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A happy cheese-free Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (eek) and it always conjures up a certain dread. Part of me doesn’t want to be told that Mr Muddy and I should be gazing into each others eyes on demand, the other part longs for him to want to lavish me with gifts and whisk me off my feet in a rom-com stylee. It’s a fine line between fabulous and forced. Add into the mix the need to drink too much too quickly in celebration of being child-free for a few hours, while trying not to kill the vibes by voicing irritations about… well just about anything. There’s just soooooo much pressure!

So if, like me, you want to have a little cheese-free fun this Valentine’ Day here are a few alternative ideas to help you feel the love.

Sharing the love

Calling all the single ladies (and the smug marrieds) Fancy a night out that’s more heart than flowers? Head to the Nomad Bakery in Caversham (who host regular pop-ups) for a  cool indie Valentine’s supper club for singles and couples alike. The menu is top secret, the tables are communal and alternative loves stories will be provided by poet Becci Louise. Numbers are limited. Tickets are £35 each, including a glass of wine.

Indie Valentine’s Pop-up, Nomad Bakery, Prospect Street, Caversham RG4 8JG, Tues 14 Feb at 7.30pm


You’re ‘aving a laugh?

It has been scientifically proven that laughter is the key to love. Perfect timing then because Jimmy Carr’ Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour rolls into the Hexagon Reading on the Wed 15 Feb. Jimmy will perform a greatest hits of his very best jokes along with brand new material for the ultimate comedy show. If you’re a fan, I reckon Jimmy will have the desired effect. At the very least you’ll have a chuckle. Tickets £29.50.

Hexagon Reading, Weds 15 Feb,


When life is sweet… make fudge

Valentine’s Day is a sticky business, but keep each other sweet with a Fudge Making Experience at the Fudge Kitchen in Windsor for £100. *Groan* I’m sorry (tehe not sorry). In all seriousness, if you have a sweet tooth, why not give this a go? At the Fudge Kitchen you get to sample the goods to check out the flavours, natch (not because you’re greedy. Just me?) before popping on your pinny to try your hand at making the sticky stuff yourself. It’s harder than you might think. At the end of your tuition, you’ll take home a ton of fudge, plus your own batch and a Home Kit to show off your new skills to friends and family. Sweet! .

Fudge Kitchen, Thames Street, Windsor SL4 1PL, fudge


A gorgeous stroll with a side order of scandal

Cliveden House, one of the UK’s most romantic stately homes, is perched on the stunning Berkshire/ Buckinghamshire border. Owned by the National Trust, the house is run as a seriously luxe hotel with a history of debauchery and scandal. It was here that Government minister John Profumo and call girl Christine Keeler met while attending one of Bill Astor’s infamous parties. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an overnight stay, follow in the footsteps of royalty, writers, actors, rock stars and politicians and explore the stunning sculptured gardens and riverside woodland walks.

Cliveden House, Taplow, Maidenhead SL1 8NS,


Just your cup of tea…

Image: Ghost/ Paramount

When I stumbled across Pottery & Prosecco Night at Mad Hatters Pottery Cafe in Tilehurst, I tried really, really hard not to mention Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost. But I can’t help myself. For those of you who need a little refresher, it’s the one that involves a phallic lump of clay, lots of hands and Demi wearing nothing but a white shirt. Let’s spare all our blushes and move on. Just for the record, is not that kind of night, but it is child-free (tick), you bring your own booze (I can work with that), nibbles are provided (hello) and you channel Grayson Perry to create a ceramic masterpiece. Price £5 per head plus the price of your pottery. If nothing else, you’ll make a memory that will reduce you to a fit of giggles.

Mad Hatter Pottery Cafe, School Road, Tilehurst RG31 5AX, Tel 01183 272 022,


London calling? Capital Art

David Hockney Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972 Private Collection © David Hockney Photo Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales / Jenni Carter

The Tate Britain’s major spring exhibition is well worth jumping on the train for: a comprehensive retrospective of British art giant David Hockney’s work. He’s now approaching 80, so there’s six decades’ worth of painting, drawing, print, photography and videos to enjoy, some of which have never been publicly exhibited. What better antidote to a grey February than gazing at gorgeously vibrant paintings of sun-dappled LA swimming pools? It runs 9 Feb to 29 May, and if you want to avoid the kiddie and tourist crowds, it’s worth noting the extended opening hours of 10pm on a Friday and 8pm on a Saturday.


Fabulous with a hint of fromage

OK, so this is my one concession to eye-gazing romance. I know some of you love nothing more than a bit of smug me time with a double dose of romance, so this one’s for you. Head off to the luxe boutique hotel Hurley House for loads of fab treats. Enjoy a bottle of bubbles, a cheeky 30-minute massage before scoffing Michelin star chef Michael Chapman’s top nosh. There’s even a late check out, so you can have a lie in. It’s so smooth all that’s missing is First Dates Fred’s lurve commentary. The Valentine’s package is from £305.

Hurley House Hotel, Hurley SL6 5HL

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