New year, new challenge: Add another string to your bow

From rock'n'roll to calligraphy, it's time to enrol on a course that will fire you up for 2008, says Nick Jackson

What better way to recover from the festive season than by signing up to one of the courses that start in the new year? Almost 30,000 courses begin in January, many designed to fit around even the busiest schedules.

Many of the big names in culture offer programmes. London's Royal Opera House (www.royaloperahouse.org) has free pre-performance talks and insight events, costing from 14 to 17, around its performances, starting with a talk on Rossini's La Cenerentola on 4 January.

For more breadth, Christie's auction house runs classes on art, opera, and wine. A new term of history of art classes, spanning the Renaissance to contemporary art, begin next month. The cost is from 120 for two hours a week for four weeks. "Anyone who has a passion for learning will enjoy this course," says Allan Pope, 50, an investment banker and Christie's student. "It's a great way to relax. You're intellectually challenged but it's something totally different from what you normally do."

Pope discovered the Christie's courses after a casual interest in antiques became a passion for art and design. "The thing that keeps me coming back is the quality of the teachers, it's really amazing," he says. "They leave you wanting more. No one ever leaves those classes bored."

A good place to find out what is on in your area is the UK-wide site www.hotcourses.com, which has more than a million courses on its database covering everything from accounting to pole-dancing. Two hundred and seventy courses are listed in knitting alone or, if you are looking for something more lively, there are 58 courses in rock'*' roll, mostly dance. Prices range from less than 25 a week to more than 100.

And indeed, a quick browse of Hotcourses shows that study does not have to be sedentary. Many listed are perfect antidotes to Christmas bingeing.

When Londoner Trischi Ward, 33, bought herself a chic pair of rollerblades, she hoped they would keep her trim. "I wanted to look cool, but when I went to Hyde Park to try them out, I just looked like a dippy cow," she says. "After a few months they'd become an art installation in my hallway."

Ward took a 10-week evening class course with Citiskate (www.citiskate.co.uk). "It was absolutely brilliant," she says. Unlike some classes .After a disappointing digital photography course, Ward started checking the Hotcourses customer reviews before parting with her cash. It is, she reckons, the key to finding a good class.

Most students will be looking for courses close to home, but for those who fancy a break while they study, there are the residential colleges, the country clubs of the quietly curious. There are 26 members of the Adult Residential Colleges Association, from Somerset to Birmingham, offering students a chance to live it up in a country house while they learn. At Farncombe Estate, Broadway, Worcestershire (www.farncombe estate.co. uk), there are courses in string chamber music and Gypsy fiddle in 2008, as well as in drawing and jewellery-making days, calligraphy and creative writing.

The oldest hands at quenching our curiosity are the universities. Many imagine they only cater for young people, but many now offer shorter courses or standalone modules in the evening to fit around busy schedules.

The most famously adult-friendly universities are the Open University and Birkbeck, University of London, both of which specialise in part-time courses for busy adults. But other universities are getting in on the act.

Bucks New University (www.bucks.ac.uk; 0800 0565 660) has a 12-week 165 ceramics course starting in February. Christopher Riggs, 60, took the university's upholstery course after retiring from a career as a researcher in the photographic industry. "It'd been a thing in the back of my mind for a few years," says Riggs. "It just seemed to fit. I get satisfaction from making things and repairing things."

Riggs has upholstered at home and spots dilapidated pieces to use as projects. "Starting something new is very valuable," he says.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

DT Teacher, Full time supply role, Maidstone school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently require an experienc...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Geography Teacher, Immediate start, Dover School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam