As you know from The Second Date, The Enigma & The Eclipse, on my way to Date Eighteen, I received a text message from The Enigma sacking me off after our second date. Not the best mood setter for a date!
However, as I’ve learned from the Henley Boy situation, the best way to get over a bad dating situation, is to keep dating. So after a couple of weeks getting excited about The Enigma, I needed a fresh start. And so I toyed with the idea of calling Date Eighteen just that, but The Fresh Prince had a better ring to it. And I like the idea that there’s always the possibility with any of these dates, that they could end up being a prince, as opposed to a frog!
I met the Fresh Prince on the app Tinder. One afternoon when I was in Madrid, Signor28 was having a siesta, and so I decided to have a look through the app. The Fresh Prince popped up as one of my options, and the app suggested he was only about 10 miles away, so I tentatively asked if he was in Madrid too. It turned out my phone still thought I was in central London, and I was essentially just rubbing in the fact that I was on holiday!
I’ve still not completely worked out Tinder. It’s designed to look like a simple card game. The only thing you see on a man’s profile is his first name and age, and then a selection of photos, normally taken directly from Facebook. It’s interesting because clearly not everyone realises this, and sometimes the photos make clear the guy has a girlfriend or wife?! The app allows you to literally flick through piles of photographs of members of the opposite sex, sweeping the photo to the left if you don’t like them, and to the right if you like what you see. If you both suggest you like one another, then a ‘Match’ message pops up, and you are given the option to either keep playing, or continue searching. Only men with whom you have an initial mutual attraction can contact you – which has the benefit of avoiding unwanted attention, though (as anyone who follows the @30dates Twitter account will know) I’ve still been sent some pretty awful openers from guy on the app.
Tinder is dubbed the heterosexual version of ‘Grinder’ – an application which gay men openly use to hook up with one night stands. So I was a little dubious about finding dates using the app, as I figured they might not be planning on just going a date!
However one of the cool features of the apps is that, because it runs off your Facebook account, it identifies whether you have any friends in common with the guy. This at least provides a reference check, and if you’re worried, the ability to consult a friend about the guy before meeting up.
When I started chatting to the Fresh Prince, I quickly identified we had two mutual friends on Facebook. A girl who I sat on the Ospreys Committee (the women’s University sports committee) with at Cambridge, and an American guy who I met whilst backpacking in Belize and Guatemala.
The American guy (The Ex-Pro) used to play professional baseball, and is one of my dating referees who I’ll be visiting in Los Angeles next month. As the Ex-Pro doesn’t have many British friends, and the Fresh Prince looked extremely attractive in his Tinder photos, I assumed he was from Los Angeles (he bears an uncanny resemblance to a famously American actor too!) However he quickly confirmed he was British. The good thing about being shown who your mutual friends are, is that it gives you an automatic talking point, so we discussed how we both knew the Ex-Pro, and it lead on to a conversation about travelling.
At the same time as playing on Tinder, I was also researching DoingSomething for some fresh dating ideas. The dating website has several extensive lists of dating suggestions- from 100 Must Do Dates, to creative dates, and random dates, and you don’t need to be a member to consult it. I’ve also started looking at DesignMyNight for date ideas recently, just to make the most of all the amazing date opportunities London has to offer!
I trialled DoingSomething last year when the site was less well-known, and am still on their mailing list, and had been drawn in by a speculative mailshot asking if I fancied ‘Toilet Dating’. To be perfect honest, it’s the kind of email I would normally delete almost immediately, however in the name of the Challenge (and the various singles events I’ve signed up to during 30 Dates by 30), I figured I’d at least give it a read.
Toilet Dating, has developed from a London tour called the Loo Tour. Once a month, on a Friday night, Rachel, the tour guide and inventor of the London Loo Tour, turns her tour of the various toilets in London into a singles event!
Whilst on the one hand it sounded like my idea of hell, journalistic responsibility took over, and I looked into the dates of the next tour. It coincided with a night when I already had plans, but I noticed that the Loo Tour also ran on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and that there was a free promotion on this month, and booked two free places.
Meanwhile I had been messaging The Fresh Prince over Tinder, and so I figured there was nothing to lose by asking him if he had any plans the following Saturday afternoon. When he said he didn’t, before I asked him if he wanted to come and check out toilets with me for a couple of hours, I decided to confess to my 30 Dates Challenge. His response was good-humoured, and up for the randomness of the date. I suggested we could make the date a bit more civilised by following the tour with champagne afternoon tea, and when he happily agreed, I booked spots at Quince at the May Fair Hotel.
We met at Waterloo – the first of the toilet humour for the day! The tour was to start outside the station toilets, however we agreed to meet slightly beforehand, and so I found The Fresh Prince waiting outside Marks & Spencer in the middle of the station.
We walked over to the loos, and found the tour guide ready and waiting with her distinguishable plunger prop (which she held above her head during the tour, whenever she wanted to get our attention).
We began chatting, only to be interrupted several times by the tour guide, who announced there were five of us on that afternoon’s tour. We immediately began to wonder who else would sign up to do a tour of London’s lavatories on a Saturday afternoon, and asked if all three of the others had signed up together or on their own. Apparently they had all signed up separately, causing us to wonder if they were all backpackers. I know (if I weren’t doing this crazy dating challenge) that I’d be a lot more likely to do something random like the Loo Tour if I were visiting a foreign city,
Eventually two of the other three guests arrived, and we were intrigued to realise that neither of the other two were backpackers. We set off into the stereotypical rain, and along the way Rachel began her history of London’s toilets. Our first step was the Jubiloo- a set of toilets at the foot of the Millennium Eye which had been commissioned for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The cost per use – 50p – prompted the first of several ‘spend a penny’ jokes, and the tour guide seemed genuinely surprised when the staff actually let us inside the toilet block to have a look- it appeared the tour (which normally costs around £18 per person) only normally involved seeing the outside of the various toilets.
The tour was Rachel’s brainchild – she had come to London from America as a drama student, and whilst interviewing to be a Shakespearean tour guide, had expressed her passion for trying to find the free toilets around London. The interviewer had suggested she create her own toilet tour of London, and she had done just that, creating something which has now become international news! It appears the recent addition of the dating nights to the schedule has been responsible for the majority of the interest in the event, as obviously ‘Toilet Dating’ can sound rather ominous (cue several George Michael jokes!) In fact I’m probably lucky to have found such a gentlemanly date on Tinder, given that I was asking him to go on a first date in several London public toilets!
The tour guide was extremely passionate about her subject matter! I’ve never seen someone speak so knowledgeably and passionately about simple toilets! In fact she seemed quite put out by the knowledge that it wasn’t an original idea, and similar tours had been run in Berlin!
We visited four or five toilet spots, including a narrow alley people regularly pee in (!!!), and then it just got far too wet and cold in the rain, and The Fresh Prince and I decided to call it a day and go and find a pub! We stopped at the Porterhouse off Covent Garden for a drink, and I rather honestly told him about my recent disappointment with The Enigma, and my challenge so far.
I’m not overly convinced the Toilet Tour would work well as a dating event. Every time The Fresh Prince had begun chatting, we would get to the next stop and be interrupted by the tour guide. It was hard to keep track on our conversation with the constant interruptions, and I imagine it would be even harder to meet multiple singletons in this way. The price of the dating event apparently includes a cocktail, so I assume there is a stop, however I doubt this stop would be without further toilet-based information, so I think the only real opportunity singletons would have to bond would be at the end, away from the tour, as The Fresh Prince and I did (though at least the tour gives you an ice breaker to laugh about!)
After one drink we took the tube and headed over to The May Fair hotel, a luxurious and modern hotel close to Green Park Tube station.
Afternoon tea at the May Fair was a great location for a date. Even with a hen do on the next table, the venue was quiet and intimate. The service was great and we enjoyed a variety of different sandwiches and bagels, followed by scones, custard tarts, macaroons, caramel slices, Chelsea buns, and Pimms jelly.
We drank tea, and champagne, and them moved onto wine as we chatted about the hilarious toilet tour and our mutual friends. We sent the Ex-Pro a photo of us at our quintessentially British date (just compounding any preconceptions he had about what English people do all the time, and the fact it’s such a tiny island that the only two people he know have now dated eachother!)
One glass of wine quickly turned into three, and the only reason I turned down a fourth was because it was now 8pm and I had a birthday party to get back to in Reading.
The Fresh Prince walked me back to Green Park Station, and in the middle of the street, ignored the umbrella I was trying to hold over both of us, and took me into his arms and kissed me in the rain.
We walked giggling back to the tube, and after one more kiss in the train station, we parted ways and got on different tube lines.
So far as dates go, this date was definitely my most random! Though I only have myself (and DoingSomething date suggestions) to blame! The Loo Tour, whilst completely odd, and not something I would normally choose to do, was actually a really good ice breaker, and provided us with something to giggle about later in the day. I found it really difficult to chat with The Fresh Prince during the tour, because the small group size meant our attention always needed to be on the tour guide, and whilst the toilets were close enough together to stop you getting bored, it didn’t really allow much opportunity for unrelated chatting. Afternoon tea on the other hand was a great venue for a date. The hotel was lovely, the atmosphere quiet and intimate, and the couches in Qunice at the May Fair were comfortable enough that we happily sat drinking for some time. The content of the tea itself was one of the best afternoon teas that I’ve had in London, and the portion sizes were perfect. I would definitely recommend a champagne tea as a first date setting.
We met – In Waterloo station
I wore- a white dress with black spots, a black cardigan, blue ballet pumps (all of which got soaked!)
He wore – a tight long sleeved tshirt, jeans
We drank – Earl Grey, green tea, beer, Rose and lemonade, champagne
We talked about – toilets (!), extreme sports, travelling, America, work, family, being single, Tinder, dating websites. (he apologised a lot on behalf of other men!)
The date lasted – 5 hours
The date ended – with a kiss (one way to recover from the Enigma disappointment I guess!)
Marks out of Ten? Nine (and not just because he kissed me!) It was a random but fun date, and The Fresh Prince was fully up for the challenge of it all. The Loo Tour worked well as a one off ice-breaker and the afternoon champagne tea was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and get to know a date in a quiet, intimate setting.
Next date – Bank Holiday Monday