Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Do You do Date Night?

OH and I are going to be spending forever together as Mr and Mrs very soon, but like many couples nowadays we're already living together as life partners.

We decided a few months ago that we should do a 'date night' each week: time consciously chosen to be spent in each other's  company. It's amazing how you can spend hours alone with each other but just end up staring at the telly. It's not good for the bum, the brain, the soul - or the heart.

Some date nights of extreme frugaldom will need to be planned in for after the wedding, but we're already applying some mantras: never pay full price if you can help it; dare to try something different.

The Date

Through a friend at work, OH got a great offer for theatre tickets. Some theatres offer great discounts to some associations, or for special preview nights. We were thrilled to be able to go and see a preview of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

This was a great production, directed by Gary Sefton (we saw his also brilliant production of A Christmas Carol), with some great comic performances. As you might expect with 500 year old humour, there's also a bit of nuddiness and scatalogy, but it's all fine. ;-P

As an avid theatre-goer, I really wouldn't mind paying full price to see this brilliant production... it was just an extra lovely bonus to get excellent tickets for less than half the cheap seat prices. It's not an opportunity that's going to come along too often - I think our next bit of theatre may be a bit of am dram, but as an am drammer myself, I know these can often be excellent too! (shush).

The Dinner

Of course, we needed to eat too! But why pay full price when, with a little planning, you can get a great deal? There are a few good restaurants near the theatre, and some do pre-theatre early bird offers. I checked to see what vouchers were available online and got one for Pizza Express, Monday-Thursday, 5pm-7.30pm, 25% off main meals (excluding calzones).

Well, on hearing that calzones were excepted, this placed the idea in OH's head that this was what he really wanted to have. No calzones - denied! But he went for a classic Pollo ad Astra pizza instead  - chicken, sweet peppadew peppers, red onions, mozzarella, tomato, cajun spices and garlic oil. I went for the Gorgonzola and Pancetta Leggera - with chilli, rosemary and leeks on a crispy Roman base and a dressed rocket salad middle (under 500 calories - got to think of the dress!). We both agreed that the pizzas we had were utterly gorgeous. And did they taste better for being discounted? Do you know, I think they did.

The Post-Theatre Drinks

A beautiful night should not end too soon, and so we decamped to The Wig and Pen. The Wig and Pen is lush, but a little pricey. It's clean, bright, and comfortable, with a great range of real ales, ciders, spirits, wines, and jolly nice food. Again, though, why pay full price? Not when we have CAMRA* membership! That's 10% off and everything's bright and reasonable again. At the pub we bumped into a friend who'd been to a play rehearsal of his own... so that's one am dram play we have pencilled in for a future date night.

*It's well-worth joining CAMRA if you are a real ale or cider fan. It's not just beer in pubs and supermarkets that gets discounted, as there are lots of member offers.


Amazingly, we managed to save just under £45 on our night out... it wasn't exactly a free night out, so has to be considered as a special treat, but it was still practically half-price.

What Would I Do Differently?

Despite what you may infer from the above, I would actually say that to save even more money it's worth resolving to drink less, or not drink at all. Alcohol takes the edge off your inhibitions, weakens the purse strings... and makes you lazily decide to get a taxi home instead of walking. Also, why always do the same thing? Do you really need a half-time ice cream?

So, next time...

1. Going am dram... as a member of the group I can buy  concessionary tickets, so even cheaper.
2. Taking bottled water/pop
3. Walking to the venue - and back!
4. Choose an awkward mid-run weeknight so not tempted to follow the cast back to the pub for post-gig drinks.
5. Either have a slow-cooker meal ready for after the show. Or have just one post-gig drink, maybe.

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