First date ideas

The Top 5 First Dates – where to go on a first date

With the latest reincarnation of the fab Channel 4 dating show First Dates taking the blind date game up a notch by uprooting from its London restaurant home to a fancy hotel in the Provence area of France, we thought we’d take a look at our top five first date ideas.

First dates hotel

First Dates Hotel – seeking love and romance in France with the First Dates restaurant team

So, they’ve agreed to go on a date, but where are you going to take them? Some of these ideas are pretty off the wall, some are sure to break the ice, whilst others will simply wow them.

Of course, we could suggest something classic like a theatre and meal experience idea that gives you tickets to a top West End with a table reservation for two at a nearby eatery for dinner afterwards. But we are going one step further, having put our brave first dater hat on to come up with some pretty unusual and certainly memorable date ideas.

- Visit the Shard
Whisk your potential love interest up to the top of London’s iconic Shard building. They’ll love the amazing views. Maybe check they don’t have vertigo because it’s 244m up and make sure they don’t mind lifts, as you have to go in two of them get to the 68th floor! Order a cheeky glass of Champers at the small bar area on the 69th before soaking up the sounds and the vistas on the outdoor viewing platform on the 72nd level.

The Shard sunset first date

Watch the sunset on the 72nd floor of The Shard on for a high-rise first date

- Falconry for two
There’s something quite ethereal about birds of prey and, let’s face it, some of those small species of owls are just down right cute. The two of you will be able to get up close to, handle and even fly these majestic raptors to your gloved hands. It’s a rather calming, yet at the same time amazing experience that outdoor fans will love.

Owl experience first date

Meet, handle and fly some of the fluffiest owls on a first date in the countryside

- Scuba Diving for two
You might be as surprised as we were to learn that a scuba diving taster course for two is one of our best-selling experiences for couples. So why not take the plunge yourself and blow bubbles underwater with your prospective other half and invite them on a somewhat subversive first date experience in the pool! You never know, it could lead to a shared new hobby.

Scuba diving taster

A scuba diving taster for two. See if you can make scuba diving a shared hobby!

- Climb the O2
This is a date that’s certainly going to break the ice. Share your nervous anticipation as you get kitted up to literally walk up and over the roof of the famous domed O2 arena on London’s Greenwich peninsula. Once again, there are fab views from the top. The perfect first date for adventurous types who don’t mind if they end up with ‘helmet hair’ after this dome-top wander!

O2 climb date

A first date that takes bravery – invite them to climb the O2 with you!

- Helicopter Lessons for two
Will your romance take off when you surprise them with a helicopter lesson? Some might say it’s a bit extravagant for a first date, but what could be more thrilling than seeing perhaps the town where you live from your seat in the chopper? You might even be able to amaze them with your piloting skills as you get to have a go at the controls and actually fly the heli yourself.

Helicopter lesson for two

Literally take off on your first date with a helicopter lesson for two!

Of course, we’ve got all the wine tasting and dinner date deals you could ever need if you want to fall back on something of a more traditional first date, but we say why not throw caution to the wind and really go for it the next time you clinch a date!

You never know, you might end up really getting along and inviting them for a romantic weekend away at the First Dates hotel, which, romance fans, is actually Le Vieux Castillon in the lovely Castillon-du-Gard, midway between Avignon and Uzes in the sunny Languedoc Roussillon region of France.

Battle Archery - what is it?

What is Battle Archery? IntotheBlue investigates this on-target experience!

So what is Battle Archery all about then? We can tell you that Battle Archery, which is a bit like a cross between paintballing and archery, is brilliant fun.

Here’s all you need to know about Battle Archery:

What actually is Battle Archery?

Invented in the US of A, Battle Archery is also known as Tag Archery. Either way the idea is the same. You have a special bow that fires foam-tipped arrows and it’s played as a team game in an outdoor field or arena.

What is Battle Archery - the basics

What is Battle Archery? It’s a mix of paintball and archery, that’s what!

How do you play Battle Archery?

We won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of the rules (as each centre may differ anyway), but the essence of what battle archery is all about is easy – you run, dodge arrows and shoot arrows. Some games are based around point scoring, others are an elimination task.

Unlike paintball, your ‘ammo’ is unlimited and you don’t actually carry a stock of arrows with you. Game marshals put stashes of the foam-tipped arrows around the playing arena and, of course, there’s nothing to stop you picking up a fallen arrow and re-using it. In fact, it’s actively encouraged!

Foam Battle Archery arrows

Foam-tipped Battle Archery arrows

Some venues, such as this Battle Archery operator in Bristol, also offer a version called Aerial Archery, where you take aim at moving targets flying throw the air. The targets look a lot like clay pigeons, but they are made of foam. And similar to clay pigeon shooting, the targets can come at your from all different angles, trajectories and speeds.

Aerial Archery

As well as Battle Archery you can try Aerial Archery and shoot arrows at moving targets

Does it hurt?

Now here’s what sets Battle Archery apart from paintballing. There’s no stinging sensation after you’ve splatted and no bruises either. One Battle Archer game-player described it as ‘like being hit with a sponge’, which we think is quite a nice way of putting it.

Safety remains paramount through and all players will be kitted out with a full face mask and goggles, which are very much in the paintballing style.

Battle Achery mask

You’ll be kitted out in a full-face Battle Archery mask

What other kit do you need to be a Battle Archer?

As well as your face mask and goggles, you’ll be issued with an arm guard and a specific Battle Archery bow. These come in different sizes and are ambidextrous, that’s to say can be used by left or right handed shooters.

Do you need to be an archer to be able to take part in Battle Archery?

No! The instructors at Bristol’s Battle Archery centre always make sure players have a practice in the training area before going out into battlefield. This is to make sure everyone knows how to load and fire their foamy arrows.

Where it gets tricky is when you try to run, load a bow and fire it, whilst dodging getting hit by the very opponent you’re aiming at! It is pretty physical, as you’ll be sprinting and crouching down quite a lot and it’s also surprisingly tactical too.

Any tips on what the best battle tactics?

Watch out for snipers hiding behind barrels, keep your eyes peeled at all times and maybe work together to orchestrate a charge towards enemy lines? Oh and watch out for the game battle marshals, sometimes they can strike with their arrows too!

Battle Archery charge

One of the Battle Archery tactics could be a co-ordinated charge!

Where can you play Battle Archery in the UK?

The game is already really popular in Canada and the USA and it’s just coming to our shores. Keep an eye on our archery experiences page for the latest Battle/Tag Archery venues in the UK.

Now you know what Battle Archery is, it’s time for you to sign up and take the plunge into the foam-filled combat zone to see if you’ve got what it takes to be an ace Battle Archer!

Night Battle Archery

You can even try a night time Battle Archery challenge!

try new experiences in 2017

New Year, New Experiences – Bucket List Ideas For 2017

You know what it’s like in every year in January – ‘Do more sport’ ‘Lose weight’ ‘Get a new job’ ‘Get fit’ being screamed at us after the excesses of the festive period. We’ve taken a sideways look at New Year’s resolutions and resolved to offer you the craziest new products we added in the last year. Each and every one will make you feel alive and will put a smile on your face. And whilst we can’t guarantee it, they might well make you feel like a brand new you, so make it your new year’s resolution to go just a little bit crazy and try something new.

Our craziest, most unique experiences for you to try

In no particular order (as they are all a touch madcap in their own way), here are our picks of experiences, activities and days out that you should be determined to try in 2017:

i360 Brighton ride

Try the world’s first vertical cable car ride – i360 Brighton totally unique

i360 Brighton tickets
Brought to you by those clever people who came up with the idea for the London Eye, the i360 tower is billed as ‘the world’s first vertical cable car’. This, the tallest moving observation tower anywhere, is right on the beach front in Brighton. Incorporating the original and reconstructed ornate tolls booths that guarded the once resplendent Victorian West Pier, this new take on seaside sightseeing at 162m is a must do and totally unique.

DTV Shredder

Time to go shredding on a crazy DTV Shredder!

Go Shredding
Introducing the DTV Shredder. That’s DTV as in Double Tracked Vehicle and Shredder as in boardsports lingo ‘shredding it’, rather than referring to the rather dull piece of office equipment of the same name. This is the latest powersports craze that gives you the sensation of boardsports with the power of motocross, so they say. Get padded up and slalom down the hill on your DTV Shredder if you dare!

Steam car drive

Drive a 1909 Steam-powered Stanley car

Steam Car Drive
Back in the day, steam-powered cars were more popular than those with internal combustion engines. This is your chance to drive a very rare ‘Flying Teapot’ Stanley Steam Car that has been lovingly restored. Fire up the boiler, fill her up with water and with a puff of steam you’re off, driving a 1909 Steam Car out on the public roads.

jet surf experience

Give the latest power sports craze of jet surfing a go!

Jet Surfing
If you’ve already tried the likes of flyboarding and jet levs, you’ve got to try Jetsurfing! As mad as it sounds, a motorised surf board does indeed exist and now you can ride them in the UK. No need for waves, you’re powered over the water by your very own little motor built into the board. Hang ten, hit the hand-held throttle and zoom off, busting some fine carving moves as you go.

Mega slides, rides, reptiles, lights, flights and drives – our crazy experiences continue

Orbit slide

Ride the Orbit Slide at London’s Olympic Park

Ride the Orbit Slide
Remember Anish Kapoor’s Orbit sculpture that towered over the London 2012 Olympic Park? Well, now you can actually slide all the way down it. The world’s longest and highest slide ride will see you launching off into a metal tube that wraps its way around the Orbit no less than 12 times. In between screaming, see if you can count them. Oh and there’s a near-vertical drop 50m from the end of the ride for a fine finish to your Orbit Slide ride.

horse tricks

Trick riding on horseback – who knew you could learn that in just a couple of hours?

Learn Trick Riding
Who knew that doing vaults and striking acrobatic poses on horseback was actually a thing, let alone a competitive sport? Now you too can have a go at trick riding. There’s no need to be a gymnast or even know how to ride a horse. If you’re up for it and willing to give it a go, you too could be riding round standing on a horse and even learning how, using a Cossack saddle, you can ride on the side or underneath a horse. Crazy indeed!

crocodile encounter

Cuddle a crocodile and even swim with them on an amazing crocodilian experience

Crocodile Encounters
Meeting these sharp-tooth Crocodilians is one thing, but actually going swimming with them in a splash pool and giving them a cuddle afterwards has got to be sheer recklessness hasn’t it? If you’re into your reptiles this is off the scale in awesomeness, as you get the inside look into these often misunderstood animals at a specialist centre in Bristol. Make it snappy and book yourself in!

Neon art workshop

Book in to a neon art workshop and light up your life with neon!

Neon Workshop
We love, love, love this experience as it will quite literally light up your life. Neon lights might have been replaced by LEDs these days, but there’s something just brilliant about creating your very own neon sign to take home with you. Throughout the course of the day you’ll learn how neons are made (including using a crazy gadget called the Electron Bombarder) in this, our most illuminating workshop ever!

A Team GMC drive

Drive a lookalike A Team GMC van around a race track

A Team van drive
Join those loveable soldiers of fortune off of the 80s when you get to drive a fine replica of the A Team van! This is your chance to climb aboard the GMC Vandura that looks just like the one Sgt Bosco ‘BA’ Barracus drove in the mega hit TV show and take it for a wheel screeching spin around a race track. Mohawk haircut, half tonne weight of gold chains and rings are not compulsory!

Jet set paris & eiffel tower lunch

Hop on your private jet to Paris to have lunch at Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower

Private jet and meal at the Eiffel Tower
If you’re crazy in love, nothing can beat taking off in a private jet on a flight path to Paris with you two as the only passengers. On landing, you’ll be chauffeur driven to Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Jules Verne’ in the heart of the Eiffel for tower for a fine luncheon with a view. This is pure indulgence and it doesn’t come cheap, but what a way to say ‘I love you’.

So there you have it. Make a New Year resolution with yourself in 2017 to try something a little bit crazy and unique that’s sure to put a huge smile on your face. Here’s to a fantastic 2017.