Things To Do in Barnes, Battersea, Cheam, Clapham, Epsom, Fulham, Kingston, Putney, Surbiton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon

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Cookery Weekends Away

I often take comfort from a quote by Julia Childs ‘...no-one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.’

What better way to learn than from the experts in beautiful surrounds, a relaxing environment and a massage thrown in. Here are my top 5 picks for cookery schools out of London:

Daylesford Organic Cookery School, Gloucestershire

Holistic cooking, yoga and a massage

For those of you who like cooking and frequent Daylesford Organic Café in Westbourne Grove like I do, a cooking course at Daylesford Organic in Kingham may appeal. The courses cover bread making, basics of meat preparation to dinner party menus. One innovative course and definitely worth trying is the ‘Holistic Seasonal Cooking and Hay Barn Spa Day’- this cooking class is complemented by a yoga session and a deep-tissue massage at the award-winning Hay Barn Spa on-site. Also on-site are the Farm Shop and Café so you can shop for local produce and enjoy a delicious meal and coffee for a perfect relaxing weekend. Daylesford also offers accommodation in pretty posh cottages close by: www.daylesfordorganic.com

The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Oxford

Pretty posh nosh

I have a certain admiration for self-taught chefs – must be something appealing about the unconventional. The two most notable self-taught chefs that come to mind are Raymond Blanc and Heston Blumenthal. Blanc’s Le Manoir, nestled in the picturesque Oxfordshire village of Great Milton, offers superb two-starred Michelin dining, a cookery school and luxurious accommodation in a stunning Victorian English country-house hotel. For a truly indulgent break book in for a meal, a stay and a cooking course. The courses on offer include chocolate-themed, patisseries and desserts, bread making to dinner parties in painfully idyllic surrounds. The overall experience may cost you a pretty penny but it will be unforgettable: www.manoir.com

River Cottage Cookery School: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Devon

Hands-on, nose-to-tail

Fearnley-Whittingstall is widely known for his uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food and has earned a huge following through his River Cottage TV series and books. Park Farm, also known as River Cottage HQ, is located on the Dorset and Devon border near Axminster. Whether you are an amateur cook, a food enthusiast or looking for a gift experience: there’s a range of short courses to inspire. Courses are seasonal, run over one day (typically from 10am - 5pm), include a full lunch and course materials. A list of nearby accommodation is provided on the website: www.rivercottage.net

The Padstow Seafood School: Rick Stein, Cornwall

Pescatarian delights and more

There are so many reasons to visit Cornwall, particularly if you are keen on seafood and Rick Stein. I only became a fan of Stein after I saw ‘Far Eastern Odyssey’ on TV last year. It was a captivating culinary journey exploring the diverse food cultures of South-East Asia, in fact I liked it so much I bought the cookbook. Stein owns and runs four restaurants in the small Cornish fishing village of Padstow with his ex-wife, Jill and also a cookery school - the Padstow Seafood School. The School has earned a reputation as being a course that revolves around lunch. There are a variety of courses on offer including specialist fish classes in Sushi and Sashimi, Italian, Thai and Southern India cookery. Short courses are available including one day course over a weekend. You are spoilt for choice on the accommodation available all within walking distance: www.rickstein.com

Tante Marie, Surrey

Cordon Bleu experience

For those of you who take your cooking seriously then Tante Marie School of Cookery may be the place for you. Tante Marie is one of only two cookery schools in the UK allowed to award Cordon Bleu qualifications - the world’s best name in culinary training. Based in a Victorian mansion in secluded grounds in Woking, Surrey, it offers a wide range of cookery courses suitable for beginners to professionals. Short courses are aimed at ‘Lifestyle Cooks’ and are a great gift idea. Accommodation is not available on site so you will need to make your own arrangements: www.tantemarie.co.uk

Daylesford Organic Cookery SchoolRiver Cottage Cookery SchoolPadstow Seafood School - Rebecca Bernstein