This weekend just gone, a group of my closest girlfriends from my school days, Uni days, and the more recent days gathered in a lay-by off the A120 in Essex to mark the start of what would become a pretty epic Hen Do. Some knew each other well, some were mere acquaintances, others complete strangers. There was some trepidation for the activity that awaited them (across the motorway, about half a mile away from where we stood and staring at us rather menacingly was a huge white flag that simply read: BOOTCAMP REVOLUTION), but everyone who was supposed to be there had turned up, the sun had come out especially, and no-one had ‘forgotten’ their trainers.
The Hen Do had begun.
Twenty-four hours later we were gorging on a Breakfast Buffet of Dreams, chatting amongst friendship groups as if everyone had known each other for years, and yelping in pain at the slightest movement. We were broken, battered, bruised and hungover… but happy.
Here is what I learnt from my Totes Reem Essex Hen Do:
- There is nothing wrong with dictating what you want to do for your Hen. In fact, I would totally encourage it. I’m no fitness fanatic but I love a physical challenge and I relished the idea of doing some sort of assault course/bootcamp in the morning, followed by pampering and games back at a hotel/apartment, and finished off with dinner, drinks and dancing in the evening. And that’s exactly what I got.
- Having said that, it’s important you relinquish some control to your bridesmaids. Other than nominate the county of Essex (not too far from any of my friends and the perfect excuse to get glammed up) I had nothing to do with the arrangements. Where we bootcamped, stayed, ate and danced was a total surprise, as were the numerous games and treats that my bridesmaids had prepared for us. But let’s go back to the beginning…
The Bootcamp Part
- Traipsing round a muddy field in the name of exercise isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. However it does help if your instructor is attractive.
- The ‘Pt.’ in ‘Pt. Mitch’ does not stand for Private, as we’d hoped, but Personal Trainer. (It didn’t stop us calling him Private Mitch for the duration though.)
- Private Mitch was not out to destroy us, as we’d feared. Or at least, he quickly realised that we weren’t really up for being destroyed, and won over by our charm and wit was posing and pouting with the best of us by the end.
- Planking is the key to fitness apparently and should be done as part of a daily routine.
- Planking itself (lying stretched out and face down on the floor and holding yourself several inches off the ground by your fists, elbows and toes) is not too bad. Pushing a 6ft log up a muddy field and back again WHILST PLANKING is bad. It’s very, very bad. And not remotely fun.
- Assault courses, on the other hand, are incredibly fun. You get to do all sorts of physical challenges such as…
- After two hours of bootcamp activity, an egg and cress sandwich and a mini muffin will never taste so good. Even if it is served on a car bonnet in a motorway lay-by with nothing but a baby wipe to try and clean your hands with.
The Hotel Part
- Showering after bootcamp will cause a mini panic attack when you look down at your feet to see a pool of yellowy brown water forming.
- Counting the number of grazes, lumps and bruises on your body before realising that you’re going out that night in a short dress with no tights will also induce a similar anxiety.
- Games all about you, your fiancé and your friends are BRILLIANT FUN and should be completely and utterly compulsory at a Hen Party.
- I particularly recommend a round of Mr and Mrs, Guess the Body Part (identifying my fiancé’s bottom from a selection of four was surprisingly difficult), and The Hen Rap, in which my party divided in to three groups to write and perform raps about the various stages of my life. AMAZING.
- You will learn that your best friends have better memories than you, have no shame in reminding you of your embarrassing past, and actually appear to know you better than you know yourself.
- Prosecco and other varieties of sparkling wine are a more than suitable accompaniment to all of the above. Preferably drunk out of a cardboard cup, whilst sporting a cowboy hat, feather boa and oversized glasses.
The Going Out Part
- On TOWIE you are led to believe that it never rains in Essex. I can confirm that this is not true.
- Loughton High Street (our destination for the evening and home of Bella Sorella, Lydia’s shop on TOWIE) is also nowhere near as glamourous as the popular television show makes out.
- What is glamourous, however, is eleven ladies donning little dresses, high heels and false eyelashes- as was our dress code for the evening.
- This may make you feel like a complete and utter tartlet- especially when walking through hoardes of diners to reach your table at a popular Italian chain restaurant- but in Essex no-one will bat an eyelid.
- In fact, the waiter may act so unimpressed and indifferent to your efforts he will verge on being rude, but will eventually succumb to your Hen Party’s charm and wit (as employed on Private Mitch in the morning) and end up giving you a free bottle of Prosecco.
- Upon leaving the restaurant, being the first and only person to get ID’d when rocking up to the bar/club will never get less irritating, no matter how old you get.
- Having requested ‘No Tat’, you will at first be embarrassed by the feather boa and phallic headband you’re friends bring out with you, but several glasses of Prosecco and a couple of Jaegerbombs later you won’t want to let those bad boys go.
- In an Essex bar, you will spend the first couple of hours doing a lot of people watching and saying ‘Sorry babes’ to anyone and everyone, but once the club classics and speed garage tunes kick in you will dance wildly on every possible surface until you literally can’t dance any more.
- Many, many photos will be taken, most of which will be far too drunken and horrific to share on a public forum.
- If you stack it spectacularly on the dancefloor, know that you’re friends will leap to your aid (the ones who aren’t clutching their bellies with laughter or taking pictures), and be grateful for the pink feather boa that manages to cover your modesty.
The Days After
- The day after your Epic Essex Hen Do, everything will hurt. EVERYTHING.
- You will yelp in pain with every stretch, movement, sneeze and cough for at least three days and be unable to do such simple tasks as fastening your seatbelt.
- As photos from the event get shared around and posted on social networks, you will find yourself snorting/sniggering/cackling out loud at work as you are reminded of various moments of the occasion.
- This, too, will cause considerable pain.
- But mostly you will be overwhelmed, touched and oh-so grateful for your amazing group of friends who will thoroughly spoil you, shower you with love and generosity and make you laugh solidly for 24 hours.
- You will wonder why you ever doubted the humble Hen Do and wish you could do it all over again.