William (first date) 1 November

So this was a pretty casually set up date (my favourite kind), I hadn’t been chatting to William for that long, but he suggested to meet as we seemed to have a lot to say.  I think that was being a bit generous; we hadn’t had particularly riveting chat, but we hadn’t been messaging for that long – we’d talked about the usual things, he could string a sentence together, key criteria met.  We’d agreed to meet on a particular evening but he then hadn’t messaged back for several days, so I actually messaged him again (it was his turn to message him) the day before to suggest a place but that if he wanted to re-arrange etc then that would be fine, but he responded apologising for the delay explaining it had been busy at work and agreeing to my suggested location.

Google maps worked out well again – I had just googled somewhere in between where we both lived (another sober date).  But it was a lovely and surprisingly busy place for a Thursday evening.  I feel like I should google map places more often for dinner with friends and family! I hadn’t had any dinner as we were meeting at 7pm so I hoped that this evening might at least provide some starters.

I got there on time, got a drink, from a very friendly barman who set me up a tab, and sat down at a table.  No sign of William.  It got to 7:05 and I thought maybe he wouldn’t show – it’s never happened to me before, but these things  and I’d found a nice pub.  Anyway, 7:06 and he messaged to say that he had just turned up.  He’d come straight from work and was wearing a suit, which meant he looked good but it gave him a slightly formal edge.

He got a drink and we started chatting, we talked quite a lot about work – it was one of those conversations where he talked for a little while about what he did and then I did the same etc, there was some back and forth and when a couple of jokes – when he smiled his whole face lit up, but he also seemed to quite enjoy telling long stories.  He told quite a long story about a weekend away he’d organised, where he’d made enquiries to two accommodation places and both assumed he’d booked them; it wasn’t as funny as it was long.  However, that was the low point and otherwise we spent a nice evening just chatting about life.

Before we met he’d asked me what I was looking for and he had been very open about the fact that he was looking for something serious and I agreed but said that I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to find something serious in a particular timeframe etc (which he agreed was sensible).  Whilst this is a normal conversation to ask, it did mean that I got the feeling (potentially wrongly?) that every answer I gave to a question or information I provided he was sizing me up for a potential long-term investment.  To be fair, he was in a job he enjoyed just about to get a promotion, he’d bought a family house and was looking for that next stage in life.

Again, we didn’t get round to talking about relationship histories (I’ve accepted that it’s just me that wants that conversation to happen – I would think that it’s because I want to get the whole ‘I’ve been married before’ off my chest, but I’ve always wanted to talk about previous relationships – I think it says so much about someone; whether they have the propensity to hold down a relationship, and you can tell a lot about someone from the people they’ve chosen to be with or why it’s ended – though I guess that’s quite a deep conversation for a first date.  Although I did mention that I had previously had a dog, which I no longer had, as a result of a relationship breakdown – I gave a little more context (about the dog, not the relationship) and although it sounds a little weird, it felt good to explain a little about my background.

Anyway, it did get deep – we kept getting drinks (he had two pints, but then luckily swapped to coke, considering the lack of food) and talking about the kinds of things we’d do at the weekend, when he mentioned that he’d spent quite a few weekends back at home recently.  I waited for him to elaborate and it turned out that his mum had been very ill at the beginning of the year and was still recovering.  He was very open about it, the situation was obviously awful and he was dealing with it as best he could.  Obviously all you can do is really agree that it’s horrific, which I did.  However, the worst bit (from a date perspective, obviously the mother’s illness was much worse), was that after he told me all about his mum there was a short lull in the conversation and then he said “so I guess I better get off then”, and so that was it! I drained my drink, we hugged and I went off to settle my tab (I guess he’d been paying for drinks as he went along).  It was a very abrupt ending and I don’t know whether it was because it was getting late (half nine, but it was a school night and I’m sure we were both starving – I was), he was just not in the mood after talking about his mum, or he just thinks it’s normal to end things abruptly…

Anyway, I had a good time, he messaged me the next day to say he’d had a good evening, I replied but nothing more for now, so I guess we’ll wait and see…

Tips for dating:

  • Eat before you go out (I am very bad at this one)
  • If you’re going to tell a very personal story, maybe wait a few minutes before leaving?
  • Think of something vaguely useful to say when someone has some horrendous trauma happening in their life – I’m not sure “that’s tough” really cuts it.
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Ant (date one) 24 October

I had really been looking forward to this date, it had been a while in the planning (e.g. we’d tried to meet the previous week but both been too busy).  Our messages had got so long that we were apologising to each other for taking so long to respond, because we had to have about twenty minutes spare to type out a message – so far so good.  We had quite a lot in common – we both enjoyed singing loudly in the car (on our own), we both had jobs, the important things.

We met at a village pub half way between our respective homes – I and the magic of google had chosen the pub, he had suggested booking in advance and I had suggested there was no need to and we should risk it – risk it we did and we were rewarded by an almost entirely empty but lovely looking pub.  It was a slightly awkward start – because of the length of our messages we had agreed that we should just wait until we met, but that had meant we hadn’t messaged that much in the few days beforehand, but we soon got into the swing of it.  We hugged hello and he smelled amazing and immediately reminded me that I hadn’t put any perfume on.

We had previously agreed that we would get food and so we just sat and chatted the evening away.  He had previously run a marathon, so he was giving me some tips (my first is on Sunday), we talked about jobs and friends and the area and home.  We didn’t talk about previous relationships (am I the only one who wants to do this?), but otherwise we just sort of chatted about everything, including what to do in the zombie apocalypse (he will survive longer than me) and  what our chosen superhero power would be (flying, obviously).  There was laughter, finishing each others sentences, it was all going really well.

He’s not much of a dessert man (apparently), but I managed to ‘bully’ him (his words, not mine) into having a dessert.  The food at the pub was really nice – although because it was really empty I found it slightly awkward as the barman could obviously tell we were on a first date – luckily it wasn’t a really terrible one.

Anyway, it was all going really well until the very end, we asked for the bill and he offered to get it – I offered to split (I feel like that’s fairer in first date situations), but he started to insist and I (jokingly) said that the only way I would let him pay, would be if were going to meet again and then I could pay next time and he said “well I’ve walked into that one haven’t I” – and he said it with a smile, but I suddenly realised that perhaps it wasn’t as funny as I thought and I didn’t know whether he meant that he’d walked into paying for the date, or walked into being forced to have a second date with me… either way I didn’t think it was a good end!

Anyway, we kept chatting after we paid (potentially for the final time?), so it became slightly less awkward and then both agreed we had to go home as we had work in the morning.  We hugged outside and both went our separate ways.  When we got home we messaged each other and he said “really was a lovely evening : )”, which I guess means that I didn’t make a complete fool of myself? Although we’ve only messaged a little bit today and we haven’t mentioned meeting again… I don’t know whether to bite the bullet and ask (I would definitely meet up with him again) or just leave it in his court and see what happens… he’s abroad next week for work so I guess it would be over a week anyway, so perhaps that’s a good reason not to rush.

Tips for dating:

  • It doesn’t matter if you’re sober – don’t make jokes you think are funny without thinking them through
  • Don’t book a pub table mid-week (though I had already known this one)
  • think more about how to survive a zombie apocalypse
  • remember to wear perfume
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Mark (second date) 21 October

So after my first date with Mark I had mixed feelings; I liked the guy but was there any spark? There had been moments on our first date where I really liked him, so when he invited me on a second date, I thought it would be best to go and find out for sure one way or another.

He invited me to an apple fair.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it – I mean sure, I like food and cider, though we would both be driving so only one of those things were applicable. Also, some fairs can be good, others can be a bit of a let down.  He said it had been recommended to him (plus), he hadn’t been himself (minus), he said that it included a man herding geese (you make your own mind up).

So the day arrived and the weather was glorious, warm (a surprise for October) and amazingly sunny.  He had to go and find a cash point so arrived a little late (which I was quite relieved about as it balanced out my lateness from before).  In our time apart he had grown some facial hair… obviously it was limited as it had only been a week and a half, e.g. not a full on beard, but I have a strong aversion to anything beyond stubble (and stubble in so painful, that it’s just not worth it – though if I was only going for facially hair-free men, I’m not sure I would ever ‘match’ with anyone on the dating app, so I make some allowances (I also realise a man can do what he likes with his facial hair and it’s nothing to do with me, but if they also want me to kiss them, I guess it’s their choice what they prioritise – no judgment either way)).  You’ll be relieved to know that I didn’t mention it, but it wasn’t a good start.

So we walked into the apple fair and were waylaid by a dog herding geese – the dog was amazing, it was a dog that would normally herd sheep, but I guess ducks take up less space within an apple fair.  I adore a skilled dog (who doesn’t?) and so we hung around for a bit.  We hung around for quite a bit because just as they put the geese away, and I assumed it was the end, I said ‘gosh, I just really want to know more about how they train the dogs now’, this was promptly followed by the man who owned the dog saying over the microphone ‘and now I’m going to tell you some more about how we train the dogs’, so we both felt obliged to stay.

After the geese came food, hot roast pork roll with apple sauce – for both of us.  Wandered round, saw some owls, a snake, a variety of farm animals, some morris dancers (they are still dancing to the same songs they were 20 years ago, the last time I saw morris dancers), we went into an outbuilding with ‘Bat Cave’ on the door, only to find that it was a children’s art centre.  We ate some more, had a wander round to a Mill that was on the apple fair site.  We basically enjoyed the sights and sounds of the fair.

Unfortunately, whilst the fair was ultimately better than I think either of us could have hoped for, the chemistry was low.  Every so often he would say something hilarious and I would think that maybe I was just being too hard on the rest of him, but ultimately, I just don’t think we have enough in common.  Though he did like food and small fluffy animals, he was keen on the steam engines and when I asked him what he had planned for the week ahead his response was ‘nothing’… nothing?! I can’t remember when I had an entire week where I did nothing, I’m not sure it’s even possible.  Surely at some point he has to get some food shopping or read a book that’s been lying on his shelf or watch a film, play a game, do something.  And even if none of those things applied, though I can’t imagine that being the case, why wouldn’t you say ‘well I don’t have much planned this week, but at the weekend…’ etc – I guess it was reflective of his personality, which is very matter of fact but with a good sense of humour.  It’s nice, I’d have him as a friend, but ultimately, it’s not enough for me.

We also still didn’t speak about past relationships – though I’m left wondering whether he’s ever had one, I mean he must, but I was put off from asking in case the answer was no… I didn’t think it was worth telling him about mine when I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

So I’m still glad I went on the second date, best to know and not to always have wondered – a good first foray into the dating scene for a while, but I hope it’s going to get a whole lot better from here on in.

Things I have learned:

  • apple fairs might be a good venue for a date
  • a good sense of humour doesn’t make up for a lack of personality
  • always check out the jam stall, I find a pot of ginger, pear and apple jam – what a find!
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Mark first date (10 October)

So I had been talking to Mark for a couple of weeks – and half the time he seemed really on my level; intelligent, interesting, funny (even if I say so myself) and the other half the time he seemed slightly odd – just pretty factual and articulate and I sort of wondered if he had slightly autistic traits, but we had lots to talk about and you never know unless you meet up, so when he asked, I thought I should say yes.

We met in an amazing pub, part-way between where we both lived, it’s a collection of houses that have been knocked together and there isn’t a ‘bar’ as such, just a cellar and you ask for drinks at the top of the stairs leading into it.  I had put the wrong postcode in my phone so I turned up 5 minutes late (I had warned him), unfortunately he was still in the car park so got to watch my precarious parking (think slight wheel spin on gravel, followed by about four attempts to re-straighten the car in the space…).  However, he seemed lovely, we hugged and he explained that he was only waiting outside because the pub was made up of these little rooms and so I might never find him if he waiting in there.

We’d both driven so were on non-alcoholic options; as he ordered the drinks he seemed a little nervous and didn’t make eye contact with me and I got a bit worried.  However, this was followed by a lovely evening of chat about lots of different things and plenty of eye contact.

We chatted about the usual things; work, holidays, friends, the criminal justice system (it made sense at the time) and it was really nice.  But every so often he was slightly weird (my spider sense had been correct), not weird, just very slightly awkward, but I couldn’t tell why or what I was picking up on.  I guess maybe I was picking up on the fact that he was a bit of an introvert, but maybe not – it’s difficult to tell on a first date and on a one on one situation with someone.  He was also amazingly good looking, but that made me even more suspicious – he was obviously not a ladies man, but why not (I’ve obviously got more cynical in my old age), he was a bit geeky but nothing out of the ordinary.

Anyway, the only thing we didn’t talk about (maybe on purpose?) was past relationships, which always makes me slightly uncomfortable, but I guess if there’s a next time it’s something for me to bring up.  We stayed for a couple of rounds – until we both had to go home as we had work in the morning and home was a bit of a drive away.  Will there be a next time – who knows, I don’t think I would suggest a second date but if he suggested it I think I would say yes.  We hugged goodbye and have messaged since we got home so maybe there will be a second time.

Things I have learnt:

  • It’s nice to just meet up with people
  • It’s even better when those people are hot
  • Choose places to meet in that you’ve never been to before – this one was excellent

 

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Barney third date (25 November)

So, Barney and I had planned to meet again and go to the glee club. Why, I hear you shout, are you then meeting up with him on Sunday? To be honest – because 9 days was too long to wait!

I had lunch with my friends in Whitchurch and as I was so close to his, picked him up and we headed into town for a drink. Went to peppermint (though the service was embarrassingly slow), before going to the cinema to see the American police film – something watch. Then went to bunkhouse (the hot chocolate had too much Nutella everywhere) and then back to mine for a cup of tea before I far him a lift back to his. Here’s the think though, we just couldn’t shut up, we talked and talked and talked. We discussed religion and the paranormal and family and relationships (though I managed to only slip in that I had lived with one guy, so I’ll have to revisit that topic) and even though I took him back to his at 11 so we’d be home in plenty of time, we then spent an hour talking in the car. Heaven forbid other people try and talk to us whilst we’re talking to each other – they wouldn’t get a word in edge ways.

Seriously, however, I think this blog may be about to get boring again… If we make it past the glee club on thursday then I may suggest love actually for our fourth date – we’ve both said it is a tradition. He’s cooking for me on Thursday too so I might have to sharpen the knives and do something of my own soon after.

We also managed to finally kiss! A success! It obviously went well as I feel as though I am waxing lyrical, so watch this space!

Tips for dating: have lots in common, it really helps!

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Barney second date (19 November)

I had been looking forward to my second date with Barney, partly because other than being quite similar, I couldn’t remember that much about our first date.  The plan was for me to get the train to his so that he could drive me to a mysterious location for dinner (I did text my friend to say that if I went missing it was him).  He had initially suggested an aquarium for our date (I wasn’t too impressed – I’m not that much of a fan), but had changed to the mysterious location the day before.

It ended up that the place was Tintern, home of Tintern Abbey (a gorgeous ruin, which is very close to a forest/famous walk to the ‘devil’s pulpit’ which I had actually done with Ben that summer).  I admitted to having gone to Tintern before, but with a friend! We went to a lovely pub right next to the abbey and the river.

The website had advised Barney to book a table, which we had, but it was raining quite hard and we were one of only two couples in the pub when we arrived.  We sat down, had a drink and ordered and just yakked throughout the night.  It was really nice to just talk – there was still so much to tell each other.  We talked about family and work and what we wanted to achieve in life, we just couldn’t stop.  The food was really good, though unfortunately there was a large mosquito splayed out amongst his tomatoes on the vine.  He sensibly picked it out and put it on the floor – no big complaint, I don’t know if I was impressed or surprised – I think I definitely would have told somebody!

We didn’t have pudding (bits looked quite good, but he isn’t much of a pudding person and there wasn’t anything that stuck out a mile), but we did have a second drink.  I had a crabbie’s and when I asked the bar man for one he raised an eyebrow – is that an unusual drink? Anyway, after our second drink and a lot of chat we decided to get back to Cardiff and go for a cup of tea at shot in the dark.  By the time we got back to Cardiff however, it was already 11 and we though shot might be shut, so I did the natural thing and invited him back to mine for a cup.

He was very complimentary about the place, he is currently living in a shared house because he didn’t know anyone in Cardiff when he first moved here and as a result I think his house is fine, but perhaps not as he would want it.  We had a cup of tea and just kept chatting.  He knew that I had had a bit of a heavy weekend and at midnight said that he should definitely go as he could see that he was keeping me awake.  I was grateful, but at the same time I would have happily chatted for another half an hour.

As a result of living in an apartment block, I had to go down to the car park to let him out and we were chatting for ages by the gate in the car.  I wondered if he was going to kiss me – we had just spoken about the fact that for two dates it was going really well and it wasn’t very often that we met anyone as enthusiastic as ourselves.  However, he just went in for a cheek kiss! The kiss is going to either make or break this man and I don’t think I can wait much longer before I find out if there is anything there.

He has gone back home for the week as he is on holiday, but we have already sorted out next date – Glee club next Thursday – unfortunately it does mean having to wait 9 days to see each other… Ah well.  At least it is a sign that it is going well if I want to see him again and am lamenting the time inbetween.

Tips for dating: if it is going well, I think the second date is a very acceptable date to kiss on at the end.

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Ioan first date (18 November)

I had been talking to Ioan for about three weeks and had resigned myself to the fact that we would never meet up, I had stopped really replying to messages.  However, he text me Sunday evening saying that he had a day off and nothing to do that evening and after a short conversation we agreed a very spontaneous meet up that evening!

I do enjoy doing things on a Sunday evening, so this would have suited me perfectly, if it weren’t the fact that I’d had quite a heavy weekend and was looking to go to bed at around 9pm.  We didn’t meet until 8:30 and had agreed to meet at Chapter – the independent cinema in Cardiff.  I haven’t been for a while because I always get lost on the way there: tonight was no different.  It took me 20 minutes to drive 2 miles because I kept driving the wrong way and then eventually went up a street that wouldn’t let me drive onto the street it was on.  I finally drove into the car park, didn’t realise it was the car park and drove out again.  Only to realise it was the car park and had to reverse 20 metres down a one way street to get back in.

All this while, a guy (who I had assumed to be Ioan) was watching me from outside.  I walked steadily towards him, assuming this was the guy, but there was no recognition in his eyes.  I just carried on walking inside, checked my phone, he had text to say he was waiting outside, went back outside and sort of pointedly stared at him!

He realised soon enough that it was me and we went inside and grabbed a cup of tea, I haven’t been back to Chapter for quite a while and they had done a refurb which was really nice.  Unfortunately, he realised as the evening went on that all his friends from work had decided to come to Chapter, as they work Wednesday to Sunday (something to do with TV) and this was the equivalent of their Sunday.  There were a lot of vaguely embarrassed smiles to about 15 different people.

Other than being interrupted by a lot of people though, we had a really nice time.  I had had to text my Welsh speaking friend earlier that evening to ask how to pronounce his name as it was very Welsh (I had never come across it before) and he was very Welsh but not in an over the top way (as some in the past have been).  His dad was a criminal barrister and he had worked in the crown court for a little while so we prattled on about the law and courts and logic and public speaking and it was just really nice.

I was really knackered and thought that I would bail by 10, but we kept going until they chucked us out of the cafe at 11.  He was interesting and very down to earth and the time passed very quickly.  At 11 I left to go back home and he text me later that evening to say how much he had enjoyed himself.  I responded saying that I had had a brill evening as well, but neither one of us suggested meeting up again (perhaps because the other didn’t suggest it).  It has been a couple of days now, but I guess we’ll see how it goes.  He is on holiday this week, so perhaps he is busy doing something exciting…

Tips for dating: if you think you’re going to get lost on the way to your date location leave plenty of time to get there!

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