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Take the stress out of Valentine’s Day…

How about going out and buying your gifts with each other as part of the fun! Because after all; isn't it REALLY about being together?

Have you been with your other half for yonks and haven’t thought about Valentine’s Day in years? Or are you the person who dreads the whole commercialisation of it, and knows that whatever you buy, your partner will no doubt re-gift it, or even worse, leave it in that messy drawer that never sees the light of day? If the answer to either is yes, why not spend the pressie shopping time together and take the worry out of it being such a big deal.

My other half (aka Plus One) and I have already booked a meal out for the big V Day next Thursday; but since he’s not renowned for his gift giving and quietly frets about it but does nothing, I took things into my own hands and suggested a pre V Day trip out to Rushden Lakes.

First stop House of Fraser! I’m a big fan of HoF, maybe a little less so since Sports Direct Mike Ashley has taken over and surreptitiously seems to be moving in some sporty, Sports Direct type stock into the clearance section. Still; I once did ALL of my Xmas shopping in a House of Fraser. Ok, it was in London, but they all have quite the selection to appease even the pickiest of recipients.

First up was a visit to the Fragrance section which has loads of big brands crying out for you to spritz them, ensuring you leave the store smelling of 28 different perfumes. It’s a lovely space for a browse but before I could say ‘mmm I love Tom Ford Neroli Portofino’, Plus One had spied a sale on in the Dune concession.

I managed a scoot around while he was otherwise engaged and picked up some Diesel pants and some BIBA candles (fine, the BIBA contingent is really for me, but hey, he likes candles too).

Whether it’s undies, jewellery, cufflinks, make-up or bags; you don’t have to face the frosty winds much in your pursuit of a V Day purchase here; it’s all under one roof. If you want to browse further afield then there’s loads more shops within 100 metres (check out full list here). We made a detour to Next to see if the dressing gowns were on sale (classy), and Plus One felt it was in the Valentine’s spirit to check out a table tennis table in Decathlon because ‘we’ll both get to enjoy it, right?’

Breathing in deeply and counting to 10, I suggested a walk around the lakes. It was all frozen over and looked eerily beautiful as the sun was setting. However many times I go to Rushden Lakes, the fact you can be in mid shop chaos to outdoorsy freshness within seconds (often not a soul in sight at the lake), is pretty special.

Appetite built up to the max we had the choice of Pizza Express, Wagamamma, Five Guys, Nandos and Wildwood (plus loads more) for a post shop, post walk feast…We plumped for Wildwood because he’d never been and really fancied a pizza, and I also remembered once having a rather good king prawn and chilli linguine.

Neither dish disappointed and they also have a great selection of cocktails (perfect to pucker up with on V Day)!

The wild mushroom crostini with truffle oil was a welcome surprise and Plus One also liked the dimmed lighting and restaurant vibe (when you ask for an extra fork you get it along with a new napkin; nice)! The Valentine’s Day menu is served from Feb 11th until 17th and includes 4 courses with a glass of wine or beer, so it’s really good value whatever your budget (well, unless your budget is less than £19.95 and you’re just paying for yourself obvs)!!!

All in all we had a great pre Valentine’s Day date and I’d heartily recommend it. If you’re a traditionalist and still want to be surprised, you could always separate for a few hours and meet back up with the goods. Either way, there’s plenty of places afterwards to eat, drink and step up the romance (ooooh, if you get proposed to, let us know! We love a good proposal yarn here at Muddy)!


Thanks so much for all of your entries. You gave us poems, little insights into your lives and absolutely loads of optimism. I’m sorry you couldn’t all win but thank you for engaging with Muddy Stilettos Northants, we always hope to entertain you and talk about all that’s good and great about our county ☺️

Fancy a £150 Valentine’s Day gift from Rushden Lakes. There’s £75 to spend at a shop of your choice and £75 for food and drink after! Just leave a comment below! Competition closes Tues 13th Feb at midnight.

Rushden lakes (and remember, it stays open until 8pm)!

Find more ideas here


81 comments on “Take the stress out of Valentine’s Day…”

  • Tina Downs February 8, 2019

    Ooh, how lovely. Shopping + wining and dining with my better half – all my favourite things together!

  • Robert Anderson February 8, 2019

    Fantastic,looks great…

  • Lynn Neal February 8, 2019

    Fabulous gift, I would love to win and visit Rushden Lakes for a shopping treat, lunch and so much more!

  • Debbie M February 8, 2019

    I absolutely love the idea of doing all your Christmas shopping in one shop that’s NOT online! I think I may have to give that a go this year.

  • Andy February 8, 2019

    I love the food choices there… hope I Win!

  • Lisa February 8, 2019

    I would love to win! Fingers crossed

  • Caroline Ryden February 8, 2019

    Yayyyyyy, I would love to win this – what a treat for us both 🙂

  • Rob Southgate February 8, 2019

    Great idea would love to win.

  • Paul Morgan February 8, 2019

    Wonderful idea, takes the stress out whether you are picking the right gift & the recipient receives exactly what they want, the perfect win win !!

  • Carolyn E February 8, 2019

    I live so close by and never knew it had so much there until I read this. Can’t wait to go now!

  • Michele Bate February 8, 2019

    I’d love to have a splurge at Rushden Lakes with my Plus One, who is surprisingly chilled about shopping there. He would be particularly keen if it’s followed by a lovely meal – the food at Wildwood looks scrummy. We’ve never ventured round the lake, which would be an excellent way to walk it off!

  • Judith Laundon February 8, 2019

    Rushden lakes is a great place to shop, eat and walk

  • Anita February 8, 2019

    Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Elena February 8, 2019

    I’ve been leaving hints for a Pengaligon’s fragrance from HoF since they opened, it hasn’t happened yet but I live in hope!

  • Amy February 8, 2019

    Sounds Amazing!!

  • richard parkes February 8, 2019

    Rushden Lakes, Where you can experience a valentines decathlon with Jack Wills followed by a paper chase around the wild wood in your boots which costa lot.

    Next onto the river island which is accessible by canoe, The 5 guys who work there named Bill, Holland, Barrett, and the Moss brothers will make sure you have all the white stuff to keep you super dry.

  • Carol Findlay February 8, 2019

    Great post, love other half needs all the help he can get lol!!

  • Garry Hawkins February 8, 2019

    A free lunch and spending spree – what’s not to like?

  • D Sullivan February 8, 2019

    I found ypur review on rushden lakes very refreshing and mega intresting keep it up .

  • Mia Thurlow February 8, 2019

    Love Rushden Lakes, there is so much to do and I can’t wait for the cinema to open x

  • Richard February 8, 2019

    Sounds like a great plan. We’ll be there…

  • Charlotte Takhar February 8, 2019

    Sounds great, we love Rushden Lakes!

  • Jules White February 8, 2019

    What a great idea! My Plus One gave me an early valentines gift this morning – a Welsh Rugby Jersey (I am Welsh living behind enemy lines in Towcester South Northants)… a wonderful gift seeing as the 6 nations have just started… I can see his train of thought, I wore last seasons shirt last week for the first match… so he ordered the latest version… trouble is that is exactly what I am wearing today as he is busy presenting his genius gift. Bless! 10/10 for effort – it’s red so it kind of fits – I think this is the way to go – go shopping together make an experience of it and hopefully end up without duplicates!

  • Lisa February 8, 2019

    Love Rushden lakes would love some vouchers to spend on me and my husband.

  • Nicola February 8, 2019

    Sounds lovely ❤️

  • Eleanor February 8, 2019

    Rushden Lakes is a wonderful day out! Can’t wait to visit again with my other half and hopefully if the luck of the Irish for once in my life comes through il be lucky enough to win this fab competition to enjoy with my boyfriend!🤪🥳

  • Joanne February 8, 2019

    What great idea! The best way to keep everyone happy and feel loved up into the bargain!

  • Jacquie February 8, 2019

    Sounds like there’s something for everyone. A walk, a coffee, shop til you drop and then a lovely meal. Just need to persuade the other half.

  • Lynn February 8, 2019

    That linguine looks amazing and I’ve not tried Wildwood yet… 😉

  • Sarah February 8, 2019

    Shopping and delicious food, what’s not to love?

  • Susan February 8, 2019

    Thanks for your advice … time with the beloved is precious, we shouldn’t have to spend it stressing!

  • Hayley F February 8, 2019

    I love rushden lakes but haven’t yet visited the restaurants, only costa. Hope he your partner buys you something lovely for valentines or you dropped lots of hints haha x

  • Jessie February 8, 2019

    What a lovely romantic idea!

  • Tracey February 8, 2019

    Fantastic: Shopping for my Valentine; vests, pants and socks sorted in one hit ! Followed by lunch, what could be more romantic?

  • Amy Morgan February 8, 2019

    I’ve actually never been to Rushden Lakes but if it has a five guys then I’m totally there! Xx

  • Elma Campbell February 8, 2019

    Great idea, lovely thought, would be amazing

  • Stewart Knight February 8, 2019

    Sounds amazing and I would love to win this for my wife as I’m having to work Valentine’s day and I’m working most of the weekend and would love to surprise her with a first time shopping and meal at rushden lakes 🙂

  • Charlotete Doyle February 8, 2019

    Sounds amazing! Would love this so I can treat my bestie!

  • Amie Cox February 8, 2019


  • Zoey Boon February 8, 2019

    Fantastic idea x

  • Chrissie February 8, 2019

    What a great way to spend Valentine’s. Only ever had two Valentine’s gifts from my partner and this is our 40th year together. Maybe third time lucky. 💑

  • Jodie Brightmore February 8, 2019

    I love Rushden Lakes so lucky to have it a 15 minute drive away. I still haven’t been into the selfridges I never have enough money for a splurge usually end up buying random stuff in the flying tiger 😃

  • Becci February 8, 2019

    I had no idea all of these things were there! We are just moving to Northants from Milton Keynes and this looks like a brilliant idea. The food is of course my favourite part and that pizza looks fabulous!

  • Kiera February 8, 2019

    What a fantastic prize and an extra special treat in getting time together to enjoy it. We would be over the moon to win this.

  • GLENDA PROFIT February 8, 2019

    I’d love to win, so please count me in

  • Anneka Eaton-Neill February 8, 2019

    Would be a fab way to spend the day with my special someone. 😊

  • Kitty Taylor February 9, 2019

    I didn’t realise that Rushden Lakes had a House of Fraser! I’ve never thought of going for a walk around the lakes during my shopping trip. What a great idea. Looks beautiful.

  • Heidi February 9, 2019

    This is such a fab idea—it’s always a bit of a challenge sometimes buying something for your partner. Sometimes you get it just right and other times…well you never see it again! Plus, you get to spend quality time together which is always lovely ❤️

  • Jane White February 9, 2019

    I love Rushden Lakes with my fave also being HoR am when I visited last night I too wondered where all the lovely clothes had gone! I made my way downstairs and treated myself to a lovely Dior lipstick
    The lovely young lady who helped me choose then demonstrated how to update my make up routine with some amazing products which hugely lifted my spirits so I would love to win to go back and treat myself to those goodies too. :o)

  • Debby February 9, 2019

    I’m 52 and after getting divorced after 29 years of marriage, I thought my love life was over. However, I’ve now met the man of my dreams and I’m now living in Spain. We’re visiting England soon and can’t wait to go to Rushden lakes as part of our trip and of course, looking forward to Valentines Day <3

  • Anne Green February 9, 2019

    Many complain about Valentines Day saying it’s “too commercial” which might be true but I still think it’s a nice opportunity to do something special as a couple especially if you don’t go out very often !
    Today’s the day
    To win that prize
    To win & dine
    Let’s hope he’s wise
    And takes me out
    To Rushden Lakes
    To shop till you stop
    Then eat those Bakes

  • Nicola Craggs February 9, 2019

    Love Rushden Lakes! So much choice & variety of shops. Would love a spending spree! V Day shopping seems a good reason!

  • Wendy Marks February 9, 2019

    Decathlon for hubby’s pressie – co gym buddies 😁

  • Deb Pettit February 9, 2019

    Fab idea. What could be better than spending a day out together. Quality time choosing gifts for each other and a lovely meal. We love going to Rushden Lakes for a treat.

  • Lowenna Lockwood February 9, 2019

    I love shopping and lovely food so this sounds like a perfect date for me & my husband. I also love an excuse to go to Rushden Lakes! Xx

  • Chrystalla February 9, 2019

    This is amazing and I would love this awesome 💝

  • Emma February 10, 2019

    I think I’ll be rushing to Rushden Lakes…sounds lovely. 😊

  • Becky February 10, 2019

    Love this idea but with a 16 month old and two week old it will be a quiet evening in on Valentines and we’ll hit the shops at a weekend!!

  • P Gibbons February 10, 2019

    We love popping over to Rushden Lakes, the mixture of nature, dining and shopping is perfect. We didn’t know table tennis was available in Decathalon, what a great way to chill whilst out store mooching. Shop, play, wine and dine, what a fabulous way to enjoy Valentine’s Day ❤

  • Kat Short February 10, 2019

    This is such an amazing prize! Would love to be considered

  • Melissa February 10, 2019

    Yes please, I work in one of the shops but never seem to get a chance to go shopping!

  • Sue Rudland February 10, 2019

    I’ve been clearing out this January and came across this “Valentine” poem I sent my husband some years ago. I seem to remember I’d forgotten to buy a card and inspiration came through sheer panic! I don’t think I’ve been able to match it since, so this might be just the opportunity.

    Oh dear, now you’re completely grey and
    it looks as though I’m on the way!
    You’re not as tall as you used to be
    No longer are you six foot three.
    The outward signs show years have passed
    And yet our marriage seems to last.
    Why I wonder, is that so?
    Of course, it’s the inner man I know.
    Who’s thoughtful, kind and loving too
    And always has a job to do!
    So don’t bemoan the March of time
    Because – you’re still my Valentine!

  • Dani February 11, 2019

    This sounds like the perfect getaway from the children…… and god do we need it! 😴 x

  • Sophie February 11, 2019

    What a perfect way to spend my last Valentine’s as a miss 😍

  • Kate February 11, 2019

    Sounds like a perfect Valentine’s Day! Last Valentine’s we were on different continents & had to send presents across the world so love this idea – would love to do something special this year!

  • Maya February 11, 2019

    Saving for a house and choosing to forgoe little luxuries! Would be a treat to spend a stress free love day with the honey 😀

  • Eleanor February 11, 2019

    I love Rushden Lakes and can’t wait to visit again! What a fab way to spend valentines. Such an enjoyable visit each and every time me and my partner visit..😊😍

  • Sue Watson February 11, 2019

    Love Rushden Lakes, my favourite place to pass a few hours with my family.

  • Joe February 11, 2019

    I’d love to treat my girlfriend this valentines and get a break away from work, I haven’t been to Rushden Lakes but would like to give it a try based on your review.

  • Jade bridgman February 11, 2019

    I’d love to win so I could treat my hubby for a change! Xxx

  • Marie February 12, 2019

    This will be my last Valentines as a ‘Miss’ after 2 decades of unlucky in love! Even just a phones off and night just the two of us would mean no stress this valentines!

  • Susan Scofield February 12, 2019

    I love Rushden Lakes and me and my husband often work opposite shifts so would be nice to spend time together

  • Jill February 12, 2019

    Rushden Lakes is super, I’m visiting this evening for a coffee and 🍰
    And maybe a spot of shopping if I’m lucky with my daughter😊

  • Katie February 12, 2019

    Valentine’s Day will be very different this year, it’s the first as a family of three as our newborn arrived a few months ago. Now we’re both in love with our baby (as well as each other)!

  • Ben February 12, 2019

    Shopping AND eating – the best way to anyone’s heart.

  • Katie February 12, 2019

    Valentine’s Day will be very different this year, it’s our first as a family of three as our newborn arrived a few months ago. Now we’re both in love with our baby (as well as each other).

  • Ben February 12, 2019

    Shopping AND eating – the best way to anyone’s heart.

  • Leanne Wright February 13, 2019

    This would be perfect for me and my partner.. lovely idea.

  • David Halcrow February 13, 2019

    Love to do this with my other half, we don’t often get the chance to get out and about

  • Els February 13, 2019

    Got my fingers and toes crossed for this one! Love a spot of shopping and a tasty bite to eat at Rushden Lakes 🍷😛

  • annaloudearden February 14, 2019


    Thanks so much for all of your entries. You gave us poems, little insights into your lives and absolutely loads of optimism. I’m sorry you couldn’t all win but thank you for engaging with Muddy Stilettos Northants, we always hope to entertain you and talk about all that’s good and great about our county ☺️


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