Ugh…Valentine’s Day is on the horizon.
Hmm…not the most enthusiastic and romantic intro sentences. Sorry. It’s just that I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day as it usually means I have to sit down and work my way through dozens of cards from secret admirers whilst my green-eyed partner looks on with an ever so slightly miffed look upon her beautiful face.
OK, that’s just tosh and piffle. I’m actually pleased that a day exists where love gets celebrated but shouldn’t that be every day? I guess it is the way the restaurants and supermarkets go about things that really grinds my gears. So much tat appears on the shelves and menus become restricted to what a restaurant general manager or head office spreadsheet loving stock controller decides you need to eat to celebrate your love. Bah, humbug…a good home-cooked meal and some quality time together is my preference and even before the arrival of Baby M we tended to body swerve going out on Valentine’s night, so it is not just because we are house-bound again this year.
Anyway, we do use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to give each other a present or two and we do swap cards, usually the most ironic ones we can find. This year’s card uses phrases such as “…those little things you do to make every day special” which is complete hogwash as there are plenty of days when the beloved mother of my baby girl drives me absolutely up the wall. For balance there are just as many days where I do the same to her…perhaps more, to be fair!
We try not to point any of our hard earned pounds towards the stereotypical red heart adorned tat though and usually look to get one thing, big or small, for each other that is genuinely desired.
I can’t reveal what I will be buying for my good lady (as I haven’t a clue at the moment), but I can share a few ideas that would go down well with any slightly geeky dad this year, and here’s my top 6 suggestions for Valentine’s Gifts for him…
Star Wars X-Wing Tabletop Game
Yeah, I know…this is one of those things I include in a gift guide because I really want it myself! I played this recently and fell in love with it instantly. You need to play this on a decent sized dining table as the suggested play area is 3′ x 3′ but that isn’t critical as we managed to make a 2′ x 2′ space on my friend’s dining table. For any Star Wars loving dad this is a great way to keep him quiet or occupied if any other male aged between 10 years old and 50 years old comes into the house. The game is easy enough to understand and get started with despite the instructions being a little bit long winded and a game lasts around 45 minutes to an hour. The miniature space ships are really good looking and the actual game play itself is a fine balance of strategy and tactical dog-fighting.
£29.85 from Zatu Games
The Vikings DVD – Series 1 to 3
Where did this TV spectacle come from? It was first released in 2013 on the History channel and quickly burned through seasons 1 to 4 within 3 years. I had heard of the show a couple of years ago but I haven’t had the History channel as part of my TV package for a few years now and I never saw it as a channel that was ever likely to turn out the next big thing in must-see TV. Still suffering a hangover after Breaking Bad I stumbled across The Vikings on Amazon Prime last year and figured I would give it a go. So glad I did; it’s epic. If your bloke hasn’t seen this show then this DVD is possibly the most awesomely fabulous thing you can buy him this year. If you don’t mind a bit of blood and guts yourself then you’ll love it also. In fact the main litmus test seems to be if you like Game of Thrones you will love The Vikings. That said I know plenty of people who don’t like GOT but think The Vikings is a great show. Binge watch your way through seasons 1 to 3 and you will be panting for more at the end of it. The good news is that season 4 has just finished airing so the DVD will no doubt be out soon and plans are afoot for season 5 in the near future…bleeeee!
£10 (!!) from Tesco Direct
Dadland by Keggie Carew (paperback)
Every now and again a book comes along that really knocks you off your feet and that is exactly what Dadland is doing with me right now.
I am around half way through after starting it last week and am finding it so hard to put down. Author Keggie Carew pieces together the history of her father as he falls deeper into old-age dementia and discovers that he was a true military hero during World War 2.
Her father, Tom, was a commando in the Jedburghs which was an elite Special Ops unit and had carried out successful operations in Burma and occupied France.
As is often the case with people who are so embroiled in warfare at an early age it is the peacetime that they struggle with and this is explored through the eyes of the daughter as she tries to understand and frame the reasons why her father was such a troubled man at home in his personal life.
I will publish a full review of this book in due course once I have finished it (which will be very soon at this rate), but for now it is gripping me with every page and hence I am adding it to this suggested gift list.
£6.29 from Amazon
Bacon Homemade Curing Kit by Ross & Ross
Wow…this is actually a THING.
You can make your own cured bacon at home!
Like the cheese-making kits that I fell in love with last year this is another product that I had no idea I craved until I saw it. I love cured bacon but it is usually on the pricey side and gets relegated to a rare treat. These kits by Ross & Ross though are great fun and allow the modern geeky dad to behave more manly than usual:
“Hi, you hungry?”
“Yes, I am a little peckish”
“Ok, I just finished curing my own bacon, I’ll go slice some” (!!)
The process is actually straight forward thanks to these kits which include everything you need to create a few batches. You will need to buy some pork, and a decent sized cut of good pork belly is the weapon of choice. You rub the flavoured curing salts all over the meat and place it in the curing bag in your fridge for 4 days. It then gets washed and dried and hung in your fridge in a muslin wrap for 3 days and that is it…perfect and delicious cured bacon that is ready to cook and eat!!
Everything you need is supplied in the kit, including the gloves, bags, muslin wraps and of course a choice of different flavoured curing salts. Full instructions are also in there and there is enough to make a few batches.
I have used one of these kits and it was fabulous, but in my giddiness I forgot to take photos of the various stages. I have purchased another kit and will write it up properly when I use it in the near future.
Hand on heart though no meat loving person will be unhappy with this gift!
£21 direct from Ross & Ross
(Also available in various gift shops & delis)
Bring out the hidden samurai warrior in your bloke this Valentine’s Day by getting him the Bushido Brolly.
Dad’s role is often to walk the earth alone in search of supplies such as milk and nappies and with his trusty Bushido Brolly on his back he can now be protected from the elements whilst dreaming of drawing a samurai blade and hacking his way through the crowds of other shoppers.
I don’t own one of these, but I kinda feel like I need one. Online reviews have said that the brolly itself is actually very good quality but that the ‘sheath’ isn’t great…but the real attraction here is that samurai sword grip. It looks cool as heck!
£7.99 from RED5
Star Wars Death Star Kitchen Timer
Like good comedy, timing is an important part of good cooking. Whether your bloke is an avid cook or a very reluctant one this Death Star kitchen timer will be something he will find very handy.
Yes, you can replicate a timer by using the clock on your phone or maybe the oven has a timer built into it already, or perhaps you already have a kitchen timer, but do any of them ring and then light up the Death Star’s planet-destroying laser? No, they don’t.
Well this one does…and…erm…that’s why I like it.
£11.99 from Forbidden Planet
So there you have it…6 little Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the man in your life, or 6 little ideas if you are a bloke who fancies treating himself for no reason whatsoever. To my other half, if you are reading this, any of the above would be just super to receive. Some of them are at reduced prices too, such as the Bushido Brolly and the Death Star Kitchen Timer so maybe buy ahead for Father’s Day while you have your debit card out??