Fancy a spot of fun self-improvement in the company of like-minded people, all under the tutelage of proper experts? Why not enrol on one of these workshops now?

Our habitual vows to learn a new skill are, all too often, the short-lived (read doomed) territory of new year’s resolutions. But now, as we approach the altogether lighter mood of summer, we say it’s time to shake off those tired ideas, mired as they are in the cold, short days of winter; the ones that only make us feel bad about ourselves. Instead, we are going to make this our moment, choosing only to try extra-curricular activities that are genuinely fun. No matter if your plans to learn a new language have progressed no further than the module of Duo Lingo as we approach the fifth month of the year – summer itself is a brilliant time to pick up a new pastime, thanks to longer days, more energising weather and, if we’re lucky, enough time off work to form a longer-lasting habit. And, happily, there are a plethora of excellent workshops you can try with some real experts – whether you go for one jolly session or you pick up a new passion for life. These are a few of our favourites, whether online or IRL, to book for yourself or as an excellent present.

Floristry With Willow Crossley




Among running a pub, a flower subscription service, and decorating beautiful events, the ever-fragrant Willow Crossley finds time to head up the occasional workshop throughout the year, too. You can join her online for a comprehensive online floristry course – in partnership with the excellent Create Academy – or you could plump for one of her in-person events, such as the late summer dahlia day in September, or A Celebration of Tulips on 18 May (and what more heavenly thing to celebrate?). What could possibly be lovelier? Book here.


Gardening At Chelsea Physic Garden




Chelsea Physic Garden: if you know, you know. A hidden away botanical oasis in the middle of Chelsea, the garden has offered solace to city-dwellers since 1673, when it was first established by the apothecaries in order to grow medicinal plants. Today, they hold regular – and exceptionally well-priced workshops (many are just £35) – from how to grow your own food to learning the art of botanical sketching. And, if you really get the Chelsea Physic bug, you can enrol on the Medicinal Plant Summer School for £500, which includes all materials and lunch each day. Book here.


Sourdough Classes At E5 Bakehouse




East London has been at the vanguard of the sourdough revolution since it started. It makes sense, then, to head for the epicentre to hone your skills – whether you became a lockdown pro, or you’re just starting out now. You can choose from a seven-hour beginners’ class or an advanced one or, if you’re ready to diversify, why not try your hand at sourdough pizza-making? It’s fun, it’s for everyone – and it’s good for you. What’s not to love? From £75. Book here.

Pottery Classes At Skandihus




If you’ve already got the pottery bug, why not commit for six (from £200) or twelve weeks (£370) at the wonderful Skandihus, which has locations in Hackney and Walthamstow? And if you’re still on the fence, for £45 you can come for an afternoon’s taster class, after which you’ll get to go home with a hand-built glazed pot. Soothing Scandi vibes pervade here – and you’ll wind up with a good handful of creations ready to take home or to give as presents. Book here.


Realist Painting With Tereza Barnard




Whether you’re a semi-pro or you haven’t picked up a brush since GCSE art class, realist painter Tereza Barnard’s courses skilfully impart all the skills you need to capture the human form, bit by bit. Available to download online, her ‘painting the human eye’ module is now available (£115), with more courses coming soon, so you’ll soon nail the whole human form. Book here.


Pickling At Little Duck




Most of us are, by now, well-versed in the importance of fermenting and pickling foods for our microbiome. If you want to become a pro in the field, simply sign up at Dalston’s Little Duck – The Picklery (sister to Soho’s Duck Soup) for a masterclass with chef Thom Eagle. They sell out fast, so do keep a keen eye on the website. Book here.


Embroidery At The Fabled Thread




We are huge fans of Eppie Thompson’s The Fabled Thread, an embroidery business started in lockdown and which has since gone stratospheric, gracing the pages of glossy style bibles everywhere. Now you can learn from Eppie herself over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour workshop for beginners, taking place on 5 May (£45). Book here.


Cookery With Anna Jones




The Sunday Times labelled cook, writer and food stylist Anna Jones ‘the new Nigella’ – and it wasn’t hyperbole. Her exceptional plant-based repertoire is as beautiful to look at is it is fiendishly moreish. Through her collaboration with Create Academy, you can pick up five hours’ worth of online tutorials, all broken down into eight- to fifteen-minute sessions – all for £97. Book here.


Butchery At The Ginger Pig




More and more of us are going plant-based year on year. However, for committed carnivores, there are many ways to ensure that one’s meat consumption falls at the responsible end of the spectrum. Firstly, do eat less but better quality. And secondly, ensure that you’re eating nose to tail, in order to avoid unnecessary waste. And that’s where The Ginger Pig’s workshops come in; firstly you’ll learn all about provenance, and secondly, you’ll discover how to use every last scrap of your meat – as well, of course, as how to make the best crackling in the world. Choose your preferred meat and sharpen those knives – all for £165. Book here.


Candle Making At The London Refinery




The lovely London Refinery in Ealing is all about making natural, handmade candles using fresh ingredients – you won’t, then, find a noxious toxin within sniffing distance here. Classes are held every Saturday and cost £59. Not bad for the acquisition of a whole new skill and a beautiful smelling house into the bargain. Book here.


Screen Printing At Print Club London




You may have kept up your sketchbook all these years after leaving school. Perhaps you even reach for the brushes every now and again when the muse stirs you. But how many of us non-artists have kept up any efforts with printing since leaving school? And yet the joys of screen printing are hard to underestimate. The Print Club hosts everything from ‘deluxe’ workshops (£160), which run for two days, corporate workshops, and beginners’ classes (£65). At the latter you’ll learn the basics, get messy and come home with your own artwork. Joy! Book here.


Block Print With Molly Mahon




If you count yourself among the happy number who were kept amused through lockdown with Molly Mahon’s potato printing classes online, then this is one for you. She holds workshops all over the country, typically in exquisite locations, such as Thyme in the Cotswolds, and Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex. A session at the former, learning how to block-print tea towels costs £95, while a lampshade masterclass at Charleston in October is £200. Can’t make it? Join Molly’s Create Academy online course instead for £127. Book here.


Gardening With Sarah Raven




Queen of the cutting garden Sarah Raven hosts one-day courses throughout the year from her sublime Perch Farm in Sussex, as well as in other locations across the country. All look wonderful, although we’re particularly drawn to the ‘magnificent pots’ event in Worcestershire in October with the divine Arthur Parkinson (£175). Book here.


By Nancy Alsop
April 2022

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