Although it has slipped into the predictable convention of chocolates, flowers and dinner, Valentines used to be associated with lots of weird and wonderful traditions across the world.
These included the custom of women pinning the name of their love interest on their shirtsleeve in South Africa, a Valentines Santa called Jack Valentine delivering small gifts to children in Norfolk and "Friend's Day" in Finland and Estonia.
Let's face it though, Valentines is now a pretty cringey day by all accounts.
There'll be rows and rows of pink cards in every supermarket, boxes of chocolates on display and pink hearts stuck on to every restaurant window. The mawkish tradition of chocolates, flowers and dinner that we feel compelled to take part in just doesn't change from year to year.
This year Valentines Day falls on a Tuesday which means there's lots of wiggle room this weekend and even this Monday evening. So, if you're stuck for Valentines ideas and want to do something different this Valentine's day, we've put together a list of ideas to surprise your sweetheart with.
1. Roller Disco, The Mac Belfast
After last year's popularity, The Mac's Roller Disco is back for Valentine's weekend. Hosted by U105's DJ Carolyn Stewart, this is an 80's inspired event so you'll need to crack out leg-warmers, bangles and fingerless gloves! With a 45 minute skating slot and late night disco, you and your other half can skate and dance the night away!
2. Finn Lough
Finn Lough is the perfect way to have a quiet, relaxing Valentines weekend. Situated in Muckross Wood, Enniskillen, on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, Finn Lough has much to boast of. With a spa and hot tub, fitness centre, tennis court and nature trails you can have a great deal of choice on how to spend your Valentine's weekend. Accommodation choices include tranquil lakeside lodges or if you really want an alternative Valentine's there are Stargazing Bubble Domes to really get the most out of the breathtaking surroundings.
3. National Trust Cottages
With over a whopping 400 cottages across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you won't be short of cottage choices with the option of staying in your homeland or going further afield. The cottages are situated in picturesque locations with a lot of history behind them for you to discover.
4. Cabaret Show
With a dress code of "glamourous" be prepared to get your glad rags on for a 1920's-esque night of cabaret classiness! The Cabaret Supper Club is a decadent venue with vintage Parisian decor that transports you into another time.
It is an excellent way to treat you and your significant other to an alternative night out. With Valentines Packages available including a 2 course dinner, Burlesque performances, theatrical fire eating and a live band, you will be sure to have a lively evening to say the least.
Definitely not an option for the faint hearted, camping in February can only be tackled by the most avid outdoor enthusiasts. If embracing nature and then snuggling up in a sleeping back together sounds like your idea of a romantic getaway then make sure to wrap up warm and prepare for any rain with ladies waterproof coats, overtrousers and wellies during the day and waterproof camping gear by night. This will help ease the effects of any weather induced dampners that might occur on your weekend away.
Falling in the wake of New Year celebrations, the unwelcome phenomenon of the "January Blues" wreaks its havoc each year. The cold weather was just about bearable with the Christmas spirit abound but now it feels as though there is a collective mentality geared toward fast forwarding winter. From rapidly waning New Year resolutions to being back at work after the holiday indulgence, motivation just getting out of bed can be in very short supply. That’s why, to help you wrestle your January Blues into non-existence, we have compiled a list of activities of fun things to do that will help put January in your control instead of your blues.
1. The Gruffalo Trail
If you're wondering what to do today, from 26 November until 24 January, Colin Glen Forest Park is bringing to life children's classic, The Gruffalo. Following in the footsteps of the very clever mouse to find the Gruffalo, you'll encounter some interesting characters along the way so make sure to take plenty of photos. As it's an outdoor activity, don't let the cruel January elements keep you banished indoors, get the kids wellies out, wrap up warm with waterproof winter coats and be ready to delve into the fictitious world of the Gruffalo for an afternoon!
2. Attend a Local Event
However appealing staying cooped up in the warmth of the house might seem, getting out and about, having a sense of life beyond work has an important impact upon your overall mood. Boasting of a multitude of diverse acts, the Out to Lunch festival defeats the concept of January being a dull month. With many family friendly events, whether its music, theatre or literature, you and your family can enjoy something different to rejuvenate January.
3. Have a Literary Lunchtime
Jazz your lunch hour up on Wednesdays with a trip to the Ulster Hall for an informative, interesting talk on a particular literary topic each week. All you need to bring along with you is your lunch and you're ready to escape the grind in the beautiful, historic setting of the Ulster Hall.
4. We Are Vertigo
With a newly opened spa and off-peak prices for skiing, trampoline, zipline and adventure there has never been a better time to hit local attraction We Are Vertigo for a family day out. With so much choice for activities, you can unwind in the spa safe in the knowledge that the kids are having their fill of fun whatever they choose to do.
5. Spend a Night at the Museum
On January 29th and 30th Ulster Museum are holding exclusive night time trail and sleepover at the museum. Including a torchlit dinosaur trail and encounters with Vikings and Egyptians, this will get the kids off the Playstation and make for an exciting and different way to bring January finally to a close!
As a travel blogger, my new year's resolutions tend to relate to places I want to visit and things I want to try, rather than things I want to change about myself. Personally, I think that's a much nicer way of doing things – and it's a great way to share travel inspiration! Here are three of the top destinations on my radar for 2016...
Much as I love to travel the world, I think it's really important to get to know your home too – so this year I plan to see a whole lot more of my own great country. Britain has some dazzling scenery and hundreds of truly beautiful towns, so I plan to see much more of the country throughout 2016. I even have my eye on an “end to end” hike from the top of Scotland to Land's End which I'm hoping to put together for summer – so I'll need to stock up on hiking gear and start improving my fitness levels a little over the next few months!
This glorious continent has it all; adventure, spectacular scenery, incredible cuisine, and some of nature's best extremes (from the driest desert to the largest rainforest). It's also increasingly popular, with Chile and Northern Peru both appearing on Wanderlust Magazine's list of where to travel in 2016. This year, I'm planning to head back to my favourite continent on earth in order to see some of the places I missed last time I was there!
I love to visit under the radar destinations and places that don't see too many tourists, so there are several places in Europe that I'm really hoping to get to this year and Estonia is top of the list. Lonely Planet are touting it as one of the cheapest places to travel in 2016, which makes this pretty country of fairytale castles and medieval towns extra attractive to me!
Unfortunately for me, these three destinations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my wish-list for the coming year. If you're wondering where to travel in 2016, you really can't go wrong with one of these.
Black Friday is nearly upon us! Each year the crowds get bigger and the queues get longer, but you can still avail of the great sales without even leaving your front door.
To help you beat the rush, we will be offering a discount a day at www.targetdry.com in the lead up to the Black Friday weekend. Check back each day to see what savings you could get off one of our stylish waterproof and breathable coats.
Seeing as Christmas is only round the corner, at Target Dry HQ we are brimming with the spirit of Christmas, so we would like to gift one lucky fan a £250 voucher to spend at www.targetdry.com. Starting today and closing at 11.59pm on the 26th November, all you need to do to enter is click here.
Whether you decide to refresh your winter wardrobe or choose some special gifts for family and friends, £250 can go a long way. Think of it as a gift from us to you.
*Terms & Conditions include;
Pop on your coat & visit a museum or art exhibition
Rainy days don’t always mean that you have to stay cooped up inside. Grab a waterproof coat and a good pair of boots or wellies and check out your nearest art exhibition. You will feel better for getting a bit of fresh air and enjoying some cultural inspiration. Even a trip to a museum will ensure that your day isn’t wasted and you never know, you might pick up an interesting fact or two.
Read a book on the porch & listen to the rain
If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony or a porch, provided the rain isn’t coming down in every direction, then why not sit outside and enjoy the sound of the rain against the roof. Pour yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate, grab a good book and relax and de-stress.
Pick up a new hobby
Whether it’s arts and crafts, playing the guitar or taking up baking, there’s always something new to be learnt. When the weather’s against you and you just can’t face heading outside, occupy your time with a passion that you’ve always wanted to pursue. Make sure it’s achievable and something that will maintain your interest.
Go out in the rain and play like a kid
There’s nothing quite like the freedom of grabbing your waterproof coat and welly boots and heading outside to play in the rain and splash in the puddles. Dance in the rain like no-one’s watching.
Make a scrapbook of your favourite memories
Scrapbooking; the quintessential 80s & 90s teenage activity definitely isn’t as popular now as it was back then. Social media provides a quick and easy way of documenting your memories, but there’s still nothing quite like digging out family albums or scrapbooks of old photos, cinema tickets, leaflets and pressed flowers. Get an old sketchpad, pritt stick and a few treasured possessions and create a book of memories.
Catch up on the latest blogs and youtubers
Draw inspiration from your favourite blogs and youtube accounts, whether it be style, beauty, interiors or lifestyle. Relax, unwind and enjoy a bit of frivolous reading and viewing.
Refresh your room
Updating your home doesn’t always demand a lot of time and money. A quick refresh can make a room look new to you and to your guests. Move around ornaments or lamps to create new focal points or purchase a wall vinyl to add a quirky element.
Have an indoor film festival
Put some popcorn in the microwave, pop on a DVD and enjoy a golden oldie or a new rom-com.
Get some exercise
Get your waterproof jacket and over-trousers on and head outdoors for a bike ride. A light rain shower never hurt anyone and as long as you’re covered up, you can still get a bit of exercise and a breath of fresh air.
Pick up the phone or grab a coffee with a friend
When it’s dark and miserable outside, you can always brighten up your mood with a quick phone call to a friend or a loved one. Even better, why not meet at your local coffee shop and catch up on life, love and other pursuits.