DE-STRESS HERE: The Big Breathe
In these challenging times, feelings of stress, anxiety or just general gloom can be close to the surface for many of us, as well as other issues like lack of sleep. But did you know that we already have the tools we need to increase your sense of calm and wellbeing? Join Triyoga teacher Carolyn Cowan for a free live 30-minute session this Friday at 12pm to explore a range of breathing techniques that you can use anywhere, anytime, to decrease stress and increase positivity. ‘The Big Breathe’ will harness this to get the nation breathing a collective sigh of relief, even if just temporarily, from the stress we’re all under right now. And it will give us simple techniques that we can use going forward to keep us going. Suitable for everyone, including during pregnancy, you won’t need any equipment – just your body and an internet connection.
GET YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ORGANISED HERE: Spirit of Christmas
For the first time in its 20-year history, the annual Spirit of Christmas fair is going online. Britain’s largest shopping event will open its virtual doors to visitors for six weeks of Christmas shopping, as the fair is unable to take place at Olympia as planned. Opening to shoppers from Monday 9th November and running up until Christmas, online visitors will not only be able to shop from the comfort of their own home but can also explore an expertly curated collection of more than 150 small, independent boutiques and makers all in one place. From high-quality craftsmanship and beautifully designed products, artisan food and drink producers, to high-end sustainable brands enabling you to shop with the planet in mind, the online fair has something for everyone.
ORDER DELICIOUS BAKED GOODS HERE: The Exploding Bakery
Lockdown might prove the perfect time to give this new letterbox brownies and coffee gifting and subscription service a try. Available for nationwide delivery, choose from 12 flavours, of which six are vegan, and choose add-ons like Round Hill ground coffee, balloons and candles if you’re keen to send it as a gift. Customers who set up a recurring order will be entitled to a 25% discount, and you can still go into your account and adjust the flavours before your order goes through. It’s also possible to order some of the bakery’s beautiful cakes wholesale, while those in the Exeter area should make an effort to visit the on-site bakery once lockdown ends and retail and hospitality venues get back up and running.
ENJOY WORLD-CLASS MUSIC HERE: BBC Symphony Orchestra x Sakari Oramo
This Friday, a front-row seat to live world-class classical music will only cost you £12.50. Tune in as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo perform works by Joseph Haydn and Anna Clyne before a new chamber arrangement of Magnus Lindberg's Accused. From a journey of loss and desolation to the new-found feelings of solace and peace in Anna Clyne’s elegy to her mother, to Haydn’s dark-hued and theatrically named The Passion, the BBC Symphony Orchestra is guaranteed to put you in touch with your emotions in its first live-streamed Barbican concert.
GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN WITH: Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
Didn’t get around to adding some new recipes to your repertoire during the first lockdown? Now’s your chance. With restaurants closed for the foreseeable, delve into Nigella Lawson’s new tome to find some inspiration. A combination of recipes intertwined with narrative essays about food, all written in Nigella’s engaging and insightful prose, the home cook’s wisdom about food and life comes to the fore, with a host of new ideas you’ll want to return to time and again. Chapters include 'A is for Anchovy' (a celebration of the bacon of the sea); a shout-out for 'Brown Food'; and a very relatable 'How To Invite People for Dinner Without Hating Them (or Yourself)' – plus new ideas in time for Christmas. Time to get practising.
SUPPORT THEATRES HERE: The Shows Must Go On – ‘Shakespeare Season’
Originally set up by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber during the first lockdown, The Shows Must Go On! YouTube series will now begin presenting two shows a week. A new piece of theatre will be made available every Monday, for seven days, starting with a Simon Callow-led play Being Shakespeare show on 2nd November. The Callow play will kick off a new ‘Shakespeare season’ featuring the likes of Fiona Shaw, Patrick Stewart and more in a new production broadcast every Monday night. Friday's show – which will be a West End musical – will be revealed every Wednesday and, as before, will be available for 48 hours. While free to watch, donations are encouraged to help the theatre community during the ongoing pandemic.
ORDER SOME GREAT WINES HERE: The Sorting Table
The Sorting Table is a new delivery platform founded by Ben Henshaw, UK wine writer Jamie Goode, sommelier Paz Levinson and Raj Parr – star of Netflix's Somm series – bringing carefully selected wines directly to doorsteps across the UK. Operating as both an online shop and wine club, the initial range has been sourced from passionate winemakers at an accessible price, with a wine club subscription also available. This membership includes a quarterly delivery of either six or 12 bottles, as well as 10% off additional purchases from The Sorting Table.
LISTEN TO A NEW PODCAST HERE: Good Influence with Gemma Styles
Determined to use her voice for good after building an engaged social following online, Gemma Styles (yes, that’s Harry Styles’ older sister) hopes to actively foster discussion on her platforms to inform and raise awareness of issues close to her heart – including mental health, feminism and sustainability. Across the 12 episodes of her new podcast, listeners will hear Gemma talk with various experts for educational, yet relatable, conversations. Guests include poet and mental health activist Charly Cox, zero-waste chef and sustainability advocate Max La Manna and author, speaker and life coach Michelle Elman. Available on Global Player, or wherever you get your podcasts, expect new episodes to land every Monday.
Listen to the trailer here.
TURN ON AN EASY WATCH HERE: Operation Christmas Drop
Now that Halloween is out of the way, we couldn’t need a light-hearted, easy Christmas film more. As ever, Netflix is delivering the goods, this year with Operation Christmas Drop starring Kat Graham (Vampire Diaries), Alexander Ludwig and Virginia Madsen. Chasing a promotion, congressional aide Erica Miller (Graham) forgoes her usual family Christmas to travel across the Pacific at her boss's behest to the island of Guam. Upon landing at the Air Force base, she clashes with her guide, Captain Andrew Jantz, who knows her assignment is finding reasons to defund the facility. The pilot's pet project – Operation: Christmas Drop, a real-life, decades-old tradition where gifts and supplies are parachuted to residents of remote neighbouring islands – has lawmakers wondering if his unit has too much spare energy. Despite their initial opposing goals, Erica eventually softens as she experiences the customs and communal spirit of Andrew's adopted home.
Available on Netflix on 5th November.
LOSE YOURSELF IN A NEW BOOK HERE: Life In Pieces by Dawn O’Porter
From managing anxiety to coping with bad hair, the highs and lows of life during lockdown are laid bare in this witty and thoughtful memoir from the always-funny Dawn O’Porter. Life In Pieces is a book for anyone who's been thrown into a life they didn't plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. From reflections on grief and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we can’t, Dawn kept a range of daily diaries to track the journey – for a hilarious, heart-breaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal.