Honeymoon Day 5 – Spa Day & Sunshine!

Now I may love Disney & Universal and the craziness that comes with visiting all the parks, but for me there is nothing better than a spa day!

After a much needed sleep in the World’s comfiest beds and full from a buffet breakfast, it was time to head over to the 40,000 sq ft on site spa. Yes it really is that big!

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Matt and I have been to a few spa’s together now but this was definitely the largest. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share with you from the spa day, as we left all phones and cameras back in the room, as we wanted to spend the day relaxing. Sorry!

The staff were welcoming and friendly and there were lots of healthy drinks and snacks dotted around the place to help yourselves to, during the day.

We were shown around the amenities, which included saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, before changing into the fluffiest robes and slippers ready for our treatments.

We waited for our treatments in the calming lounge area, on comfy sofas, whilst listening to the soothing music. It was nice to just relax and have some time away from the theme parks for a while.

We had booked the honeymoon package, so first up was an hour couples massage. Matt and I were in the same treatment room, filled with music and candles and after picking our choice of oils (we both chose differently – Matt’s was a relaxing scent, mine a pick me up) we finally got to relax while having all the stresses and tensions massaged out of us. Pure bliss.

An hour always goes too quickly when you are being pampered. However after the massages we were ushered into our own room, with private Jacuzzi which was filled with rose petals, so romantic and what honeymoons should be about!

When the treatments were over, we were given a private area back in the lounge and enjoyed glasses of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries, yum!

As the weather was so good we decided to take a dip in the spa’s outdoor pool. Again this was lovely and chilled and we made the most of soaking up the sunshine. We were still so stuffed from breakfast, champagne and strawberries that we forgot all about lunch.

That evening we had a dinner reservation at Norman’s which was located inside our hotel. It had been highly recommended and the menu looked delicious.

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After plenty of fried foods we finally got a few vegetables back into our diet 😉

To start we shared the beef tartare and the duo of empanadas – 2 Pork Picadillo and 2 Beef Guisado. My favourite was the pork.

For main course I opted for the pan cooked fillet of Florida Snapper with asparagus spears, Citrus Butter Sauce and “Belly” Of Garlicky Mashed Potatoes, it was so delicious! Matt went for the chef recommended Pork ‘Havana’ with Smokey Plantain Crema, 21 Century Mole, Black Beans-Sweet Corn Salsa and Golden Grits which he said was like nothing he had tasted before, in a good way!

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To celebrate our honeymoon our waiter gave us a couple of glasses of complimentary bubbles which was very lovely of them.

Then finally for desserts we opted for the white chocolate cheesecake with strawberry espuma and blood peach meringue and the trio of sorbet – mango, coconut and pomegranate. I think these are the prettiest desserts I have ever eaten and they were super tasty too!

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A lovely end to a super relaxing, romantic, indulgent day.

Love, Chloe xx

A Surprise Birthday Trip to Iceland – Part 2!

Waking up to this view on your birthday is the best.

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View from our bedroom window at Alda Hotel

I was sad to be leaving Reykjavík behind and our stay at the Alda Hotel in the centre of the city had been great. The rooms were minimalist but full of home comforts, the staff were super friendly and helpful and they had a gorgeous bar area where you could snuggle up by the open fire at the end of the day. The location was also perfect as it was walk able to all the main bars, shops, restaurants, waterfront and bus stop. Everything you could need for your adventure in Iceland.

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After a morning of opening cards, drinking prosecco and enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we decided to take one last walk along the waterfront to take in the views, before getting the bus to the Blue Lagoon.

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Birthday Bubbles!

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Getting the bus is super easy and cheap in Iceland and they all leave from the main bus depot so you don’t have to worry about finding a bus stop.

I was so excited to go to the Blue Lagoon on my birthday, and not only were we going for the afternoon we were also staying the night in their on site hotel. I’m very lucky that Matt actually enjoys visiting spas! I couldn’t wait to get there and see it all in person. Their website looked so sleek and exclusive, I envisioned it being very luxurious and beautiful, especially as it’s one of the 25 wonders of the World.

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The bus dropped us off at the main entrance for the Blue Lagoon, it was busy, very busy! We shouldn’t have been surprised though, as this is probably the most popular tourist spot in Iceland. We thought by arriving at lunchtime things would have calmed down a bit, but that wasn’t the case as it seems people continue to arrive all day.

We made our way to the entrance/ticket area and explained that we were staying at the hotel and asked how we could get there. We were told it was a bit of a walk and so they would get a worker to drop us off in a buggy, great or so we thought. We were made to wait in the tiny entrance area which had a couple of plastic tables and chairs with leaflets about the Blue Lagoon, nothing special or fancy like they had shown on the website, but I still had my high hopes as we hadn’t seen the real thing yet! But we ended up waiting for ages and every time we asked what was happening they would just tell us that someone was coming for us. Wasn’t the best customer service and we were made to feel like it was our fault for not being dropped off at the hotel. Not a great start as we just wanted to be in the Lagoon!

Finally someone collected us in a buggy and took us over to the hotel. Without suitcases we definitely could have walked it but the ground was so uneven (it’s icy lava fields) it would have been a nightmare to drag those along. Feeling a bit happier and that bit closer to the lagoon we made our way to reception for check in. We were greeted with the frostiest receptionist, she didn’t even smile or say anything when I excitedly said we were there for my birthday, it was like she couldn’t care less. It was all very bare and cold and almost felt like a hospital, not a luxurious spa hotel. We saw no other guests and made our way to our room on the ground floor. Again this was very minimalist but we were here for the lagoon and not the room, it’s just a bit odd though when you are used to the homely comforts of spa hotels in the UK, this felt clinical! One positive though was the beautiful views of the surrounding lava fields from our windows and it really did feel like we were the only ones there which I guess is a bonus.

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The lava fields 

I was about to get changed into my swimming costume and robe when I realised that we would have to make our way back over to the Lagoon again! What a palaver. That’s one thing when visiting a spa, I like everything to be under one roof, I hate the one’s where you have to walk outside to get to the spa area or back to your hotel room. It just makes me feel cold and what if it was raining? So we decided to pack our swimming stuff and wear all our layers as remember Iceland is freezing, to walk back over to the main Lagoon, as we didn’t want to risk waiting for a buggy again now we knew where we were going and we had already wasted time.

By staying at the hotel our entry to the Blue Lagoon was already included and we had been given our wristbands for entry. These also acted as a key for our electronic lockers in the changing rooms and you could also use them to buy food and drinks on site. When you leave they scan your wristband and it shows what you owe and you pay for everything then. Pretty clever I thought!

After the adventurous walk, going through the ticket entry system, finding a locker and getting changed, we were finally ready to enter the Blue Lagoon. A geothermal seawater lagoon, featuring three active ingredients, Silica, Algae & Minerals, praised for its numerous benefits and naturally heated to 37-40°C (98-104°F). Bliss!

And bliss it was, all the issues of the day soon melted away and we had a fun, relaxing afternoon. Floating around the huge lagoon, taking in the sights, using the natural blue mud as a face mask and just chilling in this natural wonder. A great place to spend any day but especially a birthday. They even have a bar you can float to!

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We popped back inside the main building to the cafe for a quick bite to eat and afterwards we got to enjoy the lagoon by night, which I think is truly special and something you should definitely do if you are visiting. Most of the day tourists leave by this time, so you get more space to explore. There are coves to find, the waterfall, sauna and steam rooms and even a relaxation area. Matt then told me he had booked us in for an evening water massage, so we had to make our way over to a reserved area, still inside the lagoon.

I had no idea what to expect from an in water massage, having never experienced one before but I was very excited to find out. You lay/float on what looks like a thin yoga mat but you can still feel the warmth of the water beneath you, so you don’t get cold. Occasionally my masseuse would dunk my body (not head) under the water to ensure I was kept warm. Then you are massaged using the Blue Lagoon mineral massage oil for a whole hour. I was laying on my back and that way I got to look up and see all the tiny stars in the clear, black sky above. It was very magical and something I will never forget. The actual massage was great too, just an all round amazing experience.

After feeling thoroughly relaxed we decided to leave the Lagoon and head back to our hotel room, as we had dinner plans that night.

Ladies and gents for that matter, make sure you cover your hair in conditioner before you enter the lagoon otherwise your hair will dry out and be a mess of knots! Especially if you dye/bleach it!

After attempting to sort my hair out. We then got a buggy to Lava Restaurant, which is located back over in the main Blue Lagoon building.

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How cool is this place? It’s built into a lava cliff, with views over the lagoon. As you can see we were pretty much the only people there! Not that we were complaining but it seems that Icelanders don’t eat dinner very late. We found this at every restaurant we visited during our trip, when booking a table for say 8pm they found this very odd and most places actually close quite early, so make sure you check timings when booking or visiting restaurants!

The food here was delicious, beautifully presented and the waiters made a big fuss about it being my birthday. I couldn’t decide between two desserts, so they got the chef to plate both of them on one plate for me, without even asking for it, amazing!

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After an amazing dinner and being the only ones left in the place we decided it was time to head back to our room. But then it hit us, it was pitch black and no buggy available to take us over to the hotel, we would have to walk back by ourselves! We had torches on our phones and there were tiny lights to guide our path, but it took us quite a while to walk the 10 minute usual walk, especially as I was wearing heels! But we finally made it back without any injuries.

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This was our view/path. Very icy!

The next morning we went for breakfast which was inside the hotel, but it was terrible, they say they only serve healthy breakfasts but there were barely any options and in the end we both just had some fruit and left pretty quickly.

Determined to make the most of our last morning in Iceland. We decided to take a dip in the small lagoon pool which was for hotel guests only. This was basically exactly the same as the main Blue Lagoon, just on a much smaller scale and part of the hotel so no walking. It was lovely and very relaxing just floating around all morning. Until sadly we had to quickly change and catch the bus to the airport to fly home.

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I would definitely recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon and Lava Restaurant, but I would only do it as a day trip and continue to stay in Reykjavík. Obviously I am happy we experienced it like we did and we still had a great time, but it was just a shame the hotel was pretty terrible and I felt that the walk between the hotel and Blue Lagoon was pretty unsafe especially at night. I have seen that they are building a new hotel though opening in 2017, so who knows, maybe they will make some good changes?

I absolutely loved my time in Iceland and cannot thank Matt enough for surprising me with the trip.

One day I would love to go back, although Finland might be next on the list for a cold location. I would love to stay in the Ice Hotel and you can try and spot the Northern Lights there too, as that is one thing we didn’t manage to spot in Iceland!

Love, Chloe xx

 

Pennyhill Park Hotel – Spa Day

Pennyhill Park is my favourite spa hotel. OK so I haven’t been to every spa hotel in the World, but I have been to quite a few and this one, in my opinion, is the best.

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Matt and I have been lucky enough to visit Pennyhill a few times now. It’s usually as a Birthday or Valentine’s treat though, as the prices are pretty high. But this time we decided to have a bit of a spur of the moment trip as we had a random Monday off work and decided to book in a spa day.

This was the first time we had visited for an actual ‘spa day’. Our previous visits had been for over night stays, where you get use of the spa/pool area and then we would go back to our room to get ready for dinner and stay the night. So this time would be a bit different when staying just for the day.

We had booked the Couple’s Spa Day and so arrived at 11am to be greeted with welcome smoothies, which are delicious. Fresh fruits and natural yoghurt blended together, in your choice of flavour, we went for the berry boost. We sat in the lounge area and enjoyed these while filling out the obligatory paperwork.

From there we were escorted to the changing rooms. We hadn’t actually used these before as we would usually get changed in our hotel room and head to the spa in our robes. But the changing rooms are very luxurious, filled with lovely products, the fluffiest towels and the biggest rain showers.

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The ladies changing room

Matt and I had our massages scheduled for 11.30am, so dressed in our white fluffy robes and flip flops, we headed straight to the treatment rooms area.

The one hour Swedish massage was pure bliss, the masseuse worked away all my shoulder and neck tension and the oils she used smelt amazing. You can actually buy these afterwards should you wish. The time went far too quickly for my liking, I could have stayed for at least another 3 hours but unfortunately massage time was over and it was time to meet up with Matt and explore some of the other facilities the spa had to offer.

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One of the treatment rooms

We headed straight to the Hydrotherapy pool which is my favourite place to be, you access the pool from the inside but you can swim through to the outside. Its like a large warm bubble bath with experiences, which can be activated by placing your hand over the circular sensors around the edges of the pool. These include jacuzzi jets and showers. It’s so relaxing and after the dreamlike massage I had just received, I felt like I was floating on cloud nine.

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The Hydrotherapy pool

There are waiters and waitresses outside which will happily take your drinks orders and you can sip your drinks while staying in the pool.

If you fancy staying outside there are other areas you can explore including the Open Air Pool (Please note this is only open during the summer months, I don’t think it’s heated but I could be wrong!)

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The Open Air Pool

You can also chill on the sun loungers and sofa’s which are dotted around the outside pool areas. It’s like being on holiday, you feel a million miles away from the real World.

If you want something a little warmer they have recently added three outdoor Canadian Hot Tubs, but unfortunately these are new so we are yet to try them out.

After using the hydrotherapy pool we headed back inside to try out some of the other facilities on offer.

First up the Ice Cave, you’re meant to use this after being in the sauna or steam room to cool your body down (they do have information boards at each facility so you know how or when’s best to use them) The Ice Cave has 2 walls of ice and the ceiling has twinkly lights, like the nights sky. If you are feeling really brave, they have crushed ice to rub over your body. I wasn’t that brave! Being so cold we then hopped into the Sauna. Afterwards Matt dipped his foot into the plunge pool but decided it was far too cold, so we had some water (they have fountains all around the spa areas) before making our way back upstairs for lunch.

Included in our spa day package was a 2 course lunch and glass of bubbles each, at The Themis Restaurant, which is located in the reception/lounge area of the spa.

We stayed in our fluffy robes and flip flops and perused the menu. There are lots of choices and you can be as healthy or as indulgent as you wish. Matt went for the Sirloin steak and I chose the Sea Bass. The food is delicious and really filling, but we did manage to fit in passion fruit cheesecake for dessert! 😉

We felt pretty stuffed and sleepy from lunch and our super relaxed morning, so we decided to chill for a bit in the Tepidarium. After all you should wait at least 30 minutes after food before going swimming. ha. The Tepidarium is a warm room designed for you to relax in, you lay on gently heated ceramic beds, which are shaped to the contours of the body. They have magazines to read or you could take your own book along. It might not look like it but it’s comfortable and very cosy!

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Matt started to get a little bored just lazing around so we decided to take a dip in the inside pool,  known as the Ballroom Pool. It’s heated and even has underwater music, which is pretty cool. Again, they have loungers around the edge for those not wanting to get in.

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They have a hot tub next to the pool, so we used that occasionally too, alternating between the super hot bubbles and relaxing swim in the warm pool.

As ever time flies when you’re having fun so we decided to spend the last part of our day back outside in the Hydrotherapy pool, like I said it’s my favourite spot 🙂

The spa has so many other facilities which we didn’t even use, including, The Experience Showers, Laconiums (a heated room a bit like a sauna I think), steam rooms, massage chairs and Thermal Heaven – eleven rooms of differing temperatures, humidity and aromas.

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I used the huge rain showers in the changing rooms and they are like mini spa’s themselves! The towels are just as fluffy as the robes and they have lots of lovely moisturisers and products you are welcome to use. They even have hair straighteners as well as dryers if you really want to get glammed up before leaving. Not like myself who just left with wet hair!

We left just before 4pm so we could miss the traffic, but I did stop and buy a couple of products from Elemental Herbology in the reception area before leaving. Their Detox Bath Oil is my favourite bath product!!

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Until next time Pennyhill 🙂 x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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