I should probably start by telling you that I’m writing this blog post from a gorgeous little café / wine bar called Eden, on South William Street in Dublin. The ceiling above me resembles a greenhouse, but made up of panes of coloured glass. There are huge hanging plants suspended from the ceiling, and I’m surrounded by ornate lampshades and candlesticks. It’s the perfect mix of a greenhouse and ballroom – and put simply, it’s divine. So appropriately named!
Now, I’m clearly tempting fate saying this so early on in the challenge, but so far, finding a blind date in a foreign country is proving easier than finding one in your home town! I had assumed the novelty factor of the blog and the challenge might help to some degree, however it turns out that my first date this weekend – Mr Dublin – knew nothing about the 30 Dates.
Apparently he was less concerned about the fact one of his colleagues had a single female friend, who was visiting for the weekend and wanted a blind date, and far more concerned by the fact that he thought he was being generally pranked, and that (when my friend showed him my photo from Facebook), that she’d simply got a random photo of a girl off the internet to carry on with the joke!
I’ll be honest, it’s always easier entering a blog date when the guy knows all about the Challenge. It was something I realized early on during the original 30 Dates – when on Date Number 11, my date ‘Stitch’ got really stressed and upset when he learned the truth, and then later phoned up our mutual friend, and shouted at her at length for setting him up!
Though generally, whether the date has been made aware of my Challenge or not is normally quite a good indicator of his character, and how the referee has perceived him. If he’s a more extroverted character, then a friend would have no trouble telling him about my 30 Dates Around the World, and signing him up. Whereas if our mutual friend has only seen fit to suggest it as a blind date, then I always assume my date will be of a shier disposition.
Mr Dublin was definitely a shy one. And ironically, yes (reader who emailed me wishing me luck with the ginger men!), my first Irish date was ginger! (though I don’t think I actually know any other ginger Irish people!)
He very kindly agreed to come and collect me from my hotel, which was useful, as I’d only arrived in the city just an hour before we needed to get going on the date. Mr Dublin had a full evening of entertainment planned, though he wouldn’t tell me what we were doing (something which during the planning stages, I’d assumed meant he knew all about the blog and the challenge. Turns out he just thought the surprise would add a fun element, which it did). In the days before I travelled to Dublin, he had checked whether I liked ‘history and drinking’, and asked if I had heard of Grafton Street – one of the most famous streets in the city.
We took a taxi into the centre of town and Mr Dublin filled me in on the plans for the evening – we were to be doing the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. Whilst Mr Dublin hadn’t done the tour himself, he’d been recommended it by an American colleague at work (who later in the weekend, I established had never actually been on the pub crawl!).
Assuming the tour would involve a lot of drinking, I mentioned to Mr Dublin that I hadn’t eaten anything since that morning in Gatwick Airport, and asked if perhaps we could grab some food along the way. He looked a little put out, but acknowledged he hadn’t eaten any dinner either (it was only 7pm).
We were dropped off by the taxi outside Trinity College, and then walked down Grafton Street to Duke Street, and The Duke Pub, where the pub crawl would begin. I ordered a round of drinks, only to be reminded I was in a foreign country (not only by the cost of a round! But) when the barman misheard me asking for ‘rose’ as ‘Lucozade’! That would definitely have been a different pub crawl!
We were ushered into a room in the top area of the pub, where a group of aging Irish actors introduced the tour, explained that we would go to four pubs, and that there would be a quiz running throughout the night. As they slipped into a scene from Waiting for Godot without so much as an explanation, I quickly realized the ‘pub crawl’ was more likely to be a literary tour with a couple of alcohol stops.
The actors were engaging enough, and very keen, telling us all about Ulysses, and James Joyce, but I could tell it wasn’t what Mr Dublin had been expecting either!
The tour runs every night, and is obviously highly popular with tourists. The demographic of the tour couldn’t have been more varied, with one large group looking too young to drink, and a good half of the tour group being of retirement age! After about half an hour in the Duke, we were led on to our next destination – Trinity College – and I remember wondering if we were going to be taken to the student union!
As we left the pub and went to cross the road, the evening began to distinctly remind me of a school trip, or a foreign exchange trip! The actors help umbrellas over their heads, ushering us into a large group on the dark pavement, counted our heads repeatedly, and even showed us how to cross the (tiny, empty) road responsibly!
We filed towards Trinity, feeling like a bunch of sixth form students being shown University options, and walked through a rather ugly modern extension, out into a beautiful courtyard of sixteenth century architecture. By now it must have been at least 8.15, and Dublin was freezing. Thinking we’d be doing something indoors, I’d rather stupidly warn a relatively flimsy black dress, tights and boots, though I luckily had a thick coat. My date hadn’t even brought a coat!
We stood, tucked in a slightly sheltered corner of Trinity College, trying to avoid the bitter wind, and shivering against the very wintery conditions, for a good half hour, as one of the actors pretended to be Oscar Wilde, and another one gave clues about the quiz later in the evening.
Finally, we filed into a nearby pub, where (true to school trip form) we were given strict instructions to be back out in 20 minutes! We were given some clues of things to look for inside O’Neills, and then left to our own devices for the ‘pub crawl’ element of the tour.
O’Neills had a huge sandwich bar and carvery area, and by now it was 9pm, and I hadn’t eaten for at least 10 hours. I eyed up the food rather obviously, and after a couple of speculative conversations, my date seemed happy enough to sack off the rest of the tour (yes, I know I did the exact same on the London Loo tour!!) and stay in the pub. We ordered a rather unorthodox carvery, and then sat down to eat in one of the unique tiny rooms of the pub.
It was at this point in the night that I realized something important about dates. Something which I’ve known for some time, but that evidently, not everyone is aware of.
Dates are real life. Things do not always go to plan! You can have the best intentions, but there will always be aspects which are out of your control.
Mr Dublin had picked a date idea, which had been recommended by a friend. On face value, a pub crawl is something really pretty fun to do on a date, and to be honest, rather fitting for someone’s first night in Dublin! He’d even gone so far as to pick one with a bit of culture, where I, as a tourist, could actually learn a bit about the city I was visiting. He wasn’t to know that it would be more of an old person’s tour, than one for people our age. Or that it would have a distinct feel of a school trip!
And, after all these dates, and by the very nature that these Challenge dates are doing me a favour, I’m a pretty understanding date. I will laugh off most mishaps, and even any particularly awkward behavior. Out of the 70+ first dates I’ve had in the past nine months, only one springs to mind where I put my foot down, and wasn’t completely understanding and polite – and that was because Mr Twenty40 had just been really rude to a bunch of people and I didn’t feel right not saying something.
However Mr Dublin seemed to really take to ‘failure’ of the tour to heart, as if I was judging him by how good the tour was. And no matter how much I tried to laugh it off, reassure him how different and interesting the tour had been, and make it clear I was genuinely happy to just sit down and grab something to eat, I could tell he was really disappointed in himself. Which is never something you should convey on a date.
Dates work when you laugh.
If something goes wrong, laugh! If something doesn’t turn out to be what you were expecting, laugh it off! Be honest. There’s no point taking stuff to heart. If a friend has set you up on a blind date, they’re not going to set you up with a complete bitch or a dick. Most people are understanding enough that they won’t judge you for something which is completely out of your hands. If anything, the only things people should really judge you on, during a date, are the way you treat them, and the way you treat other people. You might have differing views on things, or not be compatible in other ways, but as far as judgment goes, if someone has gone to the trouble of meeting up with you for a blind date, the least you can do is be polite, friendly, and understanding. Whatever situations the date throws at you!
I have to admit, my date did look pretty crestfallen when I called it a night after dinner. I was pretty tired from my day of travelling, and going from cold, to hot, to cold, to hot had tired me out too. I did my best to reassure him I’d had a really fun time (though he didn’t seem to believe me), and that I was only leaving because I’d only just touched down in the city before, and then caught a taxi back to my hotel.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
Date Location – Dublin, Ireland
Date Referee – One of my sister’s best friends, who works in Dublin with Mr Dublin
The Date Lasted – 3 and a half hrs
The Date Ended – Because I was shattered!!