A few weeks ago one of my readers suggested I date another blogger - namely Rapunzel over at talesfromthetower. Some of you warned me it would end in disaster - but did I listen? Did I heck. This week, after a month of tense build up, we finally met at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport before flying to Belfast for the day. This is what happened:
Strut into the terminal. Spot my girl waiting by the escalators. I slow down and take her in. Not bad for 33.
Something tickles my top lip. It's blood. Shaving cut.
"Hello you," says Rapunzel.
"Hey, I'm bleeding," I reply.
"What have you done?"
"Cut my lip shaving. I planned to kiss you on the cheek but…"
She rummages through her ridiculously large handbag and produces some Vaseline. The tin looks older than her. Bet it's got a few stories to tell. Reluctantly lubricate my lips, then pout in her direction for comic effect. She laughs.
Rapunzel seems distracted as we navigate passport control. Soon cheers up when the guard compliments her knife and fork earrings.
"I made them myself - only cost £1.20," she tells him.
Cheap and good with her hands - my heart skips a beat.
Then it dawns on me - she's flirting with another man. Tell myself off for getting jealous. This is meant to be about the blog - I'm not supposed to fancy her.
Explain that I get claustrophobic and need an aisle seat.
"That's fine," she says. "I prefer the window anyway."
Perfect. Until an overweight businessman nudges into the seat between us. Probably one of our followers hoping for an inside scoop.
Notice a wet patch on Rapunzel's top - right by her left titty.
"Thanks for pointing that out," she says, attempting to remove the stain with her sleeve.
"Just so you know, I'm not lactating."
The businessman turns and leers at her boobs.
"It must be coffee," explains Rapunzel.
"Whatever. This is blog gold."
The sky is menacingly grey as our plane swoops into Belfast, touching down with a bump. We hop into a taxi and 10 minutes later arrive at a bistro that looked a lot classier on the internet. At least I remembered to print off some vouchers.
My date orders a chicken tikka baguette; I plump for Irish stew - which, when it arrives, resembles cat vomit.
She's wearing a jumper that exposes one shoulder. An elegant clavicle curves beneath her bare skin.
"You've got a really sexy shoulder," I say.
Our eyes lock - her green to my blue.
After dinner we head to Castle Place, where an open-top bus tour is due to leave in 10 minutes. My legs tremble in the cold as the driver slips into gear. Rapunzel places her cardigan on my knee for warmth.
"Did you knit that yourself," I joke.
"I'm 33 - not 73."
Obviously a touchy subject.
Our guide pipes up.
"We're about to pass the oldest English language newspaper in the world - The Belfast News Letter," he explains.
"Is it still publishing?" I query.
The other passengers turn my way, awestruck that I've been brave enough to ask a question.
"Yeah, that's why it's the oldest - obviously," retorts the guide.
A Japanese tourist smirks. Sarcasm is a universal language. Rapunzel flashes a sympathetic smile.
We drive past a succession of Peace Walls which divide Unionist and Republican families. Suddenly I'm back in politics class with my teenage crush Becky V - the first girl to hear me say 'I love you'. I told her in a text. Wonder how long it'll be before I type those three little words to Rapunzel…
Next stop is a shipyard where the Titanic was built in 1911. We pass an Ann Summers on the way. The guide glares at me.
"I don't need to explain to you what they sell in there, do I young man?" he says.
"Blog gold!" snorts my date.
After the tour we stroll to a pub for a pint of Guinness. The conversation is so easy. Nothing seems off limits - even stuff you should never talk about on a date. Like anal itches.
Her earrings are making me hungry.
"Come on, let's go for tea before I eat your face," I say.
We head to the Europa Hotel, which was bombed 33 times by the IRA between 1972 and 1994. Nearly as troubled as my love life.
We're led to a table barely six inches from another couple. Rapunzel feels uncomfortable, so asks the waiter if we can move. He smiles politely but is clearly irritated. Hope he doesn't spit in our food. Need to lighten the mood.
"Sorry about her," I joke. "She's on day release."
He chuckles. Rapunzel doesn't.
Always like to try the local cuisine, so I order the chef's special - Thai green curry.
Rapunzel suggests splitting the bill.
"Don't be silly," I reply. "Just make sure you say how generous I am in your blog."
Flight leaves in 90 minutes so we book a taxi.
The departure lounge is dead. Rapunzel won't show me her passport photo. Snatch it from her hands.
"You look like a convict," I declare, laughing hysterically. Reckon I might have gone too far.
Challenge her to a thumb war as we take our seats on the plane. My opponent's thumb is limp and timid. Her heart isn't in it. Still, my trick worked - we're holding hands.
The flight back takes less than half an hour. It's late so, as planned, I'm driving her home to neighbouring Manchester.
Lionel Richie provides the soundtrack as I accelerate out of the car park. Strategically left him in the CD player this morning. More romantic than The Smiths.
She asks about my hobbies but her timing is awful. There are some choruses you just don't talk through. I turn to my date and sing in time with the music.
"You're once, twice, three times a lady."
Rapunzel looks disturbed - but she's only pretending.
Pull up outside her tower. She takes ages putting her scarf on.
"I've had a really nice time," reveals my girl.
We both smile, unsure what to do next. Fuck it...
"Gizza kiss," I say.
She leans across without hesitation but I intervene before our mouths collide.
"Sorry, that was a bit pushy. You don't have to. I mean, you can go for the cheek if you want?"
Seconds later her lips gently find mine. We linger for 10 or 15 seconds, neither of us daring to stick a tongue in. Then I pull away. Always leave them wanting more.
For the first time I notice a lone dimple shaped like a half moon just below her right cheek.
"I'll call you tomorrow," says Rapunzel. "We need to talk about our blogs."
"I'd almost forgotten about those," I reply.