Spirit of Christmas Fair

800+ independent boutiques under one roof

With each passing year the signs of the holidays seem to arrive earlier and earlier.  The Christmas shops of both Harrods and Liberty opened in early September and it is not uncommon to see Christmas and Halloween decor located within the same aisle.

As a matter of principle (and a bit of denial too), I cannot get on board with the trend of holiday shopping until at least the end of October.  The Spirit of Christmas Fair in London running October 30 through November 5 has figured this out.

While it may not be as charming as fairy-lit, traditional holiday markets and comes with an admission fee, there is something to be said of having over 800 vendors displaying their wares, complimentary masterclasses and interactive workshops and tastings too  all indoors no less!

The Food Hall located upstairs features independent artisans, including Royal Warrant holders and Great Taste award-winners along with exhibitors new to the Spirit of Christmas fair. If you have the time, take a break from festive shopping at a sit-down restaurant Mosimann's, royal caterers and private dining club, or enjoy a glass a champagne at one of the Louis Roederer Champagne Bars.

Book tickets in advance to receive 20% off admission. Also, your November 2 - 5 Spirit of Christmas ticket also gains you entry into the Luxury Travel Fair presented by Condé Nast Traveller.
www.spiritofchristmasfair.co.uk+44 1483 229136
Olympia Grand, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX.

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Half-Term Halloween Specials

Beyond pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating

With Halloween falling on a Tuesday and during half-term, there are more activities than usual over the weekend and even after Halloween itself. Here are three unusual ways to celebrate:

echo7 Recording Studio (Ewell) — Kids 9 to 16 can dance, sing or just chill out at echo7 Recording Studio. They have full use of a professional recording studio with 4,000+ songs to choose from complete with disco lights and microphones (including ones used by stars like Michael Jackson for Thriller and Taylor Swift). The two-hour session for up to 10 is £10 / person Monday - Friday (minimum £50) and £15 / person Saturday or Sunday (minimum £75). Extras like UV lights and paints, chocolate fountain with dips, pizzas and music video can be added. The Studio is open beginning at 8 am, parents can choose to stay or dropoff and best of all no need to worry about the weather!
7 Rosebery Parade, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2EJ

Edible Cinema (Multiple) — Intrigued by the idea of seeing and tasting a film at the same time? When you get to your cinema seat, there will be a tray of small numbered boxes that are to be opened at specific times during the film. The menu is based on an interpretation of what is happening on the screen. The team behind the creative menu includes experimental chefs, food designers and mixologists. Past films include Grosse Point Blank, Trading Places, and When Harry Met Sally. Just in time for Halloween, Beetlejuice makes a return screening October 31 and November 1 at select Everyman theatres in London. Tickets are £35 and includes Bombay welcome cocktail, eight bite-sized canapés / mini cocktails.

Skywalk Adventure (Esher) — Located at Sandown Sports Club, Skywalk Adventure features two treetop adventure courses, including bridges, swinging logs, tightropes and zip wires landing into nets. The minimum age is 8 years and minimum height is 1.3 metres tall. There is an on-site cafe with hot pots, salads, sandwiches, snacks and wraps along with a fully stocked bar. They will be open extended hours October 26 - 31 as part of their SPOOKtacular Skywalk experience complete with supernatural sightings.  For a less Scary Skywalk adventure, they will be open as usual during the daytime. Admission is £15 for kids and £20 for adults for both courses (over 40% off regular prices). Booking by October 22 required.
www.skywalkadventure.co.uk +44 1372 701107
Sandown Sports, More Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AN

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Mix it up

Making fitness fun again

Let's face getting older means it is much harder to maintain (much less lose) weight. Four ways to have fun trying:

Anti-gravity Yoga (Godalming) — The Fitness Hangout was the first studio in the UK to feature this New York City craze.  If you want to learn how to fly, flip and invert — this is your chance.  Using a silk hammock it combines traditional yoga poses and principles with elements from aerial arts, dance, gymnastics, Pilates, and calisthenics.  As well as being fun, it’s a complete workout that is certain to get you in shape while realigning you — we walked away an inch taller and smiling.
www.thefitnesshangout.co.uk +44 7779 110773
14, Woodside Park, Catteshall Lane, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1LG

Clubbercise (Multiple) Clubbercise® is one of the fastest growing workouts in the UK – burning up to 500 calories in 45 minutes. It combines simple, fun routines set to 80s, 90s and today’s hits. It is aimed at all abilities with high and low impact options — whether you are a beginner or a fitness fanatic. It is fun if you are a bit shy too — the main lights are turned out, disco lights go on and flashing glow sticks add to the fun. You’ll leave feeling you like you had a night out on the town without hangover or headache!

Paddleboard (Sunbury-on-Thames) — If you are looking for for a new challenge while enjoying the review landscape, this is worth a try.  Fortunately, the board was remarkably stable and I quickly found a sense of calm and focus&nbsp – different from that of being in a studio. The session included an introduction to paddle boarding, paddleboard yoga and core yoga moves.  Be prepared to work your core and experience a bit of an adrenaline rush from being just a little scared too.

Parkour (Multiple) — Originating in France, this is a form of fitness training that improves strength, speed, agility, coordination, stamina, endurance and precision. Parkour became popular after the famous jump scene in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Learn how to overcome obstacles as quickly and efficiently as possible using your body. They also boast the UK's first dedicated parkour centre in Canary Wharf. All you need is a pair of tennis shoes and a sense of adventure.
www.parkourgenerations.com +44 2036 513364

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The Legend of Silent Pool

Award-winning Surrey Hills gin

We first came across Silent Pool, a spring-fed lake, while hiking the Surrey Hills. It is located at the foot of North Downs on the Albury Estate just outside of Guildford.

Legend has it that a woodcutters daughter who regularly bathed in the Pool is said to have drowned while being pursued by none other than King John.  It is said even today you can sometimes hear her screams at night or see her image floating on the surface of the water.

Fast forward to 2014 and the filtered spring water taken from the Silent Pool is used to make handcrafted Silent Pool Gin.  The recipe also calls for 24 botanicals  four of which come from the North Downs area, including chamomile, elderflower, honey and pear.  Apparently, they developed a winning floral blend as evidenced by a silver award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition just after its launch in 2015.

Beyond the gin itself, the botanicals are beautifully featured in cooper on the teal blue bottle (similar to the moss in the pool itself). Even if you are not a gin lover, it is hard not to be drawn to the bottle once the gin is gone you can just add water. 

The company offers 90-minute tours of their distillery complete with tasting session.  While the legend behind Silent Pool will remain a mystery, it is clear that the success of Silent Pool Gin will not.

www.silentpooldistillers.com+44 1483 229136
Silent Pool Distillery, Shere Road, Albury, Surrey GU5 9BW

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