Friday, 14 December 2012

A London Girl's Guide to Dating in London

Think you’ve done it all when it comes to dating in London? Of course you haven’t! If like me you’ve been on a trillion and one dates in London town and get bored of the conventional pub dates – why not impress them with your knowledge of some of London’s more different spots...

The messy date

@ Burger and Lobster

Bib – check. Lobster flying across the room – check.

If you’re more ‘prim and proper’ when it comes to food than ‘getting stuck in’ for fear of looking silly in front of your date then STOP and avoid this date at all costs – because things are about to get a little bit messy!

Lobster can never be eaten without a bib – and Burger and Lobster proves this fact. Pick a date who won’t judge you, blindfold them so they can’t see how messy you are or if all else fails just take your Mum.

Burger and Lobster is ideal for a sneaky lunch date or a fun second date where you can really get to know each other. They’re probably not going to fall ridiculously in love with you just because of this place, but just look on the bright side - at least you won’t go hungry!

The ‘doing’ date

@ London Zoo

If a ‘doing date’ is your bag and your memories of London zoo consist of getting lost on a school trip, then it’s time to make some better ones.

Roam around London’s best known zoo, while you flirt with your date and quiz each other on all those important date questions – like ‘why do giraffes have such long necks?’ and ‘why are zebras so stripey?’ or maybe something more intellectual. Pack a flask, some sandwiches with the crusts cut off* and voila you have yourself the perfect little date.

*Just don’t go near the monkeys with those sandwiches

The wine lovers’ date

@ Vinopolis

What better way to find out if your date prefers a South African red or a Chilean white while you chat the night away than at a wine tasting session? You’ll both be wine connoisseurs by the end – you’ll learn how to smell, taste and appreciate the wine, and the most important part – the poshest way to hold your wine glass!

And even if the date doesn’t work out at least you’ve got something to take away with you – a transferable skill. Then sit back as you wow your next date, add ‘wine tasting’ to your list of hobbies, or just impress everyone at that next party with your amazing wine knowledge.

The ‘not for the faint-hearted’ date

@ Dans le noir

How brave are you? Could you sit in a darkened room with the potential ‘one’ not knowing what you’re eating? Nope, it’s not some sort of bush tucker trial – welcome to Dans le Noir, a restaurant where you’ll be plunged into darkness and the blind waiters will be the only people guiding you! Yep it’s as weird as it sounds, but in a cool way.

As you enter, choose from three menus – vegetarian, meat or the scariest ‘surprise’ menu, then wince as you’re lead into complete darkness (think Thorpe Park on Halloween) while you imagine if your date has a) done a runner b) spilt wine down themselves yet or c) realised you’ve abolished all your table manners and started eating with your hands.

Just check your date doesn’t have a fear of the dark first.

The ‘cute and cosy’ date

@ Gordon’s wine bar

If your aim is to impress, then head to this little hidden gem, right near Embankment. You’ll be greeted with a movie-esque scene - underground cave ceilings, French style set up and a candlelit atmosphere.

Bask in the snugness while you share a bottle of wine and wonder if you’re in some sort of rom-com with Jude Law (sadly no movie stars will be provided). Great if you’re looking for brownie points, want to eat cheese all evening (they have a deli counter) or just if you’ve had enough of London’s ridiculously cold temperatures. 

Originally written for UK

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Has modern technology made us lazy daters?

I recently realised why modern technology is turning me, and probably quite a few other women insane, it’s making men lazy, especially when it comes to dating.

I recently came out of what I can only describe as a ‘text message based’ relationship.

He text me to ask me out, he text to tell me he’d had a great time, he text me to wish me a happy Valentines (yes a card would have worked)… fact I don’t think I even heard his phone voice until he was drunk and he probably phoned me by accident.

And if any of you know me you’ll know I’m not exactly a technophobe, I’m glued to my phone like a chocoholic who’s lost her Mars bar, but when it comes to something big like cancelling on someone, or even breaking up with them, surely a text message isn’t sufficient?

‘Sorry but can we re-arrange our date tonight?’ was the text message I received from him, on a SATURDAY night, just three hours before he was supposed to see me. Before text messaging was invented a guy probably would have phoned a girl and sweet talked her before saying ‘Hey, so I know I was going to see you tonight, but is it okay if I go out with the boys instead?’ Now all we get is a lazy text telling us we’ve been stood up – not really the stuff of fairytales, is it?

This really should have been a big sign that I should get out now, go, run, leave, or just you'know dump him, but no I lived through at least another 6 weeks or torturous bad text message usage from him.

And it isn’t just Mr ‘text message’ who is guilty of this – I’ve been wooed by all sorts of social media – a quick poke on facebook, a couple of flirty tweets and lots of ‘internet’ winking – is this really all they’ve got? These forms of communicating were made to make it easy, but men seem to have got the wrong end of the stick – they think they don’t need to communicate with us in the real world, because in the land of twitter, emails and text message the relationship is fine, when really it’s anything but.

And when they do actually make the effort to reach out, behind the window of modern technology, we’re usually so bewildered it knocks us for six. I gasped when a friend told me about a guy she’d JUST met that actually phoned her to ask her out. I wasn’t sure if I was scared by the prospect of speaking to a guy on the phone before an actual date, or just so shell shocked that he’d actually been able to pick up the phone and use it for its main purpose.

And I may not have minded if ‘text message’ guy’s texts had been anything but dull. I could have put up with a text message based relationship if he’d had me in stitches from the word ‘hi’ or even ‘sext’ me occasionally – but he never, ever did. It was like he’d read a book entitled ‘how to lose friends and alienate dates….by text message!’

And while this one seemed to keep it short and sweet, with I may add NO kisses to signal the end of his texts, (isn’t that just a crime against all humanity when it comes to texting?!) another guy I dated sent text messages like he was sending me an essay on his life – whenever his name popped up in my inbox I would be delighted, only to be bored by the third paragraph of him detailing his day of ironing, hoovering and washing his pants!

The last straw with Mr ‘text message’ was a text explaining why he hadn’t been in touch for three days, ‘Sorry, I was on a two day bender with my friends!’. I was so mad at that poor little text I just had to delete it before I smashed my phone into a billion little pieces. There was no ‘I’ll make it up to you’ phone call – just a lazy text message which signalled the end to me putting up with Mr ‘text message’.

The funniest thing was when I broke up with him (not over text message) I didn’t even get a text to say goodbye – now that is lazy!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Loves and Life of a London girl in a magazine....

I recently appeared in Look magazine....talking about how fabulous being single is!!

Loves and Life of a London girl speaks......

I recently shared the stage with Comedian Richard Herring and gossip blogger Perez Hilton, at the First Direct Festival to talk about my dating life! Thankfully I got a few laughs.......

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The good, the bad and the famous.....

‘Would you like to speed date on top of the Sydney Harbour bridge?’ the email said. It was closing in on valentine’s day, this year, when I was based in Sydney. Yes I was single, no I didn’t have any particular plans, but did I want to scale a bridge to find love? Well, not really no.

But that didn’t stop me considering it, ‘What if the Australian hunk I’ve been looking for is up there?’ I said to my flatmate. ‘You hate speed dating, you’re not that great with heights – is it worth it?’ she replied. Sure I could have fainted up there, suffered from a panic attack and been stumped with a load of losers with no get out clause, but what if I was missing out on Mr Right by turning it down? They say dating is all about being outside your comfort zone, but this was pushing it way past any sort of zone I’d found myself in before.

The problem is that dating today is so complicated – if we’re not logged on to at least 5 dating websites, if we haven’t chatted up a man in our local supermarket or re read the rules for the billionth time then we’re made to feel like dating failures. The same goes with dating events – today just plain old speed dating is so ‘old school’. If you haven’t spent the best part of an evening abusing your date at speed hating, doing your best Picasso impression at doodle dating or sweating your socks off at fitness dating then how, oh how, will you ever meet a man?

I surprisingly found myself saying no to speed dating on top of the Sydney harbour bridge, even though according to stats, over the last 12 years, 4,000 couples have become engaged whilst climbing the bridge. Yes, I could be engaged by now. So when I got home of course I had to say a big fat yes to every other dating opportunity that came my way.

First up was speed dating karaoke. Yep I had to do my best warbling impression to impress a guy. I loved karaoke and dating, seperately, but I wasn’t sure if I’d like the two together. I was totally wrong, the thing with karaoke is it attracts confident men i.e. loser/shy guys need not apply. But while my friend got matched with four guys, yes FOUR, I ended up with NO matches. Was my singing voice that bad? Obviously. I decided that applying for this year’s X factor probably wasn’t a good idea.

Then I was asked to date a fellow dating/burrito blogger. He’d been writing a blog for the last year, and having won a burrito meal once a week for a year he thought he’d incorporate it into finding a girlfriend. Now the first qualm was of course being blogged about. What if he hated me? What if he said mean things? Would I be getting a nasty taste of my own medicine?

Thankfully he blogged nice things about me. But being his last date after one year of dating a girl every week he seemed like more of a pro than me and was obviously bored of dating. So after a burrito and a couple of drinks - 2 hours later and he was waving goodbye to me! Really? Had I eaten my burrito the wrong way? Was he just dating me so he could, shock horror, write about me? I felt so used!

Then there was the zoo. No, I didn’t have to speed date with the monkeys, it was actually my choice of date after meeting a guy on dating website Doing Something. I’m not sure why I thought the zoo would be cool as a first date, but I would advise against it – unless the meerkats are offering you a glass of wine, that is. I felt like I was on a school trip, while I feigned an interest in the next animal I was wondering where the nearest bar was.

I also said yes to dating a guy from twitter recently. Now, my normal rule is that I don’t date guys from the social networking world. It can all get a bit well ‘weird and complicated’ when a first date doesn’t work out. But call me shallow - he was verging on the slightly ‘famous side’ – or maybe it was his ex girlfriends that were the famous ones....sorry I forget.

Anyway, after months of him asking me out and never actually setting a date we finally met for a few drinks in Covent Garden. He was a nice guy and I actually quite liked him, but he did have a tendency to talk about his exes. It’s normally weird to talk about exes on a first date anyway, never mind exes who are famous, and that are readily available to view on google. They were singers, glamour models and TV presenters. I unfollowed him on twitter a few weeks later.

To be honest with you even though I’m up for new dating concepts, I really like the old way of meeting men. My mum met my dad in the pub, my grandma met my grandad while out riding her bicycle. It just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, telling your kids you met while daddy was ‘trying’ to buy his weekly shop and mummy chased him round the fruit and vegetable aisle until he gave in and decided to date the ‘supermarket nutter’.

Sometimes I wish for a simpler dating life. But until then I suppose I’ll have to explore the weird and wonderful - Next? Well let’s just say I won’t be able to see my date until they turn the lights on 2 hours later – no doubt I’ll have the contents of my dinner down my outfit, so he’ll probably run a million miles. Wish me luck.....

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Something borrowed....

I thought there was something vaguely familiar about my friends latest date but couldn’t quite put my finger on it! Then I realised, yes that was it, I’d dated him once.

‘You just don’t buy the same clothes as each other’, my friend said to me last year as we both turned up to the gym in the same top, and frankly looked a bit silly side by side on the cross trainers. ‘It’s an unwritten rule,’ she carried on with, ‘no the unwritten rule is that you don’t date a friend’s ex’ I said to her, ‘if you like the top, you buy the top’.

So when the same friend asked me if she could date one of my exes recently I really had hoped she was joking. ‘But he winked at me,’ she argued. Not in person of course, in the good old world of online dating, where you can wink at hundreds of strangers all night and not even get eye ache. ‘So am I allowed to wink back,’ she’d asked?

He wasn’t technically an ex – I’d had a brief two month ‘fling’ with him but in his trail of destruction he’d left me wondering ‘what if?’ – I ended up stressing and questioning about every last detail of our encounters over the next year – did he still like me? Should I ask him out again? What did that last message mean? You could say I was a little bit hung up on him.

‘I suppose you still like him’, she’d said, giving me a reason to why I stated in very loud and clear language as to why she couldn’t date him. But it wasn’t even that. I was over him, okay maybe not totally – but when you have a history with someone isn’t that enough reason to stop a friend from dating them? Apparently not.

So have the rules about dating a friends ex changed, or been slightly altered and no one told me about it? According to my friends, if you decided you no longer wanted to be with them and tossed them back out into the ‘single wilderness’ then your friends are free to roam around with them too. But what does that extend to - someone you went on a few dates with, a six month relationship, a marriage?

I’m not very good at sharing my wine, let alone men I’ve dated. But maybe this where I’ve been going wrong all along - should I have been waiting in the wings as my friends shed tears about their latest break up? And should I be setting up all my friends with guys that just didn’t quite do it for me? I’m not sure if it’s a slightly weird or sensible ‘dating’ strategy.

In reality dating one of your friend’s exes probably isn’t such a hot idea. No doubt it will come back to haunt both of you. Just like the time the school heart throb asked me out, when I was 14. The problem? He’d just dumped my sister. Of course I couldn’t date him, it would just be cruel, right? ‘It’s fine,’ my sister had said, ‘he obviously likes you more’. So against my better judgement I started to date him. But of course it wasn’t okay for me to date him. What sane individual is okay with you dating someone that has literally just dumped them. I blame the school heart throb. My sister will probably ALWAYS hold it against me.

And what are the rules if your friend actually starts dating an ex? Are you allowed to compare notes? Are they allowed to reveal to you his reasons for breaking up with you? Will there be a point where you’ll have to stick your fingers in your ears and hope she doesn’t reveal too much information?

And what if the roles were reversed? ‘I’d be fine about you dating ones of my exes,’ my friend had said - but would she really? What would her reaction be if I walked into a bar tomorrow with her ex on my arm, the one she has two years history with, the one she used to moan to me about and yes the one she’d got naked with on a regular basis. Would she squirm as I talked about sex with him, would she say ‘I told you so’ when I moaned about his habits and would she ultimately secretly hold a deep desire to smack me round the face and say ‘put down my ex and find your own man’?

My friend never did date ‘that’ ex. She did date another one though, one which I’d thrown out into the dating wilderness after only three dates. I tried to pretend I was okay with it – I mean its selfish to stop two people dating isn’t it? Even if his last date had been you. Yes, like I said, I’m not very good at sharing – I’ll just make sure to drink all HER wine next time she’s not looking!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I now pronounce you......single!

Everyone loves a good wedding. And its’ even more fun when you’re single. ­Will there be any hot ushers? Will the bride (or groom) suddenly decide they can’t make that type of commitment and not turn up? And will nosey family members ever realise it’s not polite to ask a single girl where her boyfriend is?!

But when it’s someone closest to you saying the ‘I do’s’ it goes into that slightly scary territory. So when my twin sister screamed down the phone last February, ‘I’m engaged,’ I momentarily went into shock. She was what? But, she can’t be, she’s only been dating him, oh yes - two and a half years. I was speechless, as well as being my twin sister – she’s my best friend and she was engaged while I was still single.

Of course I was happy for her – her boyfriend (sorry, now husband!) is not only one of her better choices of boyfriends in the last few years but also quite a decent guy. And after the amount of love rats, losers and downright idiots she’s dated I’m pleased she’s found a guy I know will look after her.

But being the ‘single’ twin sister of a girl who was getting married, and with my other sister bordering on marriage territory I of course had to put up with the concerns of family and friends about my single status. Cue tilted heads and sympathy voices saying - ‘Are you okay?’ poor you - I bet you just want to go and hide under a duvet don’t you?’ and ‘Aww I bet you feel a bit left on the shelf?’ Erm, no actually. Sorry, for a moment I actually thought it was my sister who had got engaged, not a celebration of my spinsterhood?!

And then it made me wonder - was that just a warm up before the big day? Would I have great Aunt Gertrude enquiring about my lesbian girlfriend while we ate canapes? A letchy old uncle asking to dance with me ‘just’ because he feels sorry for me, or the ultimate embarrassment - my future brother in law auctioning ‘the single sister’ off to the highest bidder – while he does his wedding speech!

And it’s not that I am in any way ready to get married, (I keep reminding people that I actually need to date someone for more than three dates, at least, before I should consider marriage) but I suppose, being her twin, I’d envisaged us two getting married at the same time. And if my Mum had had anything to do with it, we would have married twin brothers, and have a brood full of twin babies by now (sorry Mum!).

And when I’m invited to other weddings I do wonder why friends bother to give me a plus one. They really should know better by now, or do they hope, beyond hope, that I’ll have a man by the time their wedding comes around? At least my sister was honest with her invite, when I asked her why I didn’t get a plus one she piped up with ‘you won’t have a boyfriend by then’ and laughed at even the thought of it!

Before my sister’s wedding I was thinking about maybe making up a boyfriend. Well desperate times call for desperate measures and all. My best line was going to be that my ‘boyfriend’ really wanted to make it but had been offered a modelling shoot in Milan and he really couldn’t let Versace down ......again.

Thankfully the wedding went smoothly - the day was lovely, the bride looked gorgeous, the groom didn’t even utter the words single or Sarah in the same sentence, and no one knew of any reason why the two of them couldn’t be joined in matrimony (aka me – ‘No you can’t steal my sister from me’). And amazingly I was only asked once if I had a boyfriend, well along with the usual sympathy sighs I got for being the ‘only’ single bridesmaid of course! And if my sisters now mother-in-law has anything to do with it I’ll probably be married in no time – she was trying to set me up with every guy who came within a two-step radius to me.

But seriously I wonder if I’ll ever be ready to get married? (i.e not scared shitless about the whole prospect). I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much, at least I’m not over the hill quite yet – I still have a few years to meet someone, settle down and plead with them to marry me before I’m officially labelled as a spinster. But until then maybe I’ll have to up my internet dating habit by say 500%, speed date my way into the Guinness book of world records, or just poke a couple of randoms on facebook – surely if my sister can find a husband that way then it can work for me. No?! Erm...anyone up for some twirting? (That’s twitter flirting for you non twitter people).


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