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10 OF THE BEST COURSES IN LONDON

If self-improvement is one of your New Year’s resolutions let us help you get motivated with this list of fun and educational courses on offer in London

1 Keeping chickens and bees
If you’re dreaming of The Good Life but don’t know where to begin when it comes to livestock, head to Hen Corner in west London where husband and wife duo Sara and Andy Ward have created patch of the countryside in London. Hen Corner has an overflowing kitchen garden and rows of fruit trees, not to mention a growing flock of hens and three colonies of honey bees. On Wednesday evenings from May to September Sara and Andy host beginners courses in keeping chickens. The class runs from 6.30pm to 8pm and cost £30 per person. Also on Wednesday afternoons (1pm to 3.30pm) is Hen Corner’s introduction to bee keeping course, which costs £45 per person.  Hen Corner, Hownslow, TW8; hencorner.com/courses

Fun and unusual courses in London

Tackle one of Claridge’s cooking masterclasses

2 Cooking masterclasses at Claridges
Make 2015 the year you enter Masterchef, or just conquer the art of carving. London hotel Claridges offers a whole host of grand cooking classes in its five-star kitchen. Our personal favourites are of the chocolate variety (British pudding and chocolate masterclasses), although that might go against your New Year’s resolutions, instead perhaps you’d prefer the fish masterclass or prep for the game season and find out how to cook those fiddly birds. There’s a different class each month, so pick the one for you. 49 Brook Street, London W1K 4HR; claridges.co.uk/master-classes

Fun and unusual courses in London

Learn the art of floristry from one of London’s top florists

3 McQueens floristry masterclasses
Kally Ellis has been arranging beautiful bouquets of flowers at London’s coolest restaurants, shops, fashion shows and events since 1991. Take one step closer to mimicking her design brilliance by joining a floristry masterclass at McQueens. The florist hosts short one day courses, which cost £190, choose from the likes of Flowers for Entertaining and Flowers for Gifts. One and four week classes delve further into flower, with the four week course being a vocational one for those thinking of becoming florists and costs £4, 935. 70-72 Old Street, London; mcqueens.co.uk/school

Fun and unusual courses in London

Make your own cheese at Neals Yard Dairy

4 Cheesemaking classes
If you haven’t had enough stilton, brie or camembert this Christmas to put you off cheese for life then Neal’s Yard Dairy’s Cheesemaking Fundamentals class is definitely for you. You’ll learn about the key ingredients, theories and methods involved in domestic cheesemaking; the results achieved by using various ingredients, such as raw or pasteurised milk and experience a hands-on session making cheese. The Cheesemaking Fundamentals classes run from 9.15am and usually end around 2.30pm, although that’s down to the setting of your cheese. It costs £120 per person and runs throughout the year.
Neal’s Yard Dairy, The Warehouse, 6-8 Park Street, SE1 9AB; nealsyarddairy.co.uk

5 Brew your own beer
Say ya-boo-sucks to #DryJanuary and embrace alcohol head on by learning to brew your own beer. London Beer Lab (LBL) in Brixton is the brainchild of Bruno Alajouanine and Karl O’Connor, who used to work in the City and came about when Bruno realised that many potential home-brewers were stuck in flats too cramped for beer-brewing. Workshops are for three people and when you book the date you can choose what type of beer you’d like to brew. After being provided with your recipe and ingredients, you’ll brew about 20 litres of your all-grain beer, which takes between four and five hours, then you’ll have to leave it to ferment for two to four weeks. Return to LBL for a bottling workshop and hey-presto! your beer will be ready for drinking. Workshops for three people cost £180 or you can do a one-on-one with the master brewer for £80. LAB is open on Saturdays and Sundays only. Arch 41 Nursery rd SW9 8BP; londonbeerlab.com

Fun and unusual courses in London

Time to impress the sommelier by taking a wine course at WSET in Bermondsey

6 WSET wine and spirit courses
Know your Pinot Noir from your Pinot Grigio with evening or weekend courses at Bermondsey’s WSET (The Wine and Spirit Education Trust). Courses are split into levels according to your knowledge and be warned, this isn’t just an excuse to booze – although you will be tasting several varieties in a session- there is an exam at the end of the course and you have to pass to proceed to the next level. You’ll cover old and new world wine, plus fortified wines, starting from the very beginning with how to taste wine. If wine isn’t your thing, there is a new sake course. Courses cost from £145 per person. 39-45 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3XF; wsetschool.com/which-course

Fun and unusual courses in London

Try your hand at taxidermy in 2015

7 Taxidermy
A day of Taxidermy might not immediately spring to mind as your New Year’s resolution, but it’s definitely one of the more unusual and intriguing courses out there. The class, on 15th February (Valentine’s celebrations perhaps?) will teach you all the basics of taxidermy, as instructed by Mabel Edwards, a fine art taxidermist. You will create a life-like mount of a mouse, but are free to bring any miniature props with you if you prefer. All the animals used are disease-free and weren’t killed for the class but there is a lot of blood and gore, so this is not one for the feint-hearted. Mabel is known for creating playful works of art featuring unique, contemporary bejewelled taxidermy. The class is 12 – 4pm and costs £70 per person, which includes tea or coffee and a G&T at the end, plus your mouse to take away. The Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH; idler.co.uk/product/taxidermy-sunday-2/

8 Leather making
Stop coveting that expensive handbag in the sale and make your own. Throughout January, February and March, Amanda Overs from I Can Make Bags will be teaching students to make their own leather clutch, with wrist strap and metal hardware. You’ll also learn how to use a sewing machine to work with leather. Classes last 2 hours and run from 6.30pm-8.30pm. Hackney Downs Studios, 3 Amhurst Terrace, E8 2BT; darlingcollective.com

Keep mind and body ultra fit with South London Krav Maga

Keep mind and body ultra fit with South London Krav Maga

9 Self-defence class
Learn something different and get in shape by making 2015 the year of the martial arts. Krav Maga, made up of a variety of techniques from boxing, Judo and wrestling, is the system of choice for army, police and security forces around the world. But don’t let all that serious talk put you off – South London Krav Maga is a friendly, expanding club operating out of Brixton, running classes for beginners to advanced levels. Krav Maga is regarded as the most effective method for the rapid development of fast, simple, effective and controlled self defence. In terms of fitness, the high intensity of the drills – which feature intense bursts of punch-kick combinations – mean efficient training in cardiovascular and muscular systems as it improves the use of oxygen, boosts metabolism and triggers the afterburn effect, creating lean, reactive muscles.The Brix, St Matthews Garden, Brixton SW2 1JF; 020 8432 2023; southlondonkravmaga.com

10 Learn French
Arnaud’s Language Kitchen aims to teach people French in a relaxed environment – in Arnaud’s kitchen in fact. Informal courses are coupled with a bit of French cooking, a bit of French eating. You don’t have to commit to months of grammar, Arnaud’s lessons can be booked as one-off sessions for £95 per person or four sessions for £350. You can either join in the morning (10am-1pm) or afternoon (2pm-5pm). The levels are split into Rusty, Chatty or Confident depending on how easy you find French conversation. Arnaud’s Language Kitchen will also do private tuition or corporate groups. 5 Palmerston House
66s St Paul Street, London, N1 7EE; arnaudslanguagekitchen.com

 

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