WHEN it comes to surprise Valentine gifts, nobody can outshine Workington’s Sarah McGowan.

Sarah presented husband Terry with a baby boy, born on February 14, 2012.

To say it was a surprise is an understatement because neither they nor anyone else in their extended family even remotely suspected that Sarah was pregnant.

That is a gift that is hard to beat but, as these photos from our archives show, romance is not dead.

But why do we celebrate Valentine’s day and who is it named after?

Well, for a start, we are talking about Saint Valentine, a saint with a wide interest. He is patron saint of lovers, beekeepers and people with epilepsy.

Saint Valentine was a priest or bishop in the Roman Empire, who was martyred for his faith.

His name has always been associated with ‘courtly love’.

In these days of gender equality and a lot more regulations, it is probably a little harder to demonstrate courtly love than it used to be.

For a start, the onus was solely on the men.

Women just had to sit back and be courted.

The man, on the other hand, had to prove his love by deeds of derring do.

Sometimes, the object of this courtly love was otherwise spoken for.

Within the rules of courtly love, this did not mean moving in on her or trying to win her from her other lover.

No! In fact worshipping from afar gave a whole new dimension to courtly love.

Your knight (he was usually a knight in shining armour) could – and should – worship you from afar, knowing he could never have you, but that just added to the purity of his love.

He could still perform these brave needs, spurred on by his love from she who would never be his.

If he was despairing and hanging his heart on a weeping willow tree, then so much the better.

The more tragic it was, the more courtly was his love.

Fortunately, times have changed and we no longer have knights in shining armour riding around the country trying to impress.

There are far better ways to show love – courtly or otherwise. My knight does the cooking, puts the rubbish out and brings me cups of tea. Now THAT is courtly love.