A Fool's Guide to Romantic Weekend Breaks!

It's February and that's good, because our thoughts can turn from tax returns and post-Christmas credit card bills to Valentine's Day treats, and the possibility of a romantic weekend away with our loved one. But what exactly are the ingredients that make up that perfect romantic weekend break for two? Let's be honest, every couple needs to get away to somewhere special on their own from time to time, but it's not always all about champagne, room service  and chocolates on pillows. Sometimes all we need is to get back to basics and spend some quality time together somewhere different.

I live in a city and spend quite a lot of time in a cramped office, so I like to get away and have a chance to breathe – and that goes for my partner too. She loves a bit of luxury but is equally happy tramping round the countryside or along a coastal path. And secretly so do I, so long as there is a welcoming pub somewhere along the way. So in the spirit of co-operation, I asked her what her priorities for a romantic weekend break away were, and we came up with the following...

1. A Different Place No point going to some place that either of you have been to before. Choose somewhere that stretches your imagination and is a decent distance from where you live – makes it feel more like an adventure.

2. Comfort Nothing wrong with remote but shivering in a cold damp cottage is definitely NOT romantic. So mod-cons please, including comfy beds, sofas, fully equipped kitchens and some modern technology (can't read books all the time!).

3. Civilisation Again nothing wrong with being away from it all, but it helps to be within driving distance of a decent pub or restaurant, and/or a shop that sells good food and drink.

4. Scenery Part of the magic of going away is to explore a region you have never visited before – and the more dramatic the better. So mountains, coastlines and rolling countryside make the experience that much more exhilarating and rewarding.

5. Roaring Fire Got to throw in a couple of cliches, and sitting round the glowing embers of a fire, with a bottle of wine, snuggled up, is one of the best.

6. The Sea Cliche no 2? It doesn't get much better than walking along a deserted beach or a coastal path, even in winter.

7. Good Food and drink  Go on splash out on some decent food and wine, dare I say champagne?  Cheese and pickle sandwiches just won't do the trick. Alternatively search out a great gastro pub that serves local produce.

8. Music  Just because you go remote doesn't mean to say you can't take your favourite music – don't forget the IPod!

9. Dress up However you interpret it. It's fine to tramp around during the day in old sweaters and wellies  but in the evening you gotta go glam even if you are staying in. And that applies to the men as well!

10. Relax The point about a weekend break is in the title. It's a break dammit! So don't check your email, ring the office or check on the kids. Just chill out and look into each other's eyes and listen to the silence. The rest will just melt away...