Culture Club Christmas special

What could be more seasonal than exploring a Victorian Spa town on the Monday before Christmas? Sixteen members hit the Malvern Spring water trail (first bottled in the 17th century), learning how to avoid any hilly challenges.

We started with the Festival Theatre's legacy G B Shaw, riotous 1960`s Rock Concerts, and more recent all-male Gilbert & Sullivan`s HMS Pinafore. The sublime led to the ridiculous. First, stunning medieval stained glass – acres of it – in the former Benedictine Priory with a delighted custodian. Then a CS Lewis Narnia trail with 80 gas lamps led to our impromptu photo-call - held outside a former gents public toilet. This `Theatre of Small Convenience` is rated in Guinness as the World's smallest Theatre – another excuse not to go onto hilly slopes.

Our culture buffs were almost as delighted to see the UK`s first purpose-built Hydrotherapy centre (1848) as they to see the local Waitrose and its extraordinary gushing three-spouted spring. Our route down secluded Back Lane, and yet more Blue Plaques, ensured room to socialise in unseasonably mild weather, with no hilly slopes in sight.

Finally, by mutual agreement, there was shopping to do, Paddington-bound trains to catch and food to order. Leaving those hills for another day, our culture -vultures headed back `on the flat` to one final Georgian edifice - the welcoming, many-roomed Foley Arms (architect Samuel Deykes 1810).

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