This weekend was my Stag weekend. I spent it in the Peak District with friends and family, lots of beer, lots of barbequeing, some hungover go-karting and an afternoon of shooting.
Here are some things I learnt this weekend…
1 – A Fridge Full of Beer is a Beautiful Sight
OK, we all knew that already, but there is something strangely satisfying about seeing a fridge so well stocked.
There were 11 of us heading up to Yeaveley on the edge of the Peak District for the weekend which meant that a fair amount of drinking would be done in the Nordic Cabins that we had rented. £30 each was thrown into the beer fund and Gaz, my best man, and I,stopped off at Tesco on the way and filled two trolleys with a variety of beers, lagers, ciders and spirits to keep us all going for the weekend. It’s actually quite surprising how much alcohol £330 will get you. We got more than a few funny looks as we wrestled the over burdened trolleys to the checkout. “Having a party?” asked the cashier. “No mate, just a typical Friday night”.
2 – I Love Log Cabins
We had booked three Nordic style cabins for the weekend, two for sleeping and one BBQ Cabin which was to be our hangout for the weekend where we could do stag-like things such as cook meat and drink beer. The photos on the website had looked great but I was even more impressed when we checked-in and got our keys. The sleeping cabins were basic but clean, warm and functional with eight beds for us to pass out in later.
The star of the show was the BBQ cabin though. The cabin was relatively small (10m) with seating all around the edge with a central firepit/bbq and chimney. The wooden seating was covered with reindeer skins for comfort and the central firepit had shelving around to rest your beers. As far as a places for drinking and socialising around an open fire go, this is just about perfect for me.
Some men have ‘man caves’ at home; a room or shed where they can escape from their lives, wives or family. This bbq cabin is now on my bucket list. It would be incredible to have one of these at the bottom of the garden, and a quick Google search will tell you that although they’re not cheap, it’s a dream that could be within reach one day.
With those dreams aside though, it was time to open a beer and light that fire.
3 – You Will Always be Forced to Drink on your Stag Weekend
I’m 34, and my best man is 35. We have been on hundreds of crazy nights out in our time and spent a good proportion of our late teens and early twenties staggering around in the early hours of the morning, having deep and meaningful conversations about life, mountain biking and music.
When Gaz and I began discussing options for a stag weekend, I stated that I was looking forward to a chilled out weekend, with plenty of beer, some outdoorsy activities and a good laugh with friends and family. Gaz agreed completely and I genuinely thought I was going to get through the weekend unscathed.
About 7:30pm, Gaz burst through the cabin door with a yard long glass full of liquid of a questionable colour. The grin on his face and glint in his eye had all the warning signs that my night was about to change course.
“It’s just beer” he said as he handed me the glass “topped up with toffee vodka”
‘Why, just why, is toffee vodka a thing, and why would you put it with beer’ I thought as I downed the lot.
The glass was quickly refilled and I was forced to drink a second glass.
“It’s your stag weekend mate, did you really think you were getting away with it?”
The truth hit home, that, on his stag weekend a few years before, I was doing the exact same thing to him and he was simply getting revenge.
With the yard glass out of the way, and the toffee vodka making a second appearance as I ran outside to vomit, the lads brought out a board game, known as shot roulette.
Shot roulette is a simple game. 16 shot glasses circle the roulette wheel, each filled with a mixture of neat vodka, whiskey and some sort of sour apple spirit. Each person took a turn against me, they spun and I chose red or black, if I win they drink, if they win I drink. Simple.
What happened next either defies the odds or there was some kind of cheating going on, but, 16 spins in a row saw me on the losing side and drinking shot after shot after shot.
There is no such thing as a relaxing stag weekend. Lesson learnt.
4 – I Cannot Deal with People That Snore
There are two types of people in this world. There are people who get into bed, close their eyes and fall asleep; and there are people who get into bed, ponder their very existence for five minutes, change positions 16 times, replay their whole day in their mind for five minutes, change positions another three times, worry about something entirely trivial that may happen the following day for five minutes, change positions one more time and finally, fall asleep.
I am absolutely the latter, even when heavily intoxicated. Everybody else on the weekend however, seemed to be the former. In a cabin with eight bunk beds and a group of drunken men, there was always going to be some snoring. My plan was to drink enough to sleep through it and try and get to sleep before it started. Within about 45 seconds of getting into my bunk, I knew that my plan was not going to work as two people were snoring already. Seriously, how do people fall asleep in 45 seconds??
I spent a good half an hour trying to get to sleep, trying to mentally block out the sounds of snoring that were now coming from at least three people in the room. I felt genuine sympathy for the wives and girlfriends of whoever it was that was rattling the cabin. According to Michelle, I very occasionally snore, usually when I’ve had a drink, but one little nudge and I’ll stop. I don’t know how people could live with this on a regular basis.
I pictured a lot of things when thinking about my stag weekend, but I didn’t imagine that at 4am I would be drunkenly staggering across the fields of the Yeaveley Estate, making my way back to the BBQ cabin to try and find a quieter spot to sleep. The fire had died down by this point but the reindeer skins would be all I needed to get comfortable as I sprawled across the benches and finally went to sleep.
5 – Hangovers and Go-Karting Don’t Mix
Surprisingly, I wasn’t the most hungover person in the morning. That prize went to my brother, Dave, who spent the whole morning wandering around the fields bent double and vomiting.
The rest of us perked up after we had a breakfast of sausage sandwiches and a few cups of coffee. As we made our way to the Go-Karting venue everyone seemed to be shaping up pretty well after a heavy night.
After a fairly lengthy delay due to a mix up at the racetrack, we finally got kitted up and ready to race. As the stag, I was given a bright pink race suit and helmet so there would be no mistaking me as we went around the track. After a couple of practice laps we were organised into grid positions and then began racing. The karts were loads of fun and I was enjoying pushing the limits in the corners and on more than a few occasions I spun off. I was surprised at how strenuous it was to race around the track, it was a case of wrestling the steering wheel to get around the corners rather that the easy, light steering that I was expecting. I was trying to stay competitive, but I had no idea how I was doing in the race positions. I had been overtaken a few times but had also overtaken a few karts myself. It was difficult to gauge and I had no idea who was who.
The stewards flagged to us all to head back into the pit lanes, we would be having a 15 minutes break and then heading back out. As I pulled into the pit lane I could see that my Dad and brother were already sat with a drink and out of their gear. The hangovers were kicking in it seemed as they had both had to pull in early as they were feeling so sick. “It’s the petrol fumes” they said. Nobody believed them.
We were all soon underway again but after just a few more laps I could see several of the karts pulling into the pit lanes. It was too much for them with the hangovers getting worse as we went on. My Dad, who had been doing Vodka shots the night before for what I expect to be the first time in his life, was feeling so unwell that he had raced back into the pits, genuinely concerned that he was going to vomit inside his helmet. What a sight that would have been.
I came fifth in the race standings, a pretty poor result considering most people dropped out before the end, but it had been great fun, even with the hangovers.
6 – I’m Not Very Good at Archery
In the afternoon when we had all recovered slightly and had some lunch, we headed back to the Yeaveley Estate for a couple of hours of shooting and archery. We were split into two groups, with half shooting air rifles and the other half shooting arrows.
Working at a castle which has such a history and connection with the bow and arrow, I fancied myself as an archer more than a marksman. Having watched the archery demonstrations at the castle on dozens of occasions I had decided that it looked fairly easy and I was determined that I would pick it up in no time. However, I quickly discovered that archery requires a whole range of techniques and shooting just requires a good aim. It’s fair to say that I wasn’t great at archery but was pretty impressed with my Dad’s skills as he started consistently hitting the target while shouting something about killing orcs from Lord of the Rings.
I was pretty good with the rifle though and ended up spending the majority of my time on that side of the field, hitting the small metal targets that were laid out for us.
After a couple of hours we were all ready to head back to the cabins for a few beers, and then it would be onto the pub for a few more beers.
Stag weekend booked through Hard Days Knight
For more information on the Nordic Cabins at the Yeaveley Estate click HERE