St Valentine, who died in 269 would no doubt shudder in his holy grave at the thought of the tacky underwear and hallmark cards that festoon the shops at this time of year. The right choice of gift, however, is all it takes to redeem the day. Christmas is behind us, January is done, spring is but a faint glimmer in the eye. So in spite of all the soppy sentimentality, here’s how to acknowledge Valentine’s Day – gently.
Why not buy your loved one Tea at Fortum’s? Yes it’s a cliché – but so is Valentine’s Day, and to be fair to Fortnum’s, you can book tea on almost any day of the year, so you don’t have to be an out-an-out Valentine’s Day disciple to enjoy this.
For windswept romance away from the city try a weekend in a lighthouse, faraway folly or gothic tower. The Landmark Trust boasts a host of unusual, historic properties across the UK which can be booked for weekend getaways.
To give the gift of eternal youth, try Omorovicza’s acid fix – a brave choice. For something more traditional, Diptyque works every time. They’ve even brought out a delicious rose collection, perfect for Feb 14.
To beat the winter chill, try Luca Faloni’s exquisite cashmere, in theory for men, but has kept me toasty as the various beasts from the easts put us at peril. One Thousand Stars makes the prettiest dressing gowns known to (wo)man, that are surprisingly warm despite being light weight . Alternatively, try Wolford, which sells cosy tights and lingerie.
You cannot go wrong with a classic novel. Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (see Gabriel Oak’s coffin vandalism), Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? (see Planty Pall choosing his wife’s honour over his own career), or Jane Austen’s Persuasion (Captain Wentworth’s love letter to Anne) are all fail safes. Or try a bespoke book subscription for a gift that will keep on giving throughout the year.
A tandem ride around Kensington Gardens topped off with tea and cake in The Orangery would melt any heart. Simply hire one for the day from The London Bicycle Company. Or step it up a gear and carry your Valentine through the streets of London on a Vespa.
There is a school of thought that argues flowers are too obvious a choice for Valentine’s Day but what woman would turn down a bunch of blooms delivered to her desk or doorstep? Bloom and Wild is completely brilliant due to its letterbox flower service: the recipient will falsely believe you have forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day until she arrives home from work to find beautiful (and inexpensive) boxed and ready on the doormat. For a more audacious approach, go for Moyses Stevens . Prince Charles is a fan, but we don’t know which particular bunch he buys for Camilla.