Gift experiences: Present perfect

The anticipation – and then the memory – of a trip or event makes the 'experience' the gift that keeps on giving

(Image credit: Photo: © 2013 John M. Dibbs)

Fly in a Spitfire

A Christmas gift that's over in 20 minutes might seem short, but not if those minutes are spent high above the Devonshire coast in a vintage war bird. A brave participant is invited to fly in one of the Academy's Spitfire TR9s, piloted expertly as part of a patrol of planes. A four-hour initiation with the pilot before the flight ensures the journey is tailored to individual preference, meaning it can be anything from a leisurely sightseeing trip to a thrilling ride featuring acrobatics. This experience is made all the more spectacular by the accompaniment of the phenomenal RR232 "City of Exeter" Spitfire, which will follow the participant's aircraft from take-off to landing as a wingman, giving passengers the chance to see the vintage models from all angles.

Spitfire flight at Boultbee Flight Academy, £2,750;

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Travel by five-star train

The Belmond British Pullman Luxury Train gives new meaning to the notion of travelling in style. The Art Deco-era carriages are so alluring that their destination hardly seems relevant, but when the destination is Bath, it couldn't be more fitting. After a three-course brunch with Bellinis on the outward journey, passengers enjoy a guided tour of what is Britain's best-preserved Georgian city, including its Roman baths. The return trip begins with a champagne reception and continues with a four-course silver-service dinner drawing on seasonal native produce. This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers British luxury and history in equal measure.

Belmond British Pullman train journey to Bath, £420;

Take a classic Jag round the track

Thankfully for car enthusiasts, Jaguar keeps an extensive collection of its most prized and best-loved classic models: XK150s, Mark IIs, V12 XJCs and E-types. Each began life on Warwickshire's mammoth test track, and now the marque offers individuals the opportunity to participate in its history by allowing them to drive these beautiful cars on that same stretch of road. This exhilarating experience, which includes lunch, provides guests with four hours of access to the team and the vintage motors, including a chance to get behind the wheel. For those not wanting to drive themselves, there's the option of being driven by one of Jaguar's professional instructors.

Jaguar Classic Tour & Track Experience at Castle Bromwich, £650;

Learn to cook and carve like a pro

If you've ever wanted to know the insider secrets to hosting an exquisite dinner party, then look no further than masterclasses with Mark and Markus. The classes are the fruits of a collaboration between Mark Hix, the chef and restaurateur responsible for the eponymous Hix restaurants, and Markus Savage, the manager at London’s Brown's Hotel. In the new year, seasonal classes at the hotel include a Burns Night supper and an evening focusing on romance. The expert hosts will guide guests through wine pairings, desserts and starters and, crucially, selecting cuts of meat. Naturally the two-hour sessions do allow for some produce-tasting, and students can feast on exquisite cuts of meat as they learn how to carve. A souvenir goody bag includes a signed cookbook and Brown’s apron.

Dinners and Masterclasses with Mark and Markus, £185,

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