Website for the over 60s  December 2016
Winter Health

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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win Three Super Cool Smart Eggs

Win a Set of Three Smart Eggs from Esdevium Games

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Esdevium Games to offer three lucky readers the chance to win a set of three Smart Eggs including two 1-layered eggs and one 2-layered egg.

Smart Eggs are a new revolutionary brainteaser and are available in two different levels of difficulty, 1-layered eggs are recommended for beginners and are available in 12 different styles (£5.99) and 2-layered eggs for the more experienced puzzler in 3 different variants (£11.99).

Each egg-shaped labyrinth requires spatial memory, dexterity, excellent logic and problem-solving skills

Each egg-shaped labyrinth requires spatial memory, dexterity, excellent logic and problem-solving skills. The toy consists of two parts: an egg shaped body and a wand with a small ball on each end.

But there's more to this brainteaser than meets the eye. Inside the egg is a hidden labyrinth. Insert the wand into the egg from the top and then manipulate through the labyrinth, using the holes and paths inside. Do it right and you'll be able to withdraw the wand from the bottom of the egg.

Race the clock, or race your friends to see how fast you can solve your Smart Egg puzzle

Race the clock, or race your friends to see how fast you can solve your Smart Egg puzzle. Additional Smart Eggs are available and every one has a different labyrinth inside.

Smart Egg labyrinth puzzles are fun for adults and children over 8 (not intended for children under 3). Each egg measures 2'' x 2.5''. The wand is 3'' long.

Smart Eggs are available in a selection of space age designs including gothic dragons, shield & keys, skull and labyrinth

Mix and match these eyecatching eggs in a selection of colourful and space age designs. Patterns include gothic dragons, shield & keys, skulls and labyrinth, making them super cool and collectable.

A perfect stocking filler for Christmas. RRP is £5.99 for the 1-layered egg and £11.99 for the 2-layered Egg.

Smart Eggs are the perfect stocking filler for Christmas

Smart Eggs are available to buy from

For more information about Smart Eggs click on

For Your Chance to Win

 Tell us the name of
    this popular quiz
    show presenter?

Tell us the name of this popular quiz show presenter?

a) Nick Hewer
b) Chris Tarrant
c) Richard Osman
d) Alexander Armstrong

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us the name of this famous quiz show presenter? Then send in your answer, together with your full name, postal address and telephone number by clicking on the Sixtyplusurfers link below:

* Please label your entry
Smart Eggs Competition

* This competition is open to
our UK readers only


  Spectacular Show to
  Celebrate Dame Vera
 Lynn’s 100th Birthday

Dame Vera Lynn

Stars of the stage and screen are coming together to celebrate the milestone birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, at a venue fitting of her status as musical royalty.

London’s world famous Palladium will host the spectacular variety extravaganza, that will honour the Forces’ Sweetheart and mark her incredible 100 years.

Dame Vera is renowned as the entertainer that kept troops’ spirits up during the Second World War and, despite warnings to her own personal risk, toured Egypt, India and Burma to perform live for allied forces.

Known for her hits including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, Dame Vera is credited for boosting the nation’s morale during the darkest days of the war, and has been honoured countless times for her services to entertainment and charity.

Dame Vera Lynn was made a Member of the Order of Companions of Honour in the Queen's 2016 birthday honours

Her latest accolade came in the Queen’s 2016 birthday honours when she was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.

And now her remarkable contribution to the country is to be marked at The Palladium, with a very special variety show next March, featuring a yet-to-be-announced line up of stage, TV and musical stars.

Organisers are promising a once in a lifetime experience for those lucky enough to snap up tickets to this star-studded event, which will raise money for the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity (DVLCC).

After the war the Forces’ Sweetheart dedicated her life to charity work supporting causes including Action for Deafness and Help 4 Forgotten Allies, as well as establishing the DVLCC, which supports youngsters with cerebral palsy and their families.

Dame Vera’s son-in-law Squadron Leader Tom Jones (Ret’d), one of the Show’s producers, says, “The whole family is so very proud of Dame Vera and everything she has achieved over the last 100 years.

“Dame Vera remains so humble about her singing career, which touched the lives of so many troops, her television and film success, and all the charity work she has done since then, so we wanted to celebrate her birthday with a star-studded night to remember, honouring all her accomplishments.”

“We are really looking forward to welcoming guests, friends, VIPs and dignitaries to the concert to celebrate such an incredible milestone for Mum. The London Palladium is a wonderful venue and a fitting setting for what will be a truly memorable night for all who attend.”

The Dame Vera Lynn 100th birthday celebration is being held at the London Palladium on March 18th 2017.

Proceeds from the 100th birthday will be going to the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity. The exact line up of names and acts that will be performing on the night will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Dame Vera Lynn Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy was founded in 2001 running from Billingshurst, West Sussex. In 2015 its name was changed to the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity (DVLCC) to provide a clearer definition of its status. Since then DVLCC has helped more than 500 families from across East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Berkshire and London.

   Laser Light and
  Sound Event for
 Christmas at Eden

Eden Festival of Light and Sound

A stunning sound and vision spectacular is to light up Christmas at the Eden Project. The Eden Festival of Light and Sound will run until 30th December at the home of the world famous Biomes in Cornwall.

The festival features iyˍproject, a new event brought to Eden by internationally-renowned light artist Chris Levine and creative partners EdenLAB.

Visitors will be able to step out on to the Eden viewing platform and gaze in awe as dramatic lasers pierce through the darkness to create a canopy of light, painting the Biomes and the plant displays with festive colours.

The Mediterranean Biome will be the stage for an enchanting undercover after-dark experience, with a beautifully-choreographed performance of music and light. Visitors will be able to stroll the pathways and experience Eden as never before.

Eden Festival of Light and Sound will run on selected evenings and include a sound treatment and live performance by top musical and vocal talents from across the South West, directed by singer-songwriter Jamie Crowe and choir leader Vicky Abbott.

Eden Festival of Light and Sound

The breath-taking event is the big new addition to Christmas at Eden, alongside favourites Father Christmas and his elves and the ever-popular ice rink.

Multiple laser systems will interact in amazing ways with natural phenomena such as rain, mist, plants, trees and people - as well as nature-inspired architectural forms - to create an unforgettable visual feast.

A specially-designed colour palette will incorporate red, magenta, blue, green and white light, reflecting the colours traditionally associated with Christmas.

Eden's Managing Director Gordon Seabright said: "This Christmas at Eden promises to be our most enchanting yet. Festival of Light and Sound will be an unmissable new event that draws people together with beautiful music and astounding visual effects, inspiring them to feel that they are more connected to each other and the natural world."

Festival of Light and Sound is a collaboration between Eden, creative partners EdenLAB, Chris Levine and top sound artists. Previous collaborators include Antony Hegarty, Massive Attack, Jon Hopkins and Max Eastley.

Developed first at Eden as an experimental piece supported by the Arts Council, iyproject held its international premiere at Thailand's Wonderfruit Arts festival last December.

Eden Festival of Light and Sound

More recently iyˍproject was commissioned by the organisers of this year's Glastonbury Festival in a headline collaboration with conductor Charlie Hazlewood and his 45-piece orchestra.

It represented Glastonbury's official tribute to the life of David Bowie and was performed to an audience of 25,000 on the Park Stage at midnight on the Saturday and broadcast live by the BBC.

Festival of Light and Sound performances can be enjoyed at any time between 5pm and 8pm on the following dates: December 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 16th-23rd; and December 27th-30th (until 7pm on these dates). No pre-booking for the laser shows is required.

To complement the sound and light, ice and fire is the planting theme in the Mediterranean Biome this winter, with fiery hot chilli plants and ice cool winter cyclamen adding unexpected delights to the array of temperate planting.

The idea of sharing the light at Eden continues when families will have the chance to meet Father Christmas and the elves in their cosy Eden camp on selected dates until December 24th.

Children will find out how everyone can help to spread the light of Christmas cheer by settling down in front of the fire to hear a story and share a special moment with Father Christmas.
Father Christmas performances will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until December 4th, then daily from Friday December 9th to Saturday December 24th.

Meet Father Christmas at the Eden Festival of Light and Sound

Visits to meet Father Christmas cost £6 per child (under 12 months free) and £4 for adults, on top of the normal admission price.

Booking to meet Father Christmas is strongly advised through 

Or call 01726 811972.

Eden also offers a programme of relaxed performances for children with autism and sensory or communication needs who may prefer a more informal experience.

  Chill Out with the
  Gentoo Penguins

See the Gentoo Penguins at SEA LIFE London Aquarium

This December is penguin month at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, and they will be spreading plenty of Christmas joy at Penguin Point, with a series of 'very cool' one off experiences.

Five new Gentoo penguins will be welcomed this December. Visitors will be able to get up close and p-p-personal with these fascinating birds, with floor-to-ceiling windows and special 'pop-up' viewing dome.

See the penguins in the special 'pop-up' viewing dome

The penguins also have an important job to do this Christmas; during the festive period visitors will be have the opportunity to send Father Christmas a letter via Penguin Post. Thanks to the new snowy 'South Pole' (which has sprung up in Penguin Point area) it connects directly to Father Christmases North Pole - making sure that everyone gets a letter to Santa this season.

Other penguin festivities will include 'Sing-to the Gentoo' carol services with a special choir, where you can come and hear a series of Christmas carols in Penguin Point. Listen to wintery carols, as the bird settle down for their own 'Silent Night' or maybe even hear 'Jingle Bells'.

See the penguins in the special 'pop-up' viewing dome

As well as the Penguin Post and carols, visitors throughout December will see daily surprise events including penguin bubbles, ice sculptures and even what a penguin Christmas dinner looks like.

Penguin Point, which opened earlier this year, offers visitors a state-of-the-art viewing and learning experience complete with a colony of inquisitive Gentoo penguins.

See the Gentoo Penguins at Penguin Point at SEA LIFE London Aquarium

All these 'cool' encounters are included in the entrance price to the aquarium and visitors can also enjoy getting up close to over 10,000 colourful aquatic inhabitants representing over 600 species in 65 immersive displays.

For more information visit the website at


Celebrate a Cool Yule
   on the UK's Canals
     and Waterways

Celebrate a cool yule on the UK's canals and waterways

Frosted holly, mystical mistletoe, meandering towpaths and time spent visiting a cosy waterside inn – being on or near the water can be magical in the wintertime. Gather your friends and family, pull on your hat, scarf and mittens and embrace the crisp cool temperatures by spending quality time together crewing a canal boat, discovering a new walk or attending a canal-side Christmas event.

Whilst the days may be shorter the nation's beautiful waterways are always open for you to visit and being by the water can really help you to keep your cool this Christmas.

Escape to the water on a canal boat

Whether it's a romantic break for two or a big family affair for 10 book a short break or a week long holiday for a Christmas with a difference. To discover over 120 different destinations to visit the Canal & River Trust's handpicked sites at

Try the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. This canal weaves through prime mistletoe growing territory. Worcestershire is the UK's main region for growing and trading mistletoe and a great place to view this mystical and romantic plant in its natural surroundings.

Follow the canal into the cathedral city of Worcester as it joins the River Severn and investigate the city's medieval heart and Christmas markets. A week's break, setting off from Tarde Bigge, Worcestershire with Drifters boating holidays will cost from £900 for up to six people.

For more details visit

Or call Tel: 0844 984 0322.

Christmas activities with a waterways twist

Cruise with Santa along the Shropshire Union Canal

Cruise with Santa along the Shropshire Union Canal – Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Gather your family for a chance to take a boat trip with Santa along the Shropshire Union Canal. This popular trip includes a journey with stories from Santa and a trip to his Grotto where all children will receive an early Christmas present and refreshments.

The trips take place throughout December at the National Waterways Museum – Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, for further details and to secure your tickets £10/child £8/adult call 0151 355 5017 or visit

Santa Claus is coming to…' the Anderton Boat Lift, Cheshire

Built 141 years ago to lift cargo boats 50 feet from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal, and known as one of the 'Wonders of the Waterways', the Anderton Boat Lift is a remarkable piece of Victorian engineering. In December, the Canal & River Trust is organising special river cruises from the boat lift along the River Weaver Navigation, with guest appearances from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Lasting around 50 minutes, with stories and activities hosted by Santa himself, each child will get a gift. Tickets £7.75/child and £5.75/adult, booking is essential call 01606 789 777. Cruises take place between 10am and 3pm throughout December.

For more information visit the website at

Traditional carols by the canal at the National Waterways Museum – Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with the Canal & River Trust's seasonal carol concert at the National Waterways Museum – Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 4FW. On 2nd December between 7.30pm and 9.45pm, the Museum will host a mix of canal-based songs, readings and traditional carols performed by the Wirral Singers and Ringers. The audience is invited to warm up their vocal chords and join in with the carol singing. Refreshments are included.

Tickets: £7/person will all proceeds go to the Boat Museum Society. For further information and to book visit

Or call Tel: 0151 355 5017.

Standedge Tunnel Christmas market - Marsden, West Yorkshire

For a unique Christmas shopping experience browse the festive stalls at the 200 year old transhipment warehouse at Standedge Tunnel, Britain's longest tunnel, set in the beautiful Pennine hills. This Christmas market takes place on 10th December & 11th December 2016, 11am and 4pm, and will feature unique gifts created by local artisans, refreshments and seasonal music.

For further details about Standedge Tunnel visit

Or call: 01484 844298

Santa Cruises at the National Waterways Museum – Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Santa will join you on the cruise as you depart from the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester's historic docks. You'll be able to travel with Santa visit his grotto and enjoy mince pies and hot drinks before taking part in seasonal craft workshops and the indoor '12 trees of Christmas trail' at the Museum.

Cruises take place throughout December and cost £10/person. For further information or tickets visit

Or call call 01452 318200.

Winter walks

Cooked the perfect turkey, pulled your last Christmas cracker and eaten your own body weight in cheese? It's time to get some fresh air and make the most of your canals with a walk this Christmas.

The Canal & River Trust has 2,000 miles of easy to access, traffic-free towpaths – so whether you need a short walk that all the family can enjoy or if you're looking to shed the Christmas weight gain take a look at the charity's recommended winter walks and places to visit.

The Canal & River Trust has handpicked 120 of its finest destinations across the country to ensure your walk includes relaxing views of the water, cosy canal-side cafes, teashops or inns and historic features from start to finish.

Click on for more information about places to visit.

For further event, destination or walking information visit

News & Book Reviews

Christmas at Charles Dickens First Home

Visit Charles Dickens first home in Doughty Street, London

The  London townhouse where Charles Dickens completed The Pickwick Papers and wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby is hosting a celebration of Christmas, a time of year which Dickens loved. The Charles Dickens Museum at his first family home at 48 Doughty Street in Bloomsbury is dressed for a beautiful celebration of a Victorian Christmas; the historic rooms into which Dickens moved with his growing family in 1837 are filled with the atmosphere of a 19th-century London Christmas.

Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum runs until 8th January 2017. Highlights include atmospheric candlelit evenings, late nights and tours of the House, captivating performances of A Christmas Carol and a whole day of celebration on Christmas Eve.

The events are very popular, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are available from

Visitor Information & Event Details

The Charles Dickens Museum is is dressed for a beautiful celebration of a Victorian Christmas

Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum
Dates: Now until - 8th January 2017
Opening hours: Seven days a week, 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm). Closed on Christmas Day &
Boxing Day.
Admission prices: Adults £9; Concessions £6; Children (6-16) £4; Under 6 free.
Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX.
More information:
Tel: 020 7405 2127

New Exhibition

The Ladybird Life of Dickens: An Illustrated Adventure

The original gouache-on-board illustrations produced for one of the classic Ladybird books of the 1960s will be on display in a new exhibition. The Ladybird Life of Dickens: An Illustrated Adventure will present twenty-four 355 x 235mm illustrations by English artist (and Thomas the Tank Engine illustrator) John Kenney (1911-1972), alongside the words of English author and playwright L. du Garde Peach (1890-1974), which accompanied them in the 1965 Ladybird book, An Adventure in History: Charles Dickens. The book was one of 27 celebrated collaborations between the Ladybird ‘dream team’ of Kenney and du Garde Peach, which began in 1956. The exhibition runs until 16th April 2017.

Christmas by Candlelight

Charles Dickens' study where he wrote many of his significant works

An opportunity to explore Charles Dickens’s rooms by candlelight at Christmas. Flickering light will reveal the elegant interiors that Dickens and his family loved, as well as original fixtures and fittings and extremely significant items and pieces of furniture. These include the desk at which he wrote many of his most significant works, his red leather chair in the Drawing Room, his personal library of books and John Leech’s sketches for his illustrations reproduced in the first edition of A Christmas Carol.

The visit also takes in the shadowy chambers of the Victorian basement, the kitchen and perhaps the most historically important room in the house, Dickens’s study. Dickens often wrote into the night by candlelight and was fascinated by the effects created by flames. Guests will be able to luxuriate in what he called ‘a ruddy, homely...glow’ and experience rooms filled with festive greenery, authentic Victorian fayre and the scent of citrus and spice.

Dates: Wednesdays 14th & 21st December.
Timed entry from 6.40pm.
Admission prices: £20.

Christmas Lates

Charles Dickens' rooms are dressed beautifully for Christmas

A chance to come into Doughty Street after work to spend time in Dickens’s rooms, which are dressed beautifully for Christmas. Experience the rooms of Charles Dickens’s home brought enigmatically to life with the characters from his best-loved Christmas tale.

Equapoise Theatre proudly presents Another Christmas Carol, a unique response to the classic story, exploring our changing relationship with Christmas from the Victorian era to today. Participate in Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey like never before, accompanying the ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come as they attempt to show Scrooge the error of his ways before it’s too late.

Dates: Thursdays 15th & 22nd December.
Timed entry from 6.30pm.
Admission prices: Adults £18; Children £10.

A Christmas Carol - Performed by Dominic Gerrard

A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge

A special candlelit performance of A Christmas Carol by acclaimed actor and Dickens performer, Dominic Gerrard, in the rooms in which Dickens wrote. A magical retelling of the classic Christmas story, directed by Tim Carroll and with ingenious puppetry animating the words of Ebenezer Scrooge. According to Charles Dickens’ great-great-great-granddaughter, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, ‘It’s the perfect way to begin your Christmas’.

Dates: 16th , 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 28th, 29th, 30th December.
Times: Weekdays: 3.30 and 6.30pm; Weekends: 3 and 6pm. Admission prices: £22

A Christmas Carol - Read by Michael Slater

The great Dickens authority, Professor Michael Slater MBE, brings A Christmas Carol to life. A much loved annual festive treat, highly recommended by all at the Museum and the many visitors who return to experience it each year.

Dates: 12th, 13th & 23rd December. Times: 3.30 and 6.30pm.
Admission price: £15

Christmas Eve at 48 Doughty Street - Another Christmas Carol

This Christmas, experience the rooms of Charles Dickens’s home brought enigmatically to life with the characters from his best loved Christmas tale. Equapoise Theatre proudly presents Another Christmas Carol, a unique response to the classic story exploring our changing relationship with Christmas from the Victorian era to today.

Step back in time and participate in Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey like never before, accompanying the ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come as they attempt to show Scrooge the error of his ways before it’s too late.

Date: 24th December.
Times: 10am-6pm (last admission at 5pm).
Admission prices: Adults: £24; Children £12. Ticket price includes a festive drink and a mince pie.

Christmas Housemaid’s Tour

Take the Christmas Housemaid’s Tour and step back in time to Christmas, 1839

A step back in time to Christmas 1839: while Dickens and his family are out at a Christmas event, their housemaid takes a break from her duties to invite visitors through the now-rarely-open original door of 48 Doughty Street, which Dickens used, to enjoy an exclusive tour of Dickens’s ‘house in town’, dressed for Christmas and filled with festive greenery, authentic Victorian fayre and the scent of citrus and spice.

Dates: Sunday 11th & Sunday 18th December. Times: 10, 10.45 and 11.30am
Admission price: Adults £18; Concessions £14; Children (6-16) £12.

The Museum’s winter season programme is supported by the generous sponsorship of Hallett Independent, specialist insurance brokers to the fine art and heritage sectors. Adam Prideaux, Partner at Hallett says, “The Charles Dickens Museum represents all that is good about independent museums, and we are delighted to lend our support to their exciting programme of exhibitions and events.”

The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related material. As visitors make their way through the house, they can spend time at the desk where he wrote Great Expectations; see the raised reading desk he designed and from which he gave countless public readings; and pore over original manuscripts of his great works, letters, personal items and photographs.

The Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, London

When Charles Dickens moved into 48 Doughty Street, he was a little-known writer, still using his pen-name, Boz. By the time he left, he was an international superstar, having written The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The rooms are still filled with the furniture he bought - most of the fireplaces, doors, locks, window shutters and fittings are still in place as they were when the family resided there.

For more information about the Charles Dickens Museum click on  

Enjoy a Magical
 Victorian Christmas
at Blists Hill

Enjoy a Magical Christmas at Blists Hill Victorian Town

Make this Christmas extra special and visit Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge with friends and family over the two weekends of 3rd – 4th and 10th - 11th December. Soak up the fabulous seasonal Victorian atmosphere and revel in traditional celebrations and entertainment as the townsfolk busily make preparations for Christmas, 1800s style.

Be transported to a bygone era as you stroll around the town; listen to tales of life more than 100 years ago as you visit the cosy cottages, hum along to seasonal music from brass bands and choirs and tour the Town on a horse-drawn cart.

No visit will be complete without a visit to see Father Christmas in his wonderful grotto. You can even pet his reindeer before they start their mammoth journey around the world on Christmas Eve.

See Father Christmas and his reindeer in the Christmas Grotto

The most perfect Victorian ‘Christmas card scene’, with a stunningly decorated Christmas tree, will be the centrepiece in the Goods Shed where you can also make paperchains, write a letter to Father Christmas and leave a note on our Wishing Tree.

The air will be filled with music and laughter around the Town with brass bands, carol singers and Punch & Judy shows. Don’t miss the dastardly villain, his principal enemy and the comical quack doctor, all dressed in garish garb in our traditional Shropshire Christmas Mummers Play. The Victorians loved these early forms of panto, and so will you.

A visit will be a great excuse to call in to the shops around the Town, where you will find some unusual Christmas gifts like traditionally made cast-iron paperweights and doorstops, handmade plaster decorations, perfumed soaps, hand printed gift wrap, traditional sweets and Victorian Christmas cards.

Listen to the Carol Singers at Blists Hill Victorian Town

One of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire, Blists Hill will be open from 10am to 4pm on these Victorian Christmas weekends. Entry is £17.95 for adults, £13.75 for 60 plus, £11.85 for children 5 - 18 years. A special Christmas Family Ticket (2+2) is available at £55 and under 5s are free. A visit to Father Christmas is £3.50 extra per child including a gift to take home.

Print-at-home tickets can be purchased online or you can pay at the gate on arrival. Annual Passports are not valid for these weekends but current Passport holders will receive a 25% discount on presentation of a valid Annual Passport Ticket when paying on arrival. The Gorge is easily reached via the M54 motorway exiting at Telford junction 4 or 6.

For further information visit the website at

Or call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on 01952 433 424 or

Christmas Lights at Blenheim Palace

Enjoy the Fairground at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, England's 'Finest View' has launched its new Christmas Light Trail which includes a delicious range of food, festive entertainment and fairground activities.

Perfect for families, extra entertainment will be situated in the East Courtyard. Visitors can enjoy vintage fairground rides from a beautiful traditional “gallopers” carousel, a ride for smaller children and a helter-skelter. Creating a magical atmosphere and more beautiful lights, sounds and festive music the East Courtyard location will act as a start and finishing point for the new Christmas Light Trail.

Take the Christmas Light Trail at Blenheim Palace

Filling the night air with evocative smells of the winter season will be a feast of festive treats on offer. Discover Festive Chalets created by Blenheim Palace's in-house catering partner Searcy's. The Chalets feature menus including Pulled Pork Buns, Posh Dogs, Warming Stews, Doorstep Toasties, Hot Chocolate, Minced Pies, Christmas Cake and plenty of sweets 'n' treats. Grown-ups can enjoy a cup of Spicy Aspall Mulled Cyder and Blenheim Mulled Wine too!

As well as Festive Chalets visitors can head to street-food specialist La Kordun, barista and creperie served from a Citroen van adding more showmanship to the experience.

See the Christmas Lights at Blenheim Palace

Whilst walking the trail families can up on hot roast chestnuts and mulled wine, as well as tasting the stunning intense flavours of 'The Marshmallowists' specialist marshmallows and toast them over the fire pit provided.

Don't miss the iconic Blenheim Palace Parkland in illumination for an unforgettable after dark festive trail. Discover Christmas trees that sing, a swaying lawn of fibre optic colour, a fairy-lit arbour and the lakeside Boat House where you can glimpse Santa and his elves along the way.

See the Christmas Lights at Blenheim Palace

The waterfall cascades will also be bathed in light and the Temple of Diana, where Winston Churchill proposed, will become the perfect romantic setting.

Designed for all the family to enjoy; immerse yourself in beautiful lights this festive season.

For more information visit the website at

Winter Walks at Hever Castle & Gardens

Enjoy the Winter Walks at Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent

Wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with a winter walk at Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent. The historic castle in Kent is open daily from December 27th – January 2nd for those looking to recharge their batteries after the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Visitors pay for Garden Only entry and get Castle entry FREE, making it a great value day out for all the family.

Take a stroll in the gardens where the warm red bark of the Redwood trees glows against the winter sky and winter berries glisten in the frost. Hever’s yew topiary looks fantastic with a covering of snow or frost and the majestic hellebores nod gracefully in the winter sun.

Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent

The Winter Garden will be in full bloom with intoxicating scents of Daphne and Viburnum filling the air while the fiery reds, oranges and yellows of brightly coloured Dogwood stems lift the spirits. Energetic visitors can bring their wellies and take an exhilarating walk around the Lake. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of wildlife and waterfowl whose footprints can be spotted in the snow and frost.

In the Castle, welcoming log fires will warm cold fingers and toes as visitors take a last look at this year’s Christmas decorations. It’s also the last chance to leave a message on the Wishing Tree in the grounds. There’s a wide selection of sale goods in the gift shop for bargain hunters and the restaurant will have seasonal meals and refreshments on the menu.

 Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent

Those looking to extend the festive season a little longer can book an overnight stay or short break in Hever’s 5 star luxury Bed & Breakfast (subject to availability; closed 31st December).

With 28 rooms to choose from in the Astor Wing and Anne Boleyn Wing as well as the sumptuous self-contained Medley Court which sleeps seven, it’s the perfect way to round of the year.

Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent

For further information please visit the website at

Or call 01732 865224.

Christmas Inspiration from Castle Howard

See the exquisite Christmas decorations at Castle Howard

Christmas enthusiasts, crafters, social media bloggers and anyone seeking new ideas for their festive decorations are being encouraged to get their inspiration from the range of new installations at Castle Howard, when the stately home opens its doors early for the Christmas Season 2016.

“Christmas is one of our busiest periods, and we know that early visits are particularly popular amongst those who like to plan ahead to see Castle Howard’s elegant interpretation of the latest Christmas trends. With our expert team dressing many of the rooms at Castle Howard from top to bottom in exquisite decorations, and a special guide to explain the theme in each room, keen followers of fashion will be able to plan their designs ready for Christmas,” comments marketing manager, Rachel Underwood.

See the exquisite Christmas decorations at Castle Howard

“We’ve taken a whole 12 months to plan this year’s displays, visiting Christmas shows last January to ensure that Castle Howard provides unrivalled inspiration for the thousands of visitors who will enjoy the seasonal adornments.”

With many of the baubles displayed on the trees throughout the house available to purchase from the gift shop, visitors often produce their own replicas of the Castle Howard trees at home. “We love people taking and sharing photographs of our displays on social media, this is the perfect place for Christmas enthusiasts and craft clubs to enjoy a day out and be inspired,” adds Castle Howard’s retail manager, Kelly Smith.

Georgiana's Bedroom at Castle Howard

For anyone who prefers to be up to the elbows in flour rather than foliage, a huge gingerbread model of Castle Howard and many of the architectural features around the grounds, created by architectural foodies Bompas & Parr, will also be on display – the ultimate inspiration for any keen bakers wanting to create their own Christmas confection.

The new Christmas afternoon tea is the perfect festive indulgence, with pistachio streusel topping adding a twist to the humble mince pie, and a sage, cranberry and sausage rolls to rouse any festive buffet.

Early visitors will also save on admission prices by booking online in advance, with a 10% discount in December.

The Great Hall at Castle Howard

A special ‘Twilight opening’ on 18th December will enable families to experience the house as darkness falls, with the house illuminated with hundreds of candles and a festive sing-along in the garden; for the Twilight opening, last entry to the house will be 7.00pm.

Castle Howard is open daily from now until 23rd December from 10.00am (last entry to the House 4pm, 5pm at weekends) with admission prices of £18.95 for adults with concessions available. Under 4s get in free, and family tickets (two adults and up to three children) are available for £47.85.

Castle Howard is open daily until 23rd December

For more information on all of Castle Howard’s Christmas events, or to pre-book, please visit


 Sixtyplusurfers Book Reviews

 The Lavender House
             By Hilary Boyd
          Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd

Hilary Boyd, author of the bestselling Thursdays in the Park, returns with a very modern dilemma, how much duty do we owe to our families as we get older, and how much do we owe it to ourselves to chase happiness?

Nancy de Vries is 63, and is the glue that holds her family together. On the one hand there's her ageing mother Frances, who is getting more and more vague, on the other there's her daughter Victoria and son-in-law Mark, owners of a not very successful restaurant and frequent users of Nancy's babysitting services.

Divorced from her famous classical composer husband Christopher, it seems as though Nancy's fate is to quietly wait out the rest of her life, gradually shouldering more and more of the burden of responsibility for all three generations.

Then, at a rare evening out, she meets Jim Bowdry, a smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and sporter of both cowboy boots and a pony tail. He seems distinctly unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet .... there is a spark.

Nancy's family are convinced that Jim is unreliable and only out for a bit of fun, or worse, her money. But when Jim unexpectedly inherits a g
îte in Provence and asks Nancy to move there with him, it's decision time.

"Marry me," he says, "I love you, let's spend the rest of our lives together." But can Nancy really cut ties with her family and start a new life. Your family or your heart - which would you follow?

I really enjoyed this romantic family drama from Hilary Boyd. Nancy is the weary put-upon-mum who takes on everybody's worries including her elderly mother's ailments, and her daughter's marriage problems and childcare.

She is long divorced from her vain and arrogant musician husband, but her family are unprepared to let her get on with her life and move on. When she meets the laid-back country singer Jim, they are determined to find faults and discourage the relationship.

Should Nancy go with her heart and follow Jim to Provence and finally let go of the reigns with her family. Or is it too late for her to find happiness?

Sympathetic, gripping and with realistically drawn characters, I was enthralled by this romantic tale about finding love later on in life. Like many of us, Nancy is held back in her life by feelings of guilt and responsibility, but if her family truly loves her, will they be able to let go and give her the freedom she wholeheartedly deserves?

A great Winter read. Treat yourself or a friend to this heart warming book for Christmas.

Hilary Boyd

                  Author, Hilary Boyd

Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, then as a marriage guidance counsellor. After a degree in English Literature at London University in her thirties, she moved into health journalism, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express.

She published six non-fiction books on health related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park.

Released in ebook in 2011, Thursdays in the Park has sold over half a million copies in ebook and over 60,000 in paperback. It has been optioned by screenwriter, director and actor Charles Dance with shooting scheduled to begin early next year.

The Lavender House is published by Quercus Books. Price is £16.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

 The Whimsical Fashion
      Colouring Book

       By Natasha Itzcovitz
        Review by Melissa Braiden

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book by Natasha Itzcovitz

Release your inner fashionista and get creating with the brand new fashion colouring book by Natasha Itzcovitz.

Fashion designer, Natasha Itzcovitz, has created her debut colouring book with 100 hand-drawn fashion illustrations to spark the imagination of everyone who enjoys fashion, history, style and fun to colour in pictures.

Having graduated with a degree in Fashion Design, Natasha has created a world of crazy and wacky outfits that follow fashion through the ages, from famous icons such as Jane Austen and Mary Antoinette, to more contemporary styles including boho chic and hipster street designs.

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book invites you to discover your inner fashionista and create fabulous outfits no matter what your style.

Girl with Penguin illustration from The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book by Natasha Itzcovitz

I've heard a lot about colouring books and how they are a great way to relax and reduce stress, so I was delighted to receive The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book by Natasha Itzcovitz.

I was really impressed by the great selection of pictures in the book, including historical characters, cute animals, fairytale princesses, pirates, people with interesting pastimes and professions, and fashionable street style characters. There was plenty to keep me busy.

Armed with a pack of felt pens and colouring pencils I really enjoyed colouring in the pictures and bringing them to life. There is plenty of detail in the book and scope for being creative without having to be a great artist yourself.

There are gorgeous dresses to colour in, fashionable hair styles to embellish, fluffy animals and lots of witty touches which make this different from the typical 'geometric' colouring book. There is also plenty of choice - with over 100 unique and original designs. My favourite is the woman dancing with a cat in the moonlight!

Colouring is a great way to spend an evening, when there's nothing to watch on the television. It's also a lovely way to unwind after a tiring day at work. This fun book would make a great Christmas present or you can enjoy it with your grandchildren and family on a rainy day. It's also ideal to take on holiday to pass the time at the airport or while relaxing in your hotel room. You'll never get bored! 

Natasha Itzcovitz

             Author, Natasha Itzcovitz

"Adult colouring books are so much fun and this is a great way for people to see my designs and ideas, some of which I've never had a chance to design but have always wanted to share," explains author, Natasha Itzcovitz.

As well as drawing and working in fashion retail, Natasha also sells handmade clothes, accessories and artwork online and at markets.

Natasha Itzcovitz has her own website at

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book is published by Troubador. Price is £8.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book and to buy your copy click on

  Mary Berry Cooks
      The Perfect

            By Mary Berry
         Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect

National treasure Mary Berry is one of the UK's best loved and most respected cookery writers and bakers. She is widely known for being a judge on the BBC2 TV programme The Great British Bake Off, and as a result she has appealed to a whole new generation of cooks. Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking which aired earlier this year, attracted an average audience of 3.1 million viewers.

Now available in paperback, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect features over 100 exciting new recipes, from quick family suppers to rustle up after work to more impressive dishes for entertaining. Some are tried and tested favourites with a modern twist, others use a selection of new ingredients and flavour combinations including Sea Bass with Creamy Lemon Sauce and Roast Chicken with Tarragon Butter, Spiced Dorset Apple Traybake and Blackberry and Elderflower Sorbet.

What sets this book apart is Mary's 'Keys to Perfection'. For each recipe Mary identifies the crucial parts you need to get right to guarantee the best results, and demonstrates it with photographic step-by-steps to ensure you really can't go wrong. It's almost like Mary is in your kitchen with you, saying, "watch out for this bit" or "keep your eye on that", while also sharing many of the techniques she has honed over the years. Learn the secret to melt-in-the mouth salmon, how to bake a feather light cake or the key to a super crunchy crumble topping.

Mary knows the details that will make all the difference, and with Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect you'll discover how to make your cooking that extra bit special. This stunning new paperback edition is beautifully packaged with an exclusive tote bag for every reader, making this the perfect gift for Mary Berry fans this Christmas.

Merry Berry Cooks the Perfect includes a free tote bag

I'm a big fan of Mary Berry, I've been collecting her cookery books for many years, and I loved watching her on The Great British Bake Off, so I was delighted to receive this lovely gift set.

Packaged in a special festive presentation box, this delightful gift set includes a brightly coloured tote bag and the paperback edition of Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect.

The book includes a varied selection of recipes with lots of delicious treats including Chicken Caesar Salad Crostini, Steak and Guinness Pie, Gorgeous Ginger and Chocolate Cake, Little Cottage Rolls and lots more. Every recipe is beautifully illustrated with full colour photographs.

I particularly liked the 'Keys to Perfection' section of the book as they are a great way of perfecting difficult techniques to help you improve your cooking. I've always wanted to make the perfect poached egg, and with Mary's simple three step instructions and photographs - I have finally been able to achieve this. She made it so simple!

A great book for both beginners and those looking to improve their cooking skills, I know that it will be put to great use in my kitchen. The handy shopping bag is also a lovely extra touch. A wonderful gift for Christmas, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect is the ideal way to encourage more people to embrace home cooking with easy to find fresh ingredients, fool-proof instructions, and tasty recipes that are guaranteed to be delicious and always work.

Mary Berry

                  Author, Mary Berry

Mary Berry, CBE is one of the UK's best known and most respected cooker writers and television presenters. She has over 80 books to her name and over 6 million sales worldwide.

Mary is a judge on the BAFTA award winning The Great British Bake Off series for the BBC and a presenter on her own TV series Mary Berry Cooks. She specialises in family food, no fuss, practical and foolproof recipes.

Mary Berry was voted as Britain's favourite baking companion, with half of all respondents saying that they would most like to bake with Mary, beating the likes of other celebrity chefs.

Mary Berry is the author of several DK books including the bestselling Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, and spent two weeks at No.1 in the Hardback Non-Fiction chart. Mary lives with her husband in Buckinghamshire.

To find out more visit

Mary Berry Cooks is published by DK. Price is £20 for the paperback including an exclusive Tote Bag.

For more information about the book visit the website at 

      My Lucky Life
           By Dick Van Dyke
             Review by
Simon Fine

My Lucky Life by Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke, indisputably one of the greats of the golden age of television, is admired and loved by audiences across the world for his beaming smile, his physical dexterity, impeccable comic timing, ridiculous stunts, and his unforgettable TV series and film roles.

His career began as a radio DJ and then as half of a touring comedy duo. He made his Broadway debut in 1959 in Bye Bye Birdie and played minor TV roles before starring in the highly successful television series, The Dick Van Dyke Show (produced by Carl Reiner, who has written the foreword to this autobiography). This was one of the most popular American sitcoms of the 1960s and introduced the highly talented Mary Tyler Moore.

Dick Van Dyke also enjoyed enormous film success playing Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins and in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Van Dyke featured in many TV shows and films including the popular television drama Diagnosis: Murder which aired from 1993 to 2001. Early in his career, Van Dyke took a conscious decision that he would only play in films that he could take his children to see. His family values outlook has provided him with a unique place in TV and film entertainment. Deservedly he has won many prestigious awards starting with a Tony in 1961 to a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

There is far more to this autobiography than Van Dyke’s successful career. He writes frankly about his marriage to Margie, their four children, his struggle to quit smoking, the effect that alcoholism had on his family life, and his separation and divorce from Margie. He had a thirty year relationship with Michelle, an actress and former partner of Lee Marvin, until her death in 2009. The story concludes in 2010 and it would be fascinating to read about his subsequent life. He celebrated his 90th birthday in 2015 and, despite retiring on several occasions, continues to appear in TV and film roles.

The many fans of Dick Van Dyke will read this autobiography with as much enthusiasm as I did. He writes candidly and with great style. He has achieved great stardom over many decades from humble beginnings. His career and personal life have been full of happiness but not without periods of disappointment and sadness.

Dick Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri, in 1925. He is an internationally recognised and accomplished performer, and has been a recipient of the Theatre World Award, a Tony, a Grammy, and four Emmy awards. He lives in California.

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business is published by John Blake Books. Price is £8.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

  Bring the Outside In
Val Bradley

           Review by Simon Fine

Bring the Outside In by Val Bradley

Do you love plants but are short on outdoor space? Or perhaps you feel inspired by striking terrariums and succulent gardens that you have seen elsewhere? Maybe you are keen to create a unique home brimming with greenery? Then this could be the book for you.

With stunning photography and expert step-by-step tips, Bring The Outside In reveals everything you need to know to help your plants thrive. With chapters on terrariums, orchids, cacti, succulents, flowering plants and climbers, your home will be flourishing in no time. Val’s book is full of ideas on how to select and display plants for best effect, the most suitable environment for each type of plant and how to feed and water.

For keen amateurs the step-by-step photographs are especially helpful and provide lots of creative ideas on how to choose containers to display your plants to greatest effect. My favourite section is Grow Your Own Food which explains how to grow herbs, microgreens, chillies and citrus plants indoors to use as ingredients in your recipes. This chapter is particularly welcome at this time of year when outdoor gardening is somewhat limited.

If, like me, you want to adorn your living space with beautiful plants but are struggling for inspiration. Or you wonder why some of your indoor plants appear to prosper whilst others fade away, you will find Val’s book a genuine help in your quest to grow a beautiful indoor garden. An ideal gift for any plant or interior design lover.

Val Bradley

                   Author, Val Bradley

Val Bradley is a trained horticulturist with a love of plants and a belief that everyone should grow more of them. She has published over fifty books and is the Gardening Correspondent at The Sun.

Bring The Outside In by Val Bradley is published by Bantam Press. Price is £9.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

       Telling Tales
   Edited by Iain Hollingshead

           Review by Simon Fine

Telly Tales, edited by Iain Hollingshead

It is always a delight to receive the latest in the series of collections of unpublished letters to the Daily Telegraph. Their venerable letterbox is host to a wealth of animal owners and observers, so a collection of animal letters is guaranteed to amuse.

As a nation of animal lovers, there is no shortage of quirky, witty and downright hilarious letters from the unique breed of reader who contributes to the Telegraph letters page. Open this book, wittily entitled Telling Tails, and you will find a collection of letters about dogs, cats, parrots and pretty much every other species with whom we share our homes, gardens and recreational activities.

I enjoyed so many of the tales and observations, including the parrot who imitates his owner’s whistle so as to confuse his owner’s Jack Russell, the tortoise with a love of Jacob’s Cream Crackers and the debate as to whether being drunk in charge of a horse is a criminal offence.

But my favourite has to be:

SIR – Dining with an American friend in a French restaurant some years ago, my friends asked the waiter for “un doggy bag”. Looking puzzled, the waiter went away and came back at the end of our meal – with a bag of bones for the dog.

Whether you live with a canine companion, spend your weekends twitching or simply watching the tortoises and hedgehogs stroll round your garden, here is the best assortment of animal letters as gathered by the readers of the Telegraph. A delightful and funny book which will make a perfect Christmas gift for any animal lover.

Iain Hollingshead spent two years on the Letters to the Editor desk before becoming a full-time feature writer for the Daily Telegraph. His assignments have included reporting on the student riots in London and interviewing everyone from Michael Atherton to Gurkha veterans to a member of Seal Team Six, the elite unit which killed Osama bin Laden. He has edited six bestselling collections of unpublished letters to the Daily Telegraph.

Telling Tails is published by Aurum Press. Price is £8.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

      Fleetwood Mac
       The Complete   
    Illustrated History

        By Richie Unterberger

           Review by Simon Fine

Fleetwood Mac - The Complete Illustrated History by Richie Unterberger

This is the first-ever complete, illustrated history of Fleetwood Mac, the legendary band that has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

From this British-American band's blues origins in the 1960s to its pop superstardom in the 1970s and 1980s through to its 2015 reunion, Fleetwood Mac has endeared itself to audiences worldwide. Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History, covers the band's entire illustrious career. With a career that began nearly fifty years ago and yielded seventeen studio albums, Fleetwood Mac has had a unique history, detailed here through a carefully researched text and fabulous photographs and memorabilia, including some rare and little-seen items.

As many Sixtyplusurfers will be aware, Fleetwood Mac's roots were in the blues. Formed by Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie in 1967, the band enjoyed three years of success with top 10 singles Albatross, Man of the World, Oh Well and my personal favourite, The Green Manalishi. Following Green’s departure, disillusioned and suffering mentally, Fleetwood Mac spent the next four years in the wilderness with several changes of personnel until guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, and singer Stevie Nicks joined drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie to form Fleetwood Mac’s most popular and enduring line-up.

What followed was the release of Rumours, one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. The tracks, several of which became top 40 singles, famously telling the stories of the breaking marriage of John and Christine McVie and the romantic breakup of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Further musical success followed with the release of Tusk and Tango in the Night and extensive touring. But there is so much more to the story of this unique band; complicated relationships, financial problems and some of the typical excesses of the music business. All is revealed in this fabulous book, rich in detail, packed with stunning photographs and critical reviews of their music.

Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History documents their entire story. The book, which has an eyecatching silver disc cover, will doubtless be popular with the many millions of Fleetwood Mac fans. Worth buying for its photography alone, it will make a perfect Christmas gift.

Richie Unterberger has written nearly a dozen rock history books, including The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film; White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day; Won’t Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia and Jingle Jangle Morning: Folk Rock in the 1960s.

Fleetwood Mac - The Complete Illustrated History is published by Quarto Publishing. Price is £24.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit the website at