Anyone who has ever been on safari, or watched Disney’s The Lion King, is aware of the importance of the waterhole. But if the savannah proves too gritty and Disney too gimmicky, you only need to look out your window into the London social scene.

“Have a drink”, we cry, as our guests’ feet barely brush our threshold. We grab their coats while brandishing an already boiling kettle and knocking them out with a bottle of whatever Sainsbury’s own vintage we have cowering in the fridge.

…the likelihood is towards breaking the ice with something strong over ice…

“My round!” we scream at the pub, as we triumphantly sumo wrestle our way to the bar, then pour our trappings down our comrades’ throats and shirts like a mother bird hoping her nest is up for a really good time.

Perhaps it’s little surprise then that when it comes to a first date, the likelihood is towards breaking the ice with something strong over ice, than a cup of tea and a chat.

“There’s a simple formula to remember when it comes to dating and alcohol…

Yet, here’s a caveat from dating site e-harmony.com: Getting Drunk – A Real Bad Date Idea. “There’s a simple formula to remember when it comes to dating and alcohol. (A+SA)2=B10: (Alcohol + Sexual Attraction) x 2 People = An Exponentially Bad Decision”

A sobering thought. So here are a few surprisingly un-dry teetotal ideas for a first date:

 

Do like Dr. Doolittle

And walk with the animals. Talk with the animals. At worst, it’s a pleasant alternative to walking in a straight line (and unceremoniously failing) or talking to a complete stranger at pub closing time about your favourite childhood snuggle blanket. At best, mingling with the animal kingdom may unleash a bout of animalistic primal instincts, normally only brought on by, well, a stiff drink or two.

The London Zoo, cocooned in the sprawling beauty of Regent’s Park, is a well travelled hunting ground for dating couples. Or for a slightly more remote, and wallet friendly version, venture to the lesser known Battersea Park Zoo, maintained by conservationist family The Heaps (entrance fee £6.50) A Scotch on the rocks is a paltry second to the warm fuzzy feeling cuddling a pygmy goat on a cold winter’s afternoon can give you.

 

Cook up a Storm

Cooking to impress is always a sure-fire way to get temperatures rising and salivary glands tingling. That is, if you’re a culinary genius. If, however, your idea of preparing an adventurous meal veers more towards determinedly stabbing the cling film cover of a Marks and Spencer ready meal, then L’atelier des Chefs, a French gastronomic school that has settled in the heart of London, is here to make sure that the only blood boiling is that of your main course.

Started in 2004 by Parisian chefs, Nicolas and Francois Bergerault, the aim was to “entice the French back into kitchen” and make them fall back in love with cooking, Prices for a simple supper start at £35 per person, but Pontis also offer a pizza making for two evening starting at £15 a head. While Italy and France are two countries known as much for their wine as for their romance, these classes will have you so occupied on not igniting or poisoning your companion for the evening that alcoholic consumption will just seem like a further hazard.

 

Stay Inline

No one can fail to be impressed by a slick pair of wheels. And who says they have to be attached to an engine? The heady, tipsy feeling of an afternoon well spent at the pub is alarmingly similar to the adrenalin rush of a first venture on inline roller blades. It’s a craze that has crept up on London unexpectedly, leaving it breathless and unsteady on its feet.

Most lessons, take place around London’s most scenic areas, like popular blading venue Hyde Park, and as the festive season draws in, there’s the possibility of a yuletide twist, with the arrival of a flurry of temporary ice rinks. The earliest, the Natural History Museum’s ice rink (open 4 November – 8 January), adds to the inebriating dizziness by the surrounding 76000 twinkling fairy lights and children’s carousel. For those who wish to pretend to be a little more sophisticated, Canary Wharf’s understated and underrated equivalent opens this week.

Now that’s something to raise our (lemonade filled) glasses to.

Spending the winter months around London sober as a judge may seem like a trial not worth undertaking. But after a few dates of swapping bruised egos for bruised knees, and tequila margaritas for four cheese margheritas and you may find that the real Happy Hours are the ones you’re likely to remember the morning after. Now that’s something to raise our (lemonade filled) glasses to. At least till summer rolls round and Pimms season kicks off again…

 

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