film started I was out for the count, snoring my head off while the rest of them tried to watch the movie. The next thing I remembered was Ryan coming home from his night out, he’d been playing poker at a Casino in Bristol with the guys and he had masses of cash on him as he came home, it was clearly a good night all round.
I remember thinking that since Lara and I had split up I had really enjoyed being around my friends old and new. Through Gemma I had met many of her friends and the hen party wasn’t the first or last time I’d see them all. I love hanging out with the girls I’d once been so close with in college and it was great that we could have so much fun together still, possibly even more fun now since I never used to drink as a teenager. I had reconnected with other friends and acquaintances too that I thought wouldn’t really be in my life anymore. When I was home in Somerset life was good. I think that’s why I kept going back, at the time I had a lot more going on back home with my friends and family than I did with the handful of people I knew here in London.
The funniest thing to reflect on for me during this time was just how completely girly my life was. I was getting all excited about an upcoming wedding, where I would be bridesmaid. I didn’t mind wearing the dress, the heels, having my hair done… I still did mind about the make-up however that’s mostly because I’m useless at putting it on. I even often would wear skirts and dresses to work as we dressed more formally then. It felt good in an oddly uncomfortable way, slightly empowering to be sure to look your best whenever you could. I’ve kinda let that go over the past year and settled somewhere in the middle again.
It would still take me a while to strike the right balance between London life and Somerset life. The wedding would now be the next time I’d go home and I had some time booked off work so that I wouldn’t have to go back to London for a while after the wedding and I’d be able to help if needed leading up to their big day.