If Scotland in the heart of winter leaves you feeling a bit ....
I've got a few ideas to bring a bit of sweet heat to your Valentine's Day celebrations which will help you make it through to Spring. All across Scotland, there are talented individuals creating beautiful items and experiences. You just need to know where to look.
Charlotte Flowers makes the best chocolate I've ever tasted. Originally a forester, Charlotte combines her love of foraging with the art of chocolate and produces exquisite handmade chocolates using seasonal ingredients sourced from around Aberfeldy where she lives.
"Most of our flavours are picked from the wild, processed immediately in our home-based workshop so that flavours are still at their best, which enables us to follow the seasonal changes through the year. In addition to foraged flavours we use products created by other Scottish food producers, such as lovely Glen Lyon Coffee and locally made Dewars whisky.
We believe in valuing everything that enables those flavours to be available to us – from valuing the labour, skills and aspirations of cocoa farmers themselves, to ensuring that we don’t over pick our precious wild resources, to only using the freshest ingredients to get the most natural flavour."
If you know a chocoholic, they will go weak at the knees for Charlotte's award winning chocolate.
You can order online and have these chocolates delivered to your door without even having to brave the cold.
If your lover yearns to be in far flung worlds to escape the winter, turn the heating up and get romantic with a bit of poetry from the Islands.
"This collection marks the arrival of a major new talent in Scottish poetry. Kevin MacNeil’s voice and vision, while rooted in the Hebridean islands, is open to a wide range of cultures, not only those of Scotland - from Gaeldom to urban Scotland - but to the wider European and American mind and, through his interest in Zen Buddhism, to Japanese and Chinese culture.
With astonishing freshness and versatility, MacNeil’s poetry creates powerful connections and new combinations -he has wit as well as feeling, a powerful sense of the past and the local while being resolutely turned towards the future and the cross-cultural."
Why agonise for minutes over the message inside a Valentine's card when you can give a gift of poetry from a wordsmith. Get your order in now at your local bookshop to get it in time for the 14th.
If poetry doesn't warm your heart, this will! Makar is the Glasgow gin recommended to be served with a slice of chilli.
"The multi award-winning Makar Original Gin is the first gin to be distilled in the city of Glasgow.
Embracing the characteristics of the city itself, Makar is a bold, vibrant, juniper-led gin that derives its name from the ancient Scots word for ‘the maker’ or craftsman.
Seven sides to Makar’s bottle represent the seven carefully-selected botanicals which perfectly compliment the world’s finest Juniper which lies at the heart of Makar. These botanicals are distilled in small batches in our copper still, Annie, to produce a perfectly-balanced juniper-led Gin.
Makar Original Dry Gin is perfect at the centre of a gin-led cocktail, alternatively try with a high-quality tonic water, finished with a slice of mild green chilli."
This is the gift that keeps on giving. Lesley's Kitchen Bread School teaches traditional artisan skills in baking from a beautifully converted church that is now a B&B and cook school and Lesley's home in Muirkirk. If you give a voucher for one of her classes you'll be enjoying handmade bread all year round. Lesley makes the classes fun and really easy to learn with small classes of up to four people. You can go on your own or book in together for an experience you'll both love. She has visitors from all over the world that travel to learn to bake with her on her "stay and bake" courses which are either one, three or five day courses but if you are local enough, you can travel and go to a one day class.
Lesley says "I love to share my knowledge and passion for Artisan Breads with those around me, bringing back the lost art of bread making and so started Lesley's Kitchen Scotland"
Have a look at some of the classes online and see which whets your appetite.
This Valentine's Day might be one to remember if you are popping the big question. Christine Sadler has a beautiful selection of high quality, unforgettable engagement rings that will get you brownie points for choosing something really special and unique. Handmade in her workshop in Ayr, you can hand select your gemstone or diamond from her retail boutique and commission a one off ring that will show your lover how serious you are. She also has a lovely selection of silver gifts from £35.
If you're already engaged but not yet married you may want to think about a gift of a pre-wedding shoot. I'll let Ewan and Chris from Top Table Photography explain!
“What exactly is a pre-wedding shoot?” I hear you ask.
Good question. It’s basically whatever you want to make of it! We’ve had couples who’ve recreated their first date, gone for a stroll in their favourite park, or gone back to where they got engaged (we’re still holding out for an invite to Dubai or Vegas though – now that would be cool!)
We often hear from couples things like: “We don’t like getting our photo taken”, “I don’t look good in pictures” and “We don’t have any good photos of the two of us together”. We understand that having your photo taken on your wedding day can be nerve-wracking.
The beauty of the pre-wedding shoot is that it addresses every concern that you might have. First of all, it proves to you that you actually look pretty damn good in photos, which of course leaves you more relaxed on the big day. To top it all off, you get a bunch of really nice professional photos of the two of you together!
The other bonus is that we get to spend a good wee bit of time together, so you can see how we work and get to know us a bit better – which just makes you so much more comfortable with us on your wedding day.
The photos are all yours, of course, to print and share as you see fit – we find that they can make really good “Save the date” cards, for example."
There's something magical about the west coast of Scotland's beaches and Mike and Marie from Helensburgh have take a hobby and made it into a treasure. Found objects from walks on the beach are turned into affordable jewellery with special meaning.
"Rescuing mermaids tears & transforming them into beautiful handmade sea glass jewellery at a price for everyone to enjoy."
Read their story on their website and have a look at their beautiful jewellery.
I hope that's given you some inspiration to make this Valentine's Day special. Please comment or email your suggestions of Scottish makers or artists and I'll include them in future blog posts.