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Last minute gift experiences

Panic not – with all the great experiences that can be gifted these days a voucher is no longer a cop out and you can buy someone a treat or membership online right up to the wire! Here are some Sussex-based ideas you may not have considered. You’re welcome!

Garden makeover

Here’s a fabulous present for someone with an outdoor space not fulfilling its potential – a garden makeover, or at least the plan for one, that doesn’t involve Alan Titchmarsh. Expert garden designer Catherine Cridland of Inviting Spaces will visit and share her improvement ideas, discussing problem areas and planting, she’ll then follow up by email or post including a list of recommended plants for the space. Quite fancy this one myself! If the recipient lives within 15 miles of Lewes prices are: initial design meeting £45.00, two hour consultation £75.00 and refresh design package £150.00, or for a full design package request an individual quote. Prices are a bit higher for those further afield.

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Bake off 

Know someone inspired by Bake Off? here’s a sneaky idea – book them on to an expert bread or pastry making course then enjoy the results! Muddy Awards winner the Lighthouse Bakery at Ticehurst is also a cookery school. Upcoming courses include an Introduction to Baking, a Pastry Workshop and, Mamma Mia, there’s even Italian Baking, Jewish Baking (covering bagels and more) and Scandinavian Baking so they can rustle up something hygge. Courses cost £175 (or £60 for 6 – 12 year-olds) which includes a homebaked lunch, an apron, course notes, and of course everything they’ve baked.

Tea Club

Brighton’s Bluebird Tea Co. has all sorts of interesting flavours, in fact they bill themselves at ‘tea mixologists’ and you can gift someone a tea club subscription from £29.90 for three months, 59 for six and £110 for 12. They’ll receive three new loose leaf tea blends to try each month of their membership.

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Surprise Ceramics

Love a surpise parcel? Here’s a gift that keeps on giving. Talented Hasting-based ceramics artist Pip Wilcox has an unusual membership club which gives those signed up four gifts over a 12 month period. What will arrive next, a mug a vase, a pot…? The combined price of the four pieces members receive will always be greater than the cost of the membership. It costs £150 (or £175 including a more expensive work) plus postage.

Art tour

Regular readers will know I’m a fan of the works of Vogue model turned war photographer Lee Miller who spent her later years in Sussex. Her home – Farley House Farm at Chiddingly was also a meeting place for Surrealists including Picasso. Buy someone a tour voucher (£12 per person) so they can find out more of her fascinating life story and see the impressive private gallery and sculpture garden. Tours run April – Oct.

Vineyard tours

Sussex has so many good vineyards and several offer tours. We booked one for my in-laws the other Christmas and they loved it. Among sites you can explore are Muddy Award winner Ridgeview at Ditchling Common where a winemaker’s tour and tasting costs £20, a regular tour £15, and Bolney Wine Estate near Haywards Heath where tour vouchers are from £16. The latter also offers Cellar Door Society membership with a case of wine, invites to VIP events, product discounts and more for £149.

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Free films

Having lived near three different Picturehouse cinemas in my time I’ve long been a Picturehouse member. This gets you cinema tickets that cover the cost of the membership straight off, plus discounted tickets, no booking fees, 10% reduction in the bar, discounts with local businesses and invites to the odd free screening. There are two Picturehouses in Brighton and several more outside Sussex. Membership is £45 (discounts for retired people and students, more for inside London) or £80 for up to three people. Meanwhile the historic The Picture House in Uckfieldnot part of the indie chain – has its own membership scheme from £35 with free tickets, 10% retaurant and refreshement discounts and deals with local busnesses including 10% off at Noble Wines. Don’t forget also to check out memberships and vouchers from our great Sussex theatres.

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Sussex