Dates with a Difference

By Charlie Smith-Knight


Love is in the air, everywhere I look around. But why? Honestly, it’s hard to say. It seems there is no one answer to why the modern-day celebrations of February 14th are attributed to St Valentine. Some say he was a Roman martyred Priest, who reportedly signed a letter ‘from your Valentine’ to his jailer’s daughter. Other reports credit him with having married couples in secret to spare men from being sent to war. Some historians take it back even further to the Pagan holiday Lupercalia. A popular festival whereby young men used the hide of sacrificed animals to whip young women, in order to promote fertility. Ah, the romance.

What we do know it is that somewhere along the way, February 14th has become a rose-tinted day for lovers. Baby cupid… tick. Cards filled with romatic prose… tick. Flowers… tick. Candlelite dinner… and, tick.

For some, Valentine’s Day is great; a chance to flaunt their love and shower their partner with gifts and attention. For others, it’s a pressure-ridden commercialised holiday and an excuse to sell over-inflated set menus. But like many things in life, there’s no reason to have to follow convention, or the crowd, to your nearest restaurant chain in order to spend time with your loved one. Maybe 2023 is the time to go off brand. Like Bob-Geldof-robbing-the-communion-plate level off brand.

A Rage Room

Ok, hear me out. This probably isn’t a first date set up. And possibly this isn’t for everyone but speaking from experience, this is extremely good fun. The concept is pretty simple, a rage room is a place to go to vent some anger by destroying objects. For our wedding anniversary this year, my husband and I tried Rage Room Norwich. As I have previously mentioned, I have cancer and understandably, we’ve both had a lot of feelings about that. So, I decided we could try this for some stress relief, and we were not disappointed. There are different packages available dependant on how many people are attending, with prices ranging from £40-£100. Once you’re suited and booted, you enter the room and pick your weapon of choice. There are cups hanging from the ceiling, plates on the wall and a pile of crockery, ornaments and various other smashables on a table. Then much like the Hulk, you smash. I can not tell you how satisfying it is watching shrapnel and debris explode past your face, as the music blares and you let your rage go. Much like a battle sequence from Saving Private Ryan without all the icky blood and gore. Meanwhile, your significant other watches your progress on a live feed from the comfort of the lounge area. And possibly, explains why you’re screaming to the nice people that work there. One tip, if you’re like me and your most athletic feature is your mood swings, I would suggest a warm-up. Once the adrenaline subsides, you may discover muscles you didn’t know you had… because they hurt. Either way, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and therapeutic experience. Maybe you’re mad about the economic climate, maybe you remember how annoying your partner’s breathing sounded during lockdown, whatever your rage, check out, where rage is a gift.

Axe Throwing

If a rage room is a step too far for you, maybe axe throwing is more your cup of Viking tea. Boom Battle Bar offers just such the budding Lumberjack experience for you. Prices start from £40 per lane and you can have up to 10 people on each, so it’s perfect for a double date too. Much like a medieval bowling alley, participants take it in turns and give it their best shot at hitting the target. Just y’know, with an axe. But be wary, rebounding has a totally different meaning when axe throwing so no open toed shoes or alcohol. No one wants to recreate Chandler’s worst Thanksgiving, especially on a date. The NHS is stretched enough. Boom Battle Bar also offers various other games like American Pool, Skee Ball, Electric Darts (your guess is as good as mine) and Beer Pong, so you can make a night or day of it and build your own gaming contest. The ultimate date for couples as competitive as the Williams sisters. Check them out at


Perhaps all this is still sounding a little too energetic. Fear not, Norfolk Snowsports Club may have just what you need. For £17 per person, you could take to the slopes for an hour, from the comfort of a rubber ring! Absolutely no athletic ability required. Admittedly, this isn’t going to be the sexiest of dates, as protocol requires full length clothing be worn, including long socks and gloves. But better to be Nun safe so you’re none sorry (feel free to use that, Norfolk Snowsports). Booking in advance is essential and snowboarding and skiing activities are also available for the less vertically challenged. There is even an Alpine bar on site so you can indulge in all those après ski vibes. Open to non-members and suitable for anyone aged 6+ (in case your babysitter is about as reliable as a pyramid scheme). For more details go to

Whatever you end up doing, and whomever you end up doing it with – all these activities are suitable for dates with best mates too – may your Valentine’s Day be one of love. And at least you won’t be getting whipped with the back end of a recently slaughtered goat in the hope it’ll give you the horn. So, you know, it could always be worse.

Looking for something more traditional?

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Norfolk and Suffolk this month, you’re in luck. From cozy pubs to breathtaking beaches, this area of England has no shortage of romantic venues and activities.

One option for a romantic outing is to visit the historic market town of Holt. With its charming independent shops and galleries, Holt is the perfect place for a leisurely afternoon stroll. You and your partner can pop into quaint tea rooms for a spot of tea and slice of cake, or browse the shelves of the town’s bookshop, which is known for its impressive selection of rare and antique volumes.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more active, why not head to the Norfolk coast and go for a bracing walk along the beach? There are plenty of stunning beaches in the area to choose from, such as Holkham Beach, which has been voted one of the best in the country. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could try your hand at kiteboarding at Brancaster Beach.

For a more laid-back evening, you can’t go wrong with a visit to one of Norfolk and Suffolk’s many cozy pubs. The area is known for its excellent selection of real ales and local ciders, so be sure to sample a few while you’re there. Some of our favorites include The White Horse in Blakeney, The Red Lion in Burnham Thorpe (the birthplace of Lord Nelson), and The Wine Vaults in Beccles.

If you’re in the mood for some live entertainment, there are plenty of options in Norfolk and Suffolk as well. The area is home to a number of small theaters and concert venues, such as the Fisher Theatre in Bungayand the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts in Stowmarket. These venues often host a variety of performances, from plays and musicals to concerts and stand-up comedy shows.

If you’re looking for a more intimate setting, you might consider booking a table at one of the area’s many romantic restaurants. Some of our favorites include Wells Crab House in Wells-next-the-Sea, which serves up delicious seafood dishes and The Dial House in Reepham, which has a cozy fireplace and an excellent selection of local wines.

No matter what you and your partner are in the mood for, you’re sure to find something romantic to do in Norfolk and Suffolk in February. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk along the beach, a cozy pub crawl, or a night out at the theater, this beautiful area of England has something for everyone.

The Crown

Woodbridge, Suffolk

This hotel is located in the charming town of Woodbridge and offers romantic rooms with antique furnishings and a bar. The upstairs of this historic hotel has been transformed into a luxurious yet affordable bedroom retreat, created by award-winning London-based designers Bentheim. Staying at The Crown is an enchantingly relaxing and satisfying experience.

The Dales Country House Hotel

Upper Sheringham, Norfolk

A secluded country-house hotel, bordering the National Trust’s Sheringham Park, which has cozy rooms including the option of a deluxe room with a four poster bed and a private balcony. Upcher’s Restaurant exudes the atmosphere of a traditional dining room with a stylish contemporary twist.  This creates the setting in which to sample the modern.