St Valentine and Valentines Day

PUBLISHED: 15:11 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:45 20 February 2013

The Outchester Ducket, chosen by Steve Newman

The Outchester Ducket, chosen by Steve Newman

Valentine's Day brings out the romantic in most of us - and our region has some of the nation's most heart-warming locations which, for all sorts of different reasons, inspire romance in us all

We all like a little romance in our lives - but where did it all start?

There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts say that it originated from St Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 AD, but legend also says that St Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it 'From Your Valentine'.

Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers - the start of a multimillion pound business today.

Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day, and went round the streets singing. One of the verses was:

Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine ---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week - the origin of wearing your heart on your sleeve meaning it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire - although it doesn't say whether she'd be any happier.

Romance is often as much about the setting as the sentiment and there are some beautiful, romantic places in the North East. Whether they bring back a memory of a loved one, remind us of a treasured occasion or just make us feel good, our region has romance in spades.We asked friends and contributors to North East Life to tell us about their favourite romantic places.

The Outchester Ducket, chosen by Steve Newman
Walking along Bamburgh Beach hand-inhand is one of the treats on offer when you stay at Outchester Ducket. Overlooking Budle Bay, this 18th century tower is a cosy nest for two with all the modern conveniences you would expect for a romantic hideaway. Isolated on the road between Belford and Bamburgh, it offers amazing views over Holy Island and Budle Bay or, if the mood takes you, it's a pleasure to sit outside, enjoy the silence and watch the sun setting over the Cheviots. You may even want to order some oysters from the owner's farm just to make it perfect.

The soft curve of an empty beach. The tower of a ruined castle on a tall spur of cliff stretching out to sea. And the light of a full moon low on the far horizon. On the right evening, there can't be many places more romantic than Embleton Bay on the Northumberland coast. Add the soft murmur of waves as they break on the sandy shore and the plaintive cries of gulls wheeling overhead and you have the perfect romantic soundtrack too. For me, the best way to approach Embleton Bay is walking along the beach from the village of Low Newton-by-the-Sea to the north. The Bay itself is hidden, but Dunstanburgh Castle is in full view as you leave the village. Then, after a few minutes' stroll, there is a delicious sense of discovery as you round a sand dune and the full stretch of the Bay is theatrically revealed.

Seaton Sluice, chosen by North East Life co-editor, Andrew Smith
I have chosen Seaton Sluice, partly because it must have the most unromantic name in the North East but, mostly, because it's where I grew up and learnt all about the sights and senses that I continue to find enduringly romantic.Steeped in history, Seaton Sluice clings to a fragile promontory defying what always seems to be a cold and threatening North Sea. The sweep of the three-mile Blyth beach offered me space to run and dream as a youngster, the rocky Collywell and Hartley bays provided an adventure playground of sea cliffs, gulleys and pools and Hollywell Dene, to the west, was where we made our early camps under thorn bushes. The dene is also the site of Starlight Castle, reputedly built overnight by Sir Francis Delaval to win a wager. How extravagantly romantic is that?

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