On top of the Empire State Building. On an obscure beach in Kiribati. In the gardens of a palace you will never be allowed into. You know how it works - the Valentine's Day lists of Most Romantic Places that you can't afford (unless you actually live in Kiribati).
Smug! Annoying! Totally unrealistic!
Also, Valentine’s Day is just one day. The chance of having the big romantic kiss on 14th February is small, as well as too restrictive. No! It’s time to capture the moment with some more realistic options. Glamour, beauty, romance…and nobody is going to set the dogs on you. Behold!
1. A castle. This is one of the advantages of being British. Even now there are castles all over the place, from the manicured beauty of Leeds Castle to windswept Bamburgh to the ruined Hailes. Many are open to the public, many of the ruins are free. Swoon around the moat, be seized on the battlements, or have your moment in ivy and ancient crumbling stones. The choice is massive, the settings spectacular.
However, if you find a castle a bit too much…
2. A stately home. Yes, I am English. I love a good stately home, and joined the National Trust one year just so I could roam around dozens of drop-dead gorgeous properties for £15 a month, fantasizing that Mr Darcy was going to come round the corner any moment. For those on a real budget, you can often get into the wider grounds for a couple of quid and kiss under the sweeping oak trees, the glorious pile of house in the background.
3. The beach. Few beaches fail to be romantic, having the enormous advantage of the sea right next to them, which is breath-takingly lovely whatever the weather. Your beach may be a little white horseshoe with seals, it may be a great yellow ocean sweep or pebbles and rock pools, but it has a magical soundtrack and great horizons to help you dream along.
4. Waterfalls. Not necessarily your great big Victoria Falls either. Here’s Dhoon Glen, on the Isle of Man; this magical little waterfall beckons you in to the pool beside it.
Admittedly it’s REALLY cold – it’s the Isle of Man! – but you don’t care. You can get under the bright green mosses and it’s like nowhere else. The island has a strong history of believing in fairies, and in this place, you can see why.
5. The moors. Big, bleak, and hard, with a beauty all their own. Yes, we all know Heathcliff was a swine, but that complexity about him is summed up in moorland. Channel your Cathy or Jane Eyre. Definitely one for those who like their romance as stormy as the wind that will be howling all over the place.
6. In a boat. A private boat, not the ferry nor a pedalo on a tiny pond for children. I’ve tried getting a swoony moment on a pedalo with my husband, but he just gave me a flat Scots no on the grounds that thirty other people were two feet away. Shame we weren’t in Kiribati! But hire a wee boat on a nice river, park up in the reeds and ta-dah! Extra points for packing a bottle of wine. In fact…
7. With a bottle of champagne. Champagne is the stuff. Champagne makes things special. Drink champagne, play some music, and kiss. You could be anywhere. It will work.
I suppose at this point I should say something like it not mattering where you are if you’re with the right person et cetera, but I won’t because I don’t believe it. Everyday kisses have their own role to play, but your big, special, memory kisses need something different: not necessarily an effort, but a Carpe Diem attitude for the right place just popping up, or for making the perfect ending to a wonderful day out.
I once kissed my husband on the steps of a half-ruined castle with a rainbow overhead. There was no way that was going past me. Carpe diem! Drink your champagne and take your kisses! Seal that memory with the romantic topping it deserves, and never, ever read those articles then feel depressed that you can’t afford Kiribati.