From watercolour painting to cheese-making...six of the best hands-on holidays

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The Independent Travel

1. Indian ink

Soak up the colours of Kerala with your brush on a new painting holiday offered by arts holidays specialist Authentic Adventures (01453 834137; authenticadventures .co.uk).

Take a 13-night tour of the hill stations, backwaters and coast of Kerala and work in watercolours, acrylics and drawing, with a large part of the tuition covering subjects that cross all media (subject matter, viewpoint, light and shade, texture and colours). Holidays start from £2,495 per person, including flight, full board accommodation and classes (eight full days and three half days of tuition). Winter departures only.

2. Urban graffiti

Prototype Banksy? Then book yourself into a lesson at Zap Graffiti Arts (0151 708 7073; zapgraffiti.co.uk), in Liverpool, where workshops in street art are available, from one hour to one day. Zap Graffiti Arts originated in Edinburgh in 2005 to positively promote and challenge conventional ideas of the medium. It is now based in Liverpool, but offers classes around the country. A one-hour class is £30 for up to three people. Kids' courses are also available.

3. Lost arts

Choose from venerable arts such as woodblock printing, Byzantine icon painting, relief collagraph printing, mixed-media flower studies and bookbinding, at West Dean College (0844 4994408; westdean.org.uk), a large country house-style school located in the middle of the 6,400-acre West Dean Estate (below), within the South Downs National Park, West Sussex. Residential courses cost from £85 for a weekend (Friday to Sunday) and from £226 for a five-day course, which includes half-board accommodation. The college is also offering a Creative Sampler weekend (4-6 June) where you can explore and practise a diverse range of art and craft skills and create four finished pieces to take away with you. From £244 per person. Accommodation for two nights including meals is an additional £85 per person.

4. Picture perfect

Creative Escapes (0203 086 9110; creative-escapes.co.uk) offers a comprehensive introduction to photography during its long weekend breaks to Istanbul or Norway, with one-to-one clinics, classroom tutorials and practical assignments. Learn how to work your film or digital SLR with lessons on aperture, shutter, exposure and lens selection from experienced professional photographers. The course covers portraiture, landscape, still life and documentary photography. Four nights' accommodation, most meals, tuition and transfers from £875 per person. Flights extra.

5. School scents

Learn the secret art of the perfumer and make your own signature scent on cologne and perfume making courses in France with GoLearnTo (08445 020 445; golearnto.com). Teach your nose to select the top, middle and base notes from a menu of essential oils on an organic perfume course in the Languedoc, or head to Grasse, the home of Chanel No 5, where you can learn all about the history of France's most famous scent and create your own secret recipe, which is kept in a vault for you to order on demand. Four days, from £449 per person, including accommodation and 14 hours of tuition.

6. Cheesy creations

Sustainable, edible and just a pretty cool thing to do these days: delve into the culinary arts with a cheese-making holiday. Hagley Bridge (01984 629026; hagleybridgefarm .co.uk) a dairy farm in Somerset, offers weekend courses teaching you how to make cheese from even so humble a source as supermarket milk. There are various classes teaching the skills needed to make soft and hard cheese, yogurt, butter and various cream products. Also a bit of animal husbandry can be thrown in if you like. The course costs £235, and accommodation in the beautifully located farmhouse costs £35 per person per night, including breakfast.

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