2010 preview: Courses and activities
Whether you’ve had a full year of vice, or just too many mince pies over Christmas, January is the perfect time to swap bad habits for good ones. Niki Boyle provides some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions and shows you where, and how, to get involved in some admirable self-improvement
I resolve to eat well
There are a few standard rules of healthy eating: low carb intake; five-a-day etc. But instead of advocating these shallow mantras and (supposedly) quick fixes, we’re opting for the ‘eat well’ approach. There are numerous establishments equipped to help broaden your culinary palate. Cooking Mania (Davidson Mains, Edinburgh; www.cookingmania.co.uk) will encourage you to try cooking various cuisines including Japanese and Spanish, as well as vegetarian and seasonal menus. It’s also fully child-friendly, with classes for kids and students available. Courses range from £40 for a single adult’s evening to £300 for a week-long kid’s course.
In Glasgow, The Cookery School (Merchant City, Glasgow; www.thecookeryschool.org) offers a comprehensive selection of cookery courses, with kid’s options and speciality classes such as wine, chocolate and cocktail evenings also available. Prices range from £29.50 for a few hours to £399 for a five-day course.
After you’ve learned to cook something nourishing, you’ll need to avail yourself of the best ingredients – Real Foods in Edinburgh (branches at Broughton St and Brougham St) have an extensive selection of the best natural, organic and vegetarian options for guilt-free treats.
… learn something new
Learning a new language is a common feature on New Year’s resolutions lists. Specialists such as Alliance Francais in Glasgow (www.afglasgow.org.uk) are probably best if you have your eye on something specific (like French, for example). If you fancy choosing from a variety of options, there are also the traditional educational establishments such as the Institute for Applied Language Studies at Edinburgh University (www.ials.ed.ac.uk) and the Glasgow University Modern Language Department (www.gla.ac.uk/departments/smlc) whose Language @ Lunchtime course costs £190 for 16 weeks (with discounts for staff or students).
If you’d rather improve your body language, Dance Base in Edinburgh (www.dancebase.co.uk) offer classes in pretty much everything dance-based (as you’d expect) including classical ballet, tango, and jive. Dance House in Glasgow (www.dancehouse.org) does similarly good work on the west coast, with some interesting diversions into flamenco and Butoh (traditional Japanese movement).
Less strenuous forms of self-expression can be experienced at the Ramshorn Theatre, part of the University of Strathclyde Drama Centre (www.strath.ac.uk /culture/ramshorn). Classes run in the evenings and cost £90 (or £60 for members), and cover a variety of theatrical skills, including directing, script-writing, acting and stand-up comedy.
Some traditional educational establishments do left-field courses if you fancy something a bit different: in among their textiles and fashion courses, Telford College (www.ed-coll.ac.uk) also run part-time and evening courses in Floristry; Napier University (www.napier.ac.uk) run a full-time MA in Screenwriting; and Strathclyde University (www.chem.strath.ac.uk) offer a ten-week course on novel-writing. Check out individual prospectuses for more details. Musos should head for recording studio Sound Sound (www.soundsound.co.uk) who offer an array of recording equipment and opportunities.
… get fit
As a break from the regular grind of jogging and gym memberships, be adventurous – skiing and snowboarding lessons & facilities are available at Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Centre (www.ski-glasgow.org) and the Midlothian Snow Sports Centre at Hillend, Edinburgh (tinyurl.com/ydnbxoq). If you’d rather go up than down, climbing facilities are available at the Glasgow Climbing Centre on Paisley Road (www.glasgowclimbingcentre.com), with prices starting at £7.10 for adults, and monthly/annual pass options available. In Edinburgh, such facilities are provided by Alien Rock, Newhaven (www.alienrock.co.uk), with a starting rate of £6.70 and similar monthly/yearly options. Alternatively, all these activities are available at Glasgow’s Xscape at Braehead (www.xscape.co.uk/snow/braehead), which boasts ‘real’ snow as opposed to dry slopes, climbing walls and an aerial adventure course. One-hour skiing and snowboarding lessons start at £27; passes for various durations start at £12 for an hour.
Alternatively, get out and about with your exercise – Cycling Edinburgh (www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk) has all the info on organised groups cycling around town, from 10-milers to break you in, to epic 70-mile coast-to-coast runs. Best of all, most of them are free – just show up with your bike and go! The Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op (www.tinyurl.com/ 8jqwfe) runs foundation cycle maintenance courses starting at £24.47 if your bike needs a tune-up first. If you don’t fancy braving the weather but still want the bicycle workout, head to the Leith Victoria Swim Centre (tinyurl.com/yabs3uf) and check out the RPM studio – 20 brand-new fitness bikes, with 17 classes a week to choose from.
… free my creative side
The Edinburgh College of Art (www.eca.ac.uk) offers evening courses over a period of several weeks or two-week intensive summer classes. Courses include specialities such as Glass Design or Illustration, as well as general introductions in the How To Be An Artist series. Practical courses start around £80, and Creative Thinking classes – focussed on individual artists and their working practices – are available for £55 each.
Creative Glass Designs in Edinburgh (www.creativeglassdesigns.co.uk) offers beginner’s courses in stained glass production. Five-lesson courses run on weekday afternoons for £95, or a standalone Saturday class is available for £80 for seven hours. In Glasgow, RDW Glass (www.rdwglass.co.uk) runs an initial six-week course of evening classes for £125, after which their studios and assistance are available for your use at £15 an evening.
Fireworks Ceramics Studio (www.fireworksceramics.co.uk) in Glasgow runs two £90 courses that cover all aspects of pottery, from developing the skills needed on the pottery wheel, to hand-building ceramics and glazing. Courses run for two-hours once a week, for six weeks.
The Leith School of Art (www.leithschoolofart.co.uk) has evening courses in Jewellery as well as the standard drawing and painting classes, which are also available in the daytime.
… just relax!
So far, everything we’ve featured is about doing something new, extra and challenging. If you’ve already got enough of that in your life, maybe you should relax a bit! The Aditi Yoga Centre in Edinburgh (www.aditiyoga centre.com) offers a range of yoga classes for all ages as well as tai chi and pilates. Beginners courses are £70, with more experienced drop-in classes available from £10. There are also several varieties of alternative therapies, including massage, acupuncture and reiki, starting at £25. Metta in Glasgow (www.yogamassage.co.uk) offers many of the same services, along with training courses for £695 if you fancy being a practitioner as opposed to just a client.
If even yoga seems like too much effort, visit Shivago in Edinburgh (www.shivagothaiclinic.com), and simply lie back and let them work the wonders of their wide range of Thai massage techniques on your body. They specialise in therapies such as acupressure and Thai Cupping treatment, used to cleanse blood and relieve energy stagnation.
Yet less active still are floatation tanks – Willow Trading Rooms in Glasgow (tinyurl.com/yadpnn3) and Edinburgh Floatarium (www.edinburghfloatarium.co.uk) offer one-hour sessions of simply floating on your back and enjoying perfect peace and solitude, for £30-£35.
… be daring
If all of our suggestions so far seem a bit tame, then go for something more suspenseful! There’s a couple of places in Scotland that offer the chance to learn the arts of aerial dance and trapeze. All Or Nothing, based in Out Of The Blue Rehearsal Studio in Leith (www.aerialdance.co.uk) and Spinal Chord in Glasgow (http://spinal chord.com) offer introductory courses from as little as £12.