Ahh summertime. The best time of the year. Season of longer days, short shorts and delightful pub gardens (an obvious choice for a future blog).
If there wasn’t already motivation to get fit for summer, there are also plenty of major sporting events happening throughout London to watch out for such as the Cricket, Royal Ascot, and the World Athletics Championships to name a few.
Taking this as inspiration (and also the fact that my housemates are currently training for a triathlon) I thought I’d kickstart The Date Night Review with my top ‘activity’ ideas to get you out and about, and maybe even breaking a sweat.
Competitive or not competitive, these activities are less romantic, but definitely the most fun!
Stumped for an idea? Think outside the box!
What: Twenty20 Cricket (T20)
Where: Kia Oval (or at Lord’s Cricket Ground – but I’m not reviewing that one)
When: July – August (14.30 or 18.30 starts)
How much? £24 Adult ticket (group discounts available)
I know nothing about cricket. In fact, when a group of people from my previous job suggested going to see T20: Surrey v.s. Essex as something different to do from our usual Friday night drinks I initially turned my nose up.
However, I quickly realised that you don’t have to be a huge cricket fan to appreciate the incredible atmosphere of these test matches at The Kia Oval (which is walking distance from Oval station). The crowds are a perfect blend of fans, families and frolickers all out enjoy an afternoon or evening in the sun watching one of Britain’s finest sports.
While the ground has a dedicated family area (aka away from the rowdier hat wearing groups, see picture below), the Natwest sponsored competition has become one of London’s most popular nights out, providing a very different setting for many peoples’ predrinks.
In terms of the rules – who really cares, but for those of you that know nothing about cricket, in Twenty20 (T20) cricket, each team is allowed one innings to try and score as many runs as they can within a period of 20 overs (120 balls). Yes, I did just google that.
The game itself is also limited to 75 minutes per team, so once you’re all cricketed out there’ll still be plenty of time to paint the town red (or pass out on the sofa after a long afternoon of beloved day drinking).
Tickets available here.
‘Putting’ the fun back into golf
What: Driving Range
Where: Greenwich Peninsular
When: Mon – Sat (8am – 11pm), Sunday (8am – 9pm)
How much? £2/£5 per club, £10 per hour (120 balls)
Again, I know nothing about golf. But if you want to earn yourself some extra brownie points from your sport-loving-other-half-slash-love-interest, this is definitely a great choice!
In the far away lands of Greenwich peninsula, lies some iconic venues such as the O2 and the Emirates cable car. There’s also some spectacular views of the city’s skyline from the south and a 60 bay driving range that uses it as a backdrop.
The bays are set over two tiers and are available at times throughout the day, but for a bit of added romance, you can even book an evening slot up until 11pm and head on over to the range’s restaurant, Vinotech Compass, for a bit of after golf grub followed by a trip up the aforementioned cable car to see the London cityscape from above.
Now as for the actual golf, I can confirm that I was royally shit.
However, in an attempt to mask my frustration and make golf ‘sexy’, I did get to try out the old ‘I don’t know how, show me’ trick. You know, the one where you play the damsel in distress and your date comes behind you, holds the club over your hands and demonstrates a good swing…? Guaranteed to get the balls flying amiright?!
Alternatively, you could show him/her you’re not one to be messed with by taking out some serious rage on your 60 allocated golf balls. Whatever works.
And remember, It’s not the size of your putter that counts, it’s how many strokes you take. You’re welcome.
Book your bay here.
Bikini Body Ready or Not
What: Open water swimming/splashing around
Where: London Fields Lido (although closing for a refurb over summer), Parliament Hill Lido, The Serpentine, West Reservoir, Brockwell Park
When: All year round (but summer is probably preferable)
How much? £4 – £6
OK, so I’m going to be honest, this is rather a niche date plan and definitely not for the fainthearted. In fact, part of the reason I am including this idea is because I’m feeling pretty smug that I braved it earlier this week and I wanted to show off…
However, for the competitive couples out there who like the great outdoors and potentially own a wetsuit, then this is the one for you!
Some lidos in London are open all year round, including Parliament Hill Lido which boasts a 60-metre length of crystal clear waters due to the metallic bottom. Believe it or not, some nutters swim over winter without a bloody wetsuit! Other pools and open water venues are open from May onwards (supposedly when it is warm enough).
Although this sounds like a crazy idea and the initial entry to the water is painfully cold, open water swimming is actually great for your physical and mental health and is even better when you can warm up with a mug of hot chocolate when you get out.
Or maybe you could just wait until the height of summer and have a quick dip in the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds to cool off, to save yourself a hundred quid on the kit.
Either way, if you’re up for the challenge, there’s something hugely exhilarating about swimming outdoors – don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
He stole my dart from the moment I met him ❤
What: Social Darts
Where: Flight Club, Shoreditch / Bloomsbury
When: 12pm – 12am all week
How much? Peak times: £25 / hour | Off Peak times: £15 / hour
Now, back to a date with alcohol involved because let’s be honest, the people who say you don’t need alcohol to have fun are liars and chances are that if you’re on a date, you’re probably looking to get a little loose.
When you think of darts, the word ‘boring’ whilst picturing rotund and sweaty men in unflattering shirts taking the sport too seriously probably spring to mind. Cue Flight Club.
The premise of Flight Club is simple; multiplayer games with dart-tracking technology, combined with delicious bespoke cocktails (I recommend the Espresso Martini) and sharing food. A killer combo. ‘Killer’ is also conveniently the name of one of the games available, which involves trying to take down your opponents by hitting their numbers on the board – what’s not to love?!
Food and drink can be ordered from and delivered to your oche (the dart playing area) and are hired per hour rather than by the number of people playing which means that you can easily play in small teams or be paired up with another oches for a bit of a tournament.
For larger parties or corporate parties, Flight Club can organise for a Games Master to explain the rules, set up your team and organise the rowdy ones (including the likes of Greg James and Jack Whitehall).
Flight Club now operates at two locations; Shoreditch and Bloomsbury and provide you with a with a lighthearted, alcohol complemented activity date with a competitive edge.
Found out more here
Singles AND Doubles
What: Wimbledon 2017
Where: Take a wild guess
When: 3rd July – 16th July
How much? £8 – £200
Wimbledon hardly needs much of an explanation.
One of Britain’s greatest sporting events lends its hand to a much more civilised affair of strolling hand in hand with your significant other through the event grounds, sipping champagne and marvelling at ‘how lucky we are with the weather’.
Alternatively and possibly the more likely scenario is that you’ll be huddled under any form of shelter, putting your multitasking abilities to the test as you juggle strawberries and cream in one hand while desperately trying to choose a filter that makes your selfie look less like a drowned rat in a poncho.
Either way though and whatever level of ticket you get, Wimbledon is a great day or evening out and definitely one to tick off whilst you’re living in London.
In terms of actually getting court tickets at Wimbledon, there are 4 official ways to go about it:
- The ballot
- The queue (be prepared to get up at the crack of dawn and take time off work)
- Hospitality packages from Keith Prowse and Sportsworld
If like me, you’re poor and have no holiday days left, you can still expect to get tickets to the grounds and enjoy a lovely picnic on Murray Mount, watching the tennis on the big screen after a bit of apres-work queuing.
Remember to bring cash though, and probably best to stick to smart-casual attire to avoid any chances of being turned away!
Boats and Hoes
What: Henley Royal Regatta (Rowing)
When: 28th June – 2nd July
How much? FREE (unless you want to go into the ‘enclosures’)
If you’re looking to posh it up a notch and get dressed up all fancy like, then Henley Royal Rowing Regatta is a fantastic way to impress your date, whilst getting out of the hustle and bustle of central London.
Henley is a hugely prestigious event in the rowing calendar and includes over 200 races between a range of crews of an international standard. On top of the actual races, Henley-On-Thames offers some beautiful scenery along the riverbank where you can enjoy a variety of bars and restaurants throughout the day and into the night.
Having a brother who has taken part in the event for a number of years, means that I’ve experienced Henley from two sides: civilised family affair in the enclosures and slightly overexcited day drinking session outside them. The beauty of the latter is that providing you can find somewhere to set up camp for the day, you can save a fair bit of money by bringing your own food and drink to enjoy on a picnic blanket or a couple of camping chairs.
If you can’t find room along the towpath, there are a number of bars to base yourselves in such as Mahiki, The Barn bar and Chinawhite. Or, if you want to enjoy the rowing from the stands, you might wish to invest in a ticket to the Regatta enclosure (from £23) or even the more formal Stewards Enclosure (£35+).
Getting to Henley is relatively straightforward train journey from Paddington with a change at Twyford, but be warned: if you’re going on the weekend, there will be crowds so it’s worth trying to get there early.This will also give you first choice of the best riverside spots for watching the rowing and enjoying some sloe gin in the sun. Tried and tested everyone – it’s a good one.
This will also give you first choice of the best riverside spots for watching the rowing and enjoying some sloe gin in the sun. Tried and tested everyone – it’s a good one.
Thanks for reading! Up next I’ll be reviewing a secret gig in someone else’s living room – if this air of mystery doesn’t entice you in, I don’t know what will…