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Our first parent date night!

Update alert!! Since I became a parent in December 2020, I’ve finally managed to bin off the baby and have a date night with Dan. I may have spent three weeks in advance fretting about the idea of leaving my little girl with someone else for the night, but I bit the bullet and did it. We dropped V off at my mum’s on a Saturday afternoon and made our way towards Chafford Hundred station, destined for London.

Our plan was to stay in a hotel near Liverpool Street, grab some dinner, then make our way to White Hart Lane to watch the boxing. Dan had managed to snatch us a couple of tickets to the AJ vs Usyk fight, and all the undercards too. Dan loves his sport, and I quite like watching a few – boxing, MMA, cricket, football – so even though the both of us aren’t necessarily AJ fans, we were actually excited.

First we dropped off our bags at Great St Helen Hotel, near Liverpool Street Station, and I used our spare time to get ready for the day. Our room was number 2, directly opposite the reception desk, and ‘accessible’. I’m not sure how easily someone in a wheelchair would be able to get through the double doors leading into the room, but it was fine for us. Despite a beautifully decorated room, and a refreshing shower, the bed was like sleeping on a slab of concrete.

Once I’d showered, done my hair, and painted my face, we shot out to reach Covent Garden, where I had booked a table at Palm Court Brasserie. We ended up being five minutes late, but were still greeted with a smile and led to a table for two inside the dimly lit, red and gold restaurant. It was busy, which I guess should be expected for the centre of Covent Garden on a Saturday. Since there was a risk I wouldn’t make it to late night cocktails, I decided to start our first parent date night with a Bellini. Since it was September, wild mushrooms were in season, and the chef had created a collection of specials which included autumn mushrooms in the dish. I thought I would compliment the chef by ordering one of them: duck breast, with wilted spinach and mushrooms, and a side of dauphinoise potato.

Related: Drinks at The Escapologist Cocktail and Wine Bar, London

Dan ordered a fillet steak with chips. We both agreed that our meals were delicious. I might even go so far as to say I’d have it as a last meal on death row! What a lovely way to start an excellent evening.

After dinner, we decided to wander around Covent Garden in search for some dessert. Covent Garden heaves with tourists, so I wouldn’t dare suggest it’s a ‘hidden gem’, but it is somewhere that visitors to London should spend an hour or so. There are higher end shops like Rolex or Godiva chocolates, but there are also market stalls. In one of the lower sections of the arcade, a busker sang opera favourites to entertain visitors – and did not earn anywhere near as much as he deserved, in my opinion. We bought ourselves a pot of Venchi gelato each and lingered to watch him. I picked two flavours, pistachio and hazelnut chocolate, and loved the perfect nutty combination. Pistachio ice cream is my favourite, closely followed by coconut, and since they’re not particularly common flavours, it felt a real treat.

We then had to make our way to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, using the Overground from Liverpool Street to White Hart Lane (we popped back to the room to grab a coat). I must admit, as an Arsenal fan, I felt a little dirty but I soon got over it when I saw just how impressive the stadium is. It’s not a grey, cold stadium like I associate with other football grounds. It’s brightly lit, freshly painted. Its food outlets aren’t tatty shacks, but are more like a mall food court. There was no need to search for toilets, as there are plenty at each outlet.

After waiting a century to get hold of two pints of beer, we made our way down to our seats in the South stand. By sheer luck, Dan had managed to get hold of front row seats, with a brilliant view of the ring and screens.

I’m going to specify now that I had a great time, because what’s coming next is going to sound a little negative. Actually, I’m going to sound like an absolute snob…

The behaviour! People spent the entire event trying to sneak into ringside seats, or sitting in seats that weren’t their own. For the first two hours there, none of our row-neighbours had actually purchased tickets for seats on that row. People used our row to jump the queue down to ringside, so we played an endless game of jack in the box. The guy sat behind us was desperate for some more ‘ket’, and Dan said that so many people were smoking in the men’s toilets that it was like 1952. Then, when AJ actually came out to fight, so many people decided to stand on the staircase next to us that we had to stand to be able to see the ring. It was a bloody nightmare, but still lots of fun.

I wasn’t even that bothered that he lost.

Once the fight was over, we followed the floods of people to Northumberland Park to catch a train back to Liverpool Street. Although it was just gone 12, we couldn’t bring ourselves to go back to the hotel just yet, so we made it to Be at One. Although we had a slightly awkward encounter with the bouncer (he made us stand in a queue of no people for a few minutes for absolutely no reason) we got in, I got my cocktails, and we managed to find a couple of chairs outside in the smoking area – Dan doesn’t dance, and is not as enthusiastic about mid-2000s R&B bangers as I am.

Our night ended with sipping drinks and laughter, and a wobbly walk back to the hotel, but I wouldn’t change our first parent date night for anything.

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