With everything else a teacher has to do in the run-up to the end of term, Christmas shopping can become a terrible chore - unless you can take yourself off somewhere attractive and soothing to do it. Like Winchester.
The city's streets are lined with small shops stuffed with gift ideas, while for a spot of spiritual restoration, the ancient cathedral and its centuries-old abstract stained glass window take some beating. Get the most out of a visit by booking a guided tour (tel: 01962 857225; www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk).
Nearby, a space-age sculpture will twinkle its lights and change colour in response to a text from your mobile. Or you can make for Marwell zoo (www.marwell. org.uk), just outside the city, where the home-reared Amur tigers will be out on the prowl, relishing the winter weather.
TES readers can enjoy a two-night break at the safari-themed Marwell Hotel (www. marwellhotel.co.uk) throughout December for pound;189 for two, including Bamp;B on both nights, dinner on the first night and use of the hotel's Zsa Zsa spa, indoor pool, sauna, spa bath and minigym.
Also included in the package are two tickets for Sleeping Beauty, the Whole Story at the Theatre Royal (December 11-31, but not 24 or 25; www.theatre-royal-winchester.org.uk). To make a booking, call the hotel on 01962 777681, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting "TES theatre deal".