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Alternative Valentine’s

Forget playing romance-by-rote, sitting in a restaurant and being handed a soggy rose. Here's 14 original ideas to try...

The Enchanted Forest, Pop Up Restaurant, East Sutton, Sat 16 FebIntroducing our fave tented-pop-up hosts, the brilliant Twisted Bramble, brought to you by Nicci Gurr of Home Gurr’own. Top chef, catering guru and wedding and events organiser, Nicci, knows a thing or two about putting on a bash – so you’re in safe hands. Wind your way down candlelit pathways and dine in an otherworldly atmosphere amongst the trees, encased within the walls of a beautiful spellbinding sailcloth tent. The pop up will appear in the grounds of Friday Street Farm, East Sutton where you’ll enjoy magical entertainment, a cocktail upon arrival and a delicious 5 course feast. Tickets cost £85.

Twilight Castle Tour, Southern Segway Tours, Leeds Castle, Friday 15 & Sun 17 Feb

Now this is a bit different, isn’t it? Experience Leeds castle up close and personal in a different quirky way on this 90 minute evening tour. Take a Segway right up to the castle gate and follow the magnificent water’s edge around the castle lake, surround yourself with beautiful views of the castle from all angles. After some sunset pictures with the castle as your backdrop you’ll continue the tour up into the golf course and down through the castle maze. £59.00  per person.

Live at the Marlowe, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Sun 17 FebHere’s the perfect solution if you’re after a relaxed casual V Day. See comedians you know and love, as well as discovering some new favourites (as Muddy has just heard word of the line-up this month). Milton Jones headlines the popular night of comedy (BBC2’s Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo). He is joined by cult oddity Spencer Jones (BBC2’s Live At The Apollo, BBC1’s Upstart Crow), stand-up legend Simon Munnery, Kiri Pritchard-McLean (BBC1’s Have I Got News For YouAll Killa No Filla hit podcast) and Jen Brister (BBC2’s Live At The Apollo). With tickets at £24 pp. this is a night of laughs not to miss!

Bodiam Boating Station, Newenden, 2 Feb – April 

Hire a Tandem Kayak or Rowing Boat for two for this Valentine’s weekend and sail down the River Rother to Bodiam Castle with Bodiam Boating Station. Pack your own picnic to have on the grounds and then sail back finishing with a glorious glass of Champagne at Lime Wharf Cafe. £20 per hour/£64 for 4 hours for Tandem Kayak Hire. £15 per hour/£48 for 4 hours for Rowing Boat Hire.

Samphire Shepherd’s hut, Elmley, Isle of Sheppey

Elmley is a 3,200 acre estate on the Isle of Sheppey, a spectacular landscape full of wildlife – and pretty little shepherd huts like this one for you to hide away in. Complete with a full sized double bed, ensuite bathroom, wood burning stove, blankets and fairylights – snuggle up, pour the brandy in your hot chocolate and enjoy the sweeping vistas across the marsh, Swale Estuary and the mainland beyond. On a clear day you can see Whitstable. In winter spy rafts of wildfowl sheltering on Swale, and short-eared owls gliding over the ponds. Peeeeeeace and quiet.

Caroline’s Kitchen, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Tue 5 – Sat 9 Feb

Bit of a culture vulture? Want an alternative to a dinner for two? Then this hit comedy makes a date with a difference. Direct from its hit London run this searing, sharp, state-of-the-nation comedy is coming to the Assembly Hall Theatre. Caroline Mortimer is the nation’s favourite TV cook. But when the camera turns off the truth comes out and when an unexpected guest disrupts a night of celebration there is more to spill than the wine. Laugh-out-loud comedy that pokes fun at modern relationships, starring Caroline Languish, Aden Gillett, and James Sutton –  tickets cost from £15 to £18. Definitely a great non-cheese option (if you think your relationship can hold up to the comparisons)!

Valentine’s Dine and Stay Experience, Hever Castle, Thu 14 – Fri 15 Feb

Time to bring on the fromage! But here on Muddy we say, if you’re gonna go romantic do it in style. Bring out the Anne Boleyn in you at Hever Castle (Winner of Best Boutique Stay in Muddy Award 2018). Arrive from midday to enjoy the Castle and garden – be wined and dined with a drinks reception, followed by dinner served in the Tudor Suite. An after-dinner bar will be available until midnight (more wine please, manservant) and in the morning refuel (wink, wink) with a full English or Continental Breakfast. Tickets for this Valentine’s Day experience start at £200.00 per person, with upgradable rooms also available for an added £14 – £40 pp. LAST FEW rooms left to get in quick!

Afternoon Tea at SEVENTEEN, One Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells

Pictured: January’s Alice in Wonderland theme at SEVENTEEN, One Warwick Park hotel

Chocoholics ahoy! Throughout February SEVENTEEN restaurant at OWP has themed Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Teas for just £20 per person. Who not defy cupid and enjoy Afternoon Tea with your friends? It’s the perfect chance to get your besties together for a catch up, no romance needed (Prosecco compulsory). Just the (golden) ticket! 

Help Me Healthy Yoga Day, Green Farm Retreats, Shadoxhurst, Sun 17 Feb

For those keeping to their New Years healthy resolutions (or those totally boozed and slumpish) this is the perfect Valentine’s treat! Spend the day in the natural picturesque setting and wonderfully relaxed retreat that is Green Farm. The day begins with an energising yoga class in the haybarn studio and then moves to the interactive cooking workshop with Nutritionist & Naturopath Alice Yates. Learn how to feel better and feel fresh for Monday (if you must). This day retreat which includes classes, lunch & refreshments is £120 per person.

Anti-Valentine’s, Saint John’s Yard, Tunbridge Wells, Thurs 14 Feb

Not the soppy-type? SJY are back with their famous ‘Anti-Valentines’ event. Their amazing (Muddy approved) burgers will be only £6 and you’ll be able to watch Deadpool 2 on the big screen. Last year was a huge sell-out so best get in there quick! Email to book your spot: #nosoppystuff 

Sex in the Garden: a Talk on the Private Lives of Insects, Sat 9 Feb

While we’re on the subject of Valentine’s here’s a date like none other… Enjoy a three course meal, with optional insects, followed by a talk by Dr Erica McAlister from the Natural History Museum, in the cosy surroundings of the Blooming Green shed. Scientist, author, star of radio and TV, Dr Erica McAlister will be sharing her love of insects as well as enlightening us with tales of their quirky, fascinating and often shocking behaviour – right outside our back door.

Before sitting back to enjoy Erica’s saucy tales or entomological erotica, you’ll be treated to a bug-themed menu (insects optional) including a welcome cocktail, canapes, main course and dessert. Edible insects will be provided by Eat Grub — a boundary-breaking sustainable food brand that aims to revolutionise Western food culture by introducing insects as a staple part of it. 7:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Valentine’s Day Challenge, Saxon, Normans and Vikings Marathons, Dover, Thu 14 Feb

Valentines Day is for lovers…and runners apparently! What better way to treat your loved one than to *cough* run around with them in the delightful surrounds of Samphire Hoe, in the middle of chilly February? (Each to their own). The event will be a six hour timed challenge event with a mixture of high quality trail and 100% dead flat sea wall. With only a £5 entry you will receive… a finishers medal, custom made and designed (not a generic one) a goody bag at the finish and a well stocked base camp with plenty of vegan nibbles and refreshments for post race replenishment. Whatever floats your boat.

Nordic Walking Love Nest, TenterdenThis cute holiday let in Little Bugglesden, near Tenterden, makes a perfect love nest for two – with a twist. Run away to this cosy retreat in the grounds of a 15th century farmhouse, for a healthy Valentines escape to do Pilates, and to explore the blissful hop fields of Kent through Nordic Walking. Run by a husband and wife team, John and Emma, they also provide neuromuscular massage and rehab for dodgy backs/knees/shoulders…(whatever your damage is!) in the studio next to the holiday let. Guests can either do a 45 minute Nordic Walking taster session with Nordic Walking coach John or they can do a full Learn to Nordic Walk package (usually 2 x 1.5 hours so totally doable over a weekend) and will receive a certificate.

Chocolate Making Workshop for Two, Cocoa & Heart, Bexleyheath

Bit of a chocolate lover? This fun Chocolate Making for Two teaches you ‘hands on’ techniques while you also get to see a professional chocolatier at work. You will have the opportunity to taste different chocolates and take home all your chocolate creations, beautifully wrapped. At £135.00 per duo, why buy chocolates for your partner when you can make them together?



Valentine’s Saddle Stitch Class, Carreducker, London, Thurs 14 Feb

Master shoemakers, Carreducker is hosting a creative class this Valentine’s Day! Make this beautiful, Italian leather heart-punched key fob and give it to someone special. 


Additional reporting: Hayley Barnes

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