Sunday, 3 May 2009

My Boy Writes: The Stag-Do - Review

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"Last weekend was my Stag weekend. 3 days of fine food, wine, walks, football and much hilarity in a beautiful house on a Loch in Scotland.

Things couldn’t have gone better. Everyone got on (most of the time) and some new bonds were formed; across generations in some cases. Almost 40 years separated the youngest from the oldest but this didn’t get in the way. There were no strippers, nobody was tied to a lamppost (although they did throw me in the Loch) and there were no serious injuries. We didn’t destroy the house and everybody made their respective flights back.

This was a weekend of relaxed hedonism. Our aim was to leave everything except 2 big meals (Friday and Saturday nights) completely in the hands of the group. We wanted everyone to come and go as they pleased. We wanted to see people quietly reading in one room whilst in the next people downed shots over an improvised version of paper, scissors or stone. We wanted to see one group of people trying to shape vodka into lines with a coaster right next to a 60-odd year old being taught to play guitar by his son’s friend. We wanted to galvanise the core group of men at this weekend and make them a powerful collective force on the big day and after. Remembering back through the haze and smoke, I think we succeeded. Well we certainly had a lot of fun!

Myself and my best man decided not to fly back. We drove down the west coast of Scotland and ultimately on to Dumfries before slipping round the corner and down into the Lake District. We tried Penrith and Keswick (both of which were too built up for our tastes) and settled for the first night in Grasmere. We found a great pub with half decent food and incredible views. Monday was an exquisite day and the sun just dances on the hills there. It’s a photographers dream. We watched the sun go down with pints of well-kept ale.

We were up early-ish and planning a big walk. Sadly the weather had closed in and mindful of how shamelessly under-equipped we were (the only jacket I had was a suit one) we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and viewed the lakes by car. We had lunch that day in one of the finest pubs I have been to, The Drunken Duck. It wore the gastro-pub title beautifully and demonstrated that a pub doesn’t need to be rustic to be real. We continued rambling after lunch and decided to skip a visit to the dales (the original plan) and to get to know the lakes a bit more. In the spirit of adventure we tried to trace the hill path from Ambleside towards Boot. I originally led us down a somewhat slippery “road” which was clearly not designed for cars and we very nearly smashed ourselves into one of those gorgeous dry stone walls. So a swift three point turn; try to avoid the guy dragging a tractor with a tractor and back on to the right road. We drove up and up and up, amazing view after amazing after amazing view. This road summed up the lake-district for me, the style is consistent but it just gets better and better until you run out of superlatives.

We spent another very relaxed night in a cheap half-renovated house near Eskdale with beautiful grounds and headed back to London via Shropshire. This was the perfect way to wind down after the stag and a great opportunity to spend lots of time with my oldest and best friend.

“A most satisfactory binge!” – Hugh Laurie"

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