Who’ll find love on our blind date? This week it’s Pia, 50, and Mark, 48,… but will romance be on the cards?

  • Every week FEMAIL sends a couple on a blind date and asks them to report back 
  • This week Mark Orchard, 48, and Pia Ellis, 50, had dinner at Purchases restaurant
  • Are you a singleton who is keen to go on a blind date? Email: [email protected] 
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Every week, we send a couple out on a blind date and report back. This time, Mark Orchard, 48, had dinner at Purchases Restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex, with Pia Ellis, 50.

Mark, who lives in Southampton, is an Army Reservist with two children. Pia works in IT as a business systems analyst, is widowed and lives in West Sussex.

PIA, 50, SAYS:

Pia Ellis (pictured), 50, is a widow from West Sussex who works as a business systems analyst

I’m particularly shy around men and felt nervous about the date — but excited and hopeful.

I arrived on time, but Mark was a little late due to train problems, so I had a cocktail to calm my nerves.

I was heading to the bathroom when he arrived. Luckily, I spotted him standing there with a bouquet of roses, which was so lovely of him.

I’m into fashion and like tall, stylish men so, at first sight, Mark — although he was smartly dressed — wasn’t my normal type. As it was Goodwood races nearby, everyone around us was dressed up and I didn’t feel it was really his scene.

But he was warm and welcoming and I was touched that he had brought flowers.

I felt like I was driving the conversation, which is unusual for me, as I’m normally quiet. Still, there were no awkward pauses and we talked about children, Star Wars and Marvel comic book conventions (I knew nothing about them, but I enjoyed hearing about his interests). We discussed tennis, too, as we are both learning to play.

Overall, I didn’t feel Mark asked me as much as I asked him and there was no banter or flirting.

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We are very different — I’m a real foodie and love eating out, while he isn’t that bothered. I like going to the races, the theatre and nice restaurants and he likes camping with his kids.

That said, I enjoyed the night, despite being disappointed that I didn’t connect with him. Mark is a lovely man — just not for me.

My husband of ten years passed away unexpectedly when he was 43 and I have been single for the past ten years, other than a couple of short relationships and a few dates, but nothing has worked out.

Otherwise, I like to keep fit — I go to a boot camp class three times a week. I enjoy city breaks, going to shows, shopping and holidays in the sun.

I like professional men who dress well — especially the more slim, refined look.

I’d like to meet someone who is caring and wants to enjoy life together — if they like going to the theatre or visiting nice cities, that’s a bonus.

How do you meet a potential partner?

Meeting people face-to-face is crucial, says our Dating Doctor Alana Kirk . . .

  • The perfect date won’t come knocking— you have to make the effort to go out and get to know new people.
  • Even if there is no spark, a date can boost your confidence.
  • Mix up your methods. Try a new dating site or even approach someone in the real world! 

I can be a bit reserved. I don’t flirt and find it difficult to read signs unless they are obvious. I work in IT as a business systems analyst, so I am a logical and methodical person!

Mark was so easy-going that it made me more relaxed. I’m not using any dating websites, as I don’t really enjoy them, but going out with Mark has made me think I need to look again.

We walked back to the station together and had to run to catch our trains, so it was a quick goodbye. Mark will make someone a lovely partner, but unfortunately, there was no chemistry.

LIKED? He’s very easy to talk to, friendly and warm.




Father-of-two Mark Orchard (pictured), 48, is an Army Reservist from Southampton


I brought Pia flowers, as I’d like to show my daughter how she should be treated. I bought her flowers last week, too! I had hoped to be there before Pia, but got caught up in the races traffic. I was apprehensive about a blind date, but my first impression of Pia was that she was lovely, wearing a nice green, summery dress.

It felt a bit like a movie as I was taken through the restaurant holding my bunch of flowers. I thought Pia was attractive, and I have to remember we’re all getting on a bit. I’m always told I don’t look my age and I’ve still got the mindset of a younger person, and she seemed young at heart, too.

I don’t think we took a breath as we chatted about our families. We both play tennis — I was impressed she gets up early on a Sunday to play.

We also chatted about internet dating disasters — we both wondered why we bother, as it often feels such a waste of time.

While we chatted happily, there wasn’t much in the way of banter — it was mellow and laidback.

The restaurant was beautiful with candles on the table, which made it a good place for a date, but unfortunately, there was no chemistry for me.

Pia is a self-confessed ‘foodie’, so she had a starter as well as a main. We had no dessert, but had coffee and, when I checked the train times, I realised I’d missed mine. I ended up having to get three trains and a cab home, but it was an adventure!

My longest relationship was nine years — I’ve been single for four. I’m so bored of dating. I’m looking for someone who understands children, as my daughter, who I see every other weekend, is nine, so we’re very active. I’m an outdoors guy who loves sport, camping, kayaking and hikes. I think Pia and I have different interests.

At the end of the date, we didn’t swap numbers. I’m a hug person, so I hugged her goodbye, gave her a peck on the cheek and thanked her for her good company. I had a great evening. In many ways, our night has given me the confidence to remember what real dating is like. It reminded me that I should make more of an effort to meet people face-to-face.

LIKED? Her company.




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