What To Do, See & Buy: New York Times' '36 hours'; Light from the Middle East exhibition; Handmade Cocktail Co; Padstow Christmas Festival


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The Independent Culture

Sweet escape

For 10 years, the New York Times' '36 hours' travel column has provided fail-safe weekend break solutions. This weighty, cloth-bound compendium of European weekends makes a fine coffee table book-cum-emergency escape planner. Beautifully organised under the eye of former NYT deputy travel editor Barbara Ireland. £24.99, taschen.com


Light from the Middle East is the V&A's fist major photography show from and about the Arab world. Photographers from North Africa to Central Asia have been busy documenting a historic era of rebellion, transition and fear. Until 7 April, vam.ac.uk

Oh, deer

This silk crêpe de chine top from Emma Cook is a timely homage to Colin Firth's Bridget Jones's reindeer jumper. Although we're all a little tired of seeing adorable animals peering from the frontal portions of the young and fashion-conscious, the 'Festive Fawn' and tinsel-bearing robins tread a fine line between Christmas chic and Christmas kitsch. Perfect for the office party. £270, net-a-porter.com

Slicker liquor

The Handmade Cocktail Co have a fine line in weird and often wonderful spirits, all sold in sturdy bottles that could have been salvaged from Hemingway's drinks cabinet. The Antique Manhattan is a pre-mixed blend of recipes from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Pour over ice, strain into a glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry. Stay classy. £49.95, masterofmalt.com

Reading music

Ever wondered what your favourite album would look like if it were, in fact, a book? Of course you have. Wonder no more, artist Christophe Gowans has produced a series of prints reinventing famous book covers along musical lines. Each print has its own in-joke. New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies as a pocket dictionary, is particularly pleasing. From £30 each, rockpot.co.uk

'Tis the sea-son

Now in its fifth year, the Padstow Christmas Festival is putting the Cornish port on the global foodie map. There's a market, demonstrations from local chef Rick Stein and a Santa's grotto of culinary treats. 7-9 December, padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk