My budget Valentine: affordable affection



Time and again it’s Valentine’s Day, that beautiful special occasion dedicated to love, romance and kitschy pink decorations – and the one holiday that holds exceptional potential to give you a migraine. Let’s face it; while there is nothing lovelier than being in love, Valentine’s Day tends to be accompanied by a special kind of date-related performance anxiety. You want to be original and inventive and create a wonderful day of memories for your partner, preferably without having to dip into your trust fund in order to give that special someone the hot air balloon ride they have always dreamed of. Unfortunately all the typical V-day shenanigans like flowers, candy and candlelit restaurants, also come with a price tag and this time of the year there is usually no sales sign. But before you resign yourself to the idea that you will have to choose between a day of unforgettable romance and the ability to feed yourself for the rest of the month we are happy to announce that there is an alternative. In St.Valentine’s spirit of compassion we have collected a list of suggestions for an exquisite yet affordable jour d’amour!

  1. Explore Oxford’s Botanical Beauty

Now we are aware that England has a little bit of a whether problem, in that it rains a lot. Alright, let’s face it: it rains all the time! Nevertheless even this pluvial little island of ours has been known to experience the occasional period of sunshine…or at least dryness. So if you are the outdoorsy type and would like to take your date on a little Valentine’s Day adventure why not pay a visit to Oxford’s beautiful botanical gardens? Located on Rose lane behind the Merton Field, Oxford University’s botanic pride features stunning collections of exotic flowers, a fun discovery trail and access to the Harcourt arboretum. Although there are no refreshment facilities in the gardens, visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic baskets and enjoy yummy sandwiches while gazing at the breathtaking scenery. Alternatively you can always follow up your crisp walk with coffee in one of the many charming High street cafes nearby. And best of all? Entry to the gardens is completely free of charge for all Oxford and Brooks students.

2. Home-cook It

Every heard the saying it’s the thought that counts? Well, although Hollywood movies have done their best to convince us that a perfect Valentine’s Day should involve a fancy New York restaurant, roses and possibly a proposal with a Tiffany’s diamond, there is actually much truth to this statement. In many cases showing that you are willing to put in some thought and effort is sufficien to send the butterflies in your sweetheart’s stomach fluttering. And one of the best ways to get creative is to take on the task of V-day dinner yourself. Don’t worry if you weren’t born with the Jamie Oliver gene, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple recipe for penne with roasted pumpkin and Parmesan combined with a lovely bottle of white wine will do the trick. To round off your culinary collage, buy some candles and pretty napkins and voila! you have a romantic dinner for two.

3. Sneaky Restaurant Tips

Should there still be some people out there for whom the idea of Valentine’s Day without a restaurant reservation truly doesn’t seem right, here are a few places that can reconcile great food and ambiance with your budgetary constraints. One prime example of such restaurant specimen is the elegant Cote Brasserie on George Street. This softly lit bistro offers two delicious courses for only 9.95 £ and has many cozy little corners perfectly suited to intimate conversations. Another hidden gem for those not conveniently living in Oxford’s town center is the eclectically delightful Chez Gaston café on North Parade. With its bright yellow façade and old-fashioned wooden interior Chez Gaston’s menu includes a delicious assortment of filled crepes and a warm, pleasant atmosphere. Finally, for those whose budget does allow for some financial flexibility, we present the eternal staple date venue in the form of Turl Street Kitchen. Though slightly pricier than the previous suggestions TSK’s special Valentine’s Day menu featuring fresh Cornish scallops and Rosewater sabayon certainly sounds like a worthwhile treat.

At the end of the day the Valentine’s experience does not have to be grand, snazzy or showered in rose petals! And while we are aware that planning that special day with that special someone is always a little nerve-wrecking we hope to have shown you that all it takes is some creativity, genuine effort and perhaps a little help from the weather fairy.


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