I could feel myself calming down the further away from home I got, and the journey was just over an hour. The laughing started and the cries of “It’s all about you Helen!!” (in joke) began. By the time we arrived, I was ready. Ready to totally embrace what was to come. It would all work out the way it would because there was no other choice. I was going to throw myself into it and maybe my guests would too.
As soon as I opened the door to our stunning venue, I was blown away. Dales Chapel is a beautiful old converted chapel. Based on the pictures I knew it would be lovely but had no idea of the scale to this building. Like children, Helen R, Amanda H and I ran around, trying to find all the bedrooms and discovering endless stairs. This was definitely the right choice of venue. So we unpacked the car……..No wait, we opened a bottle of bubbly then unpacked the car. We had 2 hours before people would be arriving and I wanted to get the place dressed before they got here. Nothing fancy, some balloons, fluff the paper flowers and lay the table.
It was lovely as everybody arrived. They were all as excited as me, all amazed by the house and the space and the plans, all commenting on the little things…….and that’s when I thought that this might actually work…….Honestly, I’m not usually the pessimist!!
Once everyone (barring Ruth and Gill) had arrived, we all went up to get ready into our party clothes. First night was to be a fancy, proper party. My vision had everyone putting the effort in, as if they were going somewhere special. We had to be ready for the whole weekend and our first team had to serve the “Drinks on arrival”…….and oh they did……as we all got ready into our party clothes, Barbara and Sandra got ready into something quite different but completely hysterical…… We drank coffee, ate cake and went shopping?? Haha, I’m sure that last part was pure exhibitionist of all our behalves but we did. We walked 200 metres to the local shop……where nobody batted an eyelid at the 2 maids in waiting and the grown woman in a tutu and tiara…..This town has clearly seen it all before!!
Next up was evening meal. Last minute change of plans meant Helen R was doing this alone……One woman and 13 meals?? Don’t stress it’s Helen R (with a little help from Amanda H, lets not talk about the chopping of carrots!) – she can cope with anything, and she did. As we mulled around, she steamed, boiled and roasted a full roast dinner and it was delicious. Followed by Amanda H’s huge homemade pavlova. We were all stuffed and happy. We spent the next couple of hours playing games at the table, Thumbs being a big hit and the sound of laughter filling what was a huge echoey space when we’d arrived earlier that day. The rest of the evening was taken up by drinking cocktails and laughing into the small hours…….well 3am. Seemed like a good combination to me!
I was up ridiculously early for someone who had been drinking all of the day before. It must have been the excitement. Anyway as I went downstairs at 9ish, the breakfast team had already started…….For the next 2 hours, Gill and Sarah served fruit, pancakes, tea, coffee, muffins, bacon, sausage……the works…..oh apart from hashbrowns (found in the freezer just too late lol) I’m not kidding, this was like being at a buffet in some hotel. After breakfast we all got ready. This was free time, time to split up, go and discover the village, read a book, quiet time. A few of us wandered through the village (me still dressed as a princess) looking at the local shops, some stayed back to enjoy the peace and quiet. The weather was glorious, so when we got back, we sat in the garden. More drinks flowed and more laughing happened.
We were instructed by the Afternoon tea team that we were not allowed in the kitchen (which is effectively the whole downstairs!!) until we were called for. So we all disappeared into our rooms. All my ladies got changed into their Vintage Tea Party clothes. And we waited!
Ruth, Amanda B, Cheryl and Yvonne put on a very traditional afternoon tea. The table was straight out of a vintage tea room, a vintage dinner service kindly donated by Amanda H sat on a table full to bursting with teeny sandwiches, cakes, scones, chocolate strawberries….the works. Three tier cake stands, flowery napkins. Milk bottles filled with flowers. It really was beautiful.
And relax………next planned in was a pamper session. I’d asked everyone to bring something that could be shared or used by everyone. I brought all my nail varnishes, others brought lotions and potions, creams and candles. We all drifted off into our own worlds yet were still all together. Discovering a reflexology book and having Helen R the great masseuse was hilarious. “ooh I can feel that right in my chest” “but squeezing here should relate to your eye Sandra!!” And then the drink started flowing again. Oh and the snacks, cold bacon sandwiches, cheese on toast (thanks Cheryl) and sausage sandwiches. We put a movie on…..less said about that the better lol. And talked and laughed….and laughed…..and laughed till it hurt.
Our last team, Joanne and Lorna were far more relaxed haha, and Im not sure we had room but we managed to make our way through more fruit, pastries, muffins as people prepared to leave.
I really think that it was all the little things that made a difference, all the extra things that we did to make it special. The fact that people wanted to come even though it meant arriving at 10.30pm or cycling across the moors in the wind or knowing they were leaving for a family holiday straight after. I don’t want to miss anything out, but I’m sure I have and I’m also sure that you all have your own memories, little jokes exchanged with your room mate after we’d all gone to bed. I really wanted people to have fun and leave with happy memories and I really think that is what we achieved. I was blown away by the effort everyone put in, the thought that happened before you arrived, the planning, the getting together in your groups. This was not about me (lol), this was about us.
I was going to bed on one of the nights and Lorna stopped me to tell me what a wonderful time she was having. She was beaming and I felt my heart leap, because that was what I’d hoped for, that level of happy. I hope you all felt it, because I know I did.
Thank You Ladies x