Celebrate an Alternative St. Valentine’s Day

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Valetines Day (Hand cut card © Jessica Palmer)

Valetines Day (Hand cut card © Jessica Palmer)

In most parts of the world, Saint Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February, is the celebration of Love and Affection. Traditionally (and commercially!) it is marked by the exchange of flowers, chocolates and greeting cards, but is now also used as an excuse to have a romantic weekend away.

There are many facts and figures about the history of St Valentine’s Day, which I am not going to bore you with, however I would like to offer a few alternatives for this over-commercialised day: Forget the gifts and flowers, the weekends away and the social obligation of a romantic meal out in an over-priced and over-flowing restaurant this Valentine’s Day, and stray from the norm.

Plant a Tree This Valentine’s Day and Your Love Will Dig You Forever!

Plant a Valetines tree (© The National Forest)

Plant a Valetines tree (© The National Forest)

Buy a Plant a Tree this Valentine’s Day and your love is sure to grow and grow! Not only that, but your descendants will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour for years to come – AND you are helping the environment! (plus, the fresh air will do you good!)

Planting trees provides new homes for birds, bees and other valuable wildlife, and the network of woodlands, footpaths, cycle trails and picnic sites is growing for your enjoyment of it. There are plenty of opportunities for getting out and enjoying the Forest as the dark winter days disappear.

Many areas have organised a special Valentines’ Day tree planting event for the public. Please refer to the links and/or the events list.

Valentine’s love potions and X- rated objects at the Museum of London

19th century Valentines card (© Museum of London)

19th century Valentines card (© Museum of London)

Valentine revellers will learn the seductive art of dancing the Cha Cha Cha and Rumba, led by Stardust Ball, and will be treated to special aphrodisiac love potions created by the inventive jelly-mongering duo, Bompass & Parr. Vials of the potion will be offered to visitors and the brave amongst them can have a go on the ‘celestial bed’, inspired by the notorious quack doctor, James Graham, and his fecund Temple of Health, popular with 18th century London Society.

Paul Burston of Polari London, will bring together some of the capital’s leading gay authors to recite short love stories in the museum’s enchanting Georgian Pleasure Garden. Coco de Mer founder, Sam Roddick, will curate an assortment of ‘X-rated’ objects. The objects that tickle her fancy have been selected from the Museum of London’s extensive collections and museum curators will be on hand to shed some light on the erotic objects.
In case that isn’t enough to get you in the mood, there will be vintage Valentine card and paper-cutting workshops, led by artist Jessica Palmer and, all-importantly, a bar, serving Valentine-themed food and drink. Please refer to the CD-Traveller events list for further details.

Duck out of a tacky Valentine’s day ….

Whooper Heart - Jack Kellet, WWT

Whooper Heart - Jack Kellet, WWT

There are numerous Valentine’s Day traditions surrounding the subject of birds. Initially, Chaucer first wrote of this association in Parlement of Foules:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day.

The Greeks and Romans initiated the reading of birds, dictating that the first bird an unmarried woman sees on Valentine’s Day is an omen of her future husband’s character. (Interestingly enough seeing a bird of prey indicates that he will be a businessman, politician or leader).

There are many organised Valentine’s day (or the prior weekend) walks to look at birds, including the RSPB and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has devised the perfect solution for a fun and totally different Valentine’s Day. Potential love-birds can beckon the object of their desire with a bird mating call! The e-cards with wacky photos combined with downloadable mating call ring tones will inspire, amuse and help vulnerable species and wetlands at the same time. Choose from romantic (the serenading song thrush), to authoritative (the booming bittern) or even the flirty (the cheeky eider) .

WWT has created some fun leaflets packed with quirky and risqué love-inspired facts about the strategies that wildlife and plants use in romance, copulation and competition for mates. Simply visit www.wwt.org.uk/valentines and download the most appropriate ‘(Wetlands) Lover’s Walk’ leaflet for you – whether you are still on your first few dates, are with a long term partner, or are even a singleton looking for love. Created with the help of TV presenter, naturalist and ‘heartthrob’ Nick Baker, they make fun reading, whether you giggle at them on the sofa at home or use them on your date to a WWT wetland centre.

Nick Baker said: “Wetland wildlife are surprisingly creative and ingenious when it comes to their courtship activities – perhaps we can learn from nature. Biomimicry is the science of taking inspiration from nature and has solved many of our technology problems, so there’s no reason why that shouldn’t apply to relationships too. Their quirky love calls may just work in attracting a human mate – sending one to your valentine this year will definitely make them smile and isn’t that half the battle in the language of love? Have you ever heard the risqué call of an eider duck?”

Whilst on the subject of Birds: About.com (http://birds.about.com/od/birdsafetytips/a/vdaysafety.htm) even go as far as to provide a “handy list of safety tips to make sure that your pets (the article is aimed at Birds – but could apply to almost any animal!) stay safe during your Valentine’s Day festivities, including:

  • Chocolate and birds don’t mix
  • Keep an eye on ribbons and bows
  • Don’t leave drinks unattended
  • Keep your roses secured
  • Monitor stress levels

(Of course, as a very PC CD-Traveller, I have assumed that this was in reference to our feathered friends, although with some reflection it could also be applicable to your lady-friend!)

Spend St. Valentine’s Day with the one you love on a bicycle made for two!

The special tandem tour will take place on 13th February 2011 when tandem couples will ride out in the morning before a sociable, but romantic, Valentine’s lunch.

Peter Bird of Tandem Experience said “The secret to tandem riding is trust, communication and co-operation. That’s why we use them for corporate team building events but it makes them even more suitable for romance and companionship. On our regular Wine Tours we spend all day and ride about 30 miles. We don’t think most people will want a full day ride on Valentine’s Day so this ride will just be for a couple of hours before having lunch.”

The idea occurred to Peter Bird of the Tandem Experience when he heard the old song “Daisy Daisy” playing on the radio. The Tandem Experience organises tandem tours throughout the year but this is the first time they’ve really emphasised the romantic potential of a tandem ride.

Valentine’s Chocolate Making Course for Two

Why buy chocolate for your loved one, when you can spend quality time together learning how to make chocolates – and take them home at the end of the day!?

Lisa Clarke, owner of The Chocolate Tart, commented; ‘Men and women of all ages love learning how to make beautiful chocolates and what more romantic way to express your feelings than to personally craft your own chocolate gift.”

Chocolate, the food of love?

Chocolate, the food of love?

The Chocolate Tart is one of numerous chocolate cookery schools (a variety across the UK are listed under links, below) that run classes to create the most beautiful handmade chocolates. (They are currently running a competition which allows romantics have the chance to design, create and package their very own chocolate heart sealing inside a ring or a love note: email info@thechocolatetart.co.uk and explain in no more than 100 words why you deserve this romantic opportunity to melt the heart of your chocolate lover !)

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Making Courses in the UK:

Plant a Tree

Bird Watching

Tandem Websites

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