Beautiful budgerigars and a meridian lined with birches
There is also one last opportunity to indulge any spooky fantasies lingering on from Hallowe'en, with Monday's lantern-lit tour of Hampton Court Palace (tel: 0181-781 9540). After-dark tales will be woven into a tour of the palace, with historical narrative merging into equally convincing ghost stories. Beginning at 5pm in the Tudor kitchen, the tour lasts an hour, priced at pounds 22 for those aged 12 and over.
Clearly signposting the onset of the skiing season, Blacks outdoor ski stores are holding open days in Holborn (27-28 November), Birmingham and Manchester (4-5 December), and Glasgow (11-12 December). They will offer discounts on a range of ski clothing and accessories and experts will be on hand to help you choose hardware or holiday destinations. Visitors will be able to pit their wits against Martin Bell, British downhill champion, and Pat Sharples, captain of the England freestyle team.
Also running throughout the week are the annual festivities celebrating St Andrew's Day in Scotland. Participants feeling the bite from these cold November mornings should head for St Andrews' town hall for a spot of porridge tasting. Other traditional festivities will be held, including exhibitions, ceilidhs, concerts and fireworks.
Meanwhile, back in London, there is the chance to grab a spade and plant a tree this week. Not only does the 25th National Tree Week kick off on 24 November, but it is also the silver jubilee of the Tree Council which has been responsible for planting 15 million new trees since 1975. The Environment minister, Michael Meacher, will launch the event by planting the first of 25 silver trees close to the Greenwich Observatory, as part of a line of silver birches and silver limes running along the Greenwich Meridian from south-east England up to the Humber springs. Details from the Tree Council on 0171-828 9928.
Finally, for those of ghoulish tastes, also in London, there is a demonstration of Victorian surgery entitled "The Blade and The Bone - Surgery Before Anaesthesia" at the Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret, at 9a St Thomas's Street (tel: 0171-955 4791). The event is on Saturday, 27 November at 2.30pm.
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