IT WILL soon be Valentine’s Day folks, or as most Yorkshire men like to call it, Extortion Day!

For me, as usual, I will spend it in a bath of ewe’s milk, in a candlelit room, drinking champagne, followed by a romantic meal with my wife and cosy viewing of Titanic in front of a roaring log fire while eating Turkish Delight chocolates.

Finished off by a sensuous massage, an early night following a trail of red rose petals up the stairs to the bedroom, with fresh flowers scattered on the bed and soft teddy toys... that’s my day sorted, then - you must be joking!

I don’t take Valentine Day too seriously these days, just ask my wife Kathy, but we might get each other cards, if we remember. If someone forgets, there’s no hard feelings lost.

Valentine Day was originally started to celebrate love, fertility and new beginnings. In modern times however, it seems the true origins of Valentine’s Day have been lost and many people actually dread the day. The origins of Valentine’s Day can also create expectations and amplify feelings of self-doubt expressing your true romantic love for someone.

In pagan times February 13 was celebrated as Eve of Lupercalia, a festival of spring and fertility which included having a bath in blood and burning mealcakes prepared by virgins. I’m sure that after the cold and harsh winter the festival was also said to encourage an abundant spring season where crops would grow and animals find a mate, which brings a new start to the cycle.

It wasn’t until the Roman Catholic church came to power that the day became a celebration of Saint Valentine who was a Catholic priest imprisoned for helping Christians who fell in love with the daughter of his jailer.

He exchanged many secret love notes with her that were signed off with - ‘’from your Valentine”. It wasn’t long before the celebration of the she-wolf Lupa morphed into the tradition of Saint Valentine Day.

Today, Valentine’s Day marks the most poplar day of the year for sales of cards, roses, chocolates and Barry White CDs. However, you don’t need to get caught up in all the hype. Instead, use the day as a reminder to yourself, regardless of your relationship status.

Think back to pagan times and celebrate the dawning of a new spring, a new beginning – you don’t have to be romantic, simply tell her you love her and offer to do the washing up!

Nutella no-baked cheesecake

250g/digestive biscuits, crushed

110g/butter, melted

1 tablespoon Nutella, taken out of the 400g jar

500g cream cheese, room temperature

70g icing sugar, sieved

Remaining jar of Nutella chocolate spread


1. Crush the digestive biscuits in a plastic sealed bag with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor.

2. Melt the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella from the jar in the microwave oven for one minute.

3. Add the butter mixture to the crushed digestive biscuits and combine well with a wooden spoon till it looks like wet sand.

4. Spoon the chocolate digestive mixture into a 22cm/8 inch spring-form pop up base tin or similar container and level flat with the base of a glass. Place in the fridge.

5. Make the Nutella filling by placing the softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.

6. Sift over the icing sugar and whisk till light and fluffy.

7. Add the remaining Nutella chocolate from the jar to the bowl and whisk together till nice and creamy.

8. Scoop the Nutella mixture on top of the butter digestive base and level out flat with a spatula.

9. Return the spring-form tin back to the fridge for three to four hours to chill as the Nutella makes the cheesecake set.

10. Once set, remove from the tin and decorate the top of cheesecake as desired to a Valentine theme with raspberries or strawberries etc.