Welcome, and step into my sphere of expertise! Earning my wage in London and trying to hold down a semblance of a love life makes you quite the creative expert when it comes to finding ways to spend your free time in a free way. I’ve been on some truly great dates that haven’t cost me more than a tenner (and of course some really awful ones too), but money isn’t the key ingredient to having a good time if you can think outside the box a little.
To dive right in, honestly, my top tip is; plan a cool walk. I know this makes me sound unbearable, but bear with. In London this really does make sense! Choose a nice day, meet about one or two in the afternoon at Waterloo and walk along the Thames. Check out the second hand books stalls, pass Big Ben in the distance, pop into the Tate Modern and see some of the worlds most breath-taking pieces of modern art – entry is free! You could also stop off at a few pubs along the way. Drink half-pints obviously, you’re saving money after all.
Or, you can plan to go up north to Camden, peruse the famous market (don’t buy anything though, budget remember!) and then take the lovely scenic canal walk down to little Venice past the lines of brightly painted canal boats. This is a great way to see Europe’s capital at street level, at your own pace, and without spending more than you can afford. Walking like this is relaxing, it’s fun, and it gives you something to talk about in case you’re a bit tongue-tied.
If you’re not sold on my walking idea then fair enough (I guess). I’m also one for cheap eats. Again, not for everyone, but it’s fun to go out together and find some new, unheard of street food. Maybe this is also a little London-centric, but going to Spitalfields Market, or Brixton market and discovering some five quid dishes together is a fun thing to do.
If you’re not from a market heavy town and you trust your date enough to invite them over, then cook them dinner. Cooking for someone, or even getting them involved and cooking a meal together, can be a fun activity that actually helps you learn more about each other. Trust me. My ex-boyfriend and I swiftly came to an agreement that I would drink wine at the kitchen table whilst he cooked, and it worked great for us.
Game nights are also a fun idea. If you’re at that stage where you want to introduce them to your friends, it’s a really cheap and social way to get everyone together. Organise an evening around yours, get everyone to bring a bottle of wine, a few beers, or some snack food and settle in for the evening. It also really takes the pressure off your new partner because it’s not intensive one-on-one time with only one of your mates and so they can relax a bit more.
There are also some great pubs that now stock loads of board games, so if you don’t have enough space at home you can get everyone to meet at the pub and do games night there. Just don’t get too carried away and end up buying loads of drinks, or it sort of defeats the purpose of a cheap date night.
If you do go to the bar make sure you use your oval wallet, so even if you’re spending a bit you can ease the guilt by knowing that you’re also making some savings.
Where there’s a will there’s a way, and with International Kissing Day approaching you should give one of these ideas a try!