Different things to do in Hampshire this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 10:35 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 15:18 09 December 2015
Fed up with conforming to the traditional Christmas day customs? The only thing you will need this year is a sprinkle of originality. Natalie French offers some alternative escapes so you can leave long-lost 'rellies' wedged around the table
Banish the consumer cobwebs
Feel the wind in your hair on a cycle or walk along the South Downs Way. Pack your turkey and cranberry sarnie and strut off across 100 miles of isolated heaven. No glut of wrapping paper, grumpy relatives or shoddy re-runs, just you and a 360 degree green view. A Christmas day tipple or three can still be enjoyed at one of the many idyllic pub-stops en route. The eight mile, East Meon circular route is a good option – taking in the historic village, knock-out views and the gin-clear chalk stream of the River Meon. Plan your route at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way.
Pack your bag and head for the Hampshire Countryside. Swap central heating and the Queen’s speech for log burning stoves and a sky full of stars. Situated in Bighton, near Alresford, this small but perfectly-formed campsite can be found down a single-track country lane, away from the hustle and light pollution. But no need to take the tent, as Two Hoots Campsite now offer two beautiful Shepherd Huts, complete with traditional corrugated exterior, double stable doors and country-chic cream wood panelling interior. Beyond cute, the Shepherd Huts are strictly for adults, with king-size beds, mini kitchen and a TV/DVD player, if you must, offering charm and seclusion by the bucket load. Minimum of 2 nights stay, from £95 per night and if you book 3 or more nights over Christmas week, you’ll get a free bottle of bubbly and chocolates. Head to www.twohootscampsite.co.uk/shepherdhuts, to book.
Lend a hand and volunteer your time this Christmas. Whether it’s a local soup kitchen, night shelter or animal sanctuary, there are plenty of places that are welcoming willing folk. If you are happy to travel a little beyond Hampshire, Crisis are looking for an army of 10,000 volunteers to help bring their temporary centres for homeless people to life - and with good reason, as recent research showed that rough sleeping has increased by 55% since 2010 and by 14% in the last year alone. Crisis at Christmas will run from December 23 – 30 and they are looking for people with specialist skills such as dentists, hairdressers, and performers, as well as anyone prepared to get stuck in and make a mean cuppa. Find out more at www.crisis.org.uk.
Pass the poppadom
If you really want to rebel, skip traditional turkey and instead order water buffalo bhuna or Goan king prawn curry at one of the little gems keeping their doors open on Christmas Day. You can’t beat a good Indian, so forget the crackers, it’s all about crunching your way through a stack of poppadoms, whilst enjoying a few ice-cold Christmas Cobras. The Gandhi Restaurant in Portsmouth is open 12-6pm on Christmas Day for an open menu, £35 per person, £17.50 for children under 12. Book a table at www.gandhirestaurant.co.uk.
Flee to luxury
Forget the family mayhem and sneak off to Limewood hotel for an indulgent three-night escape. You won’t need to lift a finger – just a champagne glass…repeatedly! As you enter the beautiful hotel on Christmas Eve you’ll be greeted with mulled wine, fruity mince pies and Christmas cake, and the whole escape will continue in the same vein. As evening draws in there’s a promise of champagne and family supper at Hartnett Holder & Co, before skipping off to your luxury boudoir to await Santa. Kick off Christmas Day with a full forest breakfast, and an obligatory glass (or two) of fizz, followed by a walk in the woods or hang out in the Herb House Spa, while a juicy turkey with all the trimmings is being lovingly cooked for you. And if you feel like going back for seconds, or thirds, there’ll be a leftovers buffet for you to graze on. Sleep late on Boxing Day, watch a film or rejuvenate in the spa for one last night of bliss, before leaving begrudgingly on December 27. From £745 - £1395 per night, based on two people staying 3 nights. Book your stay at www.limewoodhotel.co.uk.
Put down the breakfast bucks-fizz and pull on your trainers for a Christmas Day dash. Parkrun organises free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world, and Christmas Day is no exception. Budding 5k-ers, in all shapes and speeds just need to register online, bring a printed copy of your barcode and run/jog/walk around the park, feeling mighty smug. Regular events happen across the county including: Winchester, Southampton, Eastleigh, Basingstoke, Brockenhurst, Lee-on-the-Solent, Southsea, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Netley Abbey and Havant. Just check the website (www.parkrun.org.uk) for latest Christmas Day run info! Santa hat optional.
One for Boxing Day
Join over 100 folk as they brave the bracing winter waters for a dip in the sea. The 32nd Boxing Day Swim takes place on Ventor Beach on the Isle of Wight. This is an organised event by PATCH, a local cancer charity, which helps patients with the costs incurred though their illness.
• Hinton Ampner to be transformed this Christmas - Elegant country manor, Hinton Ampner will be transformed in to a Victorian spectacle this Christmas. Natalie French visited to discover the magic happening behind the scenes
• 25 things to do in Hampshire this Christmas - Count down to the big day with these festive treats. Compiled by Charlotte Tomlinson-White
Treat someone to a subscription of Hampshire Life this Christmas with this fantastic offer