Valentine’s Day can feel like a war zone when you’re newly single. You can’t walk the streets for all the smugly-linked arms barricading your path.
So forget 50 romantic places to woo your lover – the internet’s full of them. This is a tour guide to the places to be sad and drown your sorrows in London town, either in solitude or with other members of your #BreakUpClub. Let’s go.
9. One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park, SE23
Literally the flip-side to the view from the top of Primrose Hill. Swap PDAs and sprogs for the birdsong and casual dog-walkers of One Tree Hill. It may sound like a half-baked American teen drama, but it’s actually a lovely spot flanked by cemeteries, to remind you of the fragility of life and shove everything into perspective. Watch the sun set on your relationship in peace in this well-kept secret in South East London. Makes Parliament Hill look cheesy, and is far enough away from everything to give you the distance you need to heal.
8. The Breakfast Club, Angel, N1
The cosiest little food-nest, and an 80’s time-warp in all the right ways. Fuck Disneyland: this is the happiest place on earth. You cannot be depressed about having had your heart ripped through your bum – in here, while surrounded by all the warm Eighties nostalgia, puns and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
7. Theobalds Park Camping & Caravanning, Waltham Cross, EN7
Go on holiday by mistake, at this eerie campsite only 20 minutes from Liverpool Street. An excellent place to dance in the rain next to some trees, static caravans and a stagnant canal called The New River, that is ‘neither new, nor a river’, according to its plaque.
At Theobalds Park, incomparable vistas vie for your attention – a dual carriageway here, a Slough-esque trading estate there. And if you’re lucky you’ll be able to jump around on an old abandoned fence like it’s a trampoline. Some friends and I spent a few days there in a badly-equipped tent from Lidl after a breakup, and it turned out to be one of the best weekends of our lives. There may have been copious booze consumed though. So don’t attempt to go there without at least a crate’s worth.
6. The Big Red – Holloway, N7
The pub where nobody knows your name. Lower your expectations as low as they can get, and you shan’t be disappointed. Perhaps The Big Blue would be a more apt name.
5. Feeling Gloomy, N1 and WC1
Lose yourself to New Romantic classics from the 80s and 90s: songs which sound happy, but are LYING. This unsung club night spins tunes which are euphoric and melancholic in equal parts. From The Cure to The Smiths, you’ll be able to cry and jump around at the same time, and ‘reclaim’ any songs lost in the break-up vortex.
4. Swing Patrol, Lindy Hop dance lessons, all over London
Swinging out is the best way to get over a break-up. You simply cannot be depressed about your failed relationship when you’re being twirled around to Ella Fitzgerald by a sweaty stranger, in a room full of other sweaty but ecstatic strangers, led by two even-more-perky Australians in headsets.
3. The British Film Institute, SE1
Not only is it right on the beautiful South Bank, so you can walk over the bridge and stare moodily out at the river before you get there, but the BFI boasts a best-kept secret called The Mediatheque, where you can binge-watch movies old and new, for free, from the privacy of your own booth. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to watch some of the old movies and TV shows featured in this montage of break-ups. Bargain! Don’t miss out.
2. The Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, W2
For a bracing evening booze picnic, followed by an even more bracing dip in the 7 degree waters, clothed or otherwise. Nothing like a short, sharp shock to the system to wash away the old memories of your once perfect relationship. And it’s a cold hard medicinal fact that wild-swimming cures melancholia.
1. Screw all that. Hide indoors with friends, and have a Palentine’s Party.
Batten down the hatches, hide out with pals indoors. Friends are the best – especially when you’re fresh from a conscious uncoupling. My friends and I once played a game of ‘Secret Cupid’ where we each composed anonymous poems and wrote them in Valentine’s cards, then had to guess who wrote them. Like Secret Santa, only sillier, and with much more vodka.
One of them began ‘Love is a funny thing… it sometimes ends up in the bin.’
With that in mind I’d like to wish you all a very #HappyPalentinesDay. Relationships come and go, but good friends are for life.
Lorelei’s third novel Break-Up Club is out now.
Main image: Pexels