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Valentine's Day

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Exchange a love note with your Valentine on February 14!

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      28.11.2013 17:19
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      I'm not massively romantic, but I have my moments

      I am in my mid 30s and would say I the number of proper boyfriends I have had in my life I could count on one hand. I've had a few valentines days while I've been part of a couple, but not as many as I have spent as a single lady! So here are my thoughts on valentines past and valentines future.... I have had a real range of different valentines treats over the years. On the whole, I do think valentines day is yet another excuse to get our money from us, but at the same time, I do think a token gesture is nice on the first year you are together with someone. I don't like buying or receiving cards particularly and I don't think a large gesture every year is appropriate or necessary, but the first year you are together I do want something. When I was in my teens, my first boyfriend of four months bought me a dozen red roses all wrapped up in cellophane and presented beautifully and bless him he brought them round to my parents' house where I lived at the time. It was wonderful and made me feel like a complete princess but oh my goodness I dread to think how much those roses cost the lad, and bearing in mind he was in college and only working part time, goodness. What a sweetheart hey? My next boyfriend for the first year we were together (he was a real flashy so and so) took me away for a night in a hotel and we had dinner there. It was a lovely lovely hotel, it truly was, and the restaurant there was fabulous, but the hotel was at the end of the road that I lived at and I couldn't help but think that it was a little silly to stay in a hotel so close to where we lived and that going somewhere else and then having a day exploring a new town would have been so much more of an event. Oh I sound so ungrateful don't i??! My next boyfriend was very very careful with his money and at the beginning of February when I started to ask him if he wanted to do something for Valentines weekend, he suggested we go for a cup of coffee at our local Tesco that had just opened a cafe. In the end I booked us cinema tickets and took us for a meal instead. Needless to say the night was busy and full of other couples! Well in 3 months time I get to spend my first valentines with my current squeeze and yes, I am a little bit ashamed to say I am already planning! But only a little bit. I'm too old for getting all dolled up and going out and sitting in an overpacked bar surrounded by big red hearts and pink balloons so I'm going to give all that a skip. Especially as it's going to be on a Friday in 2014! So instead, I think I'll see if I can get out of work a little early and I'll come home, slip into a little black dress and cook him his favourite dinner..... Now how's that for love?

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        26.08.2013 02:20
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        Not really romantic but a chance to do something nice

        I have always been one of those people who is just not that bothered about Valentine's Day, I see it is a waste of money but I can both sides of the argument. I, personally, don't like Valentine's because everything is overpriced and I would prefer to not be told by chain companies when I should show my other half any romantic gestures, I do that more spontaniously. We already get each other presents on birthdays, at Christmas (or Sol in my case), on our anniversary and also the little things that we just happen upon that we know the other will love. But some people like the idea of Valentine's and it is always nice when someone buys you something, it is a great chance to show a potential partner your feelings etc etc so for those people they can have Valentine's and I hope they get everything out of the day that they want. In the past I have had boyfriends who have wanted to do something for the day, whether that be gifts or going out for a meal or celebration. I have never celebrated the day the same with anyone and have bought gifts ranging from books to chocolates and been out for a meal or gone to the pub for a theme quiz night and I have enjoyed each time. I have always preffered to make a full effort if I am going to do something so I have spent time finding the right present or have made something instead and the effort involved has always been reflected by the seriousness of the relationship at the time. But, however much I don't particularly like the day myself, I am not exactly going to stop someone if they want to buy me something. I love getting presents, I love having attention splashed on me, yes I love being the centre of attention so if someone wished to surprise me with a nice gift or two I am not going to discourage them! At the end of the day the modern version of Valentine's Day has had most of the romance sucked out of it by the media, chain stores, over priced tat and everyone complainging about how unromantic it is but I hope that there are still a fair amount of people out there who get something out of it. I like to think there is that one un-romantic guy who just restores the faith his girlfriend has in him by coming home on Valentine's Day with the biggest bunch of roses, expensive bottle of wine and her favourite DVD in hand. I would like to see the smile on her face.

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          27.01.2013 23:06
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          My view on Valentine's Day

          For single people, Feburary 14th can be a right pain in the backside. Your mum will be asking when you're going to get a significant other, your friends will be in lovey-dovey mode chattering about this their boyfriend does and that their girlfriend does, and your bed can feel colder than the heart of a corperate marketing agent. In my opinion, even when you are with someone on the big VD (Valentine's Day, not Venereal Disease, though that Venn diagram has a bit of overlap in my experience) it can be a bit of a let down. The culture surrounding VD, borrowed from our American cousins mostly, can be a lot of building yourself up for disappointment. Ultimately, love doesn't equal money, but when you take that out of the equation, how does it all add up? Especially when it comes to cards or gifts, there is a lot of pressure to out-do what your partner may or may not be buying you, or with encouragement from friends, family or the TV, you may make an expensive or cheesy purchase you later regret. My advice, if I can be so arrogant to assume you'd be interested in it, is that with or without a partner, keep it low-key and personal. For example, make cards, don't buy them - they are so expensive for something you're just going to throw away. You can print off pictures of your holiday together off Facebook onto special card and write a message inside - they'll appreciate that more than a generic card with a love-heart in the center and a Hallmark poem inside. For an extra disturbing factor, combine you and your partners' photo at morphthing.com (or similar) and use it as the front of your card - you could even write "this is your future now" inside. (Perhaps this idea is best left as a joke...) If you're with a partner, you don't have to break the bank or enroll yourself in a cookery course to make them chocolates. Sometimes it's the little things that count in the long-term: listening to them (really listening, not just pretending to), having a laugh over something, whether it be a DVD or an outing, and having a nice meal together that you can both enjoy (that doesn't mean you have to book a 5* restaurant! Home cooking is something that most people enjoy, whether something simple like breakfast in bed, or something more elaborate, like baked goods). Even something like doing chores they hate for them (ironing, hoovering, the washing up) can be a really useful gift. But ultimately, it's quality, not quantity, that counts: make your time together special, however much you have to spend. No dramatic sunsets, teddy bears, diamonds or bouquet of roses included. For single people - who needs a partner when you can treat yourself? You can have everything a couple has with half the hassle on Valentine's Day - eat well, enjoy yourself, have a laugh, enrich your life in some small way. A lot of your friends are going to be having awkward gift-exchanges or even more awkward sex, so relax. Show some self-love! As for couples with children... well, good luck. Even though it's a day of consumerism, love is an important part of life and one we should celebrate more than once a year. Tell someone you love them regularly, whether it's yourself, a relative, a friend, or indeed, your partner. Love doesn't have to be sexy, expensive, sappy or loud to be real and tangible. Don't wait til February 14th to tell someone just how much you adore and appreciate them.

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            02.02.2012 15:04
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            Love is what counts - not gifts and trinkets.

            I may sound totally unromantic, but I'm not. I just have a different definition of romance than most. I'm afraid I see flowers and cards as a waste of money, and Valentines is the last day of the year I would want to try to go out for a romantic dinner, as I despise crowds. I'm afraid we don't really celebrate wedding anniversaries either. For me it is enough that we have spent over 12 years together, have two beautiful children, and still love each other just as we are. My husbands birthday is on Valentines Day, and that is what we celebrate on the 14th of Februaury. But even birthdays are simple in our house, at least for grown ups. The children and I will make him a cake, and then I will keep the children out of the way as much as possible playing video games, board games, and watching DVD's and let him have peace and quiet to play his new PS3 game by himself. This year is his 50th and I really wish I could do more, but I can't really arrange a night with his friends as they'll all be taking their wives out. I would have liked to book a small fishing boat trip for him and a few friends - but it's the wrong time of year. Oh well, if I can manage later in the year I will. Although we do not celebrate Valentines Day anymore, we did on our first year together, and I can never look back on that day without a smile. We were really short on cash at the time. My husband had just started a new job and he had borrowed money to buy me an engagement ring for Christmas. He already seemed to realise I wasn't fussed on flowers and chocolates and asked what he could buy me for Valentines Day. I tried to say nothing, but he thought a gift was important. I suggested a value range toaster as we both like toast in the mornings we did not have a grill at the time either. My husband trying to make toast in front of gas fire was amusing, but not too tasty. My husband worked 12 hour shifts as a security guard at the time. With travel time included it was nearly 14 hours. He rang me up rather panicked during the day. His workmates had convinced him a toaster was totally inappropriate gift. They told him when a girl says she does not want anything - it means she wants a lot! He didn't know what to do, and didn't have time or money to buy anything else. He was offering to borrow a few pound and take me out that night - but I had a special dinner on ( well as best one can do without a proper cooker - just two separate rings) and friends of his invited to come around and celebrate his birthday so we couldn't think of going out! Still it took him some time to relax and realise I was really very happy with the toaster. In fact the toaster was a wonderful gift. It was something we really needed and we both enjoyed it. It didn't last terribly long, but it lasted until we were on our feet and could buy a better one. What I'll always remember though is the fact that he really wanted to do something nice. It doesn't matter what he bought - you can not buy love - it really is the thought that counts. That was many years ago, and my husband and I are an old married couple now. We both know how the other thinks, and we no longer feel the need to worry about special dates. We do love Christmas, but it's more for the children. I am the one in charge of birthdays. I help the children to make my cake as well - and I choose myself a present from Amazon - usually a new book or two - this year I am getting Mario Party for the Wii so we can all play together. I suppose all of this sounds terribly unromantic to the average reader :) All the same - we have a happy marriage and are growing older together as we watch our children grow. There is something about that so much more romantic than a dozen roses and a tacky plastic gift. We know each other well enough to know what the other truly enjoys. My husband had a tiny bit of extra money recently and bought two wonderful DS games for the children - he knows how much I love to see them happy. I know he isn't terribly fond of Nintendo but he has sat up many nights with us playing Super Mario, or Mario Kart as family game night is important to me. There are times I wish we had a bit more time just to ourselves - but the children will only be little for a short while, and I'm enjoying this time very much as well. We don't get a romantic night out any more - but we can have lovely nights in. And I encourage my husband to have a good night out with the boys now and then. Or send him off fishing. I may be wrong, but I think the average bloke far prefers a night on the town with his mates than his wife anyway, and a stinky fishing trip to romantic dinner! I'm sure a few people will tell me I need to worry - sending my husband off alone. I don't think so. I know him too well. And according to devil's review - I've nothing to worry about - he has just gone up another size for his trousers :) It doesn't matter to me. I don't believe in love at first sight, except that it happened to me. I fell in love the moment I saw him, and I still feel the same way every time I look into his face. I dislike Valentines Day to some extent, because I feel that it makes many people feel more alone. Not everyone is in a relationship, and many who are are no longer very happy in it. I think it makes people who have lost their partner feel more alone, and those who just happen to be single feel left out. It's like - if you can't get a date for Valentines Day something is wrong with you. For all that I do not think Valentine's Day brings a great deal of joy to those in a relationship either. It just puts pressure on people to feel they have to make a romantic gesture, when to be truly romantic, a gesture should be spontaneous. I think Valentine's Day sets unrealistic expectations of love and romance, and sets many people up for disappointment. It makes love into a competition of who can buy the most. It is yet another attempt to make love into a commodity we can buy and sell. Love can not be bought. No matter how many gifts you can buy - it is still just stuff. Stuff is not valuable. What matters is time, thinking of each other and kindness. The best gift my husband has ever given me the ability just to be myself. He knows I am not perfect but he loves me - warts and all. And that is exactly how I feel about him. He isn't perfect - we all have faults - but I love him exactly as he is.

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              31.01.2012 23:54
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              A romantic, but expensive and commercial day

              Valentine's Day A day for husbands and wife's, fiancées and young lovers to celebrate. A day for all singletons to try and forget. Yes it is the 14th February again. But in a time where every penny counts many people are choosing to forget the celebrations. Below are some great ideas for people who still want to celebrate but just do not have the funds to back it. **For Couples** Nights in: Sitting in the comfort of your own home is always nice. And on Valentine's Day it is a great place to relax and celebrate without having to spend a fortune. Maybe cook yourself a nice meal for two, get a bottle of wine in the freezer and curl up to a nice film for the night. Out and about: When I say go out for Valentine's Day I don't mean to a fancy restaurant. I mean a nice stroll to your local park with a picnic. Champagne, cheese, strawberries the works. It is a great, cheap way to spend time with your loved one and not spend too much money. Presents and Cards: If you really have to get each other stuff, why not make the card yourself? It is a fun and cheap way to show someone you love them, plus it has an added meaning because you put the time and effort in to make the card yourself. Present wise, you could always go for the cheap bog standard chocolates and flowers, they are always a nice touch. Or, and I am not sure if you are actually allowed to do this, but if you do not want to fork out for flowers, why not pick some form your local parks? Just do not blame me if you get in trouble. **For Singletons** Dinner Parties: Why not host a meal with you and all your single friends? That way none of you are faced with spending the evening alone, or spending it in a public place staring at all the happy loved up couples. Getting Drunk: This may work for some of you, others it may not. I do suggest drinking with someone nit by yourself because that is when the depressing side comes out and then you end up texting your ex or your crush some very embarrassing things. You can drink at your house and have a laugh, maybe whip out some Just Dance or a bit of Singstar and generally have a laugh. Or drinking in a pub or club is just as fun. You will probably bump into other singletons looking for a good time. The more the merrier I say. So I hope you liked my ideas. I have been in a relationship for the past however many Valentine's Day and these tips always worked out for us. But being a singleton this year I am not sure how worthy these tips are, but you can't blame a girl for trying can you? But whatever my status on this day I just don't really agree with it. Yes me and my ex did go out for dinner and get each other cards but that was it really. It was never a big deal for us as we went out on date nights most of the time anyway. I just think it is a little bit sad that people need a set day to show someone they care for them. A cooked meal or a random bunch of flowers during the year makes more of an impression on me than a pre-arranged, over priced meal once a year. Thanks for reading. And whatever you are doing have fun.

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                31.01.2012 21:44
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                Good excuse for a quiet night in with hubby

                I think Valentine's Day is like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it. When I was younger I would have been mortified if I had not had a card and it was a huge thing at school as to whether or not you had received one. I think the older you get, the less you care. I have been with my husband for nearly seven years now. Our first Valentines Day was the most amazing and romantic evening that anyone has ever arranged for me. I was living in Hertfordshire and he was in London, so we arranged to meet each other for a surprise date after work. Firstly I received 12 red roses at work, and then knowing how much I wanted to see Phantom of the Opera, he had arranged tickets and then took me for a very nice meal afterwards. It was amazing and I had no idea that he had planned so much. He has never done anything so romantic since! I don't mind that - it is a waste of money. We now spend the evening at home and cook a nice dinner, or have a picnic in the front room, complete with picnic rug and basket, champagne and candles - as far as I am concerned a much better night than being rushed out of a restaurant to make way for the next couple feeling that they have to do something to 'celebrate' the occasion. My friend's partners birthday is on Valentines Day, so it is banned from their house - he hates the way that it is totally overshadowed and thinks that as it's his Birthday it should all be about him! I think he finds it easier now he is part of a couple, but when he was younger he really struggled celebrating it, as all his friends were expected to be elsewhere with their girlfriends! From now on, as long as I get a card, I am happy. We have much more important things that we need to spend money on, and spending it on teddy bears and love hearts just because it is expected of you is right at the bottom of our list of priorities. The tacky things sold in the shops in the run up to Valentine's Day just end up cluttering up our living space and then being thrown away anyway. A random text from hubby telling me he loves me every now and again makes me happier than him spending hard earned money on flowers that don't last long!

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                  31.01.2012 21:32
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                  Would recommend 5/5

                  Many of us have many different views on valentines day, some celebrate, some don't. I personally think that it is just an excuse to get money out of you, but despite that it is nice showing everyone that you love them. Most people just give to their partner, or some one who they want to be their partner but me personally I give to all those that I love and those who are close to me. My boyfriend, my two children, my father (from the girls) and my boyfriends mum and dad (also from the girls). Valentines day doesn't have to cost a fortune, trust me I am the thrifty craft doctor, that will save you pennies with my great ideas. You can spend as much or as little as you like on a gift or ideas that you may wish to try on this special day. I have a small online business and I make loads of different gifts that I make for customers and I make them to your budget. So I am going to share with you as many different neat ideas that I can for you. Different ideas for different people that suit the relationship with that person, I hope that you find it interesting and useful. 1. A simple and easy gift to make is a teddy in a cup. Head to Poundland, collect a valentines day teddy of your choice, there is normally quite a verity of choice for you to choose from. Collect a love mug, maybe I love you one or a heart shaped printed one and also a packet or sweets or chocolate. Get your mug, insert the chosen teddy, put in your goodies, I tend to use chocolate Lint balls that you also get in Poundland at this time. Then all you are left to do is get some cellophane gift wrap which you can get either off ebay or for a small price out of your local florist. A small gift costing roughly £4 wont break the bank and adding a bow will make the gift look more expensive than it actually is. The person that you are buying the present for wont have a clue that you made it, they will think that you bought it from a shop. 2. Have you ever heard of a sock bouquet before? It is useful for those who like flowers or perhaps even socks. You can use this idea for many occasions but as it is valentines day i recommend that you use black and red. All you need is two bunches of red roses, and a pack of three black socks, again I suggest that you go to Poundland, as it will probably be the cheapest option for you. In Poundland you can also get a pack of ten decorative red love hearts, to make your bouquet more expensive looking pick up a pack of these. Get your bunches of roses and cut all the stems off, try and make them all as even as you can. Take five of the rose bud heads off and wrap round one black sock onto each one securing it with a safety pin. It should look like a rose bud as you wind it round, if you have no idea what to do, have a look on youtube as there are lots of different video clips showing you how to do it. You will be left with one black sock left over, wrap it round one of the other socks that you have doing the same as before and securing it with a safety pin, this will make the rose look larger and your centre rose. Get your large rose, round it add your red roses and start building up your bouquet. Once you are finished, add the black roses made of socks and include them into your bouquet, not forgetting to add your decorative hearts in it. I personally only use one but it is your bouquet so feel free to add as many as you wish. Add some tissue paper round the steams of your flowers, then add your cellophane to make it look more expensive, and there you have it another great gift for £4 3. For those of you that have looked at hampers to give your partner, you will see how expensive it really is. If you order from a florist or even an online shop the average price you will pay for a hamper is £40-£50. You can make these yourself for a fraction on the price. I have three ideas of hampers that work well for valentines day. I love you hamper.. Once again the Pound Shop always comes in useful, you will find loads of items that say I love you on it in there. Items such as I love toast stamper, I love you plaque, I love you teddy, I love you snow globe, you know where this is heading I could be here for a while. Pick as may items as you wish and items that stick out to you, then add it to a gift basket and arrange it nicely. The best place to get a basket is from either Poundstretcher, Wilkinsons, or B&Ms for £1.99 each. Remember with hampers you need cellophane, wrap the cellophane around the hamper then add a pretty bow. Sexy hamper.. Why not make some extra time for you and your partner to spice things up a little. I know what you are thinking, and this doesn't have to be expensive if you don't want it too. You can go to Ann Summers and fill your bag or believe it or not Poundland also has loads of sexy items in there. Hand cuffs, nipple tassels, a spanker, stockings, body dust, ect ect. I made one of these for my boyfriend last year and to make it more interesting, I added a cock ring for my boyfriend out of ASDA for £4.99. It is safe to say he enjoyed his hamper as much as I did, who says there there is no such thing as a selfish gift. Normal hamper that you get out of the florists.. It consists of a teddy, a bottle of wine, box of chocolates, and a rose plant. Where I stay the florist is charging £40, which I personally think is shocking, why pay that when you could make it yourself for £20 at the most, depending on the wine of course. 4. I love you enough to give you my last Rolo. You can pick up little boxes from The Card Factory, Clintons, or Birthdays, even... surprise surprise the Pound Shop also sell them. You can find these in the party section where the wedding items are. You will find a pack of ten in a white box with a silver love heart engraved on the box. Buy a packet of Rolos and wrap an individual Rolo in some tin foil and put it in the box and seal it up. On a gift tag (which you can make) write on it, I love you enough to give you my last Rolo. This gift will cost you roughly £1.50, its a nice, sweet, and thoughtful gift. 5. What about getting a jar and decorating it. You can either buy one or save one from when you are making something with a sauce and you have a let over jar. You can decorate it with pretty diamantés, paint or stickers. I a doing one this year for my boyfriend. I got a pretty clear jar with a blue lid from b&ms for 99p I am going to print out a Rangers Football Club sticker and write his name with red, white and blue diamanté. Not only will he like it because it is Rangers but also because he is needing to save his pennies for when he go to Spain in the summer. 6. A great gift for children for Valentines day is get a I love you teddy, a pack of socks and a chocolate bar. Wrap the socks into a sock cup cake, if you cant do this then I suggest that you look on Youtube as there is quite a few videos that you can look at to show you how to do it. Get a piece of card, paint it red or use a wrapping paper, use this as a base for the teddy to sit on. Add the sock cup case in the middle of the teddy and the chocolate behind that. Use gift wrap to make it look more expensive and you got a lovely gift for less than £3. 7. Another fanatic gift for children is themed gift hampers. My two girls like Disney Princess so I usually head to the Pound Shop where I can pick up a few items Disney Princess themed items. Add a few sweets and treat in, gift wrap and add a pretty bow. Your little ones will love it, it will make them feel special and totally loved. You can make a decent one for roughly £2.50. 8. Buy a large clear photo frame, you can pick them up in many stores for roughly £2. Look out your photos and make a collage. Feel free to add some pretty hearts with glitter round it to add character to your gift. 9. I know at this time of year there are quite a lot of love albums being advertised. I have chosen what one I would like, so my boyfriend knows what one to get me. What I would like more than anything though is for him to make me one of all my favourite songs. Why don't you give it a go? Although it can be time consuming, it is a lovely gift and something to keep forever. 10. If you cant afford to go out for a romantic dinner, why not have one at home. Make a three course meal, it is easier and cheaper than you think. Have a look at budget recipes online there are quite a few good ideas and step by steps for those who don't normally cook. If you don't feel like making a large meal, why not make a picnic instead? If the weather is bad don't let it stop you having one in doors. 11. All us women would like to go to a spa and I am sure most men would too. Spas can be very expensive, so why not make up a basket of lots of inexpensive spa treatments to be used in the home. You could include candles, rose petals, bubble baths, facial masks, scrubs and massage oils. Both you and your partner will have a very relaxing day. 12. Valentines Day is all about showing the people you love how special they are to you. Why not have a family day, you, your partner, and your children at the cinemas. The Vue cinemas charge £1.25 each at the weekends at 10am. £5 isn't going to break the bank and all children love the cinemas. 13. My partner is a huge nature lover and enjoys going out long walks. It can be rather romantic, a walk in the woods holding hands, where no one is watching it is quite nice to grab a quick peck on the cheek. 14. If you have no money at all to buy some one a gift or to make a hamper, don't worry. Get your pens and paper out and make a start on vouchers. The vouchers can be anything from, this voucher entitles you... to one back massage, breakfast in bed, to do a day of house work ect. Doesn't cost a penny and it also shows that you have put a lot of effort into thinking about what the other person would like. 15. write a list of why you love that person or perhaps a poem. I would love something like this but my partner isn't a person who shows too much emotion, which is a shame as it is something that would mean a lot to me and something that I would also keep forever. 16. Either on a post it note or a small piece of paper write, I love you because.... and fill in the gaps, when you have enough sit them all to the site. Buy a packet of balloons Poundland has roughly 80 balloons in a pack and will be useful for what you need them for. Before you start to blow up the balloon, slip the note inside then blow it up and tie a knot. Leave them all in your living room, and when your partner comes home tell them in each balloon there is a personal message about how they feel about them. To make it more entertaining for you set a time limit and watch them enjoy themselves and see them smile. 17. If you are single on valentines day who is better to show you love than yourself. Go for a nice relaxing bath, stick on your pjs and look out your duvet, put on a DVD, and eat all those yummy goodies till your full. There is always next year and for those that are happy being single good for you. 18. If you are wanting your partner to propose recommend you do what I am about to now. Leave a note for your partner to find it. John.... I think it is time you put a ring on it! Nothing like a suttle hint is there? Just so you get an idea of my hampers that you can make, I have included a picture of it so you get some ideas on how to arrange them. This one is not yet wrapped up as I wanted you to be able to get a good look. Not bad for just £5 a? I hope that my review is of some use to you and you have enjoyed reading it. Thank you for taking time to view it. Happy Valentines Day everyone, hope you all have a great day.

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                    30.01.2012 12:38
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                    Just another day of the year for me

                    People might think from the title of this review, that I am of an unromantic nature. This is not the case. I am just not a fan of Valentine's Day, because I believe it's overhyped, commercialised, and makes single people feel more isolated than ever. Throughout my adult life, whenever I have embarked upon a new relationship (not that I've had that many I hasten to add!), I have made it clear how I feel about Valentine's Day. I don't like it, I don't celebrate it, I'm not being miserable but don't go spending a fortune on overpriced rubbish to "prove" how you feel about me, just be nice to me throughout the year and that will do. Men look at you as if you're trying to lure them into some sort of trap: "Does she mean it, or will she go mad if I don't read between the lines and send twenty red roses to work". No, I really do mean it. I am a simple say-what-you-mean kind of girl, no tricks or mind games here. Now, people may think that this rather grumpy-old-woman way of looking at things means I'm a bit miserable or unromantic. Not really. I'm not against romantic gestures or surprising your loved one from time to time, but lets be honest, being told you HAVE to be romantic on a particular day of the year is hardly spontaneous is it? I would much rather my partner bought me flowers on a random day during the year, just because. Likewise, I would rather treat my partner to breakfast in bed when I know he's been working hard and needs a rest, rather than because it's a certain day in February. My partner has treated me with some grand gestures over the years. I remember him surprising me with a weekend away just after I started a new job, I'd had many interviews and knockbacks and he wanted to show me how proud he was that I'd kept trying. For my thirtieth he planned a surprise trip to Europe. He usually buys me flowers for birthdays, or if I'm in need of cheering up. He brought me flowers and breakfast in bed one morning because he'd got a new job, and wanted to thank me for supporting him throughout his previous employment which had caused much stress. He is perfectly capable of displaying how he feels without the need to conform to enforced romance. Likewise, I am capable of the odd romantic gesture myself. I will bring little treats home for my other half, little things I see and know he likes. Although the money is a little tighter these days, we have to think of more thrifty ways of showing our affection. At Christmas, I made him a personalised advent calendar, which contained love notes, chocolates, IOU's (for massage, car wash etc), and so on. Actually, one day contained a toothbrush purely because I'd noticed he needed a new one and I was struggling for ideas for the 25 days, but still, the thought was there. This brings me onto my next point. It seems to me that Valentine's Day is all about buying things to show you love someone. The number of times I've seen colleagues receive red roses in work on Valentine's Day, and thought to myself that's all well and good, but you spend the remaining 364 days of the year moaning about how badly they treat you. Spending £6 on a big oversized card does not prove you love someone. Treating them with respect and loyalty throughout the year, does. As a singleton, I hated Valentine's Day because it was just a reminder that another year had passed without finding "Mr Right". Looking back, I don't know why I was so bothered, I was only young and had years ahead of me, but it does make people feel lonely and isolated, especially for those who have lost someone. I also used to know someone whose birthday was on Valentine's Day, and she used to end up celebrating the day after because she hated the dross they churn out in restaurants because they mass produce for big numbers. I feel that Valentine's Day is also geared more towards men providing romantic gestures than women. The pressure is on for men, but women don't seem to have to worry about whether they get it right or not, probably because most men don't care about Valentine's Day. Surely romance works both ways? The funniest Valentine's Day story I've heard of, is a friend's brother who was dating someone in Scotland. He had surprised her by travelling 200+ miles to go and see her, but unfortunately she had the same idea so she travelled the same distance to come and see him. They both ended up on their own on Valentine's night, although I'm sure the gesture was appreciated by both of them (and they can probably laugh about it now). Finally, I'd just like to mention that buying things or making grand gestures doesn't by any means prove how you feel about someone. For me, the little things matter as much as the big things. My partner is always there when I need him, but he also does little things which could easily go unnoticed, and he does them because he loves me, not because he wants to score brownie points. For example, when we get back from the supermarket, we usually get a chocolate bar each to overcome the trauma of shopping, he always puts his in the fridge and mine on top because he knows I hate my chocolate rock hard. In the morning, he leaves for work before me, so he scrapes my car of ice if it needs it, and he'll get a cup ready with a teabag in and the kettle filled so I only have to flick the switch. I'll ask what flavour crisps he wants, and he'll say salt and vinegar because there's only one nice flavour left and he knows I hate salt and vinegar. He doesn't really want salt and vinegar, but the point is, he doesn't make a big deal of it. I would much rather live with someone like that, than someone who ignores you throughout the year then "surprises" you with a teddy saying "I love you" or some overpriced roses.

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                      28.01.2012 18:31
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                      It's not just Valentine's Day that is cause for a romantic gesture

                      Although I can think of lots of traditional ways of expressing your love on Valentine's day - such as buying your loved one a card, exchanging gifts as tokens of your affection, going out for a romantic meal - I feel that the most romantic thing of all is to let your partner know just how much they are loved by expressing this to them every day. The very best idea of all is to start with the fact that you love each other. A lot. If you are planning on going out for a meal to celebrate the occasion, it's probably a good idea to book this in advance. I remember one evening, many years ago, when my husband and I tried to go out for dinner. We both worked full-time, and also spent nearly every spare waking hour writing novels together - which was something we loved doing, and which brought us a lot of creative satisfaction as well as earning us another much-appreciated source of income. We worked really hard, and would occasionally crash and burn - and those were the times when we would decide to treat ourselves to a takeaway or splurge on a meal out in a lovely restaurant. One evening we decided on the spur of the moment that we would go out for dinner, so I began phoning round our favourite local restaurants. To my surprise, every single one was full, which I found hard to believe as this was a Tuesday night in the middle of winter. In the end I asked one of the restaurants what on earth was going on, and was told - with some surprise - that it was because it was Valentine's Day! It seemed that everyone in Ealing was eating out that night, but the significance of the date had completely passed us by. I think we got a Chinese takeaway instead! Valentine's Day has always (obviously!) been a secondary consideration for us in the 'romantic date' stakes. Our wedding anniversary is February 21st, exactly a week later, and that is the event we tend to focus on. We share that date with my much-loved and much-missed grandparents, who were married for 73 years. I like to consider the longevity of their relationship as a good omen, although we married rather later in life than they did - so if we get anywhere close to celebrating as many years together as they did, we will probably make the news as being something of a medical miracle. It just so happened that when we went to book the Registry Office, we were told that 14th February was not available - for some reason a lot of people wanted to get married on that date. So we went for the next available Saturday, and enjoyed the lovely coincidence of sharing the date of our wedding anniversary with my grandparents. We do like to exchange cards on Valentine's Day, and these are often hand-made - even if it's just a piece of folded paper, it means such a lot when the loving message inside has been thought up and written by the person you are closest to. The first Valentine's card I can ever remember receiving came when I was about twelve years old. It featured a beautiful woman dressed in a flowery gown, and the handwriting on the envelope looked suspiciously like that of my father - and had been posted from the RAF base where he worked. Even though my secret admirer was almost certainly my dad, that card was very much appreciated! So that's the romantic dinner and card sorted. What about the exchange of gifts? I think one of the most wonderful way of swapping loving gifts is to follow the tradition that we discovered in Barcelona - which is celebrated not on St Valentine's Day but on St George's Day (as well as being our own patron saint, he is also the patron saint of Catalonia). April 23rd, the 'Dia de Sant Jordi', is a hugely popular festival in Catalonia. While doing some research for a novel, we decided to experience this for ourselves, and booked a weekend's break in this beautiful Spanish city. On that particular year, St George's Day was on a Saturday. This meant that when we emerged from our hotel in the centre of Barcelona, we were swept up by a heaving tide of humanity, all heading for La Rambla, where the purchase of the gifts took place. The city pavements were filled with stalls selling either books or red roses, which are the traditional gifts between men and women on Barcelona's equivalent of Valentine's Day. I normally lead a very quiet life, and so being faced with this throng of people, and not being able to walk at my own pace, was something that would normally have sent me running screaming all the way home. But this day was filled with such rich celebration that I was delighted to be a part of it, and I enjoyed every moment. The tradition is that men buy their loved ones a red rose, as a symbol of love and passion, while women buy their partner a book, as a symbol of commitment and fidelity. So as well as countless book stalls, there were flowers everywhere. Thousands upon thousands of red roses. Almost everyone we saw - women and men - were carrying them. We spent a lovely time wandering from stall to stall until we found what we considered to be the perfect rose, and I cradled it gently until we got back to our hotel - where we ceremoniously placed it inside a glass bottle of water. We also managed to find a bookshop that sold books in English, and I bought my husband a biography of Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona's famous architect, and the creator of such marvels as the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and Casa Batllo (and the other reason for our research weekend). As I began to tire, we made our way back to our hotel and passed a stall selling paper roses for charity. We bought me the extra rose, which I looked forward to keeping as a souvenir of our wonderful adventure. Sadly, I lost this at Barcelona Airport on our way home, but I can still see it in my mind's eye - and I hope that one day we will return to that wonderful city on St George's Day and buy me another one! That day also brings to mind another idea for a gift for your loved one - that of music. We happened to stumble across a group of people listening to a busker playing in one of the quiet squares in the Barri Gotic. To our amazement, an accordion player was playing Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' on that one instrument. As we reached him, he was playing the 'Winter' movement - one of my favourite pieces of music. The combination seemed almost impossible, but his dexterity and musical passion held us transfixed. It was an astonishingly beautiful rendition, and when it came to an end we joined in with the rapturous applause, and put some money into his case. The musician seemed almost bemused by the attention - he had been utterly lost in his music. He gave us both a wonderful gift that day - that of a stunningly beautiful memory. The following day brought me another gift - that of peace and quiet. That Sunday in Barcelona came as such a marked contrast to the previous day that we were stunned by the quiet and empty streets, perfect for us as we strolled around gazing at the city's beautiful architecture. Barcelona's version of Valentine's Day was one of my favourite holiday experiences ever - creating the gift of a memory that will never leave me. I am in no way anti-Valentine's Day. My point is that it doesn't have to be the traditional things that bring joy to you and your loved one. It's not just Valentine's Day that's important. There are countless opportunities for romantic gestures during the year. For me, it can be something as simple as my husband bringing me chicken-noodle soup when I'm tucked up in bed because I'm feeling really poorly. To us, every day is important. It doesn't take a meal at a restaurant, flowers, chocolates or cards to celebrate loving each other. Those are really nice, but it's the small things, the quiet gestures of love and appreciation, that mean true romance to us. (I've given this 'review' five stars because love is wonderful. It's all you need.) (A slightly revised version of this is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                        12.02.2011 22:06
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                        My first valentine

                        Intro I think it's great that we have a day on which we celebrate love, and I like many others have had my heart broken by love but I have also had it mended a few times as well. Before I relate my story I'd just like to say that isn't it a pity that the love and feelings of love portrayed by most on this day, are not generally transferred toward the rest of mankind, we spend too much time bickering that we forget that in loving we bond and create friendships, which will mould our lives and those of them around us. Hell we are all going to have off days for sure, but if we could all just be a little more tolerant then perhaps the world might just turn out to be a better place after all. Growing up Growing up with three sisters isn't easy even if you are fortunate enough to be the eldest of the quadruplet, but it does have certain advantages in that three girls have a few friends each and they come round to the house and see only one boy, lots of girls. So when puberty crept up on me all those years ago I found it strange and at the same time fascinating, things were happening to my body that I didn't totally understand, and being that my dad had died some years before I think my Mum found the subject a bit of a taboo. So I had to learn by myself and as any young boy does I felt on reflection that I had been in love more times than I care to remember, of course I wasn't actually in love I just thought I was, the difference however being quite negligible, at least when you are only 14. She had blond curly hair as I recall, she smiled like a goddess and what is more she made me smile. She was a little younger ages with my middle sister would make her 12; we were to be friends for the foreseeable future. When she played with my sister she'd come round and I'd get feelings that I never even knew existed, wobbly knees, butterflies, but most of all embarrassment. Could this really be love? The years passed and since she did stay across the street from us avoiding her was not an option, not that I wanted to....................she was special, and she still holds a place in my heart to this day. We had secretly kissed years ago and that kiss lasted what seemed to be an eternity, since there was not apparently another on the way, her eyes were for another. I'd send her anonymous valentine's cards and all the other soppy stuff to woo, but to no avail. My hormones and my mind were breaking up my body had hair and I wasn't sure if it was supposed to or not, and she was all but a stones throw away. One day we all left the street to go to the local big swing park, which was a 15 minute walk, we walked and joked and laughed and she was very close to me all the way. Flutter be my beating heart, wobble be my knees the feelings were returning. We arrived at the park and we played for ages at all kinds of stuff, things were more relaxed and carefree back in the 60's. I was looking for a chance to impress, to be the alpha male, to be the best, to woo her. There was an old cheesecutter seesaw, which held 6 people and we all made a scramble for it, I was last so I had definitely not impressed here. I thought if I can get this to swing higher that it has ever swung I'd be her hero, her hunk her boyfriend..............finally. I swung it like I'd never done before, it soared into the sky, all the girls screamed, I was doing it I was wooing her, she was screaming and smiling she was have a great time all because of me. The dark cloud, which now surrounded me, was getting darker every second, I could feel the darkness drawing ever closer. The bar which was used to lock the see-saw at night and which was over a yard long and 3 inches wide had fallen and hit my knee. I felt sick giddy and my knee was swelling up by the second. Some of the girls ran home to get my Mum, I was in agony, all the screaming and smiles had disappeared and within 20 minutes was in an ambulance and heading for the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. I couldn't say anything about her, I could ask where she was, and that would give the game away. My knee was broken and I spent 3 days in hospital waiting for the swelling to drop before getting my leg plastered. Fate had for the second time in my life intervened for she had no intention of love blossoming. The girls Dad had been offered a better job far away from us and before I left hospital she had gone, flown like my love into the vastness. My heart was shattered, my ego even more so, too boot I was to be hobbling for weeks before I could walk again. Once I was again mobile and in control it was the turn of another sisters friend to get my affections, and again I thought it was true love, it did last longer than the previous encounter and did end amicably. Summary Now some forty years later as I sit and recall this tale to you I realise that having been married for 33 years I have at last found my true love, my soul mate, friend, and dreams do come true. I have of course realised long before now that I have found Mrs right, but reminiscing has simply reminded me so. I do often wonder what happen to Betty, and I would like to see her again, but the irony of it all is that my wife is called Elizabeth, which is often shortened to .........................yep you guessed it.

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                          11.02.2011 23:23
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                          The day floristis make a killing

                          No sooner have the detritus of Christmas and the debris of the January sales finished, the shops and media are encouraging us to spend more on our loved ones. The heart shaped chocolate boxes are out in forces alongside anything pink, red or black, as are the overpriced clinched dozen red roses are being picked just in time for the 14th of February. Yes its St. Valentines Day or as I call it "Soppy Day". Its the day to show your love and affection for that special person in your life or who you want in your life. I must say I have very mixed feelings about this festival dedicated to the Roman martyr who saved doomed lovers. Part of me is pretty cynical about it all. You can see me my arms folded indignantly saying 2its all commercialised rubbish". I suppose I think it is a great day for those who fancy someone or those in a new relationship, but it does not matter to those terminally single who just find it vomit inducing or those happily couple for years who don't need a certain day to celebrate their love for each other. My boyfriend M and I have joked about having our own St. Valentines perhaps in August! However there is the romantic teenager in me that is normally kept slightly hidden that secretly yearns to be spirited away for a special day with a champagne picnic and a handmade old fashioned card all lace and little cherubs. Since the big day is fast approaching and M is dropping subtle hints to what we may do on the 13th (since the actual day is Monday a working day) I thought I would share my memories and experiences of St. Valentines Day. "I'm Just a Teenager In Love" My early memories of Valentine's Day come from American cartoon shows like Peanuts. My parents certainly did not send each other cards or anything else until I was much older. I do remember making a Valentine card in primary school perhaps in primary six but that us about it. As a teenager I remember all the magazine articles in Jackie and Just 17 on how to get the boy you fancied on Valentine's Day and what a particular type of card would mean. I remember every year during secondary school there would be people asked to come to the school office on the tannoy at registration and you knew it would be to pick up an anonymous card. I suppose, as a daydreaming romantic (as are most teenage girls) I secretly wanted this to happen to me, but deep down , as Miss Slightly Weird the harsh reality was that I was never going to get a card. Not even one from my father, as they were not that type of parents. I find it a bit corny a dad sending his daughter a valentine. The first card I clearly remember sending (I may have sent a couple before to boys at school) was to a guy at my church when I was going through my religious phase when I was 16. He was about four years older than I and at university. He was good looking and nice nature and I had a massive crush on him, as he seemed so sophisticated. I bought the card from Opus which was a little crafty type shop in Dumfries., I believe it was all hearts and Victorians and I felt so proud of myself sending it. it. He must have worked it out, as I remember him thanking me for it perhaps in the May but my effort was to no avail, as he was too busy at university and not looking for a girlfriend. "Stupid Cupid" It took until I was nearly 18 to receive my first card. It was from the guy who would become my first true love and first proper boyfriend. We "met" as penpals in the January and he soon a"asked me out". I was thrilled to bits to receive that card. Perhaps the least romantic gift i ever got from a boyfriend was an Easter Egg. Yes I know it was chocolate but Easter was at least five or six weeks away. Just because they are in the shops from January does not make them a suitable Valentine's present. I know I should have been grateful but that year I was a bit bemused and spent most of the evening in a huff with my then boyfriend. He was never ultra romantic but he was forgiven in years to come. We did have some nice personal valentine's days together. I rememberer the year I bought cookie dough and made it into heart shaped cookies. I'm always tempted to recycle that idea, as it was a fun thing to do and a personal gesture. Another year we had a chocolate fondue, which was rather yummy. "My Funny Valentine" I suppose the most memorable days for me have been recently. In the past two years I have been spoiled rotten by successive boyfriends brandishing chocolates , flowers, balloons and perhaps my favourite a beautiful pendant made by a friend of a friend. I always think personal is very much the key although sometimes the grand gesture is great, as it just sweeps you away. So what's in store for this year? For the first time since primary school my card is a home made one. My mum is a total genius at card making so we sat down together and made my rough ideas into a really personal card. With a photo of us on the front and lyrics to one of our special songs inside instead of a corny verse. I've also filled a nice gift box with all of M 's favourite sweets. I really hope he likes what I have got him and can't wait to see his face when he opens the card. Perhaps this year will be the most memorable Valentines' Day. Who knows. I can't wit to find out. and will update this if it is very special which I am sure it will be. === update=== Today was a really lovely day. m thoughtfully bought me the DVD of Creation" the first film we saw at the cinema together. That was a lovely personal touch , Oh and he also got me some e Thorntons chocolates. I was intrigued what we were doing as M said it could be outdoors. We got he train into london and then headed fo rthe river. Was it the London Eye for a champagne flight? No our venue was moored just across the river then there. I've often walked past the Tatershall Castle which is a floating bar/restaurant and must have once said to M I fancied eating there one day. He must have remembered as we had an unusual lunch bobbing up and down on the river watching all the other boats sail by. i had some wonderful hallumi filled roast red peppers and a side of garlic bread and he had the ham and eggs. After our meal we wandered over to Covent Garden and ended up at he Maple llaf pub where we went for drinks on our first date. This part was unplanned but just felt just so right.

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                            11.02.2011 17:14
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                            An interesting take on Valentine's day

                            - Introduction My fondest Valentine's memory is from a few years ago; high school were offering to send a red rose to any pupil, confidentially, for a small fee which would be put towards our partner school in Meetsetshehla, Africa. The incentive was great - school would use the idea Valentine's day, and take advantage of teenage heartbreak, to make some money to help a worthy cause. - What they did School got a group of pupil volunteers together to take payment and note down who a rose would go to, but not from whom it was sent. The teachers must have been oblivious to the fact that teenagers love to gossip, as the volunteers knew who wanted to send a rose to who, and began spreading rumours of "who likes who". Pupils who genuinely fancied the people they sent roses to grew increasily raged at the fact they were no longer "secret admirers", and the whole school knew about their crush. How embarassing I hear you say! - Overthrown On a funnier note, there were the girls who loved themselves far too much, they thought the world revolved around them and that they had no equal. They'd always find something bad to say about the nicest of people. These were the real nasty people in high school, they made people feel awful about themselves. No one should be able to do that. Anyway, a few of the people who were growing sick of those girls' bullying decided it was time to give them a taste of their own medicine... The rebels hijacked the Valentine's day red rose scheme. No, they didn't steal the money, it was for charity. However they did tamper with the list of people to be sent roses: The names of each and every one of the girls who dished out insults and abuse and bullied people who didn't deserve the mistreatment, were changed to the names of the victims of the girls' bullying. - Distribution Day On the day the roses were distributed, the girls were expecting boxes and boxes from their deluded admirers. I remember being sat in my form room, the volunteers knocked on the door and entered, with a small box of bright red roses, each with a little name tag attached to the stem. Three girls who's egos were about to shrink, like a deflating heart-shaped balloon, sat on the back row. I was sat on the thrid. The volunteers made their way around the room, they got to the second row, and four roses were given to a boy who had been a victim of the girls' bullying since the first year of school, making it 3 years of endurance. He was one of the girls' easier targets; vulnerable because of his shy personality, different because of his gingery, rusty hair, and he was extremely clever from what I remember. Personally I think the girls were just jealous of his intelligence, I was. I didn't see his reaciton to receiving the roses because I was sat at the table behind him, but I'm sure he wore eyes full of surprise and confusion, and lips shaped into an elated grin. That isn't even the best part... The girls sat slouched, top buttons undone and ties worn loosely, so the knot could barely be seen above the V-neck of the grey school jumper. One volunteer moved towards the fourth row, the other towards the door. As the volunteer walked past me, a small boy who was probably in his first or second year, I peered into the box of roses and saw there were two left. I turned around on my chair to watch the reactions of the girls as they realised they might not be getting any roses for Valentine's day. The volunteer took both of the roses and gave them to a girl sat at the corner table, and the bullys tried to pretend they didn't care. But in reality everyone knew they were upset. - Outcome Unfortunately it didn't change the girls, even slightly. They still thought the world of themselves, and they liked to insult others. - Anyway... That's my favouite memory of Valentine's day, it's not about love between two people, but it's about love of self. A strange thought for a day that should be dedicated to a partner. How narcissistic? On ciao under the same name.

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                              11.02.2011 02:22
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                              Valentine's Day - Even worse than a full moon

                              Long ago in suburbia Waking up on 14th February, was an abrupt one - partly due to the mass sound of envelope rustling, and sharp boot scratching on the mini tiles by the postman at the base of the front door, followed by an anguished gasp of 'drat' as the letterbox's teeth sinks into another fleshy layer of epidermis. By the third time of gingerly poking envelopes through its flesh hungry teeth, the gasp had magnified to bluer content. It really was a stiff, cantankerous contraption - Not one hearty, red, fragranced Valentine card passed through its teeth. I supposed being a lanky lad whose limbs looked decidedly too long in proportion to the rest of my being, didn't help my cause. Imagine a dopey, lanky lamb, after thirty minutes of existence, and you'll get the picture. Furthermore my head resembled a small peanut; it didn't help the cause that my greasy hair laid flat against my scalp. Girls saw me as a docile play thing, except actual contact was forbidden. Puberty seemed a long rocky road, but women were a longer rocky road. Sprightly arthritic ninja looking for new-born lanky lamb for friendship - maybe more One of my happier sporadic Valentine moments arrived when I actually received a Valentine card - Yes, I had moved abode; saying 'Be My Valentine!' It had a lovely floral heart design on the front and a shaky scrawled question mark written inside. Now this girl either had a nervous disposition or she was a geriatric and had problems clutching a biro, due to crippling arthritis. I almost felt her pain. I spent most of that day in school staring at girls' hands, especially their writing hand; usually whilst they were writing feverishly quick, evidently with great assurance and precision; no-one appeared to have shaky hands who would've known my address. Across the road from my school was St Mary's church, I coyly peered for ailing widow activity when I left school that day. As I did so, a hand shot immediately up from behind a grave stone accompanied by a high pitched widow's voice, it sounded as if she was re-turning her wireless. I murmured back as a gesture. Her hand looked shaky and all my hopes were dashed in one swipe. The hand belonged to Mrs Dungey, she knew where I lived. And she was lonely, overly tactile, and probably desperate to get a partner to go barn dancing with; preferably a lanky lamb she could swing around, showing her smiley gummy dentures at. My over active testosterone mind was break dancing on the way home; I was almost hyperventilating, half expecting the arthritic ninja Mrs Dungey to be waiting at my house. Thankfully, normality descended when my Mother smiled sweetly at me and said, "Did you have a good day? I couldn't resist getting you a card love" - I disguise my hand writing, she said - I was so relieved; even a greasy-head, new-born lamb had standards. When words are not enough Inevitably adulthood was upon me as per the collection of au pairs who invaded well populated homes in the city - For some reason I was welcome and got invites to integrate the young foreign damsel into social groups. My duty was a city chaperone for the foreign lovelies who knew little English; although they were more at home with body language and cheeky high pitched squeals than proper coherent speech that an English native could not understand. Sign language was an effective means of communication with these big eyed vivacious, flirt machines. Any sort of hand gesture that I made often ended up with a high pitched squeal and rapid eye lash movement. Because it was the day before Valentines I'd innocently air drew the sign of a heart which was immediately comprehended with two words - with a delighted "Sshooo ssthoon!" I'd only known Andrejka for about one hour, twenty minutes tops. She leaned over towards me and quietly lisped - "I, pick up chill-dran thhoon." Her vocabulary evolved around the English word 'soon;' magnifying her overactive lisp. It sounded like a bee trying to bombard itself through a window pane. The next day, instead of purchasing an expensive educational book called; 'English for the lisp novice.' I bought a cheap Valentine card for communication reasons only. It had a heart shape on the front and some simple wordage inside; I didn't sign it or do a shaky question mark to confuse matters further. Complexities of the English language manifested itself at a whim, with this Czech girl. I was greeted with the European customary six cheek pecks, alternating at half second intervals. She was overly vivacious that day, and looked visibly shocked that I had arrived three minutes earlier than planned. "SSSho stthhoon!" she squealed. Bemused, I undid the cellophane from the card and pointed at the words. I clearly pronounced each word very slowly. "I could search the whole world over...... but I know I'd never find anyone as special as you." "Repeat, after me," I said - and she did, eventually. Incredibly, we had fifteen minutes of repeats - her intense studying at my lip movement made me hot under the collar and I started wondering how long this will go on for. Especially as she had difficulty in controlling her lisp over the three words 'athh, ssspeshhhsial, athhh,' it sounded as if some-one was trying to get my attention from across the room all the time. The house-hold returned with a sudden bustling of activity, which went alarmingly quiet when Andrejka's seemingly, immortal words lisped with abundance."Could ssssearch thee how world ouvre..... but I know I'd nevre finned any won athh ssspeshhhsial attthh you." It ended with a high pitch squeal and a couple of bounces on her kitchen chair. Just enough to realise there was a sizeable pair of head-pillows under her armless puffer jacket. The household never knew she was reciting Valentine literature to me as a means to improve her English. It was too embarrassing to even bring it up. From, that moment the elder son aged eleven was always present in the house and a strict 11pm curfew in-place. My visits became infrequent and her nineteen year old vivacious spirit couldn't be tamed by a Victorian curfew - so she moved on, she kept the card as a memento. Hey, that was the kind of chap I was. Playing second fiddle to a man in accounts called Neville It was the year Mr. Blair came to power and the people's princess tragically lost her life; like a rose scythed down in her prime. I'd had big hopes of settling down with a Catherine Zeta-Jones double which also was scythed down with no remorse. Albeit no tunnel was involved, just a man in accounts, called Neville. Who'd allegedly gone through a heart-breaking time with his wife and required a gorgeous agony aunt to talk of a 'special memory box' filled with happy relationship memorabilia. Foreign holidays when the nights were as dark as twilight - even I felt sorry for him. Can you feel the heart-strings pulling? Nothing was untoward leading up to Valentines; in fact Neville's sorrow enriched my love for this beautiful lady. We'd been involved for eighteen months, so I booked a five star hotel - a table for two, in a plush French restaurant and all sealed off perfectly with a token gift of an engagement ring. The day was mapped out meticulously, my excitement almost unbearable; if my chest burst from its cavity wall, I wouldn't have been surprised; death by extreme exhilaration. Being consumed in this vacuum of love and delusion - didn't even make me ask questions why she hadn't paged me back in the afternoon of February 14th? We were supposed to of met at 7PM at the La Petite Maison. She didn't turn-up. She'd rung up the Franglais restaurant owner, while I was sitting waiting for her. He looked over and earnestly walked over to me, and said - "I've a message from your lady, sir. Neville really needs me, does that make sense. She said it would." I slowly looked up and said yes, it did make sense. It was supposed to be a magical time. I didn't stay in the restaurant, I felt the walls close in on me and I needed air. Suddenly my imagination went into overdrive and I stomped the pavements in the drizzle, for hours. I couldn't feel the rain. But I saw two homeless people a man and a women nesting in cardboard together trying to keep warm. In the light of the yellowy street lamp it was an endearing sight; true love, it looked like it. I leant down to them and offered them my hotel room for the night with the complimentary Champagne on ice. They were more than amazed. I explained my circumstances, and too this day I can remember their wide eyes staring back at me, it was if I gave them a winning lottery ticket. I told them both to clean themselves up as it was all paid for. As I shook the homeless guys hand I pressed an engagement ring into his palm. "Have it, I won't be requiring this." He attempted to hug me but I retracted as the body odour whiffed beyond distraction. They said thank you a hundred times each. I relive that moment every time I'm at low ebb; seeing the honking love-birds quickly walking away; two silhouetted dark masses, hand in hand - whooping, down the street. It was the first time I was truly consumed in some-one else's happiness, rather than my own, for quite a while. Thereafter my relationship dispersed weeks later, extinguished as quickly as it began. I told her what my plans were that Valentines Day and she coyly replied "Things happen for a reason." Although, she pleaded to be told in every detail what the engagement ring looked like; heartbreakingly I told her, and I broke down. It was the first time I cried - during which she told me she was on a time restraint and got into a taxi and sped off - tears were visibly rolling down her cheeks as she peered from the backseat window back at me. That moment changed me. Five years later, I met her in a bar by accident; she couldn't remember my name. Ambiguity makes the heart grow fonder Maybe the question mark in a Valentine card denotes a symbolic statement, that love is decidedly fickle. The pen's squiggly mark and the afterthought dot below epitomises anonymity. No obvious characteristics to tell who wrote it, especially a shaky one. Identity never disclosed until it is reciprocated and even if it is for a time, modern life or cruel acts of fate has quashed many loves - relationships - Anonymity is a protective layer too the real you. The one area it seems the most acceptable is via online; it certainly doesn't prised you open, like a tin of sardines ready to be gobbled up by John West, or a Zeta-Jones look-a-like. Don't get me wrong I'm not advocating to digital-ware to strike an amiable match, due to my rooted core beliefs. I believe in old fashioned chemistry, animal instincts, to make my physical choice. And before any darkened force claims relationships isn't a physical choice - all I got to say is 'Johnny Vegas' and they usually eat their wordage, he obviously has in-between meals too. The idea of a software package filtering through a database of loveable people, who can't get a date normally, is designed to fix me up with a bulbous Henrietta who also enjoys sizeable midnight snacks, residing in Harrow. Albeit, flitting too a more emollient line - perhaps a new approach could be just as adventurous; 2011, isn't the Chinese year of the "dog." I'm sure these dating sites mean well. One thing that doesn't change is the stomach wrenching advertising campaigns leading up to Valentine's Day all geared up to palatable luxury items ie Thorntons. Having been on their email database since 2008, whereby I spent close to fifty squid on a decadent assortment of indulgent chocolates; (indeed, a seduction ploy, it worked!) - They were mainly eaten by the recipients Mother. Proof of chocolaty lips was sent via media message from a voluptuous blonde PHD student I had had met - very yummy - and Mother - not so yummy! - The relationship duration lasted barely longer than the second tier of chocolates. I think the Chinese may have it right in 2011; this Valentines, I may opt for a rabbit. It'll last longer than chocolates. Now where's the lonely hearts section in my local paper?

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                                31.10.2010 14:29
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                                flah

                                Saint Valentine's Day is now mainly shortened to just Valentine's Day. It is an annual celebration held on February 14th when people celebrate their love. The day is said to be named after early Christian martyrs called 'Valentine'. Traditionally people express their love on this day by buying cards, flowers and chocolates. ---------------------- What is Valentine's Day really ----------------------------- It starts way before February. The card shops, florists, jewellers and the likes of Thorntons start their advertising for this day weeks before. Then they sit back and rub their hands in glee as the money pours in. That's it pure and simple. ------------------------- What does it mean to me ------------------------------ Nothing it is just another day. I am not some bitter and twisted person I just think like a lot of things it is too commercialised. In the 16 years I have been with my husband I think I have sent him 3 Valentine's Day cards. The first one was a funny one that had a meaning to us, but I must have been feeling a little pressured to buy the other two. (I think my daughter made me buy them). My husband has probably sent me the same number, but we have yet to send each other one in the same year. ----------------------------- Romance ------------------------------------ I don't find it romantic when something is done because we are told to do it. So my husband walking in with some flowers on this day wouldn't have me swooning. They would have probably cost him double what he would have paid the week before and twice the amount he would pay the week after. I much prefer him to walk in with some flowers because he has decided to, without being prompted by anything to buy them. I also don't find it romantic going for a meal in a packed restaurant where the staff are under pressure as it is so busy. I much prefer a nice quiet secluded area in a nice restaurant so people can't overhear each others conversation. I don't understand why people are expected to be romantic on this day and be pigs the rest of the year. It just seems so forced. Some people really feel under a lot of pressure to do something great because it's Valentine's Day and I feel sorry for them. If you love someone don't be too upset if they haven't got you the gift you want on this day, instead; remember why you love them. Big gestures that are done because you are told to do them are not cool. I am not against showing someone how much you love them but I am against it lining someone elses pockets because the price has double. Don't be told what to do or how to act by big company's.

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                                  11.03.2010 16:59
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                                  tell someone you love them, but not just today.

                                  Despite spending most of my adult life in a relationship, I have never been the biggest fan of Valentines Day, however a little soft spot did appear this year for the manufactured holiday, but I think it was more to do with the person I'm with, rather than pressure from Hallmark to buy a card. Valentines Day is the holiday primarily marketed at those who want to show the person they are with, how much they really love them and do so through some overblown romantic gesture. The shops prepare for this day almost immediately after the holly and tinsel have been taken down on the high street and the world turns all pink, red and fluffy. Like I said, I was never a huge fan of this holiday as it usually consisted of a card from ex-partner and a meal in some restaurant which served some set menu nonsense that was overpriced, poor quality and with shoddy service. All around you there were two categories of couple. Those who were smitten and stared lovingly into each others eyes, and those who were clearly only out together due to the fact it was Valentines Day and were evidently not that bothered about each other at all. All in all I pretty much hated that time of year. I am now with a wonderful guy who I love deeply but one thing that really annoys me is the expectations of those around me. For the past 4 Valentines Days, I am regularly asked "oh do you think he will pop the question?" or "Maybe you'll get a diamond for Valentines Day!!!" What a load of nonsense. If he is going to do it I know it will be in the most spontaneous fashion and not when he's expected to. In my opinion, Valentines Day is a card companies dream, giving some business during the quiet period from Christmas and Easter (and I'm sure Easter doesn't generate huge sales does it?). Another reason why I'm not so keen on this holiday is the pressure it puts on young people. When I was at school, primary school I might add, the teacher used to ask "So how many Valentines cards did everyone get?" undoubtedly there was some wee poor soul who didn't get one or got one from their mum and subsequently had the proverbial ripped right out of them. Yes, it was usually me. But looking back I realise how cruel that was to do that to kids. It continued through High School when there was regularly a competition to see who got the most cards and it was always the most popular girl and guy in the school who left everyone trailing behind. Not that I'm bitter... Well actually I'm not because this year I realised what it was all about. My boyfriend and I both have a similar opinion and agreed to exchange cards and have a nice romantic meal at home. He did however cheat a little and bought me some beautiful flowers. We had a lovely day, relaxed at home, had a lovely meal in the evening and talked a load of gibberish over a bottle of wine (or two). Sharing a lovely day together meant so much more to me than paying for over-priced and poorly cooked food. People lead such busy lives now and catching up with a loved one is all the more important. But I also feel that you should show someone you love how you feel everyday, no matter how small, instead of waiting until the one day of the year when you are supposed to. Every moment is precious so make them count, not just on Valentines Day.

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