Words cannot describe how privileged I felt when I was asked by my best friend to be her Maid Of Honour at her upcoming wedding. Having been a bride myself I know how important it is to have special people around you in the lead up to your wedding both to help you get excited and also to calm you down if you turn into the dreaded bridezilla! I’m sure anyone who has been given the position of Maid of Honour/Bridesmaid before appreciates that ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ and I’m sure you will agree that one of the greatest responsibilities is sending your best friend off into married life in the time-honoured tradition of a – HEN WEEKEND!!!!
Thinking about my best friend and the things she likes to do it became obviously that something outdoorsy would be perfect. After wracking my brains and trawling google for hours on end, it came to me – GLAMPING! I’ll be honest I’ve only been camping twice in my life yet I can safely say that it something I will not be in a rush to do ever again. In fact the two nights have have camped could possibly be classes as the two worst evenings I have had to endure in my 32 years on the planet. I’m not a princess but lying on rock hard ground in damp tents whilst surrounding by screaming children is not my idea of a relaxing break let alone suitable for a hen weekend. Glamping on the other hand offers the getting back to nature feeling with the luxury of a proper bed.
So the next job was finding the right site. It had to be within a couple of hours of East Yorkshire and suitable for 15 ladies, the majority of which are in their 30’s. Google was not being my friend and I genuinely thought I would have to go back to the drawing board. Most were either too far away, not suitable for such a large group or simply didn’t look very good! Then I found it, the place I had in my mind’s eye. The location was awesome, the site offered exclusive use for hen parties and the yurts and surroundings looked beautiful, the fantastic Secret Cloud House Holidays in Staffordshire – PERFECT!
That was it, e-mail sent to all the girls and deposits collected I contacted the lovely and extremely helpful owner, Catherine and booked the weekend of 10th July 2015 (Friday PM until Monday AM). Please note I booked in October 2014, a whole 9 months before the event. I advise the sooner the better as this site gets booked up for exclusive use months in advance. Also please note that there is a 14 person minimum. Deposits paid we were all excited about our stay the following July and praying for good weather. In the meantime I started planning and booking things we could do during our time there. In what seemed like a blink of an eye the balance was due and our stay just around the corner.
We were able to check in from 3pm on the Friday. Unfortunately roadwork’s on the M1 motorway delayed me slightly but luckily a friend who lived closer arrived bang on 3pm and met Catherine who went through housekeeping rules of the site. As I drove down the country lane the yurts came into view and all I could think was WOW. We quickly busied ourselves unloading cars and lugging our supplies to the yurts. Catherine had set up cakes in the communal Bilberry hut. This was a great area with a long table with benches, sofa, wood burner and gas stove and cooking area. We were blessed with great weather so didn’t need to use this hut a lot but it was perfect should we have had to.
The four sleeping yurts are beautiful – Elderflower, Rosehip, Blackberry and Foxglove. Each decorated with such attention to detail. Each with lovely, comfortable beds and all the little things that you could need including torches, lanterns, wood burning stove, table top gas stove and enough crockery and cutlery for everyone in the yurt. Little things like bunting, hanging hearts and fairy lights just made them extra special. We were all pleasantly surprised to find big fluffy towels for showers and bath robes to lounge around in. The handmade soap that we all found waiting for us on our beds was the cherry on top of the cake. How lovely, how thoughtful. The field of yurts is surrounded by fields of animals….cows, goats, chickens so early in the morning and at feeding time these guys can get quite loud. If you are a light sleeper I would advise earplugs.
Even though you are sleeping in an actual bed with egyptian cotton linens please remember that you won’t have all the homely creature comforts you are familiar with. For example a flushing toilet. Here you will find that each of the 4 yurts has an eco self composting toilet complete with jugs of water and sawdust. It took a while to get used to them but by the end of the weekend using them became second nature. Also, there isn’t any electricity on site apart from in the shower block. This didn’t prove a problem we simply took it in turns charging our mobile phones and drying our hair. I must add the showers are fantastic. The water is heated by solar panels and topped up with electricity. Even though there were 15 of us we never ran out of hot water.
So this was our itinerary which we found to be the right level of fun and relaxation:-
Checked in at 3.00pm and added our own decorations to make it fit for Hen weekend purposes (I’ll let your imagination run wild with you there). BBQ’s and utensils are on site therefore we all brought BBQ food and happily munched away on until our ‘special’ butler Shane, arrived at 8.00pm, hired from Hunks In Trunks*. Drinks, games and laughs ensued until late into the evening.
Breakfast for one morning is included in the price of the yurts and in the fridge in the shower block we found enough bacon, sausages, eggs, yogurt and cereal to feed a small army (we certainly wouldn’t go hungry this weekend). Following brekkie we all made the most of the on site hot tubs and sauna. Once lit these were fired all weekend simply by adding a log or two every now and again. Ah bliss! I had pre booked a minibus from a local company Warrington Coaches* to take us into Derby and back. Please note Derby is a 45 drive away and the journey home can be tricky is you have had one too many drinks. There we enjoyed a lovely meal at Pizza Express* and the nightlife of this lively city.
Thinking of our stomachs I organised breakfast to be delivered*. And again the fridge was replenished with the most yummy, locally sourced products like the morning before. We spent time chatting and relaxing in the hot tubs and sauna but today we had the added luxury of massages and treatments from the lovely Natasha and Charlotte, therapists that I had organised through the owner Catherine*. So what can top a relaxing hot stone massage? Afternoon tea of course which was hand-made and delivered by Ann’s Catering*, a local catering company*. Tasty savouries and naughty treats all washed down with a couple of glasses of fizz and great conversation.
Time to pack up and head home with memories of laughter and fun that will last a life time. I hope the Bride to be had the best send off possible and I cannot wait to be her Maid of Honour. Thank you to all the lovely ladies I got the opportunity to spend the weekend with and thank you to Catherine for being the perfect host.
*at an additional cost, not included in the price per head paid to Secret Cloud House Holidays.