Last weekend I traveled down south with my fiance for our Dorset stag and hen do’s.
I was born and brought up in Poole, Dorset. I moved up to the Manchester area to go to Salford University in 2001, and have lived up here ever since.
When you consider the beauty of the place, I often get asked why I haven’t moved back home. It’s not quite the idyllic land of farmers and yacht owning millionaires everyone thinks it is.
I remember doing General Studies at 6th Form (which of course is what made me the man I am today – irrelevant). A woman from the police came in and did a presentation about crime crime in the area.
The woman from the police showed us a heat map of the locations of all the burnt out stolen cars in the area. We asked about one particularly large cluster, and was told that was in Turlin Moor, which was less than half a mile from where I lived.
Not a surprise, as I remember regularly seeing burnt out cars on the corner of the road. I used to refer to them as trophies from the ‘Turlin Moor amateur drivers association’.
West Bay – home of ‘Broadchurch’
The landscape is gorgeous though, for that there can be no doubt. I took Sally to see West Bay – the coastal village where they film scenes for ‘Broadchurch’.
A beautiful place, and with almost unseasonably warm and clear weather for the day too. Since the TV show has been aired the number of visitors have risen significantly, because there’s nothing like fictionalised child murder and rape to give tourism a boost!
As I have been away for so long, in many ways it feels strange organising anything I can call my ‘stag do’. I’m not exactly getting the ladzzzz together – I don’t know any.
My Mum rang a few weeks ago with the idea of going bowling on the Sunday with a few guys who are close family friends, and one of their sons.
Not a bad idea, although made almost hilarious when she told me “of course, you will have to be done by 7pm as William has school in the morning.”
In the end though, it was a fun weekend, and I was happy to see the people I do still know from back home.
Watching the mighty Cherries
On Saturday I went to watch AFC Bournemouth. I travel to see most of their northern away matches, but getting a home ticket is a rare treat.
And a treat it was. Beating West Ham 3-2 in a match that involved us missing 2 penalties!
When West Ham came back to equalise with their second goal late in the second half I was crestfallen. But then when Josh King scored the winner in the 90th minute! I can honestly say it was amazing.
It is probably the best premier league match I have seen live for Bournemouth. Outstanding.
I met up with one of my oldest friends after, Stuart, who is a West Ham fan. He was pissed off with, in his view, Bournemouth players diving like Tom Daley.
I did point out though that seeing as they missed both penalties awarded, that probably balanced things out.
In the end, drinking with him and bunch of his mates (with both West Ham and Bournemouth supporters present) everyone agreed it was a brilliant game of football.
My Dorset stag
The close family friends I was talking about was through my Auntie Sandie (not my real auntie – why are they always called Sandie?).
With my parents working hours she often worked as my child minder, covering different days and nights. As such I spent a lot of my time around her family, including her son and daughter who were younger than me, Ele and Tom.
I say they were younger than me, they still are!
It was nice to have Tom and Ele’s partner, Rob, out with me on a couple of nights for drinks.
Friday we went down the Lord Nelson on Poole quay to see a live band – Lady Winwood’s Maggot. A wonderfully rough edged punk-folk band with a tinge of Americana thrown in.
Looking hardened through years of rocking out, they looked every inch what you might expect of a Dorset based group that play, according to their website, ”Death Western’. Great fun.
On Sunday I did have my ‘Dorset stag’. Not bowling, but did do an afternoon thing because everyone had work the next day (and not just school for William!). Lunch at a steak house followed by a pub crawl.
And yes, 7 year old William did join us for a bit, so he could be on the ‘stag do’. After we had had a couple for drinks he was done (lightweight!), so phoned his Mum, who was at our house for knicker making with my fiance (as you do).
They had been out for the proper ‘hen do’ the night before. Went to a a vintage gin bar and also an Italian restaurant for a meal. By all accounts the food had been good, although the service wasn’t great.
I believe it had been along the lines of “is everything ok with your meal? Good, now can you get it down you and f*ck off please?”
The phone was on loud speaker so Ele asked if my Dad wanted picking up as well. After all, he is 83!
We said he was staying out for a bit, to which he looked shocked verging on upset. When asked if that was ok he responded in an almost pleading way “but I want to go home.”
In fairness, we should not have made him have that third tequila slammer. But then, it was his round.
We carried on regardless round the different bars going in to the evening, a good time was had by all.
It was a nice reminder about the connections I do still have in Dorset, about what kinship means. Blood connections are one thing, but family goes beyond that.
When you have people you have known all your life, who have helped raise you, what is that other than family?
That is what I’m looking forward to most about the wedding. I will commit myself to Sally in front of the different strands of our family and friends. From Lancashire, Dorset, Manchester, all over the country.
These people who are integral to who we both are will only ever all be together for one day, and that day is about us. It’s been stressful arranging everything, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.