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Stag party lads find fun in the countryside.

S TAG parties used to be a simple affair. Gather the lads together, add a stripper and drink till you drop.

Grooms-to-be said goodbye to bachelor life with the traditional cocktail of booze, bars and pranks.

But now stag parties are ditching pubs and clubs... for fresh air and exercise.

They are forking out hundreds of pounds and heading to activity centres - with early morning starts and gruelling schedules.

Clive Fowler, aged 33, opted for an activity stag weekend based at the Pengwern Hotel in Shrewsbury.

As best man, the salesman from Erdington, Birmingham, wanted something more than a three-day drinking stint for his pal.

So his group of eight, aged between 27 and 36, rolled up their sleeves for two days of quad biking and clay pigeon shooting.

Clive said: "Friends said why don't we go to Edinburgh? But what do you do on a weekend there - get smashed, then get smashed again.

"It would be just like your average night out, except you go to a few more pubs.

"I love going out and having a few beers with friends, but for a stag do, you want something more special.

"And it was great having an activity weekend - leaving all the organisation to somebody else.

"The weekend in August last year was fantastic - we still talk about it.

"I loved the quad biking - I used to call it pony-trekking for lads. But we got to take the bikes around a farm, across the fields. You pick it up really quickly.

"It was a great setting for the weekend.

"It didn't feel like staying in like a hotel which was good. It was like being at home with your mates.

"We certainly all got a lot more out of it than a boozy weekend away."

Jake Pilbeam, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, spent a weekend at the Halfway House activity centre in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, with a stag party of nine.

The 28-year-old media sales worker, said: "A lot of my friends have got married recently so I've ended up going to loads of stag parties.

"I love drinking and clubbing, but you get to the stage when you think 'not another weekend in Amsterdam'.

"The Halfway House is quite isolated, which was really good.

"My friends live in Bedford, so I don't see them very often, and it was a chance to spend more quality time together, rather than ending up in a bar as usual.

"The groom, Nick Woods, was really pleased with the way everyone turned up and got involved."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 28, 1998
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