It was hard to know how to feel when the news arrived that Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland had been cancelled. On the one hand – there was no chance your friends could drag you there to endure the queues, crowds and eye-wateringly expensive rounds of steins. On the other – it was an early and upsetting signafier that the staples of London Christmas were being toppled. Now we’d gladly stand in those queues, and pay for nine of those steins. We’d even throw in some little cartons of bratwurst, if it meant we could be safely squished into the corner of an alpine lodge with our closest friends, talking about how we’re ‘starting to feel pretty Christmassy now’.
The BIG Winter Wonderland is still on pause for 2020, but there are other versions of the ‘Christmas experience’ making a scaled-down appearance in London for December. London Bridge rooftop bar Winter Heights will be serving up hot cocktails and fondue, Covent Garden Market is already festooned with 115,000 festive lights and a 60ft Christmas tree, and this Wednesday, a new ‘Nordic Spirit Wonderland’ is set to open in Vauxhall Food and Beer Garden.
This South London Winter Wonderland won’t have a ferris wheel and waltzers, but it will have pine trees, open fire pits for marshmallow roasting and ‘winter themed street food’ (which usually translates to ‘fried stuff covered in cheese’). What makes it ‘nordic’? Apparently it’ll have wooden cabins made from real Scandinavian materials, and there are plans for a green light projection to mimic the experience of sitting beneath the Northern Lights.
The most important thing to note, though, is that the Vauxhall Food and Beer Garden is both an indoor and outdoor venue, which means, if you manage to book a beer garden table, you’ll be able to hang out with five other people who you don’t actually live with. If you impulse-bought a roll neck cable knit in lockdown – now is its time to shine.
Nordic Spirit Wonderland x Vauxhall Food and Beer Garden starts Wednesday December 2 and will run throughout the month. Find out more here.
There are loads of reasons you might not want to go abroad right now, but one of the big ones is that you might have to quarantine for a fortnight, either on arrival or on your return home (or, if you’re really unlucky, both). Even if the UK quarantine is reduced to five days, that would still be a downer on your holiday.
So what if you could all but guarantee avoiding having to self-isolate on either side? Step forward, a new holiday package from Virgin Atlantic Holidays that promises to help you do just that.
The ‘Escape Pass’ will let British holidaymakers spend up to 14 days on a ‘mystery’Caribbeanisland. All travellers have to do is choose the length of their stay (one week or two), the hotel rating and flight class. Virgin staff will handle the rest and you’ll find out where you’re going two weeks before you leave. Exciting, right?
Potential destinations currently includeBarbados, Grenada, Antigua and Tobago. Other islands, such as Jamaica, will likely join them once they are added to the UK’slist of travel corridors – meaning you don’t have to quarantine on your return home.
Of course, once everything is booked and you know where you going, there’s always the possibility the UK government may still take your particular destination off the ‘corridor’ list before your flight. The good news is that if a quarantine is introduced on either side before you leave, Virgin says you’ll get a full refund within 14 days.
If new travel restrictions are reintroduced while you’re actually out there, then there’s not much you can do about it – but you’d be pretty unlucky, as Virgin says it will choose destinations that are unlikely to be removed.
For a week or two by the beach – with a very high likelihood of actually being able to relax on it – that sounds like a risk worth taking.
Flights run between January and April. Find out more about the package here.
There’s no denying that a trip to the capital is still going to feel very different this year – with two lockdowns and family attractions having to close almost as soon as they reopened. But there are still so many…
Sam Wood, the co-author of the popular travel blog, Indefinite Adventure, shared with us his Vegan Scone Recipe. He claims he was inspired by the Dutch scone (aka luilakbollen) he once had on our Harlem Food Tour and then decided to put his own vegan spin on them. An unquestionably lighter but no less delicious option!
About Luilakbollen (Dutch Scone)
The word luilakbollen translates as “lazybones buns”. According to the BBC website, Luilak is a Dutch festival held on the day before Whit Sunday. Young people start to crowd the streets at 4 am, whistling, banging on doors and ringing bells to make as much noise as possible. Any young person who fails to get up is a “lazybones”. As well as making lots of noise, the revellers stuff themselves with goodies, including these very tasty scones.
The buns themselves usually contain dried fruit and are made with a mixture of butter and flour. Sam says: “Dutch food is not typically very vegan friendly, and indeed the recipe for these is not traditionally vegan, but vegan baking is really not all that scary.” Indeed, Sam makes the job even more of a challenge by deciding to use lower-gluten spelt flour instead of regular wheat flour. But we’re sure you’ll agree, the results look delicious!
Sam’s Vegan Scone Recipe
Ingredients (makes 8 scones):
1/4 cup (60 ml) fat (e.g. melted coconut oil)
½ cup (120 ml) milk (e.g. unsweetened soy milk)
2 tsp dried yeast
3 1/3 cups (approx. 800 g) flour (e.g. spelt flour)
1/4 cup (60 g) of brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup (80 g) sultanas or raisins
1/4 cup (60 g) cranberries
Melt the butter or oil in a pan, then remove from the heat, add the milk and yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then stir in the oil, milk and yeast mix.
Mix well until fully combined into a ball, then turn it out onto a floured surface a knead for a full 5 minutes.*
Put the ball back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1½ hours.
Turn the risen ball out onto a floured surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll them into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Let cool just enough your vegan scones so they don’t burn your mouth and enjoy! (Because really, who is going to wait for them to cool fully anyway?!)
*The kneading is really only necessary if you are using flour with a high gluten content (like wheat flour). Otherwise, just give it a few pokes and move on.
About Sam’s Indefinite Adventure
Sam grew up in east London and studied at the University of London – in the UK’s capital city. As a teenager, he was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel in the holidays with his family around Europe, North America, Japan and Australia. When he met his partner Zab in 2005, the travel adventures started almost immediately – but it wasn’t until 2013 that they formally started their travel blog, Indefinite Adventure.
In their words, “We aim to give practical advice to other potential long-term travellers, inspire you for your two-week holiday, or just appeal to your inner armchair traveller. We seek out great vegan food to eat and awesome eco-hotels to stay at on your travels.” We like the sound of that!
I hope you enjoyed this vegan scone recipe, and you’ll have fun making them by yourself now!
It’s Christmas (in case you hadn’t noticed). Which means buying stuff (among other things). But it’s easy to forget sometimes that our city has an ever-expanding scene of unique independent craftspeople and makers churning out all kinds of amazing things. Knives hand-forged in Kennington. Hot sauce brewed up in Peckham. Sparkling wine made in Bethnal Green. Things you should now consider purchasing, because these things make fantastic presents and because the people who make them could really use your support right at the minute.
Back in March, London’s small, local independent businesses were among the first to suffer. At Time Out, we made a commitment early on to champion London’s local makers and independent businesses, big and small. Our Love Local campaign has since become a global one, supporting the unique places we love in cities across the world. Here at home, we’ve been involved in campaigns to help struggling pubs and public gardens, restaurants and music venues. We’ve covered the London makers who you’ve told us have helped you and now need some help in return.
As Lockdown 2 bites, and there is more uncertainty about what will happen afterwards, London’s local businesses need your help to get them through it. So, this Christmas, we’ll be highlighting some of the capital’s makers and shops who are genuinely doing something worthy of your cash. Our Christmas Gift Guide this year is full of stuff made right here in the city, from booze and shoes to cheese, toys and jewellery. In that spirit, we’ll be highlighting independent shops and businesses this festive season. We also want to hear from you about your local makers and your crafty mates. Tell us about them at email@example.com and we’ll tell other Londoners. It really makes a difference.