HOW will you be spending Valentine's Day? That's a loaded question, I reckon. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of romancing as much as the next woman but there is something about the regimented nature of the annual love parade each February 14 that sticks in the craw.

Go all out and risk looking like a sucker for commercialised tat. Do nothing and come off as a stone-hearted misery guts. Is there a halfway house? A Valentine's Day lite? I'm afraid not. That red and pink bunting-clad ship has sailed. Probably with an oversized teddy bear at the helm.

What I dislike most is the pressure. Valentine's Day is a concept mired in potential disappointment; we are being set up to fail. Even the most well-adjusted human in a happy and fulfilling relationship can fall foul of getting caught up in the hype.

I have a high-flying friend who spends her days overseeing very important things involving multi-million pound global deals. She has nerves of steel and rarely gets ruffled when things go awry.

A couple of years ago, she spent Valentine's Day night sobbing in the toilets of a fancy restaurant after her then boyfriend presented her with a gift-wrapped mouse mat bearing his grinning face. To be fair, it was a crap present but did it warrant dumping him?

The rational side of her brain said "nope", while the part conditioned by romcom movies, slushy novels and rampant consumerism made it feel as if she had been shot in the heart by a knock-off bow and arrow that Cupid had bought down the Barras.

Ah, Valentine's Day. Talk about a paint-by-numbers game: chocolates, flowers, soppy cards, bottle of bubbly, perhaps some, ahem, Netflix and chill. Not to mention a growing scourge I've noted in recent years: the oversized teddy bear.

I'm not sure how an oversized teddy bear enhances one's life. When I was viewing houses in recent months these behemoth fluffy love tokens were ten a penny, typically sitting forlornly in the corner of spare rooms like James Caan's character waiting for Kathy Bates to return in Misery.

Each to their own, I guess. Actually, scratch that. What I meant is each to their own as long as there are no oversized teddy bears involved.

Culinary love: part one

The weirdest Valentine's Day I've endured was spent in A&E with a suspected DVT (yes, I know I told a hospital-themed anecdote last week but do bear with me and, no, I don't spend all my time frequenting medical establishments in search of column subjects – consider the barrel duly scraped).

Cripes. What an omnishambles that was. One chap had sliced the top off his finger while cooking a surprise dinner for his wife who, in turn, had arrived home to find the kitchen looking like a scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

There was a succession of menfolk through the doors bearing scalds from mishaps while straining pasta and one hapless soul who had rubbed his eyes after chopping chillies.

A woman turned up with nasty burns following her boyfriend's well-meaning attempt to serve a romantic meal ended with him accidentally pouring boiling hot gravy over her hand.

His grovelling was quite something. At one point, it crossed my mind to hit him over the head with a shovel – or a bedpan, whatever was closest to hand – bringing a swift end to the incessant pleading and whining for forgiveness.

When it went all quiet, I took it that the girlfriend had made haste with the necessary cull. But then came a slurping from behind the cubicle curtain: an unmistakable kiss-and-make-up moment.

It is an aural assault that I will never forget. Like a slug being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner.

Culinary love: part two

Well, if you insist on celebrating Valentine's Day, what better way to mark it than with a romantic stay at the sausage hotel?

Wash your dirty mind out. The owner of Gasthaus Bobel in the German town of Rittersbach is a butcher. He has taken his meat dreams and allowed the imagination to run wild.

The hotel – whose catchy slogan is "sleeping under a Bratwurst sky" – has sausage wallpaper, bars of soap that look like sausages, sausage-shaped pillows and bedside tables that resemble drums of mince. Because it can't all be about sausages. What? There are wurst places to stay.

Since you are treating yourself, wouldn't it be wonderful to indulge in a spoonful or two of Heinz Ketchup Caviar? Mmmm. How sophisticated, I hear you cry. Well, quite. I imagine it goes wonderfully with fish fingers, chips and peas too.

The bad news is that Heinz has only released a limited number of these coveted jars for competition winners and the rest of us will need to slum it with bog-standard ketchup from a bottle.

Never mind. You could always style it out with a bouquet of pickles. Flowers, dahling? No, that's terribly passe. Especially when you can be wowing your beloved with an eye-catching arrangement of chilli peppers, gherkins and garlic.

The concept was launched in the US by Grillo's Pickles for Valentine's Day. If you are outside their delivery area, fear not, there are instructions for making a DIY bouquet on the company's website. Get some skewers and affix a random assortment of pickles. Voila!

No need for a vase. Just chomp away. Which leaves just enough time for a ditty I have been working on. It goes: roses are red, pickles are green, thank you for reading, this column is obscene*.

Tune in next week when we reveal the secret of how to make a decorative wall hanging from two empty gherkin jars, leftover sausages and the decapitated head of an oversized teddy bear.

*gets coat