…in the kitchen with the top chefs from Waddesdon’s The Five Arrows. The hotel is offering it’s first ever cookery school and demo. The deal is that you’ll get an interactive cooking demonstration, followed by a two-course lunch with wine in the restaurant, then back to the kitchen for more cooking gems and to collect your five-course meal to take home for the ultimate dine-in dinner date. It’s genius and good value at £95 per person.
GET LOCKED UP
There’s nothing like the bonding that comes from solving a puzzle to escape a locked room (ok, probs not for the claustrophobes among you). With Escape Rooms in Oxford, Milton Keynes and Didcot among our local options, there’s plenty of choice. and escape room – didcot/oxford – How does 60 minutes in a locked room with your date sound? If it’s an exhilarating date you’re after, then head to Escape Hunt for an escape room experience in Westgate shopping centre. There are multiple different rooms to choose from with themes such as Pirates, Alice in Wonderland and Doctor Who. There is a fully stocked bar to enjoy even if you don’t manage to escape! This is a unique date experience that is sure to get you and your dates adrenaline going.
Being cosy doesn’t just mean sofa slumming – swap that old sweatshirt for chunky knits and the remote for a warming rioja, and bring on the cosy pub night – or afternoon (hey, it gets dark early). Oxford’s cobbledy streets are a trove of ancient little inns like The Bear and The Turf Tavern, though if negroni is more your winter warmer, kick up yer heels and head to the cosy downstairs bar at Angels Cocktail Bar, the Muddy Award-winning Tipsy Mercer in Abingdon, the cute games room at The House or intimate Sandy’s Piano Bar where the cocktails come with musical entertainment. If cosy pubs are your thang, here’s our guide to the open fire/ale on tap/dog warming your feet type pubs in Bucks and Oxon.
Generate a little frisson with your playmate – but no sore losers, ‘kay? Start with a spot of Junkyard Golf in Oxford – basically crazy golf on steroids accompanied by insanely sweet cocktails. There’s three courses to tackle. We like Bozo, the deranged fairground course with scary clowns and mini carnival rides. How about competing over the roulette wheel? Take it up a notch with some grown up fun at Milton Keynes’ casino (who knew!), which has slot machines, table games, poker and, a cocktail bar where you can spend all your winnings.
If you’re going to let someone loose on your bod, you want to avoid spa hell (sniffing therapist, tinny music, grubby towels, soulless treatment room) and go full-out mega spa, like The Langley in Bucks. It’s got the proven track record – five star Muddy review, 16m pool, state-of-the-art gym and five treatment rooms – but with quirks… amethyst crystal steam room, Himalayan salt sauna and the only hotel hammam outside of London tickle your fancy? Treatment wise, the Orange Blossom Massage is a fruity little number, with warm oils drizzled top to toe, and rubbed in Swedish style (£165 for 90 mins).
On coffee. Silly! Learn how to roast, brew and (properly) taste coffee at one of the experience days at Horsebox Coffee Co HQ near Wallingford, Oxon. What could be more bonding than learning how to perfect each other’s favourite morning brew?
Well… hopefully not if you don’t rock the boat… While most other boat hire operators shut down over the winter, AV Boats, which has a base in Benson and further up the Thames in Abingdon, has self-drive electric boats for hire in Feb. The best bit? You can drive to the nearest pub and warm up after a little adventure on the water. In the case of Abingdon, it’s about 50 yards away – the island pub, The Nag’s Head. Doesn’t float your boat? Check out our other ideas for alfresco adventure in the counties.
If you’re a Milk Tray/flowers/steak supper kind of classic romantic, this is the night out for you – go and watch performances of Snow Maiden, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet (!!) in Oxfordshire (!!). They’re coming to the New Theatre Oxford from 10-12 Feb. What more could you want from a gal/valentines night out? Passion, tragic romance, captivation, betrayal…and astonishing calf muscles. If that’s not quirky enough, how about a skeleton orchestra? Aylesbury Waterside Theatre seems to have mixed up Halloween and Valentines when it hosts The Rock Orchestra by Candlelight (above) on 13 Feb – expect window-shaking rock, heavy metal and lots of eye make up.
GET YOUR GROOVE ON
Who wouldn’t want a few burlesque moves up their sleeve? Attitude is a dance school for adults with classes in Oxford and Abingdon for beginners and intermediates in modern dance and burlesque. Classes are drop-in with no need to book… which means you’ve just run out of excuses… Unless, of course, disco is more your groove? Try the Rollermania roller-disco on Friday nights in High Wycombe. Expect a live DJ, disco lights, and there’s skate hire if you can’t find that pair you last wore in the 80s… Not exactly glam but definitely up their in the quirky/hilarious/nostalgia stakes.