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A Very Velo Valentines Day During the Year of the Dragon...

Updated: Feb 21

Cycling into the Valentines season gives us the opportunity to do two things: First, celebrate romance if we have it. Second, let some of the people in our world know they’re not on their own.  Traditionally celebrating Valentine’s Day has been geared towards celebrating love in the romantic sense of the word.  But then there’s love in the platonic and family sense of the word too.  Ultimately, they all come from the same place: the heart. 

Someone being reminded they have love in at least one of these ways can be enough to fill what might otherwise feel like an empty space.  Not everyone has a romantic partner in their life.  Maybe because some have lost, or maybe because some are yet to find.  Often this can be a time when people are reminded of that.  Yet there’s still an opportunity to show these people they are still loved all the same…

February is a month that sees fun displays of hearts, roses and teddy bears pretty much wherever we turn.  Yet if we think of what is at the crux of this season it comes back to a something or other that’s very hard to define, yet runs so deep it prevails in everything there is.  According to spiritual groups and fringe groups in the scientific community, love is the only thing that can transcend through the different dimensions... 

...This is all yet to be proven physically (as opposed to theoretically through quantum mathematical calculations and spiritual teachings), but according to science, everything in existence is here for a reason.  So if this was to be proven, what is the purpose of love? 

Love we know, is an emotion triggered by the release of chemicals (aka hormones).  We also know these chemicals send electronic signals through the body via the nervous system from it’s electronic switching station, which is often viewed to be only the brain.  Yet it has been discovered the heart also has a nervous system of it’s own that’s so intrinsic it has the ability to act independently from the brain, as it can learn, sense and feel for itself. 

This switching station via the transportation of these signals triggers the body to respond accordingly through movement.  Every time there is a release of the chemicals specific to this one word it’s always to do with one thing: an undeniable and unbreakable sense of compassion and connection to people and other living things beyond ourselves.  Lacking or in abundance, it’s always felt.  Either way it underpins the motivations and desires which show on the surface through actions.  These in turn can then go on to create the paradigms which can be passed down from one generation to the next for decades to come, if not longer. Through a recent scientific discovery we now also know that our life experiences can lead to a change in our DNA.

Meanwhile, many terms and phrases are popularly thrown around these days; ‘community’, ‘be kind, ‘choose love’…and the list goes on. Yet if we stop to think about each of these terms, what do we really understand about the very thing which underpins them all? 

If the ultimate purpose of this one component, so fundamental to our existence, is about keeping us altogether and moving forward in the one direction, what does that say about where we all are now and where we’re all heading? And how do we use it in our daily lives in the way it’s meant? 




At this time of year, complimenting splashes of bright red and gold are seen across our towns and cities in the form of Chinese lanterns marking the Lunar New Year. Starting on the evening before the new moon of the first full lunar month in the year, this fortnight of celebrations sees crimson and blush colours in abundance on our local highstreets as both Valentines season and the oriental celebrations are both marked at the same time. 



From the prospect of a glass of bubbly, to indulgent cuisine flavoured with five spice and Sichuan seasoning, February can be filled with heady anticipation whether we’ve arranged dates with partners, family or friends.

So through a cycle pretty life during the month of February, here’s…


Four Things To Do for a Very Velo Valentines Day...


1. Take a Bicycle Trip To Your Local China Town During the Chinese New Year Celebrations and Shop for Ingredients to Make a Valentines Dinner

Go on a bicycle adventure to your nearest China Town to shop locally as a cyclist in support of these very authentic, independent businesses. This is what we did recently, and what an adventure it was!

With the continual hum of the extractor fans wafting out aromas of heated ground nut oil infused with garlic, ginger and other spices, you often hear the ‘SSSSSSHHHHHHHHH’ from woks as they are used to flash fry ingredients in the restaurant kitchens the extractor fans come from.  Instantly you feel a pang of hunger from these incredible food aromas before pedalling around the corner to find cardboard boxes of stock piled up high outside the supermarkets, as they’re left so casually and trustingly.

Within moments it feels like you’ve pedalled into a different world, as the intricacies of Victorian red bricked buildings seem to blend so perfectly with the beautifully bold signage of the local businesses and ornate features of the China Town gate, which in Manchester is traditionally painted in the rich colours of garnet red, jade green and decadent gold... 

If you’re lucky enough to see it in the low afternoon sun, you’ll find these gates found in our China Towns beaming light like a beacon as the sun reflects off the gold.


During our recent trip we first headed to the local giftshop, which was emblazoned with a sea of red and gold from the lanterns hanging from the ceiling, lucky cats and other beautifully unique items…

Really we were there to take some photos of items from the Cycle Pretty Boutique, but it became the perfect excuse to make a few purchases, such as a pair of red tassel earrings which I just couldn’t resist and had to put in immediately, along with a rose quartz bonsai tree which we stumbled across…

The owners were so lovely, which explains a lot about the feeling you got as soon as you stepped in.  Talking with them also turned out to be eye opening, as they told of how they are only one of two independent businesses left in the quarter...  

...I guess this underscores the point even more about why it’s so important to support these creative havens that make our local highstreets what they are- interesting places to visit that define the places we choose to call our home, whilst also being places that pay people a wage and ultimately help them create their livelihoods…

T.La Art & Craft Gallery* was filled with so many interesting items, so if you’re in Manchester and thinking about where to stop during a bicycle adventure, this is one we would definitely recommend... 


While we were there I also took the opportunity to pay a visit to my local Chinese supermarket to stock up on some things, such as the large batches of noodles they do and the big bags of spices you can get...

Pretty much every variety you can think of you can find, and the price is so reasonable in comparison to what can be found in some of the bigger supermarket chains...

Shopping in the local supermarkets we can find in our China Towns is like finding a treasure trove if you’re a cooking enthusiast, with so much on offer... 

Again, boxes piled up high are the authentic trademark stamp of these places as you venture down the aisles, along with the smells of fresh sea food and durian fruit. 

It’s the little things like these which make a trip to the shops in China Town such a real experience that becomes something you look forward to on your days off and spring out of bed to hop on your bicycle for :-)

It’s hard not to get really excited rummaging around the shelves as you discover so many unique pantry cupboard finds you’d never get anywhere else, such as this ‘Sakura’ cherry blossom tea leaves….

…and these beautiful tins of peach green tea which I bought for Roberta and Bea…

…Roberta has since reported back raving about the tea, and better still she also plans to put the pretty tin to good use as a place to keep her different camera lenses which is good 😊


2. Make Slow Cooked Chinese Five Spice and Whisky Ribs for the Celebrations...

Put to use the bags of spices bought in your local Chinese supermarket and buy a good whisky from your local off licence to create an infusion where Chinese New Year meets Hogmanay...

These fall-off-the-bone pork ribs are to die for and make a great crowd pleaser... I can't quite remember the full recipe because I got carried away pulling all kinds out of the cupboard and adding to the pan whatever smelt like a good fit, but the ingredients I do recall are as follows... whisky (for the ribs to soak in for at least 24 hours before), star anise, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, pink Sichuan peppercorns, cayenne pepper, grated nutmeg, ground fennel seeds, ground ginger powder, fresh ginger, fresh fennel, fresh black garlic, carrots, celery, soy sauce, palm sugar, fresh red chillies (hot), Worcestershire sauce (I know, but honestly it works) runny honey (make sure it's the runny type so it doesn't crystallise when heated) and rice wine vinegar and extra whisky for the ribs to slow cook in until the liquid reduces to a sweet, warm, spicy, dark sticky glaze and the pork falls away from the bone...


3. Say it With Flowers

Going back to the ancient love story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, the deep intensity of it’s colour and the incredible beauty of the different shades seen in the swirling of it’s petals have made the red rose synonymous with love for millennia. 


In addition, pink roses symbolise gratitude and admiration while peach roses symbolise sincerity....



4. Organise a Day Out with a Bicycle Picnic

Wrap up warm in the soft woolen blankets, put the portable radio on and enjoy a champagne bicycle picnic, whether you’re celebrating the love you share with your partner or your friends* 

To help make the moment of it’s time, we can also add on a Valentines themed flower bouquet and picnic accessories in complimenting colours…



In the Cycle Pretty Boutique and Florist Parlour…

In the spirit of the season, the Red Rose Bucket Bag from our collection of easy cycling handbags is the perfect accessory to add a pop of colour to a winter outfit…

For days when you just need to jump on your bicycle and go somewhere with not much to carry, the drawstring bucket bag provides the perfect transport solution, whilst keeping all of your valuables close to you. 


And to make this the perfect Valentines gift, it’s also available as an assorted rose bouquet…



From February's Book Corner Club…

From our bookshelf collection of Canterbury Classics this month, we review Love Poems...

A collection of poems from authors including Emily Dickinson, Edgar Alan Poe and William Blake…

“Never seek to tell thy love,

Love that never told can be,

For the gentle wind does move,

Silently, invisibly…”


It also includes over 20 sonnets from William Shakespeare, of which Sonnet 18 will always be my favourite…


“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…”


Although many are wrote well over 100 years ago, it’s easy to lose yourself for a while in these pages.  As a collection of small pieces that don’t take too much time, they hold interesting messages around the emotions motivated by love, which still transcend their passage of time…


Happy Valentines everyone.  Sending you all lots of love and hope you all enjoy the Lunar New Year.


See you again next month!



*For more information on the unique wonderful items for sale at T.La Art & Craft Gallery, please visit: https://orientalworld.co.uk/

Registered alcohol licence number 249132.
















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