BD and I like to go out once a week or so. Not so much for meals any longer because of his allergies, but for music, or a movie, or to spend time with friends. But there is a budget to consider, so we’ve worked hard (no, let’s re-word that, I’ve worked hard…) to find things to do that are cheap, or better, free.
Luckily, it’s not difficult. We have a cinema a reasonable drive away that shows first-run films for $5 on Tuesdays, all day, matinees and evening performances; they’ve just recently opened, but already they are pretty busy on Tuesdays. Their popcorn is the usual over-priced stuff, so we skip that, but my waistline doesn’t need it anyway! Our other movie option is our local art-house cinemas – two of them – where a yearly $15.00 membership means the films are $8.00, and at one of them, also gives 15% off at the attached bookstore and restaurant. (And both of these have cheap, good, popcorn.) When you go to a movie a week, as we tend to, the membership pays for itself pretty quickly, even when I do buy popcorn.
In the summer, free music abounds. The two towns we live half-way between both have (on different days) free concerts-in-the-park on weekday afternoons. The musicians are up-and-coming local artists, and are generally all pretty mellow, ranging from country to jazz and folk to pop. But we’re wide-ranging in our musical tastes, and it’s a pretty good way to spend an hour or two, sitting in the shade on a lawn chair, snacks in the cooler, listening to music.
Come the fall and winter, we turn to the university. Here they run a free concert series on Thursday at lunch time, sometimes student performances from the Faculty of Music (but not usually). Again, it’s wide-ranging – this fall’s line-up includes Cuban jazz, Celtic harp, and even rock’n’roll. Parking on the campus is pricey, so we go early, find a side street with free parking, and walk or bike over to the university.
The churches in both towns also host free or very inexpensive concerts – I happen to particularly love Renaissance church music and choral performance – and it’s not necessary to be a church member (or even a believer) to go.
But perhaps our times with friends are the best. With a simple meal (usually, unless one of us is trying out a fancy new recipe) either before or after our get-together, we sometimes just talk, but our most frequent activity is a board game. Right now we’re heavily into playing dominoes, but it varies: sometimes cards, sometimes a trivia game, sometimes an obscure geography game called Ubi. Or we’ll go for darts, or skittles, or a really obscure (for North America) English bar game called shove half-penny (pronounced shove-ha’penny.) I have the board my grandfather made about a hundred years ago, and every so often we bring it out.
And of course, there’s always the afternoon watching the game on tv, with a large bowl of home-popped popcorn and a beer.