Dining solo

Photo (c) Robert Pittman

Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, I’d recently come across a blog post by @rachelsbickly on dining solo, an activity that has been playing on my mind of late. It’s quite surprising that I’ve reached this age without ever having had an evening meal in a restaurant on my own, but I guess the occasion has just never arisen. However, I’ve been planning to have a few days away on my own (mostly to prove to myself that I can cope alone) and so it was time to deal with this particular fear.

Now, I don’t have a problem with having a coffee on my own while out shopping or indeed of eating lunch alone, but there is something about dining in a restaurant in the evening that feels different, probably because, as Rachel says, it is usually thought of as a social occasion and something to be enjoyed with others. However, this weekend I took the plunge and am spending a couple of nights in a B&B in St. Ives, and tonight was my first night dining solo.

Following some of the tips in Rachel’s blog post, I took my time looking around at the dining options in St. Ives – and there are a lot of options here – and finally chose one that looked inviting. I wasn’t too sure whether eating alone in an empty or full restaurant would be worse – I think I would feel quite conspicuous in both – so I plumped for one that was somewhere in the middle. I also took a good book with me (I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s Dance, Dance, Dance at the moment) so that I had something to do other than staring at the other diners!

I think I knew deep down that no-one else in the restaurant would give two hoots if I was sitting on my own and wouldn’t give me more than a brief glance (I wasn’t expecting the kind of unwanted attention that it seems Rachel had suffered in the past) and this is exactly how it turned out. In spite of wondering whether I would be tempted to rush through my meal to get out again as soon as possible, I actually spent longer than I had expected, enjoying two courses accompanied by a glass of wine and finishing with a coffee. The book was my saviour, as I got very engrossed and didn’t take all that much notice of what was going on around me, but I think I would have felt quite differently if I hadn’t have had that distraction.

All in all, I found it a positive experience and would say that I actually enjoyed myself and found it rather relaxing – and I will certainly not feel as daunted by the prospect when I repeat the process tomorrow night. I’m not sure I’d feel quite so comfortable doing it in a country where I don’t speak the language, but I think I’ll leave that for another day. One step at a time!


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