Christmas Around the World: Tokyo

“Are you all set for Christmas?” It’s a common refrain from now until 24th December. Christmas-related anxiety has become the accepted ‘norm’. And if the only date in your calendar for December is the holiday bin collection service, it can feel as though everyone else in the world is out partying every night, except you.

Welcome to the third feature in a new festive series where I invite favourite Instagrammers from around the world to share their stories on how they spend the Holiday Season. This week I interview award-winning travel writer, Rob Goss, about a typical Christmas in Tokyo.

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Christmas Around The World: NSW, Australia

Welcome to the second in a new festive feature series where I invite Instagram pals from around the world to share their festive stories.

Now in the second week of November and the advertising campaigns on social media, TV, glossy magazines etc are in full swing. With over-spending developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’, it can be hard to resist feeling like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not working up to a frenzy of shopping anxiety and party planning by mid-December.

But here’s the thing, Christmas is what you choose to make it. Push the boat out or spend the day in bed, your choice. There are no rules.

On with the storytelling. This week I ask Nina Tobin, who lives in New South Wales and likes to hang out with ‘Ma Nature’… How do you spend Christmas?

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Christmas Around the World: the South of France

‘Twas the week before Christmas when I moved into a new house a few years back. For a number of reasons I found myself home alone on the Big Day unpacking boxes (with a glass of champagne to hand, naturally). It was a lot of fun but many (including the removal man) were appalled that I chose to spend the day on my own.

Advertising around Christmas-related products and services begins in early autumn in the UK. Planning (travel, food, gifts and sparkly clothes) and the related over-spending has been developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’. Now, a little sparkle goes along way in the dark winter months, but by mid December it can be hard not to feel like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not seen to be tearing your hair out in a frenzy of anxiety over Secret Santa at the office, gift-buying for the family, and stuffing the turkey. And, as the marketing campaigns indicate, your calender must surely be choc-full with a host of fabulous parties to attend.

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This week… chimney tops, ration books and guardian angels

Every September heritage houses, museums and other buildings throw open their doors to the public. Entry and tours are free despite the work of many of these organisations being independently funded, so a donation is welcome. The nationwide Heritage Open Days festival closes today and I took the opportunity take a peek behind the scenes over the nine-day event in Winchester. Here’s what I discovered.

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Exploring Britain: Cowdray Heritage Ruins

The history of one of the most important early Tudor houses in the UK is threaded through a Civil War, Henry VIII’s Reformation, and a devastating fire which all but destroyed the beautiful Cowdray House in 1793. This week I joined a tour around the ruins and ventured up the 70-odd spiral steps of the Kitchen Tower, the only part of the building still intact. Walking in the footsteps of history is always a slightly spooky experience and brings out the goosebumps.

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This week… boats, barnacles and beachcombing

As long as I can remember The Great British Seaside has been a staple in my travel life. Despite lounging on many wonderful beaches in Croatia, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Turkey and elsewhere, there’s nowhere quite like home for being beside the sea. The English coast is often symbolised by fish’n’chips and buckets and spades but there’s so much more with wide open sandy beaches to walk, sand dunes to explore and wildlife and flora. It’s been my go-to place during the past 18 months as I explored in all weathers. Here’s a retrospective album of snapshots by way of appreciation for British beach life.

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