Spotlight on… making special memories

Christmas baubles in gold with the words 'something wonderful is about to happen'

This time of year can be tricky. Festive times don’t always mean happy times if dearly loved friends and family members are no longer with us.

I write with a very special person in mind. And it’s made me realise that the time we have with our loved ones is priceless and every moment should be spent creating memories.

So I’ve put together some travel ideas to help you do just that. You don’t always have to go a million miles away for special experiences, so don’t wait until it’s too late.

Belmond Royal Scotsman

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Train experiences from £37

Regarded as one of the most luxurious trains in the world, a journey on the Scotsman is certainly an amazing travel experience. You can enjoy anything up to a seven-night trip, but you could take a nice short ride from London to Edinburgh.

What could beat travelling through the Hertfordshire countryside as you enjoy a Champagne afternoon tea? Or cocktails, canapés and a gala dinner to sounds of the train’s very own jazz duo?

All this before retiring to your very own sleeping car, fully kitted out to the highest luxury, where ‘plush beds and opulent bathrooms are the order of the day’. You could even extend your stay off the train and have a few nights in Edinburgh before heading home.

Aerobatic flight

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Aerobatic flight experiences from £135

Fancy something a bit more risky than relaxing? Then how about hitting the skies and giving your loved one a thrilling once in a lifetime experience?

Many companies nowadays offer these kinds of experiences but The British Aerobatic Academy are probably the best in the world.

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Aerobatics are the ultimate adrenaline rush and the British Aerobatic Academy say when customers get out of the aircraft they always say words to the effect of “The most thrilling experience of my life”!

A 40-minute flight starts from around £240.

London’s dizzy heights

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The Shard experiences from £30

For those who’d love to head high into the sky but still keep their feet on firm ground, the view from the Shard is your place.

This is London’s highest viewing platform at the top of Western Europe’s tallest building. Don’t wait… make it this winter. Because the Shard will be transformed into an enchanting, sensory winter experience. Think theatrical ice crystals and frost, washed down with Snow White Hot Chocolate or Mulled Champagne. Lush.

Why not combine your London stay with a show or a special meal? London is such a fab place and there are certainly plenty of opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime.

A day at the spa

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Spa days make a fabulous gift starting at £85

A day spa at Whittlebury Hall, Northampton, was recently voted The Good Spa Guide’s best spa in the Midlands and East. So it’s certainly one to look out for, although there are many spectacular ones on offer.

Whittlebury’s aim is to take you on a journey that will rejuvenate and refresh your mind and body. Sounds ideal for treating that special someone, hey?

Stimulating heat and ice experiences, soothing therapies and ancient bathing rituals come as standard. Whittlebury is also a hotel, the perfect excuse to extend your trip, plus you can enjoy a lovely meal in the stunning restaurant.

Prices here don’t break the bank either and you can get a day spa package from around £59 each or a one-night spa stay from around £99. Special moments a go go!

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Wine tasting

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Wine tasting experiences from £24

Wine production in the UK is turning heads both sides of the Channel, and what better for lovers of wine than this? With so many options available from a simple tasting to a full weekend away, you are sure to find something to suit your budget.

Autumn is a lovely time to visit English wine country as the grapes are harvested and vineyards come alive with celebration. Kent is bursting with award-winning vineyards, with some even offering free tours. Why not book a hotel and visit a few? Chapel Down Winery is a good place to start and you can sample their world-famous fizz. Hush Heath Estate near Staplehurst offers stunning walks and tours and pink fizzes that are sure to tickle your nose.

Whale and dolphin spotting

You don’t have to get on a plane to see some amazing whales – you can start in the UK.

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Dolphin and whales experiences from £40

Killer whales are increasingly present in Scottish waters but they’re most common around the Shetland Isles, especially at Esha Ness. On the West Coast, trips run from May to October to see minke whales off the Isle of Mull – the first place in Britain to offer dedicated whale-watching.

Cardigan Bay in Wales is famous for its population of 130 bottlenose dolphins, which can be seen from the shore at New Quay, where pods feed from April to September.

One of the best ways to see a wide range of cetaceans is from the cross-Channel ferries from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Bilbao and Santander. There are dedicated whale-watch areas on overnight crossings, with naturalists on hand to interpret. Crossing the Bay of Biscay opens up amazing possibilities to see species such as fin and sperm whales, and even beaked whales – some of the least-known of all cetaceans.

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Whatever your budget or location it’s easy to plan things to make memories. Even if it’s a nice park and an M&S picnic.

Take some nice pictures to treasure. Life is too short to say “I wish we had” or “I wish we’d gone there”.

So don’t keep putting off these adventures until it’s too late. Plan something now… you really won’t regret it.

Find out more…

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