There are elements of Valentine’s day we all hate. You may be single, breaking up, or watching your heart’s desire find love with someone else. Or happily in a relationship and find the whole thing pointless. I must admit I have never been out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. I find the idea of being in a room full of people all trying to be romantic bizarre. When I peer through restaurant windows on this “sexy” evening, I cringe at the thought of what the couples might be saying to each other in the competition of romance that they have become a part of.
It must be embarrassing when the table next to you orders a more extravagant meal, more expensive champagne, or – god forbid – you witness a proposal, which makes any effort you have gone through that day pale by comparison. About 60 per cent of my brain tells me to ignore February 14’s excuse for mass commercialism, but Cupid’s arrow struck me at a young age. It was the flowers, heart-shaped balloons, champagne, kitsch cards, tackiness and pinks and reds of Valentine’s day I fell in love with. At school, we would tape paper bags to the back of our chair for our classmates to put little Valentine’s cards, stickers and candy into. It was so exciting. I keep the Taschen Valentines Vintage Holiday Graphics book on my bedside table.
To mark the day, I’ve made a candy-coloured pink, white, red and silver tassel garland, to hang from the mantelpiece, which required no artistic talent. Here’s how you can make one.
TO DRINK/BUY Cafe Des Fleurs at Rye rail station
A cafe in a flower shop. Or a flower shop in a cafe. Either way it’s Adam and Eve does coffee in 2015. Without the snake or sexist undertones. The air is heavy with the scent of fresh cut flowers and fresh ground coffee. You are surrounded by beautiful flowers, palm trees, pink chocolate boxes and felt love hearts, while people rush around on the platform in front of you. The space is small enough to get talking to anyone else who comes in; play your cards right and you could even end up bagging yourself a hottie before he or she jumps on the train to Ashford and out of your life. Beautiful bouquets and potted plants available.
TO DO What A Load of Scallops race Sunday March 1, 10am, The Ship Inn, Rye
Entry to the race is £10 a team – all proceeds to the local RNLI. To know more, visit the website. But a tragedy to report: the Scallop Pageant isn’t happening this year, as no venue has been secured. For three glittering years, Never mind the scallops has been MC’d by bonafide drag and caberet stars Lorraine Bowen, Johnny Woo, Bogaloo Stu and Rye’s own ultra-talented Timberlina. The Pageant was the spangliest, gayest, peacock of a talent show, the winner of which would be crowned Scallop Queen of Rye. It was a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the great and not-so-great home-grown talents with ridiculousness splattered all over it. I would love to speak to anyone interested in helping organise a Scallop Pageant 2016. Someone needs to knock last year’s winner and reigning Queen, Stephen Cooper, off his fishy throne!
Fortunately, all is not lost. Organiser Olly (Scolly) Campion has made sure Rye Bay Scallop Week 2015 is going to be another week of drinks, food, music and fun and there’s a whole list of events definitely worthy of checking out, even if you don’t eat seafood. My tip is the What A Load Of Scallop Race [see above]. Teams race with a wheelbarrow full of scallop shells. Harder than it sounds. Can your team beat current trophy holders, Rye Runners? Who cares! People green with hangovers take part and still have fun. Besides, the meeting point is at a bar and it’s on a Sunday! Little work for a big sense of achievement, which is what we want on a Sunday. Get a team together and sign up, you fishy racers. Wing an email here.