Friday, February 24, 2017

Virginia Heath: What to Buy that Difficult Person?

My husband and I have reached THAT point in our lives. The point where you have a house filled with stuff. Stuff we have meticulously chosen to last for ages because our kids are older and we don't have to worry about finger-paints on the furniture any more. We both have wardrobes filled with clothes, a kitchen stocked with every labour-saving appliance known to man and a loft and garage crammed with more stuff we have no place for and should probably get rid of.

Which means buying Christmas and birthday presents for each other is a nightmare, especially as we managed to be born in the two worst months of the year- January and February. Birthdays so close to Christmas that it is practically impossible to buy a gift that is unique, wonderful and produces the eyes-wide awe you want to witness when somebody opens one of your gifts.

A few years ago, we started to gift each other memories instead. Experiences and moments which last far longer than that expensive bottle of perfume or yet another sweater. Some of our 'memories' have been expensive, but not everything has to coast and arm and a leg. So below is some ideas to inspire you to make a memory with that Difficult Person in your life...

Sunset on top of The Shard

Champagne on the top of things:
The world is crammed full of tall buildings and a great many of them offer packages with a glass of something fizzy. We like to book times as the sun is going down. I've seen sunset on top of No. 1 World Trade, the Empire State, the Eiffel Tower and my local skyscraper- the Shard in London. Each one has been amazing.

Sunset in The Hamptons

And on the topic of sunsets:
Just sitting somewhere and watching the sun go down with someone special is awesome and completely FREE!

The whole family and Hadrian at the British Museum

Making Memories at Museums:
Usually either free or very cheap, you can spend a fabulous family day at a museum and learn something in the process.

Special tours:
My kids on the usually fenced-off exercise yard at Alcatraz
I suppose it helps that we are complete history nerds, but we adore a special tour of a place. For historic sites or parks, these tours are usually inexpensive but give your a unique guided insight into  a place. The night tour of Alcatraz, for example, gave us access to areas of the prison which are closed off most of the time, but on special tours where numbers are limited they make concessions. The added bonus of this tour is you also get to watch the mist roll down the hills and cover San Francisco Bay from the deck of the boat out, and the twinkling lights of the cityscape on the way back.

chillin' in Central Perk, Warner Bros Studios LA
For a few measly pounds in London (so long as you book WAY in advance!) you can watch the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. A ceremony which has been performed every night for about 700 years. You also get shown around the Tower in the dark, which is eerie and spooky and beyond atmospheric. I also highly recommend the Houses of parliament tour and the Kennedy Space Centre Fly with an Astronaut tour (but that one isn't cheap!). The Warner Brothers Studio tour in Los Angeles is far and away the best of the studio tours and if you book it early enough, you can finish it with a live recording of a hit show like The Big Bang Theory.

The gift that keeps on giving:

Last year, Mr H bought me an English Heritage card for my birthday. There are similar schemes all over the world and this one gives me (for a small yearly fee under £90) free access to over 400 historic sites in the UK. Whenever we have a long car journey, instead of stopping off at municipal motorway services, we go and have a cup of tea at a castle or a stately home or Stonehenge!

And in case you are wondering what we did this year for our birthdays and Christmas, we went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights and swim in the Blue Lagoon. The Northern Lights proved to be elusive but it's a trip I will remember forever.
Virginia Heath writes witty, raunchy regency romantic comedies for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her latest novel, Miss Bradshaw's Bought Betrothal is out now.

1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

sounds like a wonderful way to spend your birthdays