Win a guided chocolate tour for two through the streets of Mayfair…
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and if the thought of it makes you want to dive for cover, you have come to the right place. We’ve got a great giveaway and some alternative ways to spend time with your loved one.
The most memorable gift I have ever been given on Valentine’s Day wasn’t a glitzy piece of jewellery, two dozen ruby red roses, or a box of Hotel Chocolat’s finest collection: it was two tickets to a comedy evening in April. “That’s not even on Valentine’s Day!” I hear you shout. It wasn’t – but the gift was given on Valentine’s Day and we both had something to look forward to in the spring.
It can be hard to spend real quality time with your other half, but that doesn’t mean you have to pack it all in on 14th February. Below is a smattering of get-out-there ways to spend time with your beloved without succumbing to the ‘Valentine’s Day’ pressures. Showing that you’ve taken the time to plan and schedule in some quality time with your partner will show them you care much more than a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers. And if you’re short on cash enter our competition to WIN your alternative Valentine’s Day gift.
Take a chocolate tour through London
Treating your other half to a day out doesn’t mean you have to entirely forgo the ritual of chocolate. In fact, why not make it the theme? Sweet-toothed sweethearts will jump for joy at the promise of a chocolate tasting tour through the streets of London: something that Chocolate Ecstasy Tours have down to a tee. These guys hold the keys to all the best chocolateries in the capital, whatever your chocolate preference. If you really want to wow your beloved plump for an evening tour which offers an off-piste chocolate experience. Rather than your usual truffles and pralines, you can dive into a whole world of exotic roasted cacao beans, gelato, brownies and finish off with a bespoke chocolate cocktail in a secluded London bar. I know I’d go gooey over the Coffee and Chocolate tour of Notting Hill and you can scoop up a chocolate tour of Brighton for just £33. Or opt for one of their classic Mayfair or Chelsea tours.
We’ve got two tickets worth £80 up for grabs for a Chocolate Mayfair tour in 2015. How do you fancy starting the day with a silky smooth, decadently rich hot chocolate and a pastry in a secret location (only the chocolate elves know of this place) before heading out to Mayfair’s best chocolate boutiques? You’ll discover favourite choc-spots of the Queen and Roald Dahl – you’ll soon see where he got his inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
How to enter: Tell us your favourite chocolate flavour: white, dark or milk by commenting at the bottom of this article; tag a friend on our Facebook competition post or head on over to Twitter to follow and retweet to win. The winner will be announced on the 12th Feb 2015.
Witness the unimaginable
Take your beloved for a walk in the clouds, to a rave in a storm or into the shadows of a Gothic mansion for something a little different. In Between Time are set to host their International Festival of Performance throughout February in Bristol this year. Between the 13th and 23rd of February their mysterious artists will envelop Peros’ Bridge in a cloud of fog and so begin a festival of weird and wonderful art, dance, theatre, music and parties. Witness public art works take over the city, night songs filter from the halls of Tyntesfield and teenagers who offer to guide you through their urban streets at night. While the Arnolfini and Wickham Theatre open the stage to performance pieces that will quite simply blow your mind. Should you wish to dance away Valentine’s evening to dramatic beats in an immersive indoor storm, the Festival Party is a flash-flood of art and electronic music set to fill the Old Fire Station on Feb 14th. The invitation is extended to those ‘who carry hurricanes in their hearts’. If that’s you, dress for the weather and head on down.
A couple of adrenaline junkies
If you both long for the fresh country air and the smell of a challenge, an adventure weekend is sure to bring you closer together; even if it is climbing through the confines of an underground cave. Abseiling, canoeing, bouldering and caving are all on the cards for a getaway for two at The Maynard in Derbyshire. The Peak District is one of the most beautiful regions in the country and perfect for outdoor sports, as well as offering up a few romantic spots too: like the view from Black Rocks over Matlock Bath and a visit to Gulliver’s Kingdom. Luckily the hotel offers all the thrill of an adventure weekend combined with all the luxuries of a top-notch hotel. Not only that but once you’ve pushed yourselves to the limit and braced the elements, you can soak in one of their dreamily huge baths and indulge at the two-AA-rosette restaurant. If you are heading on over on Valentine’s Day give the Valentine’s menu a peek – it is pretty darn good and comes with a complimentary glass of bubbly. Well, you’ve earned it.
A country walk hand in hand
The best things in life are free. Set aside a stroll in the countryside and maybe even take along a winter picnic – I’m thinking a flask of hot chocolate and some homemade cake. Even better plan your walk so it passes a good pub. There are few things better than warming up beside a dancing, crackling fire with a hot meal and full-bodied glass of wine after a bracing winter walk. Go one step further and make it into an event – a walking weekend if you will. There’s a particularly charming cove in Devon that is home to many beautiful paths along the coast. Smugglers’ trails and countryside paths lined with thatched cottages await the humble traveller in Hope Cove. I love walking holidays because they not only offer quality time for you and your partner to spend with each other, but it’s also a chance to show yourself some kindness: to recharge and get back to nature. The Cottage Hotel is situated right in Hope Cove and offers guided walking tours, meaning you can really discover the local landscape, and chill out after a hearty ramble.
Dim sum my love?
Did you know that this year Valentine’s Day falls on the Chinese calendar day for ‘good wealth’? And that dim sum symbolises wealth and prosperity? For couples who like to get all steamy in the kitchen, a Valentine’s spent cooking up a storm at the Covent Garden School of Wok will go down a treat. TV chef Jeremy Pang (you might have seen him on Sunday Brunch) and his brigade of master chefs are guiding couples through a three-hour Asian masterclass this Valentine’s day. Try your hands at making delicate dim sum, sticky barbecue ribs, steamed scallops and a host of other Asian delights before enjoying the fruits of your labours over a cosy candle-lit meal, complete with a bottle of wine to share. It’s a romantic meal for two with a difference, and it will teach you the skills you need to cook for each other at home. If you are dead set against doing anything on Valentine’s Day, never fear as these guys are running 17 other cookery courses throughout February – so take your pick and spend quality time, any time.