Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

You have been entrusted to organise a hen party for your best friend. This seems a simple enough task except the hen wants to keep costs down. This will mean that flying to one of Europe’s hot spots is totally out of the question, especially so with the current exchange rates.

 

Basically you will have to look a little nearer to home and be at the mercy of the British climate. That said, finding somewhere fun for the hen weekend shouldn’t be an issue as there are numerous destinations that cater for hen parties.

 

You could follow the party crowd to Newquay, Newcastle or Brighton, or you could try somewhere a bit different that offers a seaside atmosphere, but is also within striking distance of a number of outdoor activities to keep the girls entertained.

 

With no further ado, let me introduce you to the number one seaside hen party destination in the west of England, Weston-super-Mare!

 

Don’t let the critics of Weston (and there are a few, quite a few actually) put you off. We are talking about a town that has a ‘glamorous grandma’ feel about it.  Yes she has seen better days, but there is still life in the old girl yet.

 

Life’s about taking a chance, so take a chance on a Weston-Super-Mare Hen Weekend.  What’s the worst thing that can happen (apart from the hen choking on her scampi)?

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Getting to Weston Super Mare

Couldn’t be easier! Trains, planes, automobiles. No problem! It’s on the main London line and easy to get to from nearby Bristol Temple Meads.

 

The nearby summer car park, otherwise known as the M5 motorway passes close to the town. You could even fly to Bristol airport if you are coming from further afield. It might even work out cheaper than the train. Bristol airport is actually very accessible to Weston.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Accommodation in Weston

Lots and lots to choose from. The budget concious bride-to-be will love you. Weston is as cheap as chips. It also has cheap chips too, and scampi! Seriously though, all budgets in Weston are catered for and there are some lovely little traditional B&Bs near the beach, which is where you want to be right?

 

As per usual, it pays to book as far in advance as possible. Weston can be booked out solid during the silly season.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Activities in Weston and surrounds

In Weston itself the main activities would centre around the beach and pier.

 

The historic pier is certainly worth a few hours of the girls time. There are lots of fun and games that are not just targeted at children. It’s so much fun that it might even keep the thirstier hens out of Wetherspoons, for a while anyway.

 

There is a £15 entry fee that some people find a little on the steep side, possibly due to the fact that in Weston you could be thigh high in chips and prosecco for considerably less.

 

With a traditional British seaside pier there is always the chance of winning back your entry fee. There are the penny slots and bingo. Hang out with those wise old blue rinses and it might just be your lucky weekend!

 

If you are prepared to take a trip out of Weston then you could sample the nostalgic delights of an ‘It’s a Knockout’ themed games. West Country Games are located nearby towards Bristol and offer a fun filled couple of hours which will likely be the most memorable event of your Weston super mare stag & hen weekend.

 

In fact the West Country Games experience might even be more memorable than the wedding itself! They cater for groups sized from 8 to 30 or more. If you are under 8 in numbers, they can still offer you the games experience, but you’ll need to pay for 8 places.

 

Perhaps after the more active stuff you could take the girls out for traditional afternoon tea in one of Weston’s many tearooms. The areas you need to head to are Grove Park, Ashcombe Park and Clarence Park. Think of it as somewhere to go that offers a little ‘calm before the storm’ wind down action. Cake is also a nice way to line those stomachs too!

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare at night

There are plenty of places to eat in Weston and all budgets are catered for, well perhaps not a Saudi prince, but the girls will no doubt be full and happy!

 

There are the usual brand restaurants like Prezzo and Pizza Express. Weston also has a large number of independent places too, after all, the crowds still flock to the old girl for their summer holidays.

 

Of course you cannot leave Weston without sampling some of the best fish and chips in the world! What kind of hen party would miss out on a fish supper?

 

As for drinking, there are lots of pubs and clubs which are usually quite busy on Fridays and Saturday nights. We are also talking about cheap drinks here. This is not Monte Carlo, but don’t let that put you off.

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Everybody wants a stag or hen weekend they’ll never forget (if they can remember it in the first place). But when it’s cold and the winter weather threatens to dampen the party spirit, how do you go about planning the perfect Bath hen weekend or stag do?

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Talk to the guest of honour

There tends to be two types of people when it comes to winter: those who don’t mind the cold and carry on as usual and those who, if human hibernation was an option, you wouldn’t see for six months of the year.  This being the case, it’s important that you plan something that your stag or hen is going to enjoy. There’s no point in planning an outdoor adventure if they live in fear of frostbite through the winter months.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a brilliant Bath stag weekend in the winter

If you’re planning a Bath stag weekend as your stag’s final weekend as a single man, you’ll be spoilt for choice whatever the weather. If you’re looking for something active and exciting, we can provide you with an unforgettable afternoon as you compete in West Country Games. We move indoors for the coldest months too, so even if your stag gets the shivers at the thought of being outside, we’ve got you covered.

 

Heading into the evening, if you fancy a flutter you can hit the casino or, if the stag is game for a laugh without being the laugh himself, comedy clubs often attract established and up-and-coming talent throughout the year. Don’t forget to feed the party. The city has a wide selection of gourmet eateries and high-street restaurants so whatever appeals to your appetite, Bath has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a winter wonderland Bath hen weekend

There’s plenty to do in Bath during the winter months that will keep your whole hen party entertained and give the bride-to-be a weekend to remember. If you’re visiting in the later part of the year, the famous Bath Christmas markets are a fabulous addition to the extensive luxury shopping you’ll find in and around the city centre.

 

If your hen is more Lara Croft than Carrie Bradshaw, there’s a variety of outdoor adventures close to the city too. From zip lining to quad biking and everything in between. If she’s after adrenaline, a Bath hen weekend has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Keeping warm and cosy

Or if you prefer to do something totally different and energetic indoors, then there is always West Country Indoor Games running from November to February in a cosy barn themed indoor space.

After your day of action and adventure or exploring the city’s designer destinations, warm up and unwind in a natural thermal water spa and finish your afternoon with high tea in the elegant and historic Pump Room. If you’re planning on partying into the night, Bath has a number of well-placed boutique cocktail bars as well as a selection of livelier clubs for you to dance the night away.

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Have a backup plan

If you’re planning a stag or hen weekend in Bath we can guarantee you’ll find plenty to do and the whole party will have the time of their lives. The only thing we can’t guarantee? The weather. If you are planning on doing something outdoors it’s always worth looking into alternatives just in case Mother Nature isn’t on your side.

 

And if she is, make sure you wrap up warm!

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

If some of you were lucky enough to get engaged over the festive period then this couldn’t come at a better time. We know that choosing where to have your last big bash before married life is a big decision. You will, only do it once after all. We are here to help ensure that you have the best send off possible. This is one decision you don’t want to get wrong so head to Bristol – you won’t be disappointed!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

1. ACCOMODATION

First thing to organise for any successful Hen or Stag do is a warm bed to stagger home to after one too many drinks. Whether you are saving all the pennies for the big day or want to indulge and treat yourself, Clifton Hotels will be able to help. Choose from four hotels which cover a range of price points, The Washington Guesthouse, The Clifton Hotel, The Rodney Hotel, the Berkeley Square Hotel and luxury apartments – Berkeley Suites (if you are feeling a little indulgent).

 

With this Bristol-born, independent hotel group, you can be sure of quality customer service and a great nights sleep, if that is you decide to get any! All are able to offer discounts for group bookings which will come in handy when you need to stretch the budget to pay for another round!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

2. ACTIVITES

No Hen or Stag do would be complete without some sort of activity that will make you all look ridiculous and keep you in stitches retelling the stories for the rest of the year. West Country Games offers just that.

 

Nine hilarious West Country inspired games, from Cider Run to Wurzel Knockout and our personal favourite, Welly Wanging. We recommend booking this nearer the start of the trip, it all look looks a bit much to tackle on a hangover; however we are sure some of you will be lad enough to take on that challenge…

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

3. BOATS

This may seem like a bit of strange one, but with the River Avon running right through the middle of the city we had to mention the wonderful array of boats you can wander onto and explore. If a civilised affair is what you have in mind, be sure to book a table at Glassboat. A delicious meal with lit up views over the river is probably just the thing to recover from a day wanging wellies. Alternatively head to Thekla for one of their infamous Pop Confessional nights if you feel up to it, where it will be guilty pop pleasures until 4 in the morning.

 

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
4. COCKTAILS

When is comes to cocktails, this is one thing that Bristol does not take lightly. Whatever your tipple may be there will be something heavenly waiting for you in one of the many speakeasies hidden across the city. These places are strictly need to know, but we’re sure your maid of honour/best man will be up to the challenge and will be able to get hold of the information easily…no pressure!

 

Our favourites include The Milk Thistle and Red Light, (there may be a clue in the name to one of those but we’ll leave that to you). If you want to get a bit more hands-on head to The Square Club where they offer the option of not one, but two cocktail master classes to suit your specific needs.

 

Be sure to pay attention though as there will be competition at the end of the class to test your knowledge and there’s a bottle of bubbly in it for the winner!

 

Turtle Bay also needs a shout out. If you’re starting early then this one is ideal as it’s two for one on all cocktails from 12-7pm.

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
5. BREAKFAST

When you wake up with a dry mouth and a sore head from partying a little too much the night before, craving anything and everything fried, breakfast will be King. And our vote for King of the hangover breakfast in Bristol is Racks Bar and Kitchen.

 

They serve breakfast until 10am which means you can savour a bit of extra time horizontal before attempting to stand up! Stomach the full English with all the trimmings or take it easy and go for poached eggs on sourdough with a choice of toppings.

 

With Bloody Marys on offer why not opt for hair of the dog and we’re sure you’ll be feeling ready for the day in no time!

Wassailing this winter in the West Country

wassailing bristol
wassailing bristol

Come a-wassailing this winter – in a West Country orchard

Here in these ‘ere parts of the West Country, we think cider is gert lush – and we’ll go to great lengths to make sure there’s a bumper crop of apples so there’s no shortage of our favourite tipple when yer Wassailing in the West Country!

wassailing bristol

Noisy orchard-wassailing revelry

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself here early in the new year, and your ear drums are up to the challenge, you could join in some noisy orchard-wassailing revelry.

This wonderfully weird, age-old good luck custom involves blessing our beloved apple trees in the hope this will help secure a healthy apple harvest – and a plentiful supply of cider.

It’s an ancient tradition that appears to be growing in popularity over recent years – and, since it usually ends up as a fairly lively and raucous affair, it can offer just the antidote we need to brighten a cold, damp January evening.

wassailing bristol

Singing to the trees, and generally making a racket

If you still need any further persuading that it’s a good idea to spend a chilly winter’s evening in a West Country orchard, be assured that you’ll also often find there’s some hearty West Country grub being served up to help you soak up all the cider.

The word “wassail” is said to derive from a Saxon expression, ‘Waes hael’, meaning good health. Traditionally, the apple orchard custom involved reciting incantations, singing to the trees, and generally making a racket – sometimes even firing shotguns into the bare wintry branches – all in a bid to frighten away evil spirits that might get in the way of a bountiful harvest.

The “Apple Tree Man”

Ceremonies vary from one place to the next, but they usually share a few important elements. A wassail King and Queen are crowned to lead the songs and ceremonies, for example, and the procession usually moves towards the largest, finest or oldest tree in the orchard, which is chosen to represent all the other trees.

The “Apple Tree Man” is regarded as the spirit of this tree, and to appease him the Queen places a cider-soaked piece of toast up in the bough of the tree, and pours more cider around its base. The crowd then recite an incantation:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree,
That blooms well, bears well.
Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
An’ all under one tree.
Hurrah! Hurrah!

wassailing bristol
According to legend

Traditional wassailing songs end with a loud “Hurrah!”, and the whole event is a noisy affair, with loud gunshots and pot- and bucket-banging, just to make completely sure the spirits have got the message loud and clear.

According to legend, this is not only to scare off any evil ones who might ruin the coming harvest, but also to awaken the sleeping trees so that they bring a good supply of apples.

Meanwhile, present-day revellers enjoy the spectacle whilst tucking into traditional West Country food such as apple cake, washed down with a tankard or three of warming mulled cider – and the fun continues later into the evening with folk music, more cider, and plenty of laughter!

Our top tip...

The majority of wassailing events take place after Christmas, in January and February, with a peak in activity between 10-18th January.

Our friends down at Wilkins Cider throw on an annual Wassailing party, if you can handle yer cider then take up the challenge and get yourselves down there!

It’s Cider Making Time – West Country Style

cider making west country style
cider making west country style

Cider Making - West Country Style

Friends… Romans… Country Bumpkins, lend me your beers (and more importantly, ciders!), jump off your haystacks and come with us on a little tour of the finest drink known to man in these ‘ere parts.  Lovely, home-grown Scrumpy Cider.

Nearly half the apples grown in the UK are now used to make cider.  Thousands of orchards have been planted to keep up with the demand.  And this is the time of year farmers the land over will be harvesting their apples to make your favourite Amber Nectar.

cider making west country style

Imagine the scene, it’s a lovely sunny day, you’re reclining on a deckchair in the garden and sipping on your next pint of cider, total bliss.  But what you might not realise is that there’s a just a little bit of history and folklore that went into that gulp.

The old Somerset custom called Wassailing talks of cider being poured over tree roots to bless the trees and produce a bumper crop for the forthcoming season.  Then, (this is my favourite bit) there’s the ‘Apple Tree Man’, the spirit of the oldest tree in the whole orchard.  There’s an old West Country tale where a man leaves his last mug of mulled cider to the trees, and the spirit of the Apple Tree Man takes him straight to the buried treasure.  I mean, come on, what more incentive do you need to believe in the power of the Scrumpy?

cider making west country style

Even better news is that the best time to believe in that power is now.  Why now you may ask?  Well, this year’s cider harvest is upon us and the freshest apples are there, begging to be picked and made into cider.  In fact, it’s very easy to make it yourself and there are lots of great recipes out there.  What’s more rewarding and cheaper than pressing your own cider?

I’ve bought a cider making kit this year and have the feverish determination of a rampant Wassailer.  I’ve carefully picked the best apples from our garden and will be looking forward to the bit where I get to throw them into a big bucket and punish them with a pole.  After the therapeutic fun bits comes the waiting, the long wait.  But there is good news, if you let the cider ferment now it should allow for the best taste in time for Christmas.  And let’s be honest, what better present to receive than seeing Auntie Pat writhing on the living room floor after three pints of homemade cider and a friendly game of twenty questions?

cider making west country style

On the other hand, if you, like most sane people, just love drinking homegrown cider then there are lots of cider tours around.  Here at West Country Games, we offer a traditional tour with the best in homegrown cider without having to make any effort at all.  We’ll transport you to two countryside pubs, a cider farm (where you taste a further four ciders with a fine selection of cheese), and then get driven back to your humble abode.  Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this, even the ‘Apple Tree Man’ leading you to buried treasure sounds a bit rubbish in comparison.

If, for some strange reason I haven’t managed to sway your opinion on the humble West County cider then I feel there’s no hope left for you.  And as for you James Lavis, you’re dismissed.  Mainly because I am tired, and incredibly pissed.

cider making west country style

For almost 8 years I’ve called Bristol home and 5 of those have been spent out in the West Country Games field with a scoreboard and camera and groups of fun, feisty and often very hungover stags and hens. West Country Games sums up one of the things I love most about Bristol, there’s always something different and often slightly crazy going on.

Anyway, must go, I can hear the last track of ‘The Best of the Wurzels’ playing.

Katie has worked as an Activity Instructor, Site Manager and Event Assistant over the 5 years she’s been working at West Country Games.

Bristol firework displays – Our pick of the best Bristol firework displays

bristol fireworks
bristol fireworks

Our best pick of the best Bristol firework displays

It’s that time of year when we huddle around a fire and watch as the skies are lit with fireworks to celebrate Bonfire Night, watching some of the best Bristol firework displays.

This of course is a celebration of the famous foiled Gun Power Plot, following Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.  And as we enter one of the most worrying political climates of recent times, perhaps you too will find yourself wondering whether we just might have been better off letting our mate Guy finish the job!

But put that to one side for the time being and get yourselves out to one of the organised Bristol fireworks displays or bonfires in your area of.  After all, with BBQ’s, mulled cider and hog roasts accompanying various other live entertainment for the whole family, you’ll be missing out otherwise!

Here’s a round-up of all the best of what’s happening in Bristol.  Local schools and communities may have even more shows lined up.

Here is our Bristol firework display guide for 2018

Bristol Firework Displays

Downend Round Table Bristol Fireworks – Friday 2nd November 2018

Bristol’s biggest firework display, Downend Round Table never fail to deliver a spectacular show! Head over to King George V playing fields early as not only is there a super long musically coordinated pyrotechnic masterpiece but are also fairground rides, a stage with live music and performances and, perhaps most importantly, a bar.. I mean hot dog stand! The children’s display starts at 6:30pm and the main display at 8:00pm.

Time: 17:30 – 21:00

Tickets: £7.00 per adult, £5 per child (under 16), under 3 free

Where : King George V playing fields, Downend, BS16 6QW

Henleaze Infant School Fireworks Night – Friday 9th November 2018

A family friendly event in the grounds of Henleaze school. There will be the usual fare of hot dogs and burgers to keep you going along with warming hot chocolate, coffee, festive mulled wine and even Prosecco on offer to make it a special occasion!

Time: 18:00

Tickets: £5 adults, £3 children

Where:Henleaze Infant School, Park Grove, Henleaze, BS9 4LG

bristol fireworks 2016

DoubleTree by Hilton Cadbury House – Saturday 27th October 2018

Cadbury House always put on a great firework display. It’s worth driving out of town for this one, there’s plenty of parking and tonnes of entertainment for all the family! This year, Dennis Demille, the jazz and soul singing Britain’s Got Talent Semi-finalist will be performing too!

Time: 17:00– 21:30

Tickets: £6.50 adults, £3 children

Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, Cadbury House, Congresbury, BS49 5AD

Canford Park Charity Fireworks Fiesta – Saturday 10th November 2018

One of the best Bristol fireworks displays, we definitely recommend a visit to Canford Park! This year it’s the week after bonfire night so you may even be able to take in two huge displays one weekend after the other! This is our top tip for the Saturday night. Run by the Bristol Round Table and Rotary Club, the money goes to some amazing local causes too so make sure you snap up a ticket and get involved!

Time: Gates open 17:30

Tickets: £5 in advance £6 on the gate (under 3’s free)

Where: Canford Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, BS9 3NX

Bishop Road Fireworks Extravaganza – Saturday 10th November 2018

Another great school fireworks display which never fails to amaze.  All proceeds of ticket sales going to the school.

This display also promises some great nosh and beer, what better way to keep yourself entertained!

Time: 17:00 – 21:00

Tickets: £6 (Children £3; under 3’s free)

Where: School Field, O