USA Road Trip – Day 9 – Hollywood!

It was so nice to have a lie in, in a large, cosy, comfy bed after the last few uncomfy nights in San Diego (those beds were the worst!) The boys had gotten up early to watch the rugby on their i pads by the pool area and Megs had gone for an early morning dip (I’m the lazy one!) so I joined them a little later on for breakfast. Nutella Stuffed French Toast. Amazing!

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The boys engrossed in the rugby!

Over breakfast we decided what to do with our day. Should we go to Universal Studios, visit the sites of Hollywood, visit more beaches? The list was pretty endless. But eventually we decided we would drive down to Hollywood Boulevard to see the sights and then drive onto Santa Monica as the weather was so amazing we had to make the most of it.

We hadn’t realised how close we were to Hollywood Boulevard, just a 10 minute drive down the hill from our hotel and straight into a multi storey carpark very easy.

It was a Saturday morning in Hollywood which meant it was super busy. We made our way along the walk of fame but we couldn’t see all the stars as 1. There are so many of them it would have taken the whole day to see them all and 2. There were lots of people trying to see the stars/take pictures etc, plus it was super super hot. Also something a little strange and what some people may find a little full on or overwhelming is that so many people try to sell you their CD, or were handing out their resumes and headshots. Sometimes literally trying to shove them into your hand. It’s mad how people think you could be someone to help them make it big!

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We managed to get a few photos and then decided to head over to the Chinese Theatre and see the hand/foot prints.

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To be honest we didn’t think much of the Hollywood Boulevard area, it’s pretty run down and with the heat and constant array of people trying to sell you their soul we decided to call it a day after just over an hour.

On our way back to the car park we managed to get a good view of the Hollywood sign and also popped into a few shops.

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Back in the car we were looking forward to spending the rest of the day chilling on the beach in Santa Monica. However the traffic was awful and the closer we were getting to the beach the foggier it became.

By the time we made it to Santa Monica and parked up we couldn’t believe how cold and misty it was and how different the weather was back in Hollywood! You could feel the sea mist on you and it looked really eery, but that didn’t put us off, we still went for a walk along the pier, checked out some of the funfair rides and had a mooch around the stalls selling local wares.

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How crazy is this sea mist/fog?!

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Where’s the sea gone?

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Feeling a bit chilly and peckish we decided to head in from the beach and walked along the main high street. There were plenty of food places to choose from however being a Saturday most were only offering brunch or some had stopped food until the evening and seeing as it was afternoon and we had had breakfast we were really looking for something a bit more substantial. Hello Cheesecake Factory.

This restaurant was huge. Matt and I have visited cheesecake Factories before in America and Dubai but this was Megs and Frasers first time. Matt decided to order a couple of starters as a main as he wasn’t feeling that hungry but we couldn’t stop laughing when we saw how much arrived for him! Megs and I went for Buffalo chicken and fries and Fraser went for a burger. I ate as much buffalo chicken on this trip as I could as its my absolute favourite and I’m yet to find anywhere in the UK that tastes the same as America.

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Matt and his light bites haha

After dinner we decided that we had had enough of the cold misty weather and would head back to the hotel for a bit to chill, swim and have time to get ready before the evenings activities. But first we had to buy some cheesecake to take away! You can’t go to the cheesecake factory and not sample the cheesecake. The Oreo one is always my favourite!

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leaving the fog behind!

We were a bit disappointed with the weird weather and it was a shame we didn’t get to experience Santa Monica properly, however back at the hotel the sun was still shining and it was boiling hot. So we went for a dip in the pool and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the hot tub.

Later that evening it was Megs turn to surprise us all with her planned activity and she had booked something fun. A table at No Vacancy in the centre of Hollywood.

Pulling up in the taxi we had no idea what to expect, it was like something from a horror film when we arrived. No street lights, no people, just an old creepy looking hotel, with a no vacancy sign swinging in the breeze.

We walked up to the front of the building and there was a man sitting on a rocking chair on the porch. I think we were all thinking Megs where have you brought us? However he was super friendly, checked our names were on the list and then we waited a couple of minutes for a friendly hostess to take us into the club, or that’s what we thought she was doing. Instead she gave us a few instructions on the show times, not to take too many photos and how when we entered we had to chose from 1 of 3 doors to go through. Interesting…She left us and said she would meet us by the bar area.

So we stepped inside the building and were greeted with 3 doors, we went for door number 3. We gave it a little push and ended up in another room (a bedroom) with a very beautiful woman, dressed in lingerie, laying on the bed. She explained the rules again to us, asked if we were ready for a good night and then pulled a lever which moved the bed she was on backwards to reveal a secret staircase which we were then told to go down.

This lead us to the main bar area which was designed in a sort of burlesque/speakeasy type way. It was all very surreal but was really amazing. We met back with our original hostess who then took us to our table, which was located outside in the little courtyard area which was decorated with fairylights.

It was a lovely, warm Saturday evening and we couldn’t wait to see what the night had in store. We ordered a bottle of vodka with mixers and took in our surroundings, it was quite a small venue but there was something interesting around every corner with a real mixed bunch of people.

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At 11pm the show began first with a tightrope walker above our heads and then the burlesque show on the main stage.

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We had such a fun evening and when we called it a night we had to leave out of the back door, where we ended up back on Hollywood Boulevard which was surreal as we honestly felt like we were in our own little bubble in the middle of nowhere all evening.

If you are after a fun night out in LA I would definitely recommend No Vacancy, just make sure you book in advance!

Love, Chloe xx

 

USA Road Trip – Day 8 – LA Beaches!

A mix of emotions again leaving another amazing place and San Diego we will be back! However we were excited to get back on the road, in the Wagon and drive on to the next location and this time it was Los Angeles.

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Megs in the wagon!

Megs decided she was ready to take the wheel and after a quick lap of the car park we were on our way to Laguna Beach. I used to love MTV’s Laguna Beach so even though this was about 10 years later!! I was excited to check out the beach where so much drama happened.

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Hello Los Angeles!

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Boys in the back with all the snacks!

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Megs behind the wheel

Laguna Beach was beautiful but very small and not what I imagined at all. A small little town on the cliff top overlooking the beach, filled with quirky little boutiques and coffee shops it was cute and pretty. But I honestly thought it would be a lot bigger.

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Check out this house! We eventually found the car park, after a bit of a scary 50 point turn on this driveway (sorry about that!) but we took a moment to check out the sea views.

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I guess we came a little out of season as the beach café wasn’t open so we jumped back in the car and with me behind the wheel, we drove onto our next stop…Huntington Beach.

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Just call me LC

The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is amazing. All the way along the West Coast, passing beach after beach and view after view.

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I loved seeing all the different spots and then finally we arrived at Huntington. A huge difference to the quaint Laguna. Huntington was big! Sand which went as far as the eye could see, a long pier lined with stalls and small shops with a restaurant/diner at the end and then a main high street with bars, restaurants, shops and cafes. It was a typical American beach filled with surfers, skateboarders and people playing volleyball.

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We went for a wander along the pier and along the beachfront. Finally settling on BLK Earth Sea Spirits for lunch. This was the perfect spot and we sat outside on the balcony over looking the sea and soaking up the sunshine. I also think this was the healthiest lunch we had all trip, salads and juices all round we knew we were in LA! The food and view were amazing, would definitely recommend!

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Look at this view!

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Refuelled and rested it was time for Fraser to drive us to our final beach of the day…Manhattan Beach. Matt’s university friend Phil, his wife Jess and their baby Greyson live here, so we decided to pop in and say hello, check out their gorgeous home and then we all headed down to the beachfront just before sunset.

We walked along yet another pier this one a little smaller but still just as pretty as the others, watched all the yummy mummies jogging with their babies and then finally found a little bar with a view of the beach, to have a proper catch up over a glass of vino or two (sorry Matt having to drive the final stretch to our hotel!) – Also sorry I didn’t seem to take any photos here, clearly too busy catching up!

As night fell, Phil and Jess had to get back to put Greyson to bed and we decided it was time to make a move and head to our hotel. Phil had already warned us about the traffic and how even though our hotel was only just over 20 miles away it would most likely take us a couple of hours to get there!

We were very grateful to Matt for driving us in the dark, with the crazy LA drivers, in lots of traffic but we finally made it to The Garland just after 8pm.

The hotel was so pretty, it had a retro modern theme, and the staff were super friendly and helpful, we checked in so quickly, dropped all our luggage into our beautiful rooms and then made our way down to the The Front Yard restaurant. Passing the stunning outdoor pool area which was covered in fairy lights and had a projector screen showing the film Matilda which people were watching from the pool, very cool!

The restaurant was packed and we were very lucky to get a table on a Friday night without booking, but the staff were so lovely and helpful. Turned out the majority of them are aspiring actors and actresses so Hollywood! We ate some delicious flatbreads and pastas and then shared a couple of desserts between us.

We ended the night under the stars by the pool, drinking wine and taking in our new, beautiful surroundings.

Love, Chloe xx

USA Road Trip – Day 7 – Tigers, Tides & Taco’s!

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, San Diego had us ready to go for another day of adventures. So after breakfast we packed up the car and headed straight to San Diego Zoo.

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This was definitely the hottest day of our entire trip, as you can see there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and we were sweating by 10am! Not that we were complaining as it was lovely to feel hot weather at the beginning of March, a bit different to England!

The zoo was already very busy when we arrived and it is also very big.

We started off in Center Street and made our way up the path, seeing all the different bears along the way. I love bears and would love to visit Canada to see them in the wild.

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From the bears we walked up to Park Way, which takes you to Panda Canyon and the Panda Trek. Pandas are adorable and it was amazing to see so many of these beautiful animals, however just walking up a hill for almost an hour, caused us to melt, so we decided to get ice creams and jumped on the guided bus tour.

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This is a 35 minute tour of the zoo where you get to see the majority of the animals. This worked better for us as we didn’t want to spend all day at the zoo, plus we managed to get seats on the open top deck, so got to enjoy the sunshine, with a cool breeze and see all the animals in action.

After the bus tour we decided there were a couple of areas we wanted to visit up close, first up the giraffes which are Meg’s favourite animals and then to the monkeys and gorillas.

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We then joined the queue for the Skyfari which is a cable car which goes over the complete zoo, it’s a novel experience but you don’t really get to see many of the animals from up there!

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A quick look around the gift shop and we decided it was time to head to the beach to cool off as it was just too hot to continue walking around the zoo all day and we had seen everything we had wanted to.

On our drive to the beach, we stopped off in Coronado town and grabbed some sandwiches from a local shop and popped into a mini supermarket for some drinks and snacks. When we arrived at the beach, we set up just like we did the day before, ate our snacks and then spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing, playing games and attempting a dip in the sea but the water was cold!

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Just before sunset we decided to head back to the bar area at Hotel del Coronado, ordered some drinks and got ready to watch the sunset one last time. I honestly could never get tired of these views and the sunset.

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We decided that as it was our last night in San Diego we had to go to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, as we had heard that the local Mexican food was amazing. We looked up a few options but as I had had a few wines by this point I didn’t note the name of the place we ended up at (apologies!) however I can tell you that it was a very popular spot back in the city and you couldn’t book a table so we did find ourselves in a small queue, but it was worth the wait as the food was delicious, as were the cocktails!

We were sad that it was our last night in San Diego as we had really enjoyed the relaxed beach vibe and beautiful weather but we were very excited for our next adventure to begin in the morning…

Love Chloe xx

USA Road Trip – Day 6 – A Top Gun Kind of Day…

We awoke to beautiful sunshine and headed down for breakfast inside the hotel. The food was average but we couldn’t complain as it was free! Plus the portions were huge! I had pancakes with berries and the others had the full American.

Over breakfast we discussed what we wanted to do with the day. We had researched a few things we wanted to do in San Diego, however we had no set plan on what days we should do what and after quite a full on time in Vegas, we were hoping to fit in some relaxation at the beaches at some point too.

If you read my Vegas posts you will know our plan regarding 4 places, 4 names picked out of a hat, surprise the group with something. Well I had chosen San Diego. So I decided to put my plans into action. After breakfast we jumped into the wagon and drove down to the Harbour, as our first stop of the day was the USS Midway Museum.

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Now you may think that what I chose as the surprise sounds a bit boring, but actually the main reason I had chosen it was due to it being linked to Top Gun and who doesn’t love Top Gun? It’s one of Matt and I’s favourites!

Whilst researching San Diego back at home I quickly found out that 90% of Top Gun was filmed in the area so I thought it would be fun to visit some of the locations (if we could find them!) I’m still shocked that they don’t do a Top Gun mini bus tour or something to take fans around to all the locations, seriously why hasn’t anyone thought of this?! But I digress back to the ship…

”USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was the largest ship in the world until 1955. She operated for 47 years, during which time she saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego.”

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Look at this view from the top of the ship – beautiful!

We spent a couple of hours on the ship, exploring every room and taking in all the stories. Matt and Megs even rode in a fighter jet flight simulator but mine and Fraser’s stomach’s never would have handled it!

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Not wanting to miss anymore of the sunshine, we decided to take a stroll along the harbour, which was so beautiful and picturesque taking a look at the Unconditional Surrender statue along the way.
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We popped into The Fish Market Restaurant for a drink and a cool down. It was such a lovely place and the food, especially the freshly caught seafood looked amazing however I had other ideas for our lunch spot…

Kansas City BBQ A Top Gun location with the added bonus of delicious BBQ food and sunshine.

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A couple of the iconic scenes from the film were shot here, including the Great Balls of Fire Piano and the Jukebox.

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The place was filled with memorabilia however it still had a locals vibe. After looking around inside we decided to eat outside as we wanted to enjoy the incredible weather whilst eating our delicious food.

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There were a few other locations from the film I would have liked to have found however they were quite a way from where we were, so we asked our waitress where the best beach was and she told us Coronado, so off we drove (thank goodness for sat nav!) over the bridge to Coronado Beach.

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Oh Em Gee just look at this place!

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It looked like something out of a movie scene. Picture perfect white sand, barely any other visitors, pure bliss.

We found a spot to settle in for the rest of the afternoon and chilled/napped in the sunshine.

Keen to explore a bit more of the surroundings, we walked along the waves towards the Hotel del Coronado, which was stunning.

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We found a table at the outdoor bar area on the balcony, overlooking the beach, ordered a few drinks and just breathed it all in. Oh how we wished we were staying at this hotel and waking up to this view everyday! We’ve already said numerous times that we want to go back and stay there.

The hotel has also been featured in numerous films dating back to the early 1900’s! But the most iconic is Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe.

We played cards and Megs and I drank local wine before making a leisurely stroll back to the parked car, passing all the amazing houses along the way.

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Don’t you think this looks like Gru’s house from Despicable Me?

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After chilling and changing back at the hotel we decided to get a cab into the city for dinner at a little Italian restaurant. We seemed to be the only ones about, not that we were complaining as the food and service were amazing, but it just seemed a bit odd not seeing anyone else around, however what a great first day in San Diego!

Love, Chloe xx

Sophie’s Bournemouth Hen Weekend!

I first met Sophie four and a half years ago, at my old job. We both joined on the same day, so being the newbies and working in such a small office, with only 3 other people, meant we spent a lot of time talking! She was also the person who would drive me to the train station after work on a Friday, nearly every other week, so I could travel up to London to see Matt for the weekend 🙂 Wow that seems like a long time ago now!!

I only worked at the company for a year and a half, before moving up to London for good. So even though I hadn’t known Sophie very long, working together everyday in such a close environment, meant that we got to know each other pretty well. The day I left was a bit of a sad one as I knew I was leaving Sophie alone and they didn’t end up replacing me. However at the same time I couldn’t wait to start my new life in London!

Sophie and I kept in contact weekly, along with attending each other’s birthday parties, concerts, night’s out, new home’s etc and in Summer 2013 celebrating the news that Sophie had gotten engaged to John, her childhood sweetheart. Matt and I attended their engagement party back in Bournemouth, and she asked me to be her bridesmaid that night. I was pleasantly surprised that she had asked me and happily agreed.

Ever since that moment though it has been all systems go on the wedding planning! And last Summer she asked if I would plan her hen party. I love organising parties (my old job was event planning) and I love a good spreadsheet. So I agreed to take on the task, after all I did have a year to plan it! She gave me a list of ideas that she liked and didn’t like and suggested that it would be easier to keep it in Bournemouth, the rest was up to me.

So finally after a long year of planning, organising and getting people together, Sophie’s Hen Weekend had arrived…..

I travelled back to my parent’s house late Thursday night and then spent Friday frantically putting last minute bits together for the hen party. Blowing up balloons, writing name place cards for the table, cutting out pictures to stick on the walls ..just to name a few! As well as managing to squeeze in a catch up with both of my nan’s and an old school friend of mine in the afternoon. Mum treated me to an amazing roast dinner that night, oh how I miss those! and then we spent the rest of the evening gossiping over wine..bliss!

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^^ Everyone’s bottle of fizz (I used these as place cards for the table)

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^^ Just some of the decorations, booze and added extra’s I brought – As you can see Sophie LOVES pink!

Saturday morning seemed to pass by in a second and then myself, mum and dad headed to the hotel in Bournemouth to set up. I am soo grateful that they helped me set up, along with my old boss, Jo. I really underestimated how long it would all take!

I had booked a private room for the whole day, and decided to decorate the whole thing myself. We laid pink table cloths, sprinkled with lots of hen themed confetti. Each Hen got their own bottle of fizz, along with chocolates, sweets, a bottle of bubbles, pink champagne flute, pink shot glass and a test tube shot.

My dad kindly blew up all the balloons and tied one to each chair. The walls we covered with hen party banners, balloons and photos of Sophie with her friends and family. Finally done, we hid all the extra booze and snacks in the cupboard, got rid of all the rubbish and I hugged and thanked my parents goodbye. I finally felt I was ready to relax and enjoy the day!

Jo and I got to Aruba just in time to meet everyone else for lunch.

If you haven’t been to Aruba you should really try it out. It’s right on Bournemouth Pier with views of the sea and beach and they do amazing cocktails. BOGOF on Friday nights 😉 By day it’s a place to chill with a drink, watch the World go by and eat some yummy food. In the evening it’s a place to come with friends and dance the night away, cocktail in hand. I used to love it when I lived in Bournemouth and it was always my go to place!

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On arrival I greeted everyone with their own personalised sash, which of course were pink and Sophie had a tiara/veil too!

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We then ordered a large round of cocktails and pizza!

After lunch we headed outside, into the gorgeous British sunshine. Bournemouth beach was packed!

Jumped in cabs and headed back to the hotel ready for the afternoon.

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^^ You can’t beat a selfie in the sunshine!

Back at the hotel, we were greeted with a glass of champagne before the Etiquette Class began. Yes we really did an Etiquette Class! and in all honesty I really enjoyed it and learnt a bit from it 😉

We learnt what you would expect from this sort of thing; how to walk with a book on our heads, how to speak properly, how you should treat your husband 😉 Well this was advice from the 1950’s! At the end we were split into teams and had to devise a short play, including all the advice we had learnt from the class. For example someone played the mum, dad, children etc. It was actually really fun and everyone got involved.

To end the class we learnt the history of afternoon tea and indulged in all the goodies and more bubbles of course! 😉 Plus I had put together a quiz of my own which everyone took part in while enjoying the cakes and scones!

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^^ Bride to Be Sophie in housewife training, 50’s style.

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^^ Sophie and Lauren, balancing those books!

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^^ Yummy afternoon tea and Sophie with some of her hens

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^^ Sophie with her 2 Bridesmaids, Sarah on the left and myself on the right.

After we had eaten as many delicious cakes and scones as we possibly could. Some of the older member’s of the group called it a day and headed home.

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^^ Sophie with (From L-R) Nan of the Groom, Gran of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Mother of the Bride & Aunt of the Groom

We were very lucky with the weather and so for the remainder of the afternoon the mum’s decided to pop out for a bit of a sunbathe, while the rest of us checked out what the hotel spa had to offer.

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Feeling very relaxed after a quick swim and laze in the jacuzzi, we headed to our hotel rooms to get ready for the night ahead.

Glammed up and ready to get the party started, we headed back downstairs to our main room, where buffet food had been laid out for us and Sophie was waiting for her surprise….

A Butler in the Buff! She had banned me from getting a stripper, so this was the next best thing 😉

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He was a lot of fun and soon got us playing a mixture of games and continuously poured us drinks. His rule was 1 shot for the loser and 2 shots for the winner. That seems fair right? Needless to say we were very tipsy after his 2 hour visit!

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^^ We started off with pin the junk on the hunk, then moved on to Willy Bingo. After the shots kicked in, it turned into Never have I ever and finally we ended up with Body Shots! Sorry Mr Butler 😉

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After saying goodbye to our Butler and feeling a little tipsy,we all made our way to Bar So, for the rest of the evening.

We had a private table, with bottle service and danced and sang the night away..

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13 Ladies started on the Saturday and only 6 made it to breakfast the next morning, I think that’s a sign of a good night! 😉

I hope Sophie enjoyed herself and now the countdown is on for the wedding.. 4 weeks to go!

Love, Chloe xx