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When it comes to Christmas presentsome people are not so easy to buy for. Finding something for the person who has everything is no small feat. Instead, an experience is an ideal gift because it enriches their lives without them having to find space in the living room.
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Gathering and forest feast
Located in the Buckinghamshire Forest, the Nomadic team know how to help you connect with nature. Gourmands will rejoice in this experience. Once there, you’ll take a walk through the forest, where you’ll be shown how to get the most out of foraging and consuming natural resources, from mushrooms to berries. This will be followed by dinner, served in a clearing in the forest on long tables to share, created with locals – and of course foraged! – food, and the whole thing is completed with smores over the fire.
Pick and Dine in the Forest with Nomadic, Buckinghamshire: from £150 pp
Escape to the Newt Estate
The Newt Hotel in Somerset has impressive gardens. If your gift doesn’t live nearby and keeps postponing a visit, that’s just the ticket. The voucher includes first class train tickets from London Paddington where they will be taken to the Newt Estate and have a fabulous day out. It includes a visit to the gardens, a demonstration of the cider-making process, tastings of the estate’s products, breakfast and afternoon tea. It also includes a one-year subscription to the gardens, so you can visit as many times as you like afterwards.
The Newt Great Garden escape golden ticket; £335
Learn to make charcuterie
River Cottage is one of the best places to learn about food. It’s down to earth, easy to use, and you’ll get a really good meal. Their charcuterie course is run by Steve Williams, founder of Good Game, who actually learned his trade on a course at River Cottage (a testament to its quality). During the course, you will learn about remedies, salts, nitrates and the basics of butchery. You’ll make salami, learn about hot and cold smoking, and most importantly, come away with the confidence to dry your own meat at home.
Learn to make charcuterie with River Cottage, Devon; £245
Canoeing and wilderness camping
Founded by Becki and Dan, Into The Outside inspires people to do just that. Their relaxed yet knowledgeable approach to travel makes them enjoyable and memorable. The wild trip includes canoeing to a secret location, where you will sleep in a hammock, eat around a campfire, and do some wild swimming. It’s the back to nature that passionate adventurers need, without having to go too far to get it.
Overnight canoe trip with Into The Outside, Lake District: £350 for two people, £125 for additional people
Get up close to the big cats
Set in 32 acres of grassland, the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent offers the opportunity to get up close to very big cats including jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, lynxes, pumas and caracals. Safari and ranger experiences are available on weekdays or weekends. The first is a two-hour guided tour to see some of the endangered cats and learn about their conservation. The latter includes the same thing, but is more practical and includes helping to feed (and clean!) the cats.
Big Cat Sanctuary experiences, Kent; From £199
For the budding florist, or just anyone who wants to do more than one bouquet display in their home, this course by Peckham Florist, Sage, will undoubtedly change the way they view a bouquet of flowers.
Sage modernized floristry, bringing with her inspiring designs, flower combinations and color palettes, and opened her own school to share her skills with other budding flower fans. Choose between the Foundation Course or the Marriage Course, both of which are in two parts. Perfect for anyone considering a career in floristry, as it not only covers the basics like arranging vases, but also gets into the details like ordering flowers.
Floristry course with the florist Sage, London; £245
National Trust Annual Membership
With over 500 places to visit across the UK, National Trust membership is the ultimate gateway to going out. From historic country houses to impressive gardens, there is plenty to see and visit all year round. It also includes free parking in National Trust car parks and a subscription to their magazine.
National Trust Membership: from £76.80 for 26+
For the chocolate addicts in your life, this is the experience they’ll love. Choco Chocolatier is an independent chocolatier based in Edinburgh, producing some of the finest quality chocolates. Workshops take place on the first Saturday of each month. During the two-hour session, attendees will learn about the history of chocolate, where cocoa comes from, how to properly temper chocolate, and of course make their own – with plenty of tastings along the way.
Coco Chocolatier Chocolate Making Workshop, Edinburgh: £65
Cornish Food Weekend
Cornish chef Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant, New Road, was in the top positions of The right food guide for years, and for good reason. Sitting atop the small village of Port Issac, it overlooks the cliffs below and serves Nathan’s finest food.
Having recently acquired the nine-room hotel opposite, Nathan now offers a gourmet weekend. The package means you can stay at Outlaw’s Guest Houseand eat at the New Road Restaurant and the more casual small-plate restaurant, The Fish Kitchen, at the bottom of the village.
Nathan Outlaw’s Foodie Getaway, Cornwall: From £405 for one night, price for two nights starts at £980, depending on which room you choose
Private tour of a Scottish mansion
This impressive 19th century neo-Gothic mansion is located in the most accessible of Scotland’s west coast islands, Bute. Still the family seat of the Crichton-Stuarts, where the current Marquess of Bute lives, it is now owned by the Mount Stuart Trust. Famous for its lavish interiors – namely its marble hall and chapel – it was also the first house in Scotland to be lit by electricity and to have the world’s first heated swimming pool. Private tours begin before the house opens or after it closes. Ticket prices range from one hour for £25, 90 minutes for £37.50 and two hours for £50 and include performance venues which are not generally accessible to the public, such as the fourth floor balcony, the billiard room and the marble chapel.
Private Tour of Mount Stewart House (National Trust), Isle of Bute, Scotland: £25-£50
Whether your gift loves surfing, ziplining, stand up paddleboarding, rock climbing, racing in a water park, or loves indoor adrenaline activities, the adventure park has it all. It’s the perfect gift certificate for the adrenaline junkie in your life.
Adventure Park Snowdonia, Wales; Gift vouchers available from £5 to £1,000
Avid gardeners and horticulturists will love RHS membership. The annual pass allows unlimited entry to all five gardens across the country, including Wisley in Surrey, Rosmoore in Devon, Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex and Bridgwater in Greater Manchester. The good option is to buy a single subscription, which means you can also bring another guest or two children with you. Membership gives you exclusive access to events such as Festive Lights and RHS Flower Shows in the summer, expert advice and the monthly The garden magazine.
RHS Annual Individual Membership: £53 by direct debit or £71 otherwise
Wine tasting and overnight stay
Located just outside the historic market town of Tenterden, Chapel Down is famous for its award-winning wines. This experience includes a guided tour of the vineyards, an introduction to the grapes and processes, and a visit to the state-of-the-art winery. Then, the fun part: the tasting, which is accompanied by a tutor to guide you through the samples. It includes one night in a local hotel and is valid for 12 months.
Overnight stay and wine tasting in Chapel Down, Kent for two; £142
For those who love thrilling activities, a day of paragliding learning will surely excite them. This course is the perfect entry day, where they will learn how to do it safely, while having fun. Instructors will first teach people how to properly use all equipment on the ground, before taking their first flight from a small hill. Apparently it’s mildly addictive, so expect your gift to get addictive.
Paragliding day, Surrey: £239
Want to race with huskies but can’t make it to Norway? Arctic Quest has the answer in Gloucestershire, offering everything from husky training sessions to the full mushing experience. What sets Artic Quest apart is that you are fully involved, and not just as an observer. You’ll have hands-on time with the pack and be trained on the racing rig so it’s really you who takes the lead in this thrilling experience.
Husky Experience, Tewkesbury; From £50 for training sessions
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