14 dates for Valentines

While 14 February will always be a date to dote on for star crossed lovers, romance can still be in the air right across the year. So, here are a few suggestions from the destinations we work with, not just for the day itself, but for a date with your Valentine just about anytime and anywhere… from dining with sharks, to teatime treats more than 100 metres in the air.


Say it with everlasting flowers

Of course, there’s always a beautiful bouquet from your favourite florists, or the petrol station forecourt for those who really leave it until the last minute, but why not make it an everlasting gift? For a date to last a lifetime, Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries, the spiritual home of British ceramics, offers the perfect gift… red ceramic roses from Gladstone Pottery Museum. Hand-made and decorated at the museum by its team of talented flower makers and painters, the special edition roses cost £8.99 each, and can be sent by mail order, and with the option of adding a handwritten note to that special someone. https://bit.ly/3qSrpYr

Throw a pot together

While we’re on the pottery theme, never more popular thanks to the latest series of TV’s The Great Pottery Throw Down, The Potteries also offers the chance learn how to throw a pot together. Love Clay, part of Valentine Clay’s headquarters in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, has a masterclass for couples to create a pot, complete with champagne, canapes and chocolates on Saturday, 12 February, costing £80 per couple (https://bit.ly/3tROmg6). While that event may prove a quick sell-out, Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries has a wealth of hands-on ceramic opportunities available through the year at top pottery spots, including World of Wedgwood and Emma Bridgewater (https://bit.ly/3H0bm0q).

Dive into a deeper love

Hull’s iconic The Deep aquarium has a trio of stunning seascape spots for a dining experience with a difference… with sharks, stingrays and turtles for company. For those celebrating a special event, the Deep hosts private dining in partnership with Hull restaurant, Rupert & Darwin, every Wednesday to Sunday. But on 12 and 14 February, Valentine’s Dine sessions will be staged in three locations: the Glass Tunnel, with a variety of species swimming overhead; the Cool Seas, with mesmerising jellyfish, and Endless Oceans, alongside sharks, rays and sea turtles. Prices start at £400 per couple, including cocktail, after hours viewing of The Deep and five course tasting menu. https://bit.ly/3nSIwaD

Love is in the air… literally

This February romance will be soaring at Hampshire’s Spinnaker Tower – 105 metres up in the air! From fabulous food to a night of comedy or a teatime treat, the spectacular Spinnaker Tower has romance covered during February. Spend Valentine’s night enjoying views out to the night sky and sparkling harbour lights at the ‘Love is in the Air’ High Tea(11th & 12th February at 8pm) with warm savoury bites, indulgent mini deserts, and a glass of prosecco each (£70 for 2 people). For sky high laughs, the ever-popular Spinnaker Tower Comedy Club returns with a two-night Valentine’s Special (11th & 12th February) at £20 per person. Or there’s always Valentine’s Day High Tea during the whole month of February, featuring the Tower’s traditional afternoon High Tea specially tweaked for Valentine’s Day.https://bit.ly/3tUs65u

Valentine’s Day + chocolate tasting for two = the perfect pairing

Creating small batches of award-winning craft chocolate from a micro factory in Stoke-on-Trent, Seed Chocolate – Staffordshire’s first bean to bar operation – is promising a craft chocolate tasting experience like no other. Its Valentine’s Day Chocolate Experience for two, on 11 and 14 February, is a craft chocolate tasting hosted on Zoom, for £39.95, featuring its range of intense dark, indulgent milk, and specialist white chocolate. Bookings must be placed by 4 February. But if you miss this one, Seed hosts experiences through the year. www.seedchocolate.com/events

Escape the herd with this romantic escape

Make this Valentine’s Day extra special by spending it at The Cow, near Derby. This boutique hotel, with 12 individually designed bedrooms, has earned a reputation as both a place to stay and to eat. Romantic rooms, with countryside views, range from Victorian and Art Deco to more modern New England and Shabby Chic styles. Alongside the rooms, the Cow features a casual dining restaurant and bar area, reflecting the heritage and character of the original 19th century building. Its Valentine’s Day stay costs £160 a night per couple, including a bottle of champagne, £30 towards an evening meal and late check out. https://bit.ly/3nS1U7N

All revved up…

Forget the flowers, how about an adrenaline fuelled Valentine’s Day gift this year – driving a dream car on one of the UK’s longest and fastest tracks? Hampshire’s Thruxton Motorsports Centre has hosted events from World Endurance motorcycles to European F2 cars, and now provides driving experiences with a huge fleet of supercars, sports cars and racing cars. From feeling like one of the F1 pack in one of its racing cars to blasting around Thruxton in the stunning Ferrari 458 Spider super car, check out the special offers for Valentine’s Day. https://bit.ly/3FQQlnf

To the Moon and back…

Where better to meet for a romantic date than under the magical glow of moonlight? During February visitors to the heritage city of Lincoln can experience the majesty of the Moon, suspended beneath the central tower of Lincoln Cathedral, one of Europe’s finest gothic buildings. Luke Jerram’s stunning installation, The Museum of the Moon, which measures seven metres in diameter and features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface is on show 7 – 27 February 2022. https://bit.ly/3qT1r7a

Add more cheese to your Valentine treat

Cornwall may have its pasties, but Staffordshire’s oldest original street food has earned its own reputation as a regional treat – and you can make it at home using a 100-year-old recipe. The Staffordshire Oatcake dry mix kit has proved a hit with foodie fans across the UK, but now there’s also a special Valentine’s Day Oatcake Mix – complete with a big red heart on the packet. Proudly made in Stoke-on-Trent, and considered a local delicacy in the Potteries, the savoury-style pancake is traditionally enjoyed oozing with melted cheese. The mix – costing £4.95 – makes around a dozen Staffordshire Oatcakes. https://bit.ly/3nSBenr

A love explosion

Take one family-owned chocolatier, mix in quality ingredients, add a viral video and hey presto, you have an explosion of love to enjoy at home. When East Yorkshire’s White Rabbit Chocolatier created its Hot Chocolate Bombe in 2020, a video of the taste explosion went viral across the world. Packed with at least 55g of master-blended milk chocolate and mini-marshmallows, just add hot milk to create a decadent hot chocolate, as well as some chocolatey entertainment (£4.50). Based in Beverly, the chocolatier’s name comes from a ‘pilgrim rabbit’ carving in a local church, said to have inspired Lewis Carroll’s ‘white rabbit’. https://bit.ly/3Aq3DGi

Take a walk with Jane Austen

Arguably the world’s most famous female writer and England’s best romance novelist, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than a stroll around Jane Austen’s Hampshire? Not only was she born here, but its people, and society, inspired many of her novels. While there are several trails and tours, the 4.5-mile Jane Austen Circular Walk follows in her footsteps through countryside and villages. It starts from Chawton, home to Jane Austen’s House Museum, the 17th century house where she wrote or revised her six great novels. https://bit.ly/3rOAQY0

A love story that inspired a tale of Middle Earth

This year is set to be an exciting one for lovers of JRR Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy, thanks to the new Amazon Prime adaptation set to air this autumn. Although only briefly connected to Tolkien, East Yorkshire played a pivotal role as an inspiration for some of his mythology. In 1917 Tolkien and his wife, Edith, walked in a woodland at Roos, near Withernsea, where Edith sang and danced for him, an event that inspired the Middle-earth tale of Beren and Lúthien. Today, visitors can explore the ‘Tolkien Triangle’, including the coast around Hornsea as well as Kilnsea, close to the hauntingly beautiful Spurn Head and beach. https://bit.ly/389Wdea

Adding a little spirt to a relationship

For the couple who want to discover more about crafting gin, mixing a cocktail or savouring whisky, there are plenty of spirited opportunities. At Hampshire’s Bombay Sapphire Distillery on Friday 11 February Valentine’s Cocktails includes a chance to explore the iconic glasshouses and join a masterclass for £55 (https://bit.ly/3Ipc7QS). Join Hotham’s Gin School and Distillery in Hull for a multi-award-winning gin experience. Share the distilling experience with two people making one bottle of gin for £150 on various dates (https://bit.ly/3itR2Jy). Or go behind the scenes at White Peak Distillery, near Derby, on a tour of its working distillery set in an old Wire Works factory from the 1870s, with Distillery Tour & Gin Tasting on Thursdays & Fridays for £15, and Whisky Tours on Saturdays (http://bit.ly/2QejwZm).

Ah, that first kiss…

Hampshire ‘parson-naturalist’, the Rev. Gilbert White, is today regarded as the world’s first ecologist, who revolutionised the way people observed nature and inspired naturalists from Charles Darwin to David Attenborough. But he may also be a pioneer in romance too – as one of the first to use ‘x’ for a kiss in a letter dating back to 1763. At least according to the Oxford English Dictionary, he was! Discover more about the fascinating life, times and work at his beloved home, an 18th century village house, Gilbert White’s House & Gardens, in Selborne, an attractive village in east Hampshire. https://bit.ly/3KGWlTw

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    Red Bone China Roses, Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent

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    Exclusive dining experiences at The Deep, Hull

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    Love is in the air… at Hampshire’s Spinnaker Tower

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    To the Moon and back… Luke Jerram's The Museum of the Moon at Lincoln Cathedral in February

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    The Staffordshire Oatcake Company Valentines Day Oatcake Mix

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    Spurn Head and beach, East Yorkshire

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    Adding a little spirt to a relationship... White Peak Distillery, Derby