I have just returned from Date #3 with with the lovely gentlemen I was bold enough to send a message to after doing a spot of window shopping when I logged on to the dating site to permanently cancel my membership once this latest subscription expires.
I messaged him because I liked the sound of his profile but when he sent me his mobile number I was rather tardy in calling him and left it some four days or so. He was very gracious and forgiving and because I'd unknowingly called him at work, he asked to call me back later in the day which he did, After a long conversation when we discovered many similarities in our lives, he suggested dinner after work one evening, which I graciously accepted.
When I told the Agony Uncle, he was very quick to add his slant on why he couldn't talk at work - he would have been in the prison kitchen preparing supper for his fellow inmates!
When I said that he drove a Saab, he said that would be because they have easy locks to pick.
When I told him my dilemma about what to wear for my first date on a warm summer's evening, he suggested trousers to cover up my leg tattoos!
That was 2 weeks ago and as it happened, I did go for trousers, but not for the reasons Agony Uncle suggested. I chose smart grey linen trousers with a silk blouse and a statement necklace, topped off with a lightweight striped blazer.
My date had kindly ask what type of restaurant and food I liked, and on the strength of my reply, booked a cosy table for two at a local restaurant, preceded by cocktails beforehand at a trendy wine bar nearby. He texted to tell me where and when to meet, thoughtfully suggested exactly where I should park my car and as I drove into the car park and obediently parked up, I saw him standing beneath a street lamp - just where he said he'd be. Initially I was disappointed as he seemed quite a bit older than his profile photo and the blonde hair in his profile photo had been replaced with a thick shock of grey hair. But at least he had hair. Thankful for small mercies, and after texting the Agony Uncle to ask what to do when your date looks 20 years older than his profile pic and not receiving a reply, I decided to bite the bullet and step out of the safety of my car. As I walked towards him I saw he had the kindliest of faces and he really wasn't so unlike his profile pic afterall. Added to which wafts of a divine aftershave drew me like a magnet towards him, and my pace picked up.
We had a lovely drink with plenty of easy conversation before walking down the road to the restaurant, him insisting on walking on the outside of the pavement, so that I could walk on the inside - something that rekindled memories of my father walking with me as a child and instructing me that ladies should always walk on the inside of the pavement.
At the restaurant he offered to take my jacket for me as I attempted to remove it myself once we were shown to our table. The conversation continued, with no awkward pauses, admittedly he was the primary interlocutor.....
He talked enthusiastically about visiting museums in London and suggested a visit to the British Museum one weekend, and afterwards asking where I would like to visit. I said the V & A, and so it was agreed that in 2 weeks time we would have a day excursion to London to visit the museums. After a 4 hour delightful meal, he walked me back to my car, texting afterwards to check that I'd arrived home safely afterwards, thanking ME for a lovely evening, which he had paid for!
Agony Uncle also eventually replied to my text at 11pm, very apologetically, wanting to know how it went. I was just thankful that it had gone well, and that my text to him at 7pm hadn't been an SOS!
My date and I maintained contact via text for a few days, although I noticed he wasn't overly communicative, but when I mentioned I would be in a certain city that I knew he would be passing through over the bank holiday weekend after staying with his brother, we agreed to meet up briefly to finalise our plans for our London outing.
So date #2 took place on Bank Holiday Monday in the delightful setting of the Hotel Du Vin, as we sat outside in the sunny gardens, drinking tea together. As my date is on a health kick in preparation for a 2 week cycle ride 0f 1,000 km with friends through France and Spain later this month, he could not be persuaded to eat lunch or afternoon tea, even though warm scones were offered to us, which according to our waitress, chef had just taken out of the oven. I declined them too, much to my regret later on when I could happily have eaten my steering wheel on the drive back home in the early evening, after not having anything to eat since breakfast.
He texted me the following day so say how lovely it was to sit in the garden with me and what a good choice of meeting place I had suggested. And then the texts dried up. Agony Uncle had reminded me to take things slowly, so he would no doubt be pleased. But there is slow and there is stationary. From Tuesday to Friday I heard nothing and after renewing my railcard and buying my day return ticket to London in advance of our Sunday rendezvous, I realised I was losing interest as well as money and began to wonder if our date was still going to happen or if he had disappeared into the ether. But at 8pm on the Saturday evening, I received a text saying he was looking forward to seeing me the following morning and asking me to text him the carriage number of the train I was in, so that he could join me further down the line.
By the time his text finally arrived, I had almost persuaded myself to bail on him and get a refund on my ticket but as I'd taken out a membership at the V & A after discovering we could view the exhibitions without queueing or having to pay, plus I could take him to the Members Room for a quiet meal or cup of tea afterwards, I woke on the morning with a determination to make a success of the day and headed off to catch the 08.50 train to Waterloo .
I found myself a seat in the Quiet Carriage and obediently texted to let him know. He replied asking if I'd like a tea or a coffee when he got on 30 minutes later so I thanked him and accepted the offer of a decent cup of coffee, which earned him an extra Brownie point.
We met up as planned and I saw a tall, smartly dressed gentleman carrying two take-out cups of coffee down the train towards me. He was wearing an olive coloured linen jacket with matching trousers and a white open necked long sleeved shirt and looked rather warm! We had dressed quite similarly - I was in white jeans, a pale blue pin striped shirt with a navy linen jacket. I was lucky - I could roll my jacket up and carry it in my handbag, but when I commented that he was travelling light, he said he had his bicycles lights in his pocket! The mind boggled and I resisted the temptation to stare at where I thought they might be concealed...
We had a lovely day visiting the museums, eating an alfresco snack lunch outside the V & A, and then using the members room for a very welcome pot of tea before heading home. He still refused any food with his cup of tea, patting his tummy and reminding me he was training for his 1,000 kilometre bike ride later this month. So I sat and looked longingly at the other diners enjoying their scones with clotted cream, with their pots of tea. Sadly, scones and I are just not meant to be - at least not with this particular date.
Despite his frequent reminders of his fitness regime, I thought I kept up pretty well with him as I was frogmarched around the streets of London, around the different floors of the British Museum and the V & A, and striding up and down the stairs of the underground stations together on one of the hottest and sunniest days of the year so far.
Having suggested the week previously that we should have a meal and a bottle of wine after our museum visits, he surprised me by saying that if we left now we could catch the 4.30pm train home. I dutifully agreed and decided not to mention the meal and bottle of wine previously promised - which was the reason he gave for having cycled to the station from his home, instead of driving!
On the journey home he continued to talk non-stop - pointing out where the WW2 oil storage tanks were, the church graveyard where the designer of the WW2 Spitfire was buried and the cycle path he uses to get to and from work, which runs alongside the railway track.
It was during this conversation that I realised I was not this man's intellectual equal - something he had no doubt realised some time earlier - probably around the time he suggested we catch an early train home.
As we neared his station, I wondered how or if he would kiss me goodbye. He didn't. He simply wished me a good holiday next weekend, and it was then that I realised I would probably never see nor hear from again.
It is sad to accept that someone can go from telling you after one lengthy phonecall that your first date a few days later can't come round quickly enough, to the realisation that you probably aren't going to hear from them again, without actually knowing why.
Prince Harry is reported to have said when he met the woman who has now become his wife, that the stars were aligned. My lovely friend who lives on a peat bog in Ireland also believes in star alignments and for a few brief days I thought there might be something in this phenomenon too.
But not any more.