JOIN THE V&A
There’s a hat-trick of reasons to treat yourself to, or gift a lucky someone, membership to the Victoria & Albert Museum this Christmas. Firstly: the new Member’s Room (right). London architecture firm Carmody Groarke has converted a top-floor former gallery into an open-plan café, bar, restaurant and lounge. Mirror installations reflect the sunshine that streams in through the skylight, which runs the whole length of the room. Secondly: just in time for the school holidays, the ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic’ exhibition opens on 9 December, showcasing the utterly charming sketches, ceramics, manuscripts and clothes charting this famous bear’s life on and off paper. Lastly, the V&A shop’s Christmas cards – this year we’re snapping up the art nouveau snowy scenes (£5 for ten) – are the best in the business. Membership from £64 (vam.ac.uk).
Stunning Christmas Tree Ideas Photo Gallery
GET OUT OF TOWN
Take a much needed break from the whirl of December socialising and shopping and head to a wild retreat with minimal phone signal and a high chance of seeing the northern lights or a golden eagle inflight. The rugged Isle of Skye, located just off Scotland’s north coast, is an unexpected hotspot of modern, eco-aware architecture: larch-clad Hen House’s loch-facing views are spectacular (from £695for a week; 15fiscavaig.co.uk), while Black Shed (above) has a Nordic-style interior that is cool but always warm thanks to a woodburning stove, under-floor heating and walls insulated using wool from local sheep (from £650for a week; blackshed.co.uk).
CRAFT YOUR CHRISTMAS ALTERNATIVE TREE Plant a bonsai under the guidance of the team at Herons Bonsai.
The Surrey-based nursery has won 21 Chelsea Flower Show gold medals and been running masterclasses (from £49) for more than 30 years (herons.co.uk).
JAM SESSION Author of The Modern Preserver Kylee Newton is putting on special Christmas gift-making classes in November, at which you can make relishes such as cucumber and beer pickle or raspberry and rose jam (£160; newtonandpott.co.uk).
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