Valentine's day

Murder most romantic: Burgh Island Hotel reviewed

The Burgh Island Hotel lives on a tidal island in a deserted part of south Devon. The directions for visiting are very detailed. You drive along the deserted country road, and at a certain point – just before you lose mobile telephone reception – you must stop to telephone the hotel, and they tell you where to park your car on the mainland, and they will send the car across the beach and meet you in Bigbury-on-Sea. You drive on and eventually you see a brightly lit Art Deco palace under a cliff. It was built by a filmmaker called Archibald Nettlefold (Human Desires, The Hellcat), the heir to an

10 romcoms that are actually worth watching

The romcom genre has a decidedly mixed record, often becoming a lazy way for stars to cash in on their popularity – with less than loveable results. Witness the career of Matthew McConaughey, which could have been described as ‘Death by romcom’ (Failure to Launch, The Wedding Planner, Fool’s Gold etc) until his 2011 comeback with Killer Joe. Gerard Butler also tried his hand with a slew of mediocre pictures (Playing for Keeps, The Bounty Hunter, The Ugly Truth etc), before reverting to action flicks. But once in a while, the chemistry is just right and everything falls into place. Here’s my pick of ten alternative romantic comedies that avoid the

It’s not all roses: 6 alternative Valentine’s Day gifts

We can blame Robbie Burns. That line about my love being like a red, red rose didn’t actually specify Valentine’s Day, but it has meant that 14 February is forever associated with roses at a time of year when they’re not in bloom. Not here anyway, which means that all the red roses around are from far-flung places. Plus they’re not really scented. No. Hold the red roses. Keep them for June and send them for midsummer or something. Here are six suggestions for Valentine’s gifts that don’t entail actual roses. And on the whole, let’s steer clear of pink, shall we? The usual line up of pink items for

In defence of February

Everyone has their own most loved and hated months. While for Chaucer, Browning and others April was a time of joyful rebirth, it was of course for Eliot ‘the cruellest month’. Still, February tends to get a bad rap from everybody. It manages to be both the shortest and longest month of the year. In theory the days are getting longer, and yet the darkness of the previous night and the next morning blur, making for a grim nocturnal existence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a night owl or a morning lark, in February you’re commuting from work in the dark. Still, better than midwinter isn’t it? Hardly. The glamorous,

Eggs en cocotte: the perfect Valentine’s breakfast

There’s something inherently romantic about eggs: whether you’re preparing them for another person, or being served them, they always strike me as a little act of love. Maybe it’s that they suggest breakfast in bed. Breakfast in bed is not about flirting or seduction, it’s more than that. You don’t make breakfast in bed for someone in whom you’re uninterested. Breakfast in bed is not a collaboration, it’s a gift from one person to the other, reserved for those you wish to impress, or to whom you wish to signal your love. That said, while in theory I like the idea, in practice I can feel a little allergic to

London’s most romantic restaurants

Get your credit cards out lads, it’s that time of year again when we demonstrate our love via the medium of grub. Because this year the big day falls on a Monday many restaurants have extended their Valentine menus to cover the whole weekend. With any luck, this should free up tables for those naughty boys who forgot… (to book I mean). With so many London restaurants vying for your romantic dollar, here is a selection that manages to combine an amorous aura with adventurous cocktails and food fit for wooing. L’Oscar For those who like their romantic restaurants oozing with velvet and gold trim, L’Oscar, a boutique hotel on

Olivia Potts

How to make chocolate truffles

There is a very particular fear that runs down your spine when you realise you’ve forgotten to buy a gift, be it for a birthday, Christmas or as a surprise for a special someone. Whatever the occasion, the same panic spreads through you, the social anxiety of knowing that you have failed in gift-giving etiquette, that you’re going to have to receive their present with nothing to hand over in return. Having learnt the hard way, this is why I like to have a little stash of homemade edible presents at home, ready to swerve such an occasion. Over the years I’ve done jams and jellies, fudges and toffees, little jars