If you'd told me that one day I'd be sailing down the Thames, playing Black Jack and Roulette with a glass of rosé in my hand, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's exactly what happened last Friday.
The night itself was sponsored by Ladbrokes. I boarded the boat expecting Ladbrokes bunting everywhere, betting slips, branded food and drink, and maybe access to betting games through an app / iPad. However we were completely surprised by the lack of branding on-board. In fact, if I hadn't already been told the event was in association with Ladbrokes, I definitely wouldn't have known. The only tell tale signs were two Ladbrokes banners - one on the top deck, one on the lower deck. There were a couple of representatives from Ladbrokes there, but they consciously made the effort not to approach us - it wasn't that kind of event. Their aim wasn't to convert or to influence - and no one was pushing us to sign up to anything. They simply wanted to invite out an audience that they normally wouldn't have as much interaction with, and allow us to mix with new people, see the London sights, and have fun. Which is fine by me!
We were welcomed on-board with some fizz and a safety briefing before the boat set sail.
Then outside on the deck, we took a few pictures as the night was drawing in quickly.
We were each given £100 worth of chips to play with in our on-board casino.
The goal being to try and increase your total by as much as possible to win one of three prizes that night.
I won some, I lost some...and repeat. That was pretty much my night in gambling. I temporarily called it quits for a food and rosé break, and discovered that I'd got back to my original total and added a mind blowing(!) £7 to it.
When they announced there were only 5 minutes left of gambling time left, everyone went all in!
On the lower deck there was a finger food buffet which was also vegan and veggie friendly.
... all washed down with plenty of rosé. Pippa was an absolute legend and enquired at the bar if we could have a bottle to share rather than having by the glass, to save us constantly going up and the down the stairs (which on a wibbly wobbly boat isn't the easiest of things!) The lovely people at the bar gave her not one, but three bottles. It went down a treat, and was the perfect drink for the mild weathered evening we had that Friday.
We spent some of the event placing bets (ha!) on who the anonymous Ladbrokes representatives were. As soon as we saw a guy in a red tie we thought: Ladbrokes colouring right there. Turns out he was Magic Pete - the on-board entertainment. We were astounded by the sorcery he did.
For one of his tricks, he made me write my name on a card, fold it up and put it in my mouth. Whereas he wrote his name on another card and put it in his mouth. He came up really, really close so both cards touched (but at no point did my card ever leave my teeth). He then removed his card from his mouth and unfolded it... it was my card. I then checked the card in my mouth, and when I unfolded it... found his card. Freaky.
Just after 11pm, we were called outside as we were approaching Tower Bridge which is extra stunning at night.
As we were nearing Temple pier, the winners of the night were presented with their prizes and we went to the bar for another cheeky wine before we hit the road!
Once moored up, some of the ship's crew kept us entertained whilst we were finishing up the last of our wine.
It was a really fun night and I got to meet lots of lovely people including Lisa, Pippa, Laura, Kim, Bex, Kylie, Katy, Georgina and Lucy. Thanks so much to Ladbrokes and also to Chloe for inviting me!