Not every date ends with me driving an ambulance and picking up a hitchiker but that's exactly what happened on last night's Taranaki on a Date.
Yesterday's date with Reuben Doyle was comical before it had even began. I walked into a New Plymouth dairy yesterday afternoon on route to a friend's place and there before me was Reuben in the previous night's wedding clothes, purchasing two powerades and talking at speed on his phone to a friend about the plans for our night ahead.
Panic spread across his face as he realised there really wasn't anywhere to hide in such a small dairy and all I could do was give him a cheeky grin as I headed out the door.
Fast forward a few hours and a refreshed Reuben met me at my place in his painted up ambulance that he travelled the country in during the Rugby World Cup.
This was my first ride in an ambulance and Reuben's first question once on board was, "how much of that conversation did you hear in the dairy earlier?''. This, I could tell, was going to be a funny night.
We headed to Back Beach and as the story goes Reuben had been told by several friends that he should take part in Taranaki on a Date so his idea for the evening was actually a group effort by a committee and had his friends involvement on many levels.
We rock climbed Motuotamatea island after wading through a low tide and then crawled through a mass of trees and branches before appearing on the other side of the island at a clearing with a picnic blanket and hamper awaiting.
There wasn't a breath of wind and the sun was shinning and Reuben had arranged for his friend, Tane, a fantastic guitarist to be up there to play a few tunes for us.
It turned out Tane and a couple of other friends had been given the job of lugging a chilly bin and basket up the island and almost pulled the pin when a seal refused to let them through.
One member of the entourage took control of the situation and talked the seal down and hence we got our picnic.
It turns out Reuben and I know quite a lot of the same people and we laughed about old flames and people we had gone to school with, some of which had given Reuben interesting character reference's about me.
One New Plymouth policeman who I know from university had told Reuben I was loud and enjoyed quite a few wines. I'm not entirely sure that's a compliment but Reuben seemed to think it was.
The packed picnic was supplied by a chef friend of Reuben's and was a fantastic assortment of seafood, hummus, sundried tomatoes, breads and crackers. Oh and I must mention the bottle of bubbles.
With the picnic done we packed up and headed back down the cliff face and back up the sand dunes, which if you didn't have fitness on your side would have been an impossible challenge.
We headed out of town and got on to the discussion of dating in Taranaki. Reuben is convinced that it's just as easy to date in New Plymouth as it is anywhere else in the world, even London, it's just people's attitude to dating that affects it.
Reuben said he's only been on a couple of dates in the last few years but that doesn't reflect on his ability to meet girls in a whole range of environments. He encourages people to get out of their comfort zone, attend Taranaki Young Professional events, take up dancing and go to every opportunity that presents itself. And this is why we found ourselves at Sentry Hill's winery tour.
Reuben may have missed the turn off, something I realised but didn't speak up about as I was still pretending I didn't know where we were going.
Another comical highlight was Reuben breaking his jandals and spending the whole night tripping over them, I admired his persistence but eventually had to tell him to just give up.
We arrived in time to see Gin Wigmore. She was amazing and it was a perfect finish to an outstanding Taranaki date.
Oh and if you're wondering about the hitchiker. Basically I was still legal to drive and Reuben wasn't so after losing our sober ride home and me finding a replacement in the lovely Virginia Winder, we instead decided to go for an ambulance driving lesson 101.
It was an absolute hoot and definitely not something I'd done before and when BMX rider Matt came knocking on my door at a Lepperton intersection we couldn't refuse his plea for a ride back to town.
In he jumped and we laughed about him crashing our first date but in reality his presence couldn't have been anymore fitting.
Reuben's score for the date - 9.1
Jo's score for the date - 9
- Taranaki Daily News
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