What To Do, See & Buy: The Cold Water Swimming Championships 2013; Hunter's Chatel boots; Lush; Up Helly Aa


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The Independent Online

Block of time

This is really rather neat. A plain block of wood, but click your fingers and an LED display tells you the time, date and temperature, then switches itself off again to conserve energy. It can be set to show the time constantly if you’d rather not faff, but the sound-activated option does allow you to pretend you have Dumbledore-like powers of illumination. £28.50, notonthehighstreet.com

Shiver me timbers

What better way to reinvigorate the spirit in the depths of winter than by plunging into a near-freezing swimming pool in south London? The Cold Water Swimming Championships 2013 are in town today! Tooting Bec Lido, SW16, registration from 9am.

Snow messing

Winter is getting serious, so cast off  those ankle boots and get your feet into something more heavy-duty. Hunter’s unisex Chatel boots are big, bold and just do not give snow drifts the time of day. They also come in black or white, but we feel that big red, insulated boots make for a most emphatic two-finger salute, waggled in the general direction of a cold front from Europe. £34-48, amazon.co.uk

Hoot seat

Independent designers Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings, of south London firm Lush, bring a fine, mysterious folksiness to their designs for everyday household objects: reminiscent of wood carving. A jaunty-looking owl against a full moon is one of their motifs, deployed here on a lovely cotton-canvas cushion (see gallery).  £35, lushlampshades.co.uk

Fired up

The people of Lerwick, in the Shetland Isles, have been celebrating Up Helly Aa for 150 years now – and it remains absolutely bonkers. Locals dress as Vikings, a ship is set alight and the town parties late into the long winter night. This Tuesday; uphellyaa.org

Qi whizz

This is a handmade Feng Shui dial (see gallery). Devices like it were used by astrologers to determine the flow of Qi through rooms and furniture. While you may need a working knowledge of traditional Chinese astrological practices for it to be any use when moving the sofa, it still makes for a beautiful ornament.  £40, britishmuseumshoponline.org