A first date with a (time) difference

A first date with a (time) difference

You know we love a dating story, normally they are tales that unfold through our date cards, but this one pre-dates the cardsand is honestly real! Jen and Paul, the couple in question are our good friends, but you’d not be blamed for thinking it was the plot for a novel, or sit com maybe… We’ll let Jen tell the story:

Like most people in their forties, I’ve had lots of first dates; truth be told, many didn’t go beyond that for a considerable number of reasons! But they are irrelevant, really, when compared to my most daring of first dates. A first date in Singapore. I suppose that’s nothing out of the ordinary if you live in Singapore but I lived in sunny Bolton, and he lived in New Zealand!

9 years ago, on Valentine’s Day 2014, I set off on perhaps the most ridiculous journey to a first date. Now, as an English teacher, the pathetic fallacy was massive. It was raining. But not just raining… it was biblical rain. I was drenched from head to toe and am pretty sure I saw Noah sail past on his ark as I waited at a soggy railway station, desperately hoping that the airport train wouldn’t be joining the ranks of the cancelled trains on the board.

It didn’t. Hurrah- to the airport! Surely this was me motoring.
Wrong.

I arrived at what can only be described as a scene from Airline (if you are old and remember it… a whole half hour filled with people complaining about being delayed, lost luggage etc. A veritable feast of whinging) But I digress.

My flight to Heathrow was already delayed, but I settled myself down to a solitary Valentine’s glass of prosecco away from the shouty complainers, and hoped for the best. It was just a delay, and there was plenty of time before the flight to Singapore. I tried to chill, but I knew this wasn’t looking good.

And it wasn’t good; it wasn’t good at all. The flight was cancelled. You would think that might have been a message from the Gods. ‘Don’t go Jen. We have drenched you. We have delayed you. We have now cancelled you. Short of striking you with lightning, what else do we have to do?’ Undeterred, I headed to the customer service desk with all the other (infinitely more angry) cancelled travellers. They were cross; I was tearful. But I know how things go in customer service, he who shouts loudest gets least. So I approached the member of staff kindly and explained my situation (albeit not the first date bit!) and he miraculously found me a flight to Singapore the following morning- but it would be with Singapore Airlines rather than BA. Jackpot! I love flying with Singapore Airlines, but they were way more expensive when I booked. Things were going my way, finally!

Oh Jen, you foolish, hopeful fool!

I asked what happened now and was told to wait for a while, and they would find me a hotel for the night and get me a taxi over there. Now, it was 8pm by this point. I hadn’t eaten. I had only had a prosecco. I was still a bit soggy. I was losing patience. And now, I was alone in an airport on Valentine’s Day. This was miserable… could it get worse? Of course it could.

Eventually, at about 9.30 and me having had a little cry, they finally sent me off to a hotel nearby. They would be able to get me something to eat there and at least I could get a shower and straighten my hair. Again, wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am very aware that booking into a hotel with a beautiful 4 poster bed on Valentine’s Day would cost a fair amount. However, by this point, I wasn’t amused by the stunning piece of furniture on my entrance into the room. I wanted some food, I wanted a glass of wine and I wanted no more fuss.

I made my way down to the hotel bar where I was promptly told they stop doing food at 7. Tears welled up in my eyes, and thankfully the poor barman took pity on me and cooked me a plate of chips. I sat in the bar and chatted to a couple who looked delighted to have someone else to chat to (looked like their Valentine’s was as good as mine!) and the barmen and told them my story. After laughing a lot, the barmen scurried away giggling to themselves.

When they returned with my plate of chips, they had drawn a lovely red ketchup heart on the plate!

And so, filled to the brim with the heady ketchup heart and chips, I toddled off to sleep in my luxury 4 poster bed on my own.

Thankfully, the next morning’s journey was quite delightful indeed. Nothing to complain about- as I would expect with my favourite airline. An immediate 9am Singapore Sling was always a requirement.

Now, I said earlier that the Gods had been sending messages to me. They had also been sending them to Paul- the other half of the extreme date! He had arrived at the airport to be told he was also delayed due to a volcano erupting. It would appear that both of us choose to ignore fate!

But back to the story. I arrived in Singapore not looking particularly fresh faced, but there I was looking at Paul standing at arrivals, holding a single red rose. Now, I’m not one for a cliché… but I was safe in the knowledge that the rose had come from a person dressed as Elmo who was giving them out on Valentine’s day, so I’ll let him off!

I should probably explain something here. Although this was our first date, this wasn’t the first time we had met. We had, by this point, met in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Manchester. Not as a couple, but we knew each other. I also had friends that lived in Singapore and Malaysia. So, although it seems like I’m super flighty and brave- I was well aware that I had a back up plan if it were needed!

And so it was all set. It was a day later than planned, but we made it to Raffles for our first date. It’s a bit tough to go back to going to Pizza Express after sitting drinking Singapore Slings in the bar that created them. We sat, we drank, we laughed, we threw peanut shells on the floor and we howled with laughter as the band referred to us as honeymooners. The look of shock as we said it was a first date was wonderful! (and, to be truthful, a beautiful premonition as we not only got engaged in that same bar a few years later, but we also went back for our honeymoon with our little boy!)

To be honest, the whole 6 days was a first date. We went to marvellous sky bars, to theme parks, to water parks… and it worked. It really did.

So, I guess the question is would I recommend it? Of course I would. We’ve been together for 9 years now. Sometimes you have to take a risk- albeit a calculated one. Make sure you have a back up plan if things don’t go as planned. But go on, see what fate has planned for you!


It’s safe to say Jen and Paul have maintained their love of Singapore, F1 and adventures (some – including Jen – would also say drama and calamity!) Their wedding cake was an architectural marvel, a representation of the famous Marina Bay floating ship building in Singapore (google it, they had it made into a cake!!), and their son has the middle names of the park in Melbourne where they met (Albert) and Stamford (after Stamford Raffles who founded Singapore).

We’re so glad this story has a happy ending – I’m sure you’d agree it had potential to end very differently

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