Dating on your doorstep

Dating on your doorstep

WE are most definitely in an age of supporting anything that is local to us. Whether we are talking about local shops, businesses or service providers, the overriding mantra is BUY LOCAL, and the concept makes perfect sense. Why travel when you have everything you need conveniently based right on your doorstep, and the products you need are tailored exactly to what you want.

Using local businesses makes us feel good because we know we are supporting our local economy AND at the same time we enjoy feeling connected to our community as there is great sense of ownership and responsibility.

There is an increasing trend for doing things and buying things near to where we live. We relish the familiarity and security that buying local gives us. Buying local makes us feel GOOD. And it is easy.

We are positively embracing buying our food locally, so why not apply the same theory to online dating?



After all, dating sites are service providers, the taboos of yesteryear are now a distant memory, and they have to be based somewhere. More often than not, trying to find a real person as opposed to a multi billion dollar business behind a dating site is pretty impossible. is based in rural Oxfordshire and is owned by two entrepreneurs who both live locally and have strong local connections. The team that supports the business is also made up of local business owners with backgrounds in web design and development, PR and communications and, of course, accounting and business services.

The whole project is deeply embedded into the local Oxfordshire community and provides a specific dating service for people in that area. With the city of Oxford and its dreaming spires right on the doorstep, there are plenty of amazing venues for dates and a wide selection of local single people who want to spend time with each other, rather than embarking on arduous journeys in the hope that this might be ‘the one.’

Members can be secure in the knowledge that the site they have chosen to use (which is, incidentally, currently free) is owned and controlled by real people who live in a village probably not that far from them. Add to that the fact that at least two of the people involved in developing the business have racked up over 100 Internet dates between them, and most definitely know what they are taking about, and any qualms you may have had about joining a dating site should quickly disappear. The business is ethical,  transparent and has a website jammed with free dating tips and advice.

While the big boys of Internet dating such as Match, Pof, OK Cupid and others remain undoubtedly the market leaders, smaller sites like are championing the cause for “buying” local and using local services.

Clare Beaney, is one half of the business partnership. She said: “I have had a lot of internet dates, and I didn’t want to travel hundreds of miles to meet someone. The big sites do have hundreds of thousands of members which is great, but do we really have time to wade through a large percentage of ‘unsuitables’ who live too far away? was created to provide an open and honest approach to Internet dating and to offer single people an enhanced online dating experience. We have taken this one step further by limiting our members to an area local to Oxford and Oxfordshire. We accept this this could be a business risk, but conversely also feel it makes us unique in what is a very overcrowded market.”

With many newbie online daters feeling overwhelmed by the well established dating sites, and horror stories regularly appearing in the media about online dating as a whole, is friendly, small and has a nurturing, community feel to it. The idea is to link up local people with similar interests and see if Cupid takes over.

Anona Hessler, the other partner in the business added: “We set out to provide an honest Internet dating experience, and that is what we will continue to do. Oxford and Oxfordshire has a wealth of interesting single people all looking for love, and we aim to bring them together by making matching as easy as possible. Why waste time connecting with people who are half a day away, when you can spend that precious time getting to know someone who almost lives on your doorstep?”

Cupid’s Christmas Countdown

Cupid’s Christmas Countdown!

So my festive single chums, here we go! The countdown to Christmas has officially begun and as we hurtle through Advent at an astonishing speed now is the time to take stock of our internet dating adventures.

Are you ready for Christmas? Are the fairy lights tangled and the tinsel looking a bit shabby? Have you made your own dating Advent calendar with a date for every day up until Christmas Eve?

It’s a funny old time for a lot of people and as someone who was very single for many, many Christmases I know, and remember well, how difficult this time of year can be when you are on your own. Try as I might to always put a brave face on things, I can honestly say that despite putting on my brightest lipstick, my sparkliest earrings, my highest heels and my biggest smile, Christmas on your own is not always that great.




Being surrounded by couples, whether they are family or friends, can be tricky. I think the worst time for me was Christmas Eve when my ex husband would come and take our children off for the day and I was left alone in the house. I blame this entirely for the fact, that for at least ten years, I maxed my credit card at BIcester Village!

So, to make sure that all of you lovely single people out there have a blast this Christmas, here are my top tips to inspire you and ensure you have the best time you can during the party season.

Invitations have already started arriving, and well meaning friends will probably invite you to spend Christmas with them. However, kind as though these gestures are, you must do what you want to do. Don’t feel pressured into accepting an invite to tag along to someone else’s Christmas Day if you don’t want to. On the other hand, sitting at home with a giant tin of Celebrations and the Breaking Bad box set probably won’t help either, so find a happy medium.

Dating at Christmas can be fraught and filled with hopelessly high expectations so be careful and look after yourself properly. Getting silly romantic ideas in your head about ice skating at Somerset House and sipping mulled wine in Bavaria are all very well, but if the reality is getting crushed in the pre Christmas sales and putting up with a mediocre lunch in your local Brewer’s Fayre then you will be very disappointed. Be sensible and remember that a date is still just a date-even at Christmas and there are no obligations for it to become your happy ever after. After all, you are not buying a puppy (because they are NOT just for Christmas obviously)

Singleness comes in different packages, and at Christmas this becomes painfully obvious. I am blessed with two children so although I was very much a single parent, I was always naturally very busy with nativities, carol services, school events and so on. By Christmas Day I was usually exhausted and just wanted to drink my bodyweight in Baileys.
However, for people who do not have children, a single Christmas is a very different affair. Once the potentially hideous office party is out of the way and you leave work for the holidays, what happens next? Yes there are probably various invites flying around, and perhaps you have a series of dates lined up for the whole of Christmas-if you have then well done! If not, and you seriously dread this time of year then scrape together whatever cash you have and get away for the holidays. Who knows…you might meet the one in a hotel bar or up a Welsh mountain.

Check back next week for more Christmas dating tips, but in the meantime think about what you really want for Christmas this year, and be honest about the kind of date you would like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning.

Christmas sandals from Next £30, chandelier earrings £10 from Next and red lippy from The Body Shop

Black Friday…do shopping and dating really mix?

Black Friday is coming…but don’t let bargains get in the way of dating!

Black Friday, allegedly the busiest day of the Christmas shopping calendar is here, and we will all be rushing out to grab those unmissable bargains. So can dating and shopping EVER really work?

In many ways dating and shopping are actually quite similar. If you think about it both involve research, browsing, trying things on, weighing up available options and then finally making a decision based on what fits, what suits and what you can afford! Of course some times we end up back in the very first shop we went into and often we get it all home only to find that it isn’t really right for us at all so we go back and ask for a refund…or an exchange!

I am indeed blessed to be married to a man who actually doesn’t mind a bit of light retail therapy now and then. As long as we integrate a decent premium coffee experience or a real ale pub into the event, all is good and shopping will be done-especially at Christmas. We tend to brave the hideous traffic to trot round Bicester Village or head to Banbury and our favourite coffee shop, The Whistling Kettle (follow them on Twitter @whistlingk) for our shopping trips. And, after just over a year of marriage we so far have not had any kind of shopping stress.

However, if you have just met someone and are on, let’s say date two or three, should you risk even suggesting combining a date with a bit of a browse around your favourite retail emporia?

Well there are two ways of looking at this dating dilemma. Firstly you could find that the person you are seeing actually loves shopping as much as you do and could even introduce you to some new shopping outlets and retail experiences. Combine a morning of shopping with a light lunch in a quiet romantic eatery and to be honest, what’s NOT to like!

On the other hand, if your date screws up their face, starts to sweat, breathe heavily and have some kind of retail induced panic attack then it is perhaps NOT such a grand idea. You will have to accept that the closest you are likely to get to any kind of shopping action is probably going to be the gift shop at the museum they will drag you to, or a cheeky browse on Amazon while they nip off for a wee.

I think it is a myth that all men hate shopping, as much as it is a myth that all women love it. I don’t love shopping for food in Tescos anymore than I like having root canal treatment, but that kind of shopping is essential to keep the family running.

However, strolling hand in hand through the twinkly lights of Bicester Village and browsing the beautiful but wildly overpriced goodies in the windows while sipping a chocolat chaud and wearing faux fur is quite a glamorous way to spend a date. Although I was there on a shopping date with Mr A the other day and it rained so my faux fur did look a bit like soggy road kill by the end of the experience.

So if you are heading out on a wintry Black Friday shopping date here are some top tips:

Agree, in advance, if you both actually WANT to brave the shops. If this is not the case and you are really keen to take advantage of Black Friday deals, then agree to meet post shopping after the dirty deed has been done.

If you are both up for some Black Friday action then either have a list of things you plan to buy, or agree to just do low level browsing and see what happens.

Dress appropriately-teetering around in high heels and freezing to death because you haven’t bought a coat will lead to misery.

Do let me know how you get on!

#Addicted to Vinted

Every year, at around this time, I feel the need to get rid of loads of stuff. This is part of my pre festive preparations and is not only therapeutic but also rather necessary. Consequently, local charity shops benefit from the piles of books, unwanted clothes and unloved but tolerated household items that have been gathering dust for far too long. In the boot they go and we trundle off to the recycling centre and local charity emporia.
Sometimes, if I feel my stuff is just too good to give away, I even sell it on eBay. This can work, but it is clear to me and everyone who knows me that selling is clearly not my strong point. To make anything resembling a profit on eBay you have to sell a lot of stuff. However, it would appear that swapping is something I might be quite good at.
Enter an amazing concept in recycling previously loved garments, shoes and accessories that doesn’t insist you sell anything, infact you can give things away, swap them for something else or sell them if you want to (and are any good at it)
Perfect! What better way to clear out the expanding wardrobe and make a bit of space for ….for what exactly? What do girls make space for when we ‘have a good old clear out’ ? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but despite my best intentions I have managed to acquire not only new items for my wardrobe but I have also developed an addiction to Vinted. And no, I don’t have any more space yet.
There. I have said it. My name is Sarah and I am a Vintie.
So far I have sold a couple of tops and a pair of shoes. I have purchased a camel coat for £6, a pair of flatform shoes for £4, a pair of boots reduced from £65 to £25 and a green sparkly jumper for £12. Oh and a lovely green bag that has hardly been used and cost £70. I got it for a tenner. I am currently in the midst of negotiations to buy a faux fur coat.
All of the above are high end high street brands, with a couple of exceptions, and those that are not, are brand new either with tags or without tags but never worn.
So, you see my massive problem! Vinted carries a really good selection of clothes, shoes, bags and accessories and the reason it works is because there is no bidding involved. If you want that Radley bag and the seller is asking for £30 then you either pay £30 or send them a message to see if they will accept an offer or do a swap. It is brilliant! I have actually just swapped one top for two while I have been writing this blog, and I am desperately waiting for that message about the faux fur coat…
So, as far as having a clear out is concerned, yes I am having a clear out. I am actively engaged in getting rid of things that I no longer wear, want or can fit into to. Unfortunately it has become apparent that all I am actually doing is swapping and acquiring to fill the gaps that have be even left by the things that I am actually trying to sell…there is some logic in there somewhere, I just know it.
Ah yes! I am SAVING money! Leather boots for £25 and a camel coat for £6! Winter classics for a fraction of the price I would have paid. Surely that alone can justify the strained look on our post lady’s face when she staggers up the drive every morning laden with large packages. Add to that the fact that I am beginning to positively loathe shopping, mostly because of the traffic, parking and general rudeness of people who choose to come to shop in Oxford or Bicester Village. I simply cannot tolerate parking rage, queue rage or any other kind of shopping-based rage and I am sorry, but I will NEVER queue to get INTO a shop, no matter how cheap the polo shirts might be. Banbury is the only place I would consider shopping in at the moment, and that is mostly because a fab new little coffee shop called The Whistling Kettle has just opened there, you can follow them on Twitter @whistlingk and it is a great place to blog from as the coffee is delicious, Peter and Sarah who run the business are a sheer delight and there are squashy sofas and wifi.
Anyway, I digress! I must dash as I have my eye on a pair of gorgeous gold Office shoes that I simply MUST have. Visit at your peril and be prepared to lose several hours of your life looking in other people’s wardrobes.

What's not to love? Thank you

What’s not to love? Thank you