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Thursday 6 June 2013

Hen-Tastic House...

Feeling like you need a break but can't afford an expensive hotel and flights abroad? Fear not we have another addition to 3BM's little black book of UK getaways! We've blogged about our top 4 tried and tested properties, written a Mice Advice for unusual escapes, had a guest post on a Scottish retreat and today we bring you a review of the perfect country hideaway for large groups/parties. Believe me, finding a house to rent for more than eight people, not too far from London that doesn't cost an arm and a leg is a challenge!  

The task in hand was to organise a hen weekend for one of my best friends along with her two sisters. We were given clear instructions that it had to be close to Suffolk and not too far from London, sleep a guest list of nineteen and the weekend had to entail some surprises! The hen was swiftly taken off of all emails (much to her annoyance) and off to work we went!  

After weeks of searching, discounting hundreds of options for being located in Devon, Scotland and locations too far afield, and falling in love many times, only to be disappointed when we discovered our dream holiday houses would completely blow our budget, we got within spitting distance of another only to have it snatched away at the last minute by another party! When we were just about ready to throw in the towel, one of the Hen's sisters struck gold...
Scaldbeck House

This beautiful home is set in Morston in Norfolk, a two hour drive from London, less so from Suffolk and a short hop, skip and a jump from the coast. With nine bedrooms, a separate out house (AKA the perfect party house!!) and beautiful interiors, it seemed to be ticking all the boxes. I immediately sent an email to the owner, and waited with bated breath, praying our dates were free and we could all afford to stay...thankfully my prayers were answered and before I knew it, I had us all booked in!

A few months later and we were pulling up to the beautiful residence with a super fun-filled weekend ahead of us. The owner, James, and his wife popped in to see us, explained the BBQ and a few key essentials for the weekend and very kindly left us a scrumptious home-baked lemon drizzle cake and a welcome hamper. We were then left to our own devices with lots of exploring in the 9 amazing bedrooms and wowed by the number of fridges, dishwashers and toasters one house could hold!  

A Sainsburys delivery, some bunting hanging and lots of BBQ marinading later, we were eagerly awaiting our guests' arrival in the outside courtyard, catching some glorious rays with a few glasses of cava! 

The next morning we thought a large plate of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and bucks fizz would ease the hazy heads in the largest of our dining rooms! Although the table didn't seat eighteen we made it work no problem....again there is no shortage of chairs in this house! If that didn't do the trick then the arrival of two beauticians from the local salon
Beauty-Next-the-Sea certainly did!

Bang on time, the girls arrived and set up in the out house - they had thought of everything...massage tables, towels, blankets, assortment of oils to pick from, every nail colour you could wish for, relaxing music and they'd even drawn up a timetable so we knew when to drop by for our pampering slot. The girls were lovely, still friendly and bubbly even after four hours of repetitive treatments and very understanding to a few last minute tweaks in the schedule - a bride's prerogative! They were also an absolute steal with an OPI manicure costing £10, a back massage £19 and an Elemis facial £25!

As we each had our thirty minutes of pure relaxation, us bridesmaids and some helpers were busy preparing an afternoon tea fit for a queen!  

Before you could say Vera Wang, our chef for the night Will Going had arrived (flowers for the table and all) with his waitress Geanette. I would definitely say that hiring a personal chef is a must for anyone organising a weekend for a large group, as it takes the stress and panic out of at least one night. You can truly relax without constantly thinking of timings, quantities and washing up!

A quick change and a G&T later, the door bell rang once again and in walked Chris, a fireman from Cambridge who was our butler in the buff for the next three hours! You can't have a hen weekend without a naked man can you....?!

After much heckling of the butler (and Will the chef for that matter!), we chomped our way through delicious canapes of quails eggs, lamb shoulder with tatziki sauce, asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, smoked salmon on rye bread and honey and mustard sausages from a snazzy bread chest! All the while our butler ensured we were topped up with prosecco, gin cocktails and wine...perfection!

Dinner was just as delicious, we had a menu of pan fried chicken breast with pea and mint puree, herb crushed new potatoes, seasonal veg and a tarragon cream sauce. Followed by a lemon posset for puds...everything was devoured and enjoyed by all!

After waving goodbye to the butler and the chef, we were once again left to our own devices with an abundance of games and wine to amuse us! Its safe to say there were a few sore heads the following morning but without a doubt a great weekend had by all. Thank you Scaldbeck House...we loved you and wish you were our kettle, toaster and dishwasher just doesn't seem enough now?!

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