Dating post-lockdown

by Maddie

Back in lockdown, myself and Sam struggled with how to make our downtime as a couple special. In some ways, we were incredibly fortunate to be living with each other in the pandemic, and our hearts felt for every couple who had been forced apart due to coronavirus restrictions. But in other ways, we were struggling: unable to visit family, check up on loved ones, have them by our side. We were two hours away from our families, and worried about when would be the next time we’d see them.

Date nights weren’t a thing anymore, as we were both furloughed and our time together moulded into an endless stream of sitting down to watch Netflix. I’m sure lots of couples will agree that relationships didn’t feel ‘special’ anymore; no effort could be made to do anything that resembled a ‘date night’, and even if that was possible, the world was feeling too gloomy for silly things like making an effort to actually date.

Our only solace was taking ourselves on long, isolated walks together, celebrating the beauty of the place we call home, and dressing up (which felt a bit dumb) to cook a new recipe with a bottle of wine on the side. But as I’ve said, dating felt unimportant in a new, perilous world. Then, after months and months, restrictions eased, and we could venture back outside again. But, dating post-lockdown – what is it really like?

A couple of weeks ago, we got invited as a couple to go and try out the new and improved Botanist restaurant in Bristol. When I was at University in Birmingham, heading to The Botanist for dinner felt faaaancy, and now, in 2020, we were buzzing for a bit of normality and a ‘date night’ to finally rear its head. What were my thoughts on making the effort and dating again post-lockdown? Here’s what our evening at The Botanist taught us:

It still feels frivolous to have a ‘date night’ at a time where coronavirus is still with us

It’s hard. There’s always a bittersweet feeling hanging over every freedom-induced action we’re all taking across the globe at the moment. As humans, we crave social company, getting out, experiencing the ‘normal’ world as we know it, and so it is nice to treat ourselves and do special things like have a ‘date night’. Life is for living. But, with the real threat of coronavirus still looming in society, it does feel frivolous and silly being out for a ‘date night’ when the virus is still with us.

Our morals make us question whether it’s ‘worth it’ – should we just be ultra careful, never go out for dinner and therefore decrease our chances of accidentally spreading the virus amongst strangers? My worst fear is being someone that is asymptomatic, and carries the virus and infects another person without even knowing. That is unthinkable and horrible to me. So it just isn’t the same going out for dinner – something we used to do with carefree abandon – at a time where celebrating, indulging and having a good time feel frivolous.

But, the evening was beautiful – and I think what we’re learning is to survive in a coronavirus world, it’s all about balancing the economy, our happiness and well-being, and public health. It’s hard, but we will get there.

Having food out somewhere and not taking the all-too-easy option of dins in our pjs at home felt special

Sam and I are the kind of couple that just don’t make an effort midweek when it comes to dinners. We’re shattered from work, we cook up something easy (fry some veggies, chuck on rice, oh, yes, that’s gourmet) and we usually eat at the table in our pjs or ‘comfies’ whilst watching Friends and barely chatting from sheer hunger and tiredness. So, actually forcing ourselves to make the effort, get dressed up on a TUESDAY NIGHT (unheard of) and head to The Botanist down the road from us in Clifton was dreamy. It’s just the small act of showing up for each other and making an effort that makes the night special.

Food being cooked for us by someone else is DELICIOUS. And particularly when it’s as fancy as The Botanist

Okay, so one thing Sam and I always say is that you never enjoy food quite as much as when someone else is cooking for you. Cook for yourself on a weeknight and by the time you’ve made the effort, you’re ready to go to bed and not excitingly enjoy the tastes of your own dins. But sit down leisurely in a faaaancy restaurant and get served up luxury, and you’re bladdy well enjoying that food.

We started with the sharing camembert (I mean, the epitome of indulgence) and the chipotle chicken bites – a combination that just made my tummy very happy. To me, nothing says luxury like dipping a bit o’ crusty bread in a camembert. We’re not the type to buy fancy cheeses for home, so this was a TREAT, I tell ya. And I could have sobbed over how delish the chicken was (non-veggies, this really is for you).

And then, the mains came: Sam had their luxurious dirty burger. Cheese, chorizo, beef, all the fun stuff – it was dirty (napkins at the ready) but because you’re in such a posh restaurant surrounded by others also getting cheese allll over their faces, you feel like it’s okay to be dirty with ’em. And for me: I had the gammon and chips. Sounds like something that should be served up at your local Spoons, but when I say gammon and chips by The Botanist, I mean LUXURY gammon and chips. It was otherworldly. Best eggs I’ve ever had – don’t know why, I’m not a chef, but they’d done somethin’ good with ’em.

Having a cocktail (or two) felt like the biggest luxury ever

Drinking in lockdown was weird, right? When it first began, we were drinking LOTS, without fail, every Saturday night. Zoom calls and bottles of wine (to oneself) became the norm. Then, as time went on, I was DONE with drinking. Now, I hardly drink. So having some faaancy cocktails at The Botanist together felt like a real treat – and, I mean, you can do cocktails at home, but it’s not quite the same as having them out out, is it?

As humans, we need a change of scenery

Humans crave social settings. We crave changes of scenery, variety, a chance to explore our surroundings. It’s important to us. So getting your gladrags on and heading out for a fancy dinner is needed! At The Botanist in Bristol, they’ve had a biiiig refurb, and when I say fancy, I mean the decor is FANCY. The lighting is low and ambient, the plush stools and bench seats are littered with cushions that probably cost more than my bank account would allow, and the marble outside seating and tables cast a European, alfresco dining feel that just makes you excited to be alive, okay? It’s just great.

Hospitality businesses are taking hygiene and safety SERIOUSLY – which is a relief to know

It’s a massive relief to know this. I know a lot of us were nervous to venture out after lockdown, and were worried about the policing of humans in these spaces. Get a few drinks down, and lots of people forget their boundaries, so it’s great to see the staff at The Botanist a) keeping everyone in check and b) ensuring health and hygiene is their number one priority. Our food took a little while to come, but it was due to strict hygiene measures put in place in the kitchen, and that was incredibly reassuring to see. I didn’t mind one bit waiting a little longer.

Being able to support businesses in our beautiful Bristol meant the world

We LOVE Bristol. It is our collective favourite place in the world as a couple and the place means everything to us. So to be able to go out and support the vibrant businesses that make Bristol the place we adore means a lot. It’s a hard balance, ensuring our well-being and happiness, the safety of ourselves and others and the economy in a pandemic, but The Botanist ensured we were cared for with incredible reassurance, incredible service and incredible food.

Dating post-lockdown ain’t so bad.

#ad #gifted #giftedmeal

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