Although we had two free first class tickets, we decided to take the train which had no first class seating.
I won’t bore you with why we had the free tickets, but I will say that we chose to go to Cardiff the scenic route thus swapping (mild) train luxury for scenery.
The shame was that the best beloved slept through most of it – missing the White Horse etched on the hill, the great view of Bath, the pretty fields and sweeping countryside etc etc etc.
Anyway, partway through this journey we were joined by a stag party on their way too to Cardiff.
They weren’t wild, foul mouthed, pissed as skunks but they were loud – though even they couldn’t walk the BB from his happy slumber.
I was, at this point, thinking that taking the other route complete with peaceful first class carriages might have been the better idea.
Later I was to find out that Cardiff was packed with Hens and Stags.
In my day, they used to come to Cardiff from the valleys for a night out before the wedding, get very drunk, probably have a row, and go home – all on the same day.
Now they make a weekend of it and come from all sorts of places.
My sister tells me the same is true of York.
When someone (bizarrely it seemed to me,) donated a pink cowboy hat to the Petersfield Oxfam bookshop, she told me you could see about 150 of those in York on any Saturday afternoon.
Back in Cardiff, we bumped into a hen night in the pub opposite our hotel – one of those not gentrified in the changed cityscape.
There was a dedicated afternoon disco room and everyone had a sash saying who they were: mother of the groom, bridesmaid, cousin of the bride, groom’s previous lover – no, of course not the last one.
But in the bar were two nice men who I talked to about the changes since I lived there.
My BB said that I spent the whole weekend going up to complete strangers and saying, ‘Hello, I used to live here you know. ‘ He was pretty much spot on.
But the proliferation of stags and hens reminded my of the Big Chill.
My BB’s children gave us tickets to the festival as a birthday present and we went.
Luckily it was within a few miles of my mum’s house so we had showers, food, toilets etc etc within easy reach – we are not bring-it-all-on-we-don’t-need-anything-but-a-hole-in-the-ground-and-some-music types.
Anyway, we pitched out tent next to a circle of tents full of (not surprisingly,) young people and then after setting it all up realised we were just by the entrance to the main arena.
Despite these very nice young people telling us that all would be well and they would ensure we had a lovely time, we picked up the erected tent and moved it down the hill.
Settling on a nice spot a long way from the arena and sitting outside on a lovely evening, we watched as the space next to us filled with young men all with pup tents.
Being the sociable one of the two of us, I engaged them in friendly festival conversation and found out they were there on a stag weekend.
The idea of upping sticks, or erected tent, and moving again was just too much like hard work and if all else failed, my mum was only a few miles away.
But do you know what, it was delightful.
Of course, we didn’t stay up all night helped by various illicit substances though we did have an encounter with a dental nurse from Bristol who was dressed in a large white fluffy dressing gown beneath which she had secreted the bladder of a box of white wine and she was very generous with it.
And the stag group next door were quiet as mice.
The next day I got up early, as is my wont, and went in search of sustenance.
I presumed nothing would be open but hey, of course, some people were just coming home as it were.
To my surprise, the groom-to-be was also awake and he and I strolled up the hill to find tea and bacon sandwiches.
We did that every morning.
He told me that he had promised his wife-to-be that he would be good, so he had decided two pints of cider a day was all he would have, and he always liked early mornings not least because you met people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.
I thought she was a lucky woman to have found him – I am not sure I would say that of all the brides-to-be whose grooms-to-be were in Cardiff last weekend.