I remember feeling a bit down from the Tinder conversation I’d had the night before, standing in a coffee shop line and nodding abstractly when the man next to me said hey, good morning. I was bleary eyed and miserable but the cute friendly greeting made me feel SOMETHING. I replied with a hey, thinking oops I should’ve put on lipstick. We both bought coffee and went our separate ways. But the next time I saw him I said good morning first, still wishing I’d put on lipstick and you know, we slowly became friends. Even a little bit more than friends.

Meeting someone in the coffee shop queue was really cool. It was natural and easy and it got me thinking about the few dating apps I’d tried. They just hadn’t worked for me. In fact they had depressed me no end. The endless hellos and you have a nice smile and the small talk and then the disappearing acts always left me staring disconsolately into space, even pining for my ex husband who I hated. I know dating apps work for many, and have worked for many of my friends, but my little encounter in the coffee shop made me feel good.

And it was just a simple HELLO.

Which got me thinking about different ways to meet people. Ways that could be in the flesh. I decided this was going to be the summer of putting myself out there and I did things that I would not characteristically do. Here are the things that worked for me.

A cooking club

This was probably the best thing I did and I didn’t even put on weight. The emphasis was on healthy but delicious food. It was a fab club for singles only and I learned new recipes, had a marvelously social time and can now confidently talk about Ottolenghi. I’ve also learned quite a bit about wine which is a good skill to have for when I do go on dates. We meet every two weeks and I haven’t met the man of my dreams, yet, but I have made some wonderful new friends. I’m definitely going to carry on with this one.

Joined a hiking club

I did this with a bit of hesitation as I love to walk on my own, falling into a kind of meditative state. But people told me it was a great way to meet new people so I joined the local club, bought a pair of boots, picked up my hat and sunblock and went to the first hike. I liked that hikers come in all sizes and all ages, that there is no pressure to talk to anyone and that when I forgot water, snacks and a jacket, there was always someone to help me. Each hike has different people on it and I don’t go to every single one but again, I have met some incredible people. Sometimes I take snacks that I’ve made at the cooking club and everyone loves me!

Start a film club

This one was a bit of a failure. I tried to start a film club though my community Facebook page and despite a lot of enthusiasm, no-one came to the first film. Being a bit uncommitted, maybe one of my downfalls, I let it go. If I can find a ready-made film club I will definitely consider going but in the meantime I go to art films on my own and love sitting in the dark with popcorn and a large coke. I don’t talk to anyone but see some beautiful films, Baz Luhrman has become my favourite director, and again I have loads to talk about on all my future dates.

Asked friends if they had friends

I don’t know why we are all a bit shy about set ups and blind dates. I decided to swallow my pride and asked my friends if they had a friend who had a friend who maybe had a friend. I opened myself up to the possibility of meeting strangers, going to Sunday lunches where there was another single person and always asking the single man to open the jar of pickles. Yes, I always take pickles with me to these lunches but you don’t have to!

What else can you do? Join an art or ceramics class. Get a puppy, everyone will give you attention, okay cancel this idea unless you can really care for the puppy. Look at singles holidays, cycling holidays, yoga holidays and treks. You’ll meet interesting people. And if you are interested in people, people will be interested in you. Be engaging, get off the internet, say hi in coffee shops and have your own summer/winter of putting yourself out there.