New Year, new you

By | Category: Travel rumblings, Travel tips & opinions

Bonfire Night has been and gone and Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner. Fed up of making annual pledges to eliminate bad habits only to return to your old ways six weeks later? You’re not alone.

For many, New Year’s Eve marks a chance to turn over a new leaf and start afresh. Now, we’re all for self-improvement, but here at CD-Traveller towers we fully believe in gain without pain. We asked the team at VisitEngland for the low down on holidays in 2013 where you can pick up a brand new skill while you recharge and de-stress

Get creative

There can be no better way to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life than a few days spent drawing or painting in the English countryside. Get close to nature and flex another part of your brain on a weekend’s artistic escape at Brambles Art Retreat. Set in the tiny hamlet of Sprytown, deep in the Devonshire countryside, Brambles is run by an establish husband and wife team. Janet’s first love is watercolour (her speciality being dramatic landscapes achieved through transparent paints) while Peter teaches oil and acrylic courses and especially enjoys painting still life. Choose from a range of disciplines including watercolour, oil, acrylic and drawing. Often two courses run back-to-back, enabling guests to try two mediums in one stay.

Make do & mend
Make a resolution to stop over-spending and adding to landfill and learn to re-love what you’ve already got. Higham Hall in Bassenthwaite in Cumbria offers residential upholstery courses. Take along your favourite chair / stool / headboard / ottoman, and spend the weekend springing, stuffing and sewing until you have a shiny new piece of furniture (and an enormous sense of pride). No prior experience necessary. Tutor Simon Ireland has run his own upholstery business for over 30 years, and has been teaching upholstery for almost as long. Simon will bring all the materials necessary for you to choose from and buy.

Higham Hall

Top Cornish hotel Bedruthan Steps runs a two-day Sew it, Wear it, Love it break, which covers the art of customising. You’ll learn tips for making fabric-covered buttons and adding beads, lace applique or ribbon to give an old jumper or cardie a brand new life. Next up are accessories – you’ll have the chance to create your own fabric necklace and jewellery. The second day of the course is dedicated to a ‘Challenge Me’ mission, in which you’ll complete your own skirt and bag.

Shape up
For those that want gruelling exercise and guaranteed inch loss without sacrificing their home comforts, the bootcamps run by 43 in the Lakes strike the perfect balance. This luxurious six-bedroomed boutique hotel on the Cumbria / Lancashire border, close to the breathtaking beauty of Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells, has all the amenities you could hope for, and some outstanding views of the surrounding countryside. But on the hotel’s new bootcamp, you need to earn these luxuries.

A five day bootcamp includes up to 43 total hours of exercise, which will be tailored to your individual needs so you can work at your own pace and toward your own personal goals. Try a mix of activities including jogging, core stability, fat burn hiking with a twist, and spinning.

Find your inner domestic goddess
A weekend dinner party course at Ashburton Cookery School will give you host of dinner party ideas and teach you fail-safe recipes for canapés, starters, main courses and desserts. Over two days you will learn a selection of simple-to-make but guaranteed-to-impress recipes and will even be given pointers on how to best organise your kitchen so you can get ahead and actually spend time with your guests when they arrive.
This is a very hands-on course so you will be cooking throughout the day, learning to perfect the recipes and picking up some great plating and presentation tips. At the end of the weekend you will be brimming with new ideas and confident to execute a fantastic dinner party – or sign up for the next series of Come Dine With Me.

Learn to live off the land
Robin Harford runs regular Hampshire foraging courses, teaching participants how to identify plants that are good to eat, and how to pick and prepare them. Spend an afternoon wandering round the Hampshire hedgerows, woods and seashore to uncover the delicious and highly nutritious treats that are available for free under our very noses. Discover the history and folklore surrounding wild edible plants around Hampshire, and how to identify them. Learn how to forage sustainably and safely, and finally how to cook, prepare and preserve these plants.

Make honey

Get close to nature on a weekend-long bee-keeping course at Tiger Hall in Shropshire – you’ll get expert tuition and guidance from Charles Millar, who has been keeping bees for 12 years. Combine several hours’ practical beekeeping – working with the bees, in pairs or on your own – with the relevant theory and learn fascinating facts as you go. A two-day course with an overnight stay at the nearby Long Mynd Hotel costs from £375 per person.



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