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

New Year, New Pastime

Chase away any hint of the January blues by trying one of these fab new hobbies for 2018.


It is scientifically proven that connecting with nature is one of the best ways to improve not only our physical wellbeing but our mental health too. At Surrey Wildlife Trust, they run a wide range of guided seasonal walks as well as nature-related adult learning courses and volunteering sessions. “Why not turn over a new leaf this new year and resolve to get back in touch with your wild side?” says Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Magowan. “Research has shown that getting closer to nature makes us happier and healthier – it’s so good for our mental wellbeing. We all lead such busy lives and we sometimes forget to stop and look around us. Also, signing up for one of our fantastic adult learning courses will help you to take time out to enjoy nature. And the money raised from running these sessions goes straight back into the Trust’s work conserving wildlife where you live. It’s a win win!” Among the events we can look forward to this month are a guided winter walk of Ashtead Park near Epsom; a one-day course on wetland birds at Mercers Country Park in Merstham; and another day- course on trees at Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve near Leatherhead.


What better way to start the new year than by taking up something creative? If you’re in need of a bit of inspiration, why not head over to the recently-opened local craft centre, Made in Sutton? Offering a range of courses for both children and adults, the classes provide the ideal way to de-stress, make new friends and you’ll also come away with your own creation. “Sutton is a great place to live, with lovely parks, fantastic schools and handy for commutes into London, but we felt lacking in creative things to do,” says Kirsty Prescott, who runs the centre. “Made in Sutton is still a fledgling business but is already addressing the need for a creative outlet. Our adult pottery painting nights are proving particularly popular; they cost just £20 per person, which includes a good-sized piece of pottery, and chocolate fondue on the night. In the new year, we are also expanding our adult classes to include crafts such as clay, mosaic and, hopefully, shoemaking.” For other creative activities in the area, have a look at the varied courses run by Surrey Adult Learning across the county, the classes at Surrey Art School in Newdigate near Dorking, and Adam Aaronson’s glassblowing workshops in West Horsley.


Another pursuit that benefits mind, body and soul alike is gardening, so maybe this could be the year that you get green-fingered? For a bit of inspiration, why not pop along to one of the fantastic open-garden events run by the National Garden Scheme (NGS)? As well as the chance to visit a beautiful local garden not normally open to the public, you’ll also be supporting some great charities too. “This looks set to be a great year for the NGS in Surrey with 75 gardens opening – six of them for the first time,” says Margaret Arnott, County Organiser for the NGS in Surrey. “From Tadworth, Kingswood and Sutton to Reigate, Dorking and Carshalton, there is sure to be something close to you. You’ll enjoy delicious tea and cakes and also help raise money for the many nursing charities supported by the NGS.” Among the local highlights this season will be 15 The Avenue, Cheam; 41 Shelvers Way, Tadworth; and Woodbury Cottage, Reigate.


One of the big new trends for 2017 was mindfulness, and one of the best ways to discover what it’s all about is to join a yoga class. As well as teaching you how to live in the present moment, it will also improve flexibility, help build core strength and enable you to unwind after a long day. “This ancient science has been practised for thousands of years and is a foolproof way to keep your body, mind and soul healthy, happy and free,” says Leon Deith, founder and yoga teacher at the Yoga Ananda holistic centre in Reigate, where they also offer a wide range of other classes too. “As leading practitioner Swami Vishnudevananda famously said, ‘health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness and yoga shows the way’.” Other yoga courses across the area include those at Box Hill Village Hall in Tadworth, the sessions at the Saraswati Yoga Studio in Sutton and the classes at Dahn Yoga in Epsom – to name but a few.


There is nothing quite as rewarding as giving up some time to help others – and with no shortage of charities in our corner of Surrey, there’s a whole range of volunteering opportunities locally. For instance, to give just one example, how about helping out with Girlguiding? “In Surrey, there are absolutely loads of fantastic opportunities to work with Brownies, Guides and our younger group Rainbows,” says Mary Zoeller, Division Commissioner for Girlguiding in Epsom. “No matter how much time you have to spare, you’ll be given a very warm welcome and can come and join in doing all the brilliant and exciting activities we offer girls of five years and older, including crafts, outdoor skills, games, cooking, life skills and so much more!” Other local charities who are always on the look-out for volunteers and/or fund-raisers include the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity in Sutton, Epsom’s Riding for the Disabled, The Children’s Trust in Tadworth, and the Wildlife Aid Foundation in Leatherhead.

New Year New Pastime© Made in Sutton© NGS