VALENTINE’S Day started last October, before Halloween had even arrived, when the press releases began pinging into my email inbox.

I’m currently getting around half a dozen a day; endless promotional blurb shoe-horning a romantic spin into everything from cocktails to cushions, macaroons to mini breaks. It seems nothing says ‘I love you’ like an ethically-sourced gemstone, or a heart-shaped house plant.

Fancy a tandem ride?

“What can be more perfect than jumping on a tandem together and rolling through French vineyards or along coastal cliffs of Portugal with your other half?” According to this press release, from cycling holiday specialist Headwater, a tandem break is “ideal for couples who otherwise may be separated by a stretch of Tarmac...”

Sorry, but I can’t think of anything less romantic than being stuck on a bike with someone who’s swiftly losing patience because you’re not pedalling fast enough, or you said to go right when you meant left.

Or you end up circling the same village three times because how-can-I-see-the-map-when-I’m-on-this-Godforsaken-bike-and-whose-stupid-idea-was-this-anyway-why-didn’t-you-take-me-to-a-boutique-hotel-like-a-normal-person-yes-I-am-pedalling-stop-shouting-at-me!

Coupling up on a tandem is a one-way route to an almighty row, followed by sulky silence and seething resentment for the rest of the trip.

Want to say it with flowers?

Consult your sweetheart’s astrology chart, says Gardening experts which matches floral gifts to star signs.

If you want to impress a Libran buy them hydrangeas, Aries are happy with tulips, and only dark red flowers will do for a Scorpio date. Whatever.

Plant one on your Valentine

“Make Valentine’s Day last longer with love heart house plants...” says plant specialist Root. String of Hearts, Orchids, and Sweetheart Plants will “remind your Valentine every day of how much you care”.

Or not, in my case, since I have never managed to keep a house plant alive. I appear to have drowned an orchid someone gave me last year.

Keep it legal!

If you’re thinking of having sex on a motorbike this Valentine’s Day, think again. It’s illegal - only when the bike is parked though - according to the University of Law, which highlights 10 “love laws” to watch out for this Valentine’s Day.

They include “Gifting your Valentine a box of chocolates weighing more than 22.5 kilograms” (illegal in Idaho), and “lovemaking in a vehicle with flat wheels” in Cottonwood, Arizona, (as good a reason as any to check your tyre pressure). Sex is also illegal in a walk-in meat freezer in Wyoming, by the way.

And when you’re tucking into that candlelit Valentine dinner, spare a thought for men in Minnesota, who are forbidden from sex with their spouses if their breath smells of garlic, onion or sardines.

I’m so over Valentine press releases! Enough of the quirky nonsense and high-res images of Maldives beaches, personalised jewellery, essential oils, river cruises, meal deals and sustainable love trinkets. This stuff might work for a romantic gesture (maybe not the two cheeseburger meal deal), but such gestures have little to do with love.

An ethically-sourced gemstone presented on a heart-shaped cushion is all well and good, but real love is putting out the wheelie bin on a rainy evening, sticking the kettle on when it’s not even your turn, and unblocking the shower plug-hole without being asked.

I wouldn’t say no to a mini break though. Just not on a tandem.

* THERE are 85,000 child carers in our region. One of them is Angel Phiri, 11, who has spent much of her young life helping her mum look after her autistic brother.

I spoke to Angel recently about being a young carer, and how attending a youth group run by Bradford charity Carers Resource has changed her life. It gives her chance to hang out with other kids, play games, go on trips and have time to herself. And, meeting other young carers, she knows she's not alone.

These youngsters spend much of their time looking after a parent or sibling, often doing cooking and cleaning too. They don't have the childhood that most kids take for granted. Thank goodness for Carers Resource; a lifeline for so many families.

* "I AM going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," said Jane Austen, of meddlesome Emma Woodhouse.

Well my mum liked her - so much so, she named me after her. The new film of Austen's novel Emma reminds me that when I did it for A-level, I found it so irritating I chucked the book across a room. I didn't get Austen and had no patience with silly matchmaking Emma.

But my mum loved her, and now I have her treasured Jane Austen collection on my bookshelf. I've decided to re-read Emma. Maybe, like me, she has mellowed with age.