Feeling brave this winter? We've teamed up with Smirnoff and the guys at Londontheinside to explore what life outside Zone 3 looks like at this time of year, and it isn't even half as bleak as you might imagine. There's civilisation – and even actual fun – out there and all you need to reach it is your trusty old Oyster card.
And there’s more… Just click on our Advent Calendar windows to find cocktail recipes or weirdly wonderful things to do do right here in London, inspired by the more curious Christmas traditions we’ve discovered all around the world.
Imagine running around on a sandy beach and jumping into a lake. Sounds like the opening scene from a movie staring Reese Witherspoon, but it’s not, it can happen right here in London on the edge of Ruislip Woods. Here you’ll find a 60-acre lido with splash areas, fishing platforms, the Water’s Edge pub and a beach-side café. There's even a narrow gauge railway running around the edge of the pool. Sunny weather isn't guaranteed though.
Reservoir Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7TY.
When you're surrounded by green, life just seems so much calmer. And with the temperature dropping outside, a giant greenhouse is definitely the place to be. Inside, you'll find an award-winning café serving a stunning selection of teas and more plants than you can shake a bamboo stick at. And while you're there, you can get involved in wreath-making and flower workshops. Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AB.
Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker (Zone 6)
Many species go into hibernation this time of year, and a nuclear bunker seems the ideal place. But not when there's this much fun to be had. If you're a nuclear newbie, have a crack at the man-made obstacle course and explore the three levels of the bunker on your own self-guided floor by floor tour. Kelvedon Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5TL.
For six quid you can take a lamp-lit guided tour of the man-made caves, which are 22 miles long and 30 metres below ground. The caves were used as munitions storage and air-raid shelters during the World Wars, and as a gig venue in the '60s and '70s, with David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd having all performed there. They're said to be haunted, too, so bring a hand to hold. Chislehurst Caves, Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 5NL.