Be my cringe-free Valentine
Not the romantic type? Feel the love with Muddy's alternative Valentine's picks – and there won't be a sad single rose in sight.
RED BLOODED LOVERS
Steak night at The Hind’s Head Bray, Mon 11 – Sun 17 Feb
Often with Valentine’s dinners you’re packed in so tight you’re practically giving a stranger a lap dance every time you get up. Not at The Hind’s Head Bray – it’s all about the love of food. Ready to drool? You’ll get three steak choices – Ribeye, Wing Rib or Fillet; plus 3 sauces and sides to choose from. Throw in a beer/wine pairing and its winner winner steak dinner – cooked to Michelin star perfection. Book up.
GIVE US A CLUE
Circus of Screams, Forbury Gardens Reading, Sat 16 Feb
Roll up and race round Reading for A Circus of Screams – a three-hour Murder Mystery where you must find hidden evidence and catch a circus killer against the clock! The whole town becomes the set for this real-life whodunnit.Crack clues using their smartphones, converse with characters and find hidden evidence before the time runs out. Try not to kill each other in the process.
LIFE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES
Run for Chocolate, Kings Meadow Reading, Sun 10 Feb
Running lovers, the loved up and chocolate lovers too…this one’s for you! Brace yourself for a stampede – there’s just the little business of covering 5km before you get the sweet stuff. Walk, jog or run, simply pop on your trainers whizz round Reading and a warm luxury hot chocolate will be waiting for you at the finish line (and a giant bar of Galaxy too, just me then). The event is open to all ages and abilities, starts at 10am.
Kaiser Chiefs, Hexagon Reading. Wed 6 Feb
If you’re single, not the gaze-into-each-others eyes type, or just want to really let your hair down, then the Kaiser Chiefs will be raising the roof at The Hexagon Reading. There aren’t many tickets left, so snap em up and perhaps you can go for a Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby afterwards. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.r
Royal Romances, Coworth Park Ascot, Thu 21 Feb
Still hoping for the fairytale ending? Nah, me neither. But oh how we love a royal romance. The rock ‘n’ roll years of Princess Margaret are by far my favourite, but who doesn’t reminisce about the brief highs and many lows of Charles and Diana, Andy and Fergie (until the toe-sucking saga) and, of course, the roofs rewriting the royal romance rules. Former ITV royal correspondent Nicholas Owen has seen it all and he’s spilling the beans at Coworth Park.
Valentine’s Stay, Hurley House Hotel
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 Hotel for loads of fab treats. Enjoy a Champagne cocktail, canapés and 3 delicious courses (including a sharing pud). Scoff the lot, then get a room. No seriously, get room, spare the staff their blushes. Dinner £65pp. Rooms from, £140.
LIFE IS SWEET
Fudge Making Workshop, Fudge Kitchen Windsor
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 it 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!
Cliveden House Hotel, Thu 14 – Sat 16 Feb
Cliveden House is beautiful, romantic and has a history of wild parties, scandal and debauchery. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an overnight stay, you can drink bubbles and stuff your face at a lunch, afternoon tea or dinner from £50pp or simply follow in the footsteps of royalty, writers, actors, rock stars and politicians and explore the sculptured gardens and riverside woodland walks. Of course if you feel the need to strip off, book into the spa – the Dusk Delight is great value at £140pp. Just don’t get caught heavy petting in the pool.
BEER GOGGLES ON
Beer pairing taster menu, West Berkshire Brewery Taproom, Tue 12 Feb
There’s not much focus on the fellas when it comes to Valentine’s Day. A card, perhaps a small gift, but generally it’s all me me me. I’m not complaining. But West Berkshire Brewery Taproom is going the extra mile to pull together a five-course tasting menu paired eight West Berkshire Beers. A gentle whiff of testosterone, dontcha think? Sounds chuffing lush. They’re also showing Pretty Woman at their next film night on Tue 19 Feb.
JUST YOU CUP OF TEA…
Friday With Friends, Madhatter’s Pottery Cafe, Fri 15 Feb
I’m trying 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.
Dans Le Noir, London
Don’t bother staring longingly into each other’s eyes. The chances are you’ll be sat so close to the next table, you’ll be practically lap dancing your neighbour every time you get out of your chair. Avoid this awks predicament, head to London and dine at Dans Le Noir in Clerkenwell, a quirky dining experience in the dark. Just make sure you find your way back to the right table or that innocent leg rub could get weird.
Valentine’s dinner, L’Ortolan Reading
Time to bring on the fromage! A romantic dinner with oysters, plus six other fabulous courses at L’Ortolan, Reading’s only Michelin star restaurant. Chef Tom Clarke has created a gastronomic love fest but it doesn’t come cheap at £125 per head – oh, and you’re gonna want that wine flight too, the wines are lush. It’s a fab special occasion restaurant – and there won’t be a sad single rose in sight.
The Vineyard in Stockcross is also offering a 7-course Valentine menu from £190 for two (£320 with wine).
Fancy an Italian stallion? Enjoy seven delicious courses of authentic Italian food at Caldesi in Campagna in Bray (£65pp).