A hen weekend at Bankground Farm, Coniston


Words can't express how tired I feel! Tired but happy. It's been a whirlwind the last few days. Lots of last minute preparations, costumes to make and buffet contributions to put together. I left Leeds on Friday afternoon and drove around long, twisting and hilly roads all the way to the Lake District. I got a little lost and at one point wondered where the heck the lakes were as I could see nothing but forest and hills and no actual water! But eventually I made it to the most stunning location of Coniston to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of my beautiful cousin, Anna. I've never been on a hen weekend, and I suppose I was a bit nervous of what to expect. But I was lucky to be in the company of an amazing bunch of women -  funny, clever, interesting and so very creative.

We were staying at Bank Ground Farm on the north east shore of Coniston Water. The farm house is best known as 'Holly Howe' the name given to it by Arthur Ransome as the setting for the home of the Walker children in his novel, Swallows and Amazons. It is visually stunning, a beautiful 15th century building that commands inspirational views of the lake, Coniston Village and the Lake District fells. From my bedroom window I could see the snowy peaks of the Old Man of Coniston. I had camped in Coniston once before but it was twenty years ago and I couldn't really remember anything of it other that it rained the entire time I was there!  So it all felt completely new to me and I fell in love with the hills, the skies and the rugged landscape. I'm eager to return in the summer to explore the area more.

The idea was for us to enjoy some hiking, kayaking or mountain biking. Sadly, gale force winds and heavy rain put a stop to those plans. But it didn't stop us taking in some breathtaking scenery, country walks and dreams of living in idyllic rustic cottages. And there was a very long visit to the Black Bull pub to sample the local ale where we sat in the sunshine until the skies opened and we were pelted with hail stones.

Ultimately we were there to give my cousin a hen weekend that she would treasure forever. Her Mum and Sister created a Madhatter's Tea Party on the Saturday evening and it was a complete surprise for Anna, who was given the role of Alice. Everyone dressed as a character from the story and fully embraced the occasion. There was prosecco served in mismatched vintage china cups, cakes and sweets galore, dainty sandwiches and the most spectacular table decorations. They also created an enormous pinata shaped like a teapot which took one hell of a battering before it burst open. My Aunt and cousin did an incredible job of creating an evening and weekend that we will never forget.

Sunday was a day of recuperation. Hangover food, flopping on sofas, many glasses of irn bru (we are mostly Scottish, so the two go hand in hand!) and blustery walks to the waterside. We left on Monday morning exhausted and looking forward to celebrating the wedding in May.

These are the photographs that I love the most from the weekend. I was desperate to get out with my camera and iPhone and shoot the house and the landscape but didn't have a lot of time to really get out there and explore. I know when I return I'll take many more. There were also a lot of photographs taken of the actual tea party but all done with shaky hands after drinking a lot of French Martinis (my new favourite tipple) so they are a bit on the blurry side. It did get a little rowdy, so some of the pictures are definitely not so pretty either. I'm not sharing them on here! (Just in case you were thinking this all looked a bit too perfect!) 

And I really wanted to share the print that I bought for Anna, made by the super talented 

Jen Roffe

. I love it and Anna did too. x