How to enjoy the single life in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 11:44 11 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:10 11 February 2016
As the county goes crazy for Valentine's Day this month, you could be forgiven for thinking that Surrey is the exclusive preserve of smug marrieds. But there's plenty going on for the singletons too, as Jenny Cook reveals here
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2016
There’s no doubt that for the modern ¬day singleton, Surrey can often seem like a hostile environment, full of loved-up couples snuggling up in their cosy cottages, whispering to each other in quiet corners of country pubs or holding hands as they go on long rambling hill walks. Yes, sometimes it can be tough sharing this picture-perfect county with what seems to be an abundance of equally as perfect couples.
However, in the face of the looming day of dread that is February 14, Surrey singletons shouldn’t shy away from the world and bunker down for a Bridget Jones-esque rendition of All By Myself. No, no... On the contrary, February is a time for fresh starts, for having a second go at that already ¬failed New Year’s resolution, and for giving your non-existent love life a bit of a makeover...
A walk in the park...
In a county famous for its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is the God-given right of every Surrey singleton to enjoy the great outdoors just as much as our loved-up counterparts. Cue walking groups – the perfect solution for those of you that cringe at the thought of going it alone on the hills.
Enter Bob Haywood, area officer for popular walking group the Surrey Ramblers, who says that group walks can be especially beneficial for those who are single and ready to mingle.
“Whichever group you walk with, the majority of walkers tend to be single whatever the age group, making it far easier for other singles to mix in and soon be made welcome,” he says.
“Walking can be a solitary pursuit but in a group of like-minded people you don’t need to know the way, as the trained leader is there to deal with that, and you often discover places you may not have been to before.”
Surrey Ramblers currently has 700 members of all age groups, and there is a walk every day of the year, meaning you can pick and choose which ones you go on. They range from three-mile gentle rambles to 20-mile strenuous hikes. There are weekends away, social meet-ups, visits to local landmarks and sights, as well as live music venues, pubs, barn dances, brewery tours and many other social activities.
“It is not uncommon for people to get together in a romantic way, and this applies to all age groups, including those who are in their 60s and 70s,” says Bob.
One thing is clear: you never have to walk alone in Surrey. So dust off the cobwebs from your boots, pack up your picnic and get outside. Here’s hoping that you come across one of the 300 kissing gates that Surrey Ramblers have installed along the way.
A vintage experience...
So that’s the outdoor activities taken care of; but how about those evenings out? Come the weekend, all singletons recognise that Friday feeling: you’re ready to hang out with friends or go for dinner with colleagues, while all they want to do is head home to their partner for a weekend in coupledom. Meanwhile, the limited options when it comes to company often lead us to resort to a weekly rendezvous with our own all too significant others – namely Merlot, Malbec, Pinot et al.
But maybe February is the perfect time to get to know those who are always there for you, no matter what, a little bit better. Why not give them the attention they deserve and do a bit of swatting at the Surrey Wine School?
Based in Guildford, the school provides a whole host of events for those who appreciate the ‘wine-er’ things in life, from long-term courses to one-time tastings. Owner of the Surrey Wine School, Jeremy Blood, says that the courses are a great way of learning about the wonderful world of wine in a relaxed and friendly environment.
“There is always a great mix of people of all ages and backgrounds, male and female, singles and couples,” he says.
“Our wine tastings are entertaining and good fun, pitched at a level that ensures all the guests learn something new about wine and, most importantly, have a great time doing so. All the wines tasted are also available from local merchants and affordable too.”
Whether or not you’re in the market to replace your favourite bottle with a special someone, this is sure to be a fun alternative to a normal evening in. And if you don’t pick up a love interest, you can just pick up an exceptional bottle of vino (or several) instead. What’s not to like?
For those in search of a more cosmopolitan night on the sauce, it can undoubtedly be quite tempting for singles to migrate from Surrey to nearby London. However, there’s really no need to trek in to the capital, wasting valuable dance time and mojito money on the train or taxi, when there’s a wealth of bars and clubs right here on your doorstep.
For those of you who feel a bit too old to be gracing the sticky dance floors of Casino Nightclub on MNG (Monday Night Guildford), there are some really good bars tucked away that are just waiting for you to discover them.
Celebrity journalist and Surrey Life reader Lucy Jones gave us the lowdown on the best places in the county to go on a night out, including some top tips on where’s best to bump into any all-star crushes.
“MKB cocktail bar in Guildford is one of my favourite places to go in Surrey,” reveals Lucy. “Their drinks are incredible and they do great live music.
“Red Bar in Weybridge is also ideal if you fancy a classy night out with amazing cocktails and tapas. It’s so chic with the mood lighting and has such a buzzing atmosphere.
“It’s also a popular hangout for local celebs so if you’ve got your eye on a Chelsea footballer then this is the place for you.”
What’s more, if you’re feeling brave, there’s any number of speed dating events going on this month, including singles parties put on by the dating website, SpeedDater.
“I’d definitely be up for trying speed dating,” adds Lucy. “I think it would be a fun thing to do even if it’s just for a laugh!”
So there you have it. With so much going on in our county and so many opportunities to get involved in new activities and meet interesting people, there’s really no excuse for any hermit habits or Bridget behaviour. Get up, get out, and make Surrey the county of singletons this February.
Need to know
• The Surrey Ramblers welcome new members throughout the year: surreyramblers.org.uk
• The Surrey Wine School has a number of events around Valentine’s Day: surreywineschool.com
• SpeedDater are running events in Guildford throughout 2016: speeddater.co.uk