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Coronavirus: Five date ideas for couples during isolation

A weekend in Edinburgh? A trip to the cinema? A concert to see our favourite band?

These are all plans me and my partner have had to move into a bottomless pit of ‘things to do when all this blows over’.

Keeping romance alive can be tricky at the best of times to balance out against financial pressures and time limitations. Alternative dates are nothing new. There was legend of a local Romeo when I lived in Leicester, who showed his date the ‘sights of America’, which included a visit to a seven foot high Statue of Liberty replica and meal in a restaurant called Maryland (which was infamous for serving chicken of a such a quality that it would only be welcome after a long, hard night out).

The Statue of Liberty...in Leicester
The Statue of Liberty...in Leicester

But the coronavirus has raised the bar for romantic challenges. Working from home has meant for some couples, this means being around each other a lot more. My parents are currently alternating between working on house repairs and ‘work’ work at the dining table. But for others, including myself, it may be some time before we see each other again. It makes me wonder how Will Smith would have coped in Hitch, or how Hugh Grant would fare in, well, any Hugh Grant film. In fact, Covid-19 will almost inevitably be used as a backdrop for a romantic comedy in the next five to ten years (depending on how long we are kept inside for).

Until then, here are some tips for some alternative date nights:

Go for a walk

For all of these suggestions I feel I should attach the huge asterisk that it was all correct as of Wednesday, March 25 - and that further government measures may have been installed by the time you read this, and the rumoured ban on one person gatherings may have been enforced. But at the time of writing, taking exercise once per day is allowed - as is gathering with one other person. It was a bit like the government thought up their policy with an alternative date in mind. For couples living apart, this may be possible as well if you are able to both walk and talk at the same time. You may even be able to take and send pictures to each other if you come to points of interest - but this all may depend on your service provider. In Bury I can barely leave my bedroom without my signal vanishing.

If you want to get full value from your constitutional ‘one exercise session per day’, you could always try going for a run.

Watch a film

Go on then, what’s the guiltiest pleasure you’ve put on so far? You’re allowed. I won’t judge you. One week in, the bar has already been set pretty low for me with PS. I Love You, a romcom that is so average one almost wishes the lockdown had been in place in 2008 so Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler’s characters never met. At the other end of the scale, I have also watched A Quiet Place and found shots of empty high streets didn’t provide the escapism I was after, somehow. Living apart, this has been possible to by watching the same film at the same time and then discussing it after. A lesson from this is that Netflix has a different offering for UK customers and those who live in Germany - and most of the good films are on either one, or the other, but not both.

Monopoly...putting relationships to the test since 1903 (William Warby)
Monopoly...putting relationships to the test since 1903 (William Warby)

Game time

Board games are back in fashion. And thanks to the internet, loved ones far afield can join in as well, whether that is by hosting an online game of chess - or by holding a camera to a board. Considering this need for technology, maybe it is good the lockdown happened after we became sufficiently advanced online - and Hilary and Gerard could be allowed to get together after all? But treat this one with caution, the last thing you want to do is fall out over a round of Monopoly.

Great debate

Remember being able to have conversations in a coffee shop? Setting time aside to have a quality chat about one set issue, or whatever topics came to mind? Remember last month? Cafes may be closing their doors, but that does not put an end to having a catchup over coffee. It may be a good opportunity to explore deeper issues now that life has been put on hold - perhaps if you can challenge yourself to go for half an hour without talking about the coronavirus.

A romantic dinner

If you live together, this is a given. But for couples apart, the coronavirus has given the chance for anyone to replicate Channel 4’s Cook-a-Long, and then turn this into an eat-a-long. Ideally this could be achieved by making the same dinner - but with supermarkets currently on the bare side, it may be achieved by putting together a meal of random ingredients, replicating another TV series: Ready, Steady, Cook.

Read next: The food and drink businesses in the Bury St Edmunds area which can deliver to your home

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