Valentine Gifts With A Difference

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As flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day are beyond cliché – here-today-gone-tomorrow kinds of gifts – what about a more thoughtful appreciation of your partner's interests, one offering lasting value.

Photo courtesy of Jazzgroove


Whether it be classical, jazz or the latest contemporary singer-songwriters, listening to music together can be the best way to share the company of that special someone.

What about offering your partner premier membership to an online radio station for jazz lovers that grants innumerable hours of quality music without advertising. The Jazz Groove is a service of the ‘Foundation to Advance Jazz’ to which contributions are tax-deductible. Having begun as a non-profit, single radio station in 2016 specializing in ‘Laid-Back Jazz,’ it has now expanded to five different channels.

Columbia Hillen

Oslo News Lite is an innovative gift, a clock radio with built-in speaker and wireless charger which you can stream from your smartphone or tablet via its Bluetooth connection. Due to its Qi technology, you can charge your smartphone by simply placing it on the top surface of the radio.

Designed by Andrea Quaglio and Manuela Simonelli, this product is part of the ‘Quaglio Simonelli’ or Miami collection, described as ‘familiar looking objects contaminated by the unexpected and the poetical…elegantly flying on nostalgic wings, an Art Deco stylistic wink meeting actual technical requirements.’ 

Columbia Hillen

Literature offers another option to music. With widespread lockdowns against the spread of Covid, many people have taken up creative writing as a way of utilizing quiet time, so why not treat your partner to one of the many writing workshops now available.

Ireland Writing Retreat is an online series of weekend practical, bespoke workshops featuring experienced tutors and published authors in many genres, from memoir to fiction, with first-hand critiques also offered as part of the package. No better way to get inspired than being in the company of an exclusive small group of fellow writers and dust off that unfinished manuscript in your drawer. Perhaps it's a best-seller waiting to be discovered. The writer’s group is also organizing a special Valentine’s Day competition, based – naturally – on the theme of Love. 

Sean Hillen


With days getting longer and winter almost over, the idea of emerging from hibernation and exploring Nature with your partner sounds like fun.

But in many places, mid-February presents challenging weather. Never fear, products from ‘dryrobe,’ will keep you and your partner snug and warm as you hike the countryside. Founded by outdoorsman Gideon Bright, this UK-based company has developed an advanced fleece-lined, loose-fitting change robe to keep the chill-out. “Living on the northwest coast of Ireland, a wet and windy region, my long-sleeve robe keeps me warm and snug, vitally important as I have three dogs, two being collies, who value their daily hikes along the beach and over the hills,” said Columbia Vaileanu.

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While parts of the US and Europe may now be cold, other places such as southern California, Arizona and farther afield in Australia and New Zealand offer a perfect climate for camping and picnics, fun experiences for loving couples. For suitable equipment, look no further than Outdoor Products, which offers a wide selection, ranging from 4-to-10 person tents and framed backpacks to sleeping bags and waist packs in many designs and colors.

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It’s ‘Grand Park ‘2 in 1,’ for example, is suitable for beach trips, fishing expeditions and picnics. It features a detachable insulated compartment with zippered pocket, ice pack sleeve in an insulated compartment, multiple webbing attachment loops and a front drink pocket. You might also want to look at its ‘Road Tripper Duffel,’ an easy-to-carry travel bag featuring plenty of storage space, in ample front and back pockets.

Sean Hillen

During an international media career spanning several decades in Europe and the US, Sean Hillen has worked for many leading publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Times London, The Daily Telegraph, Time magazine and The Irish Times Dublin, as well as at the United Nations Media Center in New York. Sean's travel writing for and has taken him across A...(Read More)

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