Our hen do visit to Dickens’ birthplace was a revelation

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When I told one of my friends I was going on a hen do, she was quite surprised that I knew anyone young enough to not yet be married.

What a perfectly ratty thing to say. Of course I do. I surround myself each day with those younger and more glorious than I purely to steal their luminosity. Or attempt to.

I love hen dos, meeting friends of friends with such varied interests and lives

It turned out to be one of the strangest and most lovely hen dos that I’ve ever attended.

For a start, it ran like clockwork with timings strictly adhered to instead of getting things moving at Pimms o’clock. And secondly, we went to a museum. Charles Dickens’ birthplace, to be precise.

That was a revelation. Who among us has driven by signs at the entrance to the city and thought ‘I really should go there’ and then never bothered? Me for one.

There were so many things to admire about the museum – including (and I loved this), that Charlie boy was born there. The house is also home to the sofa on which he drew his last breath (admittedly not in Portsmouth, but still). These are great bookends to his life.

We were lucky enough to have a talk about Dickens, with quotations that really brought his era to life.

But the best bit for me? The absolute friendliness of the staff, who presented me with a pint of water as I fell off my bike in an overheated mess on arrival.

That was another part of the strangeness. I had elected to cycle around Portsmouth on the hen do as, being rather late leaving home, I’d missed the on-schedule taxis from point a to b – and then had my bike and so had to take it with me to point c while smelling gloriously of a hot afternoon and eight miles in the saddle.

I love hen dos, meeting friends of friends with such varied interests and lives. It makes me feel inadequate and, at the same time, glorious. Because to cope with the inadequacy, I drink far too much Champagne.

I never managed to make it to Gunwharf for the hardcore hennage. But I’d already stolen enough energy to keep me young for a few more months.