Nine of the best unusual gift experiences in Suffolk, from making your own Adnams gin to White Candle Company candle making
What do you buy for the person who has everything? It's the age-old dilemma many of us face in the run up to Christmas and birthdays.
And while we can't promise to have the answer, we have compiled some suggestions which may provide food for thought.
Forget socks, underpants and selection boxes – we have found nine experiences in Suffolk which could make the perfect present to some of those difficult-to-buy-for friends and relatives. Forget, also, spa days, driving experiences or afternoon teas, as our list offers a few alternatives with a difference (ever fancied axe-throwing?) and options for every budget.
1. Axe and knife throwing with Back to Wilderness – bushcraft, survival and wilderness living, Brandon Country Park, £30 per person
Warning: This target sport is extremely addictive! During this hour-long pop-up event, participants will learn how to safely and responsibly throw an axe, making it stick in specially prepared wooden targets (rather than an enemy!).
In each session there will be up to five throwers who will receive a 10-minute brief followed by 50 minutes of throwing time with training axes, tomahawks and knives (depending on level of competency).
Sessions (which are held montly) are suitable for adults and juniors aged 10-plus (under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult).
The next session is on February 5, 2022.
For more information and to book, go to https://backtowilderness.co.uk
2. Adnams Make your own gin experience, Bury St Edmunds/Southwold, £95 per person
Calling all gin lovers: Have you ever wanted to create your own gin? Adnams, in Bury St Edmunds and Southwold (and at its Norwich gin lab) offers a 'make your own gin' experience where an Adnams gin maker will guide participants through the process of making their own gin, from selecting botanicals through to the distillation process and naming, then labelling, their personal bottle.
In addition to the gin making, there will be the opportunity to taste a range of spirits and receive a goody bag containing a can of Adnams Copper House gin and tonic, a glass and a bottle of tonic.
As well as the opportunity to create your own gin to take home, participants will also be able to taste a range of spirits and be given a goody bag containing a can of Adnams Copper House Gin and tonic, a gin and tonic glass and a bottle of Adnams tonic to enjoy with the newly-made gin.
For more information and to book, go to https://www.adnams.co.uk/experiences
3. Candle making workshops with The White Candle Company, Lavenham, £140 per person (£150 weekends)
Total beginners and those starting out in candle making (or considering starting a candle-making business) can learn the tools to go away and start experimenting during this four-hour workshop.
The course focuses on the art of soy wax candle making, offering an introduction to materials, waxes/wicks/cores and containers.
Commonly used waxes, how to measure the correct quantities, perfume and their effects, pour temperatures and how to fix surface problems will be covered, while legislation changes and what is required in order to sell your candles will be explained.
Participants will make and take home a 100g tin, a 250g glass, a three-wick candle, wax melts and six paraffin wax, botanical/Christmas hangings valued at more than £65.
For more information, go to www.thewhitecandlecompany.co.uk/candlemaking-workshops
4. Booze and Brushes, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, £25
Enjoy a drink or two with friends at this fun painting class, held monthly at The Apex, where you will be guided through a painting step-by-step.
At the end of the class you can take your own 16in by 20in masterpiece home.
The class is for everyone aged 16-plus, no experience is necessary and all materials (and aprons) are included.
For more information on upcoming sessions at The Apex, go to https://www.theapex.co.uk/whats-on/details.cfm?id=387747&ins=888190
5. BPM DJ course at The Rehearsal Rooms, in St Andrew's Street South, Bury St Edmunds, £195
For all wannabe DJs, this course offering two hours of face-to-face one-to-one tuition can help beginners, intermediates, or professionals take their skills to the next level, teaching the basics, new skills or helping to banish bad habits.
Expert tuition is offered by this small DJ school, which tailors courses to each individual (longer courses are also available).
For more information, go to https://www.bpmdjcourses.co.uk/2-hour-1-2-1
6. Introduction to Indian head massage, Haverhill Learning Centre at West Suffolk College, £12
On February 12, this morning workshop offers the chance to learn from an experienced therapist how to treat your family and friends with this relaxing therapy.
Indian head massage is one of the best therapies – safe for all ages – for relieving stress, headaches, migraines and back pain as well as improving sleep patterns and promoting hair growth.
The workshop includes a brief history of Indian head massage and its benefits, a practical demonstration of key movements, the chance to practice and a Q&A session.
For more information and to book, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-indian-head-massage-tickets-185667395177?aff=ebdsoporgprofile
7. Damascus knife-making workshop, Kingdom Forge, Brundish, £400
Join artisan blacksmith Leszek Sikon to make your own 50-layer Damascus chef's knife during the next workshop on February 21 and 22.
No matter your level of skill or knowledge, you will be able to make your own kitchen knife within a professional and creative environment, with the chance to try out or improve all the basic techniques of bladesmithing.
For more information, go to https://www.lsikonblacksmith.com/events/damascus-knife-making-workshop-65
8. Whale, dolphin and porpoise spotting boat trip, Lowestoft, £58/£60
Join Lowestoft-based Jet Adventures on a new cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) spotting trip, believed to be the first organised cetacean search by boat in the area.
During the three-hour/45-nautical mile experience, the aim is to spot and record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises and sea birds.
Travelling on a fast boat able to cover a large area of water, the trip will extend about 10 nautical miles out to sea and about 25 nautical miles parallel to the coastline in the quest to spot fin or humpback whales, bottlenose or white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, skuas and shearwaters.
Trips will only be offered when the forecasted conditions are going to be suitable, but should the British weather let you down you will be offered a new date or refund.
For more information, go to https://www.jetadventures.co.uk/cetacean-spotting/
9. Introduction to sewing (six-week course), Sudbury Learning Centre at West Suffolk College, starting January 11, £145
It's time to unleash your inner sewing bee on this six-week course to teach wannabe sewers everything they need to know, from the basics of stitch and thread through to completed garments.
The course tutor is an experienced seamstress who qualified at RADA and has worked in London's West End, with experience including tailoring, corsetry, millinery and pattern making.
This is a beginners' course and suitable for those who have little or no experience of machine sewing. Participants will learn: how to use a sewing machine and various functions; fabric and thread choices; needles and bobbins; tension and stitch size and different types of foot and when to use them; working with a basic pattern to make a garment including choosing the right fabric, pinning the pattern to cut, making notches for pattern matching; basic techniques such as type of seam, hemming, straight line sewing and troubleshooting.
Course numbers are limited to eight participants.