Tuesday, 27 July 2010

August in London - Dates For Your Diary

Don't you just love summer in the city?

Here's our guide to the very best that London has to offer this month - go on, make a date of it...

1) Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House (Somerset House: 29th July - 8th August)
It's here at last and we're besotted. Huge screen + beautiful setting + picnic + date = unbeatable romance.

2) Great British Beer Festival (Earls Court: 3rd - 7th August)
This one doesn't need much explanation. Based in Earls Court it brings together the best ales, ciders, perries and international beers for you to enjoy. Cheers.

3) London Festival Fringe (Multiple venues: 6th - 30th August)
A London based alternative to the famous Edinburgh Fringe, the London Festival Fringe brings you an extravaganza of art, performance and entertainment. There really is something for everyone.

4) Canary Wharf Jazz Festival (Canada Square: 13th - 15th August)
A fabulous musical celebration with traditional and modern jazz, jazz-funk, Latin rhythms, soul and instrumental. Jazz veteran or novice, this is perfect summers evening entertainment.

5) South West Four (Clapham Common: 28th - 29th August)
"The biggest DJs in the world… the best weekend of your life". I think that just about sums it up!

6) Notting Hill Carnival (Notting Hill: 29th - 30th August)
London's very own Caribbean carnival. Steel bands, scores of incredible floats and mile upon mile of stalls, this is a three day party you won't forget.

7) Festival Brazil (Southbank: 19th June - 5th September)
Brazil comes to London for 11weeks of incredible music, dance, literature and visual arts. They've even built a giant model favela - incredible.

8) Proms 2010 (Royal Albert Hall:16th July - 11th October)
Classical concerts gallore in one of London's most beautiful venues. Be a part of it.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The First Date - Our Guide

The first date, it’s a biggy. Whether it's the culmination of months of ground work or a ‘blind’ first meeting, the pressure is on. So, if the mere thought is enough to make you run and hide, here's my version of the basic rules to help you through. Who knows, if i'm right, your next 'first date' could also be your last!

1) Where to meet

You may know all the best places in Camden, but if your date resides in Camberwell they’ll be none too chuffed with the trek. Picking a location in their neck of the woods has also got its pitfalls however, as you may unwittingly pick somewhere that he / she loathes, or worse still the place they used to hang out with their ex. Tricky. The simple answer is to meet in the middle - don’t worry if that’s an area you don’t know much about - that’s what GDG exists for!

2) What to do

Clearly this depends on your personality, but you can’t go wrong with the standard evening drink. It’s easy to arrange, you’ve got hundreds to choose from and you get an alcohol flavoured helping hand to boot. Make sure you’ve got a plan for dinner afterwards assuming things go well. Dinner as a first date works well for many but do be aware that it can be hard to escape if the date turns out to be a bit of a damp squib. Alternatively do something a little different and go with an action date or try a twist on the classic cinema date - still a favourite with us.

3) Setting the tone

First impressions begin before you’ve even said hello, so getting the tone of the venue right is essential. Do you go for sophisticated or laid back? Cosy or chic? Grand or modest? The rule of thumb here is that whilst you’ve got to be seen to be making an effort, super smart or formal piles on unnecessary pressure and is best avoided. It may also terrify your date! Ideally what you need is somewhere relaxed but with a bit of a funky vibe, lots of atmosphere and plenty of other people around.

4) How to impress

This is easy. Make an effort but be relaxed about it. OK, so maybe it’s easier said than done but here are a few pointers:
  • Wear something nice. It doesn’t have to be smart, but it does have to be attractive. We know you can do it.
  • Be decisive in your ordering. Girl or boy, no one will like you if you can’t make decisions.
  • Don’t worry about being interesting, it’s much more important to be interested. Find out about your date, listen to them, and if you catch yourself talking about yourself for too long, turn it around - quickly.
  • Don’t, what ever you do, repeatedly look over his / her shoulder. You may well be finding the snogging couple behind a tad distracting, but constant glances at anything other than your date can be very off putting.
  • Don’t get too drunk. It’s just not attractive.
  • Finally and most importantly, smile a lot and be yourself. After all, if this is ever going to turn into something more, you’ve got to be liked for being you.
5) Who pays?

When it comes to paying the bill, be open minded - the two of you may have very different opinions about this. The basic rule of a first date is that the guy should offer to foot the bill (sorry boys…). Girls should offer to ‘go halves’. Just make a decision quickly and don’t drag it out.

6) How does it end?

It may be old fashioned, but we are of the strict opinion that inviting your date back to yours on date number one is a no no. By all means go for the lunge if you think you’re in with a chance, but go home to bed alone. If you really like them there will be plenty more opportunities to ‘sample their coffee’ but this way you’ll never do something you live to regret in the morning.

Want more pearls of wisdom? Check out www.thegreatdateguide.com with our compliments!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Top ten water themed dates

What else can you do when the temperature hits the 30's than make straight for the water.

This week we bring you London's top ten water themed dates to keep you cool and your relationship hot...

Pure genius. You get to race up and down the Thames in a fat rib with a comedian as a guide. London's most exhilarating date is straight in at number one.

Bit of a spenny one, as you need to buy a 'Spa day' to get in, but this is perhaps the most glamorous way of spending a sunny day, poolside.

This scenic stroll has got romance written all over it. Wander through Camden Lock market and marvel at the crazy home boats of Little Venice. Perhaps a half way picnic (with a view) on Primrose Hill?

We've harped on about this one before. Pick a sunny day and head to Hyde Park for a paddle. Nothing better.

Bit of a curve ball this one, but a fantastic date none the less. It's in a top spot, right next to the London Eye, and if you've never been, you really must. There are sharks and everything.

Wakeboarding and waterskiing in London. Cool.

A staple of London's watery heritage, you're sure to find a lido near you. The oldest and the best (in our opinion) is the wonderful Serpentine Lido - fancy a dip?

It's a restaurant on a boat. Brilliant. On a sunny day you can dine on the deck and admire this lovely city whilst you sip on some Sauvignon. Mmmmmmm.

Head down to the grassy banks of Richmond and hire a rowing boat for two. Messing about in boats, Wind in the Willows style - Ratty would be proud.

One for the ladies, one for the men and one for both. Hmmmm, I wonder....

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Bad Date Blog

Here is the first instalment of our guest blogger's "Bad Date Blog". We think it's hysterical...

I have been on a lot of bad dates, and I mean a lot. I don’t know what I do wrong but I just seem to manage booking myself on date after date that all end in disaster! So, as you good people have come here to find the perfect place to go, here are my hints and tips on how not to ruin it once you get there!


The most important tip I can give you is to always find out where your date lives/works and pick a halfway point. You may well have the world’s greatest pub at the end of your road but there’s no need to drag your date halfway across London to see it, especially not when it’s a first date. No one wants to risk the travel time or Oyster pre-pay on a first meeting when lets face it, all could go horribly wrong. Let me walk you through a recent date of mine which I hope highlights how you can mess up just by picking the wrong place.

I found said date on the internet (don’t we all?!) and during a email convo about films he suggested a cinema date and said he knew a fab one in his neck of the woods. I naively imagined a lovely independent cinema; one of those ones with a nice bar where they positively encourage you to take in a glass of wine and put your feet up on the armchairs. So with this delightful image in my mind I dutifully headed off from the familiar streets of Hammersmith to somewhere I’ve never been before – zone 5.

An hour and a half later I’m met at the tube by disaster date. He’s wearing a camoflague jacket and is sporting some strange facial hair that sort of hangs from his bottom lip. Ok, so initial impressions aren’t great but he did come up with a really lovely date idea so maybe he has hidden depths?

I launch into date mode and a few small talk questions later I ask what’s so nice about the cinema: “Oh nothing, it’s close to my house so I thought it would be easy.”

Strike one.

“It’s a Vue, they do a cheap deal today so I thought it was the best place to go. “

Strike two.

He then starts to lead me down a quiet side street so I casually ask how far the cinema is (starting to worry that he is about to steer me down a dark alley): “It’s about 20 mins, we’ve just got to jump in the van.”

Strike three and out!! A bloke I’ve met online wants me to jump in his van and let him drive me off to god knows where!! Panic!!!

Completely thrown by this development I have to make a quick choice –

a) I can refuse to get into the van on safety reasons but make myself look like a paranoid nutter in the process

b) Jump in the van and pray the man is not an axe-murderer

I do what any serial dater would do – ask more questions and try and ascertain if the man is a pscycho before we reach the van and I still have time to run. A safe bet seems the classic ‘So what do you do?’ and I quickly chuck it out hoping to get a safe answer: “I work in a pet shop, in fact that’s where I borrowed the van from for today – here we are now…”

I glance up and he’s not kidding, a van covered in cartoon animals is parked in front of me. And OMG – there’s a cage in the back, yes, an actual cage.

Date over.

A three hour round trip, huge amounts of money handed over to TFL, only to be met by pet shop boy….I have learnt my lesson! Keep it local, get full date details before agreeing to attend, and never ever get in a van with a cage. And boys, you might think it’s most chivalrous offering to pick up your lady friend but trust me, it scares us, don’t do it. Romance is paying for her bus ticket.

Written by our lovely, anonymous, bad date blogger!