New Hampshire hobbies to take up in 2016

PUBLISHED: 11:55 04 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:55 04 January 2016


It can be all too easy at this time of year to slip into bad habits and comfy slippers. Instead of hibernating, why not take up a new hobby says Claire Pitcher

Wild & Wonderful

A great way to mix learning, exercise and a love for nature, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust runs a plethora of courses throughout the year. Just some of the examples include colour-mixing through the seasons using watercolours, small mammal survey techniques, a bird safari at Blashford Lakes and, starting this month, there’s Beginners Silver Clay Natural Forms at Testwood Lakes on January 10. The Trust is always looking for volunteers too, whether you’re interested in the more practical activities on their reserves, or wanting to provide indoor support on particular projects, there’s sure to be something to suit. You can find out more on their website at

Fighting fit

If you’re bored of the gym already there is a fun and frantic alternative to improving your fitness. Hell Runner is just one of the obstacle courses in Hampshire and claims to be tougher then a Tough Mudder. Wade through water up to chest height and run across 12 miles of rough terrain at Longmoor Camp near Bordon. See Or have a go at The Maverick Original Trail Run in Bransgore on March 21, Rough & Tumble in Fordingbridge on March 26 and Lake Fear Hostile, Ringwood, on August 13. For more details and races see

Capture Hampshire

If you were lucky enough to get a digital SLR camera for Christmas or if yours is gathering dust, perhaps a photography course could give you the inspiration and skills to help you on your way to some stunning snaps. There are workshops regularly held at Winchester City Mill ( Beginners through to experts are also welcome at Meonshore Studios in Fareham, run by Mike French ( and photographer Ian Badley runs photography courses in Hampshire and other picturesque parts of the country, as well as one to one tuition (

Take the plunge

If you’re a keen swimmer and are regularly spotted doing lengths of the local pool, why not take your training in a different direction and take up open water swimming? But before you don your trunks and jump into the nearest river, you need to ensure you will be swimming somewhere safe and where you are permitted. There’s a brilliant Open Water Swimming Centre at the New Forest Water Park near Fordingbridge that has a 600m and 1,000m circuit (depending on the day you go on). Alternatively you could join the Shack Sharks Swimming Community in Lee-on-the-Solent (Tel. 02380 010864). Over in Eastleigh, at Lakeside, you can swim the 350m circuit (email for details).

Become a Masterchef

If you want to impress at a dinner party, be able to perfect the art of creating sauces or want to sharpen your knife skills, a cookery course could be the answer. Among some of the schools in Hampshire are Newlyns, who run around 40 different courses at the farm shop near Odiham ( Clare’s Cuisine in Colden Common can show you how to bake macarons, create fish dishes and prepare vegetarian courses; plus they offer one-to-one tuition ( Based at Brockenhurst College, at the New Forest Cookery School, you can learn to cook using local ingredients in industry standard kitchens. They have a plethora of courses just for men. Take a look at

Be tech savvy

Not all of us live for our computers and mobile phones, but would still like to know the basics on how to explore the Internet and use social media to keep in touch with family. Age UK can help as they hold regular drop in sessions and workshops at centres across the county. You can go along to Age UK Southampton (02380 368636), New Forest (02380 841199) and Cowplain in Waterlooville (02392 266423) where a drop in session costs from just £3. See You can also ‘get to know your iPad’ at the library in Chandler’s Ford and learn about the Internet and email at Gosport Discovery Centre…in fact, most Hampshire libraries run free and paid for sessions. Go online ( for the full list or call 0300 555 1387.

Discover your past

With the popularity of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? more and more of us are searching into our past to find out about our family trees. You could opt for the national websites you see advertised on television, but there is an even better way. For free, you can go along to the Hampshire Family History Society’s Research Centre in Cosham and peruse their hundreds of records and use their online services ‘Find my Past’, ‘FREEBMD’ and ‘Family Search’. Even better they have expert volunteers on hand who can advise and assist you with your search. Find out more at

Reinvent your home

If you’re planning some home improvements in 2016 then you could always avoid the trip to IKEA and try your hand at upcycling. Instead of throwing away old furniture, clothing, curtains or even outdoor planters or watering cans, rework them by either taking them apart and repurposing or enhance their appearance using paints or treatments. If you want to learn some upholstery skills, chalk paint techniques or refinishing homewares you can book a bespoke course through Quirkarelic in Eastleigh ( or try Consortium in Romsey ( Or there are plenty of tutorials and forums online.

Back to nature

Foraging has fast become a popular pastime for those of us who love the outdoors and eating as locally as possible. It’s not surprising then to discover there are plenty of places and courses to try in the county. Forager John Wright runs courses through the seasons, from hedgerows, to shorelines and forests. Find out how to identify many different species and varieties of edible produce right on your doorstep. Find dates and more details at HIWWT also run courses on foraging through the year, including a guide by Susan Simmonds on how to identify nuts, seeds and berries. See

Embrace your creative side

From pottery to painting, crafting is very on trend at the moment, and there are lots of classes to try in Hampshire. Angela Carter runs pottery courses at her studio near Liphook (, as does Penny Spooner in Whitchurch ( If you need a refresher course in textiles or are interested in knitting perhaps, then visit the Make and Craft Kitchen in Southsea, Tuesdays to Saturdays. They also do papercrafts ( If you fancy taking up painting, then why not sign up for a course at Cross Barn in Odiham? They range from watercolour through to oils and chalk pastel (

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