A-Z guide to learning something new this spring

Got an itch for a new hobby? Norwich has a myriad of quirky classes, workshops, clubs and workouts giving you no excuse not to learn something new. SIMON PARKIN offers an A-Z guide to learning something new this spring.


The Norwich Society, Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich, 01603 765606, www.thenorwichsociety.co.uk

George Borrow wrote of Norwich that it was 'a fine old city…view it from whatever side you will'. The Norwich Society aims to keep it that way by championing the best buildings from past and present. The society has a diverse calendar of activities and events. Forthcoming is a talk about the Colman family (Feb 16), the history of Jews in Norwich (Mar 16) and a walk around the Rosary Cemetery (Mar 20).


Richard Hughes Cookery School, The Lavender House, Brundall, 01603 712215, www.richardhughescookeryschool.co.uk

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Get to grips with nose-to-tail eating. 2011 sees the return of our ever popular butchery days with award-winning butcher David Barnard at Richard Hughes Cookery School. Watch him butcher up a whole carcass and get ideas on how to use those under-utilised cuts. The next dates include pork (Mar 30) and lamb (July 13). Places �55 per person, including demonstration, lunch and a goodie bag. Not for vegetarians!


Stevie Spud Circus Workshop, Taverham, 01603 260407, www.steviespud.co.uk

Stevie Spud is a full time professional children's entertainer who offers circus workshops for all ages. Its a chance to experience a variety of circus skills including juggling, balancing, plate spinning, devil sticks, stilts and Chinese ribbons.


Happy Pets, 01603 611184, www.happy-pets.co.uk

Make man's best friend your learning partner by going on a dog training centre. Would you like your dog to become a well mannered companion that is calm in the house, sleeps through the night, walks nicely on the lead and comes back when you call it? Happy Pets run wide range of both courses and individual tuition sessions — from puppy classes to agility training. It's all supervised by experts, and as well as both you and your pet learning it's a chance to meet new people too.


The 'slow clothes' movement — the term used to describe the backlash against disposable fashion, in favour of hand-made or reinvented, vintage clothes — has rapidly caught on. There is a huge range of embroidery, dress-making and courses run around the county. More details on 0344 800 8002 or visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk/adulteducation


Norfolk Fencing Club, UEA Sportspark, www.norfolkfencingclub.co.uk

Whether it's to defend your honour, avenge the death of an aristocratic relative, or understand Dumas's 'The Three Musketeers' with a new sense of expert finesse and heightened respect, fencing classes can provide a flurry of benefits. The Norfolk Fencing Club, established in 1946, is one of the premiere fencing clubs in the region. They meet at the Sportspark every Wednesday from 7.40pm. A six week beginner course costs �40. Equipment for beginners is supplied. More details from D. Goodwin on 01603 787355.


It's all about craft classes and granny skills nowadays. Along with sewing and knitting, Very relaxing, once you know

what you're doing. Find where and when you can learn the basics by popping into Norfolk Yarn (01603 417001, www.norfolkyarn.co.uk), a shire to all things needle-craft on Aylsham Road, where they hold regular events and courses. There will be knit-and-natter session on April 5. Upcoming courses include a knitting workshop (April 16). Meanwhile Contemporary Knitting: The Next Generation a 10-week evening course at Dragon Hall, from April 28-June 30, will see artist Sue Maton reveal how easy it is to create your own unique knitted and crocheted objects. Learn as circular knitting, fairisle and cabling. Places �110 (�95 cons).


Sterling Helicopters, Norwich Airport, 01603 417156, www.flysterling.co.uk

Rise above the new year doldrums and explore the Norfolk countryside from a lofty height by training as a helicopter pilot. At Stirling Helicopters anyone can have a whirl. Once airborne, you'll be shown how to pilot the Schweizer helicopter and have a chance to fly it yourself. A 30-minute introductory lesson is �199, rising to �347 for an hour. If you get the bug, Sterling also run full private pilot licence courses.


Planet Ice, Drayton High Road, Norwich, 01603 416600, www.planet-ice.co.uk

If you've been inspired by ITV's Dancing On Ice, then taking to the ice rink could be a chance to pick up some new skills along with your skates. Planet Ice at the old Sports Village has a popular rink with introductory offers, lessons and public skating sessions throughout the week for under �7 (skate hire �2).


Wensum Lodge, Norwich, 0344 8008002, www.norfolk.gov.uk/adulteducation

Get a taste of the wonderful relaxing art of Indian Head Massage. One-day courses are held at Wensum Lodge, teaching the basics of how the therapy works and practise some techniques in an informal friendly atmosphere. Places �22 (�9 cons).


Dragon Hall, King Street, Norwich, 01603 663922, www.dragonhall.org

If you fancy trying your hand at jewellery making, a number of tasters days are being run by experts this spring at Dragon Hall all aspects of the craft, producing lovely results. A wire-work workshop (April 3) is a chance to discover the wonders of working with wire and learn how to transform it into innovative jewellery with designer-maker Ali Kramarchuk. Then jewellery designer Elaine Martin will teach design of jewellery from 'art clay silver' (April 17). Places �30 (�25 cons).


Anglia Karting, North Pickenham, Swaffham, 01760 441777, www.anglia-karting.co.uk

Fancy putting your driving skills to the test. Try karting — evening Formula 1 champs Lewis Hamilton and Mi-chael Schumacher began at the wheel of a go-kart. Anglia Karting will get you going, with a special �23 half-hour New Year offer on Saturdays and Sundays.


There are wide range of lectures, talks and events that — though you may assume they are aimed only at students — are in fact open to the public. Try the UEA (www.uea.ac.uk), Norwich University College of the Arts (www.nuca.ac.uk), John Innes Centre (www.jic.ac.uk) and City College Norwich (www.ccn.ac.uk) and broaden your mind.


Do you believe in magic? Or are you often called upon to impress small children you are related to at the drop of a hat? Conjuring emporium Davenports Magic has classes to become acquainted with the skills of misdirection, card magic and everything else you need to know before you can proudly proclaim yourself the new Houdini (or at least the next Paul Daniels).


Norwich Arts Centre, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

If you've always fancied writing that novel or just fancy expressing your creative side, Norwich Arts Centre runs regular creative writing courses. The latest 10-week course (places �75) is under way. Subjects covered include plot, character, imagery, choosing a point of view to tell your story from and approaches to language. The last session includes an informal presentation of a piece of work from each student.


NWT Cley Marshes, North Norfolk, 01263 740008, www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Feeling twitchy? Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Cley Marshes offers regular two-hour Birds For Beginners course where you join one of our local experts to learn about the birds on the reserve. If you're after something more serious why not join the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society who share the enjoyment of birdwatching and encourage novice birdwatchers to take an active part. They've got a field trip planned this Sunday to Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes. www.wvbs.co.uk


Print making can allow you to express your arty side while not calling too heavily on your ability to draw. Broadland Arts (www.broadlandarts.co.uk) is running a three-day course (April 8-10) in high quality printmaking in this ever-chic medium led by Richard Bawden is one of the UK's most celebrated printmakers. While Nicola Slattery (www.nicolaslattery.com) has a weekend course (Mar 26/27) that will be a great introduction to collagraph and drypoint.


It's thrilling, it's intense and it's one of the nation's favourite pastimes: the pub quiz. If you're not already a foun-tain of facts you soon could be if you joined a quiz team where competition is fierce and knowledge is power. Pubs that have regular quiz nights include The Beehive, the Garden House, the Rose Tavern, the Golden Star and the Cellar House in Eaton.


High-octane and not for the faint of heart, roller derby has grown in popularity since Drew Barrymore's film Whip It introduced it to the masses. Don't panic if your skates have been gathering dust in a wardrobe since you were 11, the Norfolk Brawds — Norfolk's first roller derby team — are always looking for fresh talent with bags of attitude. They meet at Funky's Roller Skating Rink and play in regional leagues. Be sure to remember your mouthguard and your knee pads and you'll be fine. www.norfolkbrawds.com


The Canoe Man, 0845 4969177, www.thecanoeman.com

Norfolk's Canoe Man runs the School of Wilderness Bushcraft. The where you can unleash your inner Ray Mears to experience nature like never before; exploring the forgotten skills dating back to our indigenous ancestors, utilising skills from around the world. One day courses (�45 adults, �35 children) include knife skills, shelter building, traditional fire-making techniques and backcountry cooking. The two-day course (�95 adult, �75 children) also takes in basic carving and cutting skills, constructing a bivvy shelter.


Dragon Hall, King Street, Norwich, 01603 663922, www.dragonhall.org

In Medieval times merchants like Dragon Hall founder Robert Toppes imported beautiful and intricate textiles and silks from around the world. Fabrics dyed brought the wonders of the globe into the homes of British people for the first time. Dragon Hall is hosting workshops (April 6-8) where you can create your own display of wealth and good taste to take home and impress your visitors. Places �5.


This tiny, twangy, cartoon instrument has made a popular resurgence in recent years, with classes popping up all over the country. For a good introduction, I Love Uke (www.ukulele-lessons.co.uk) offers beginners lessons (30-min �12/45-min �18). After just a few lessons strummers will be able to play through songs from start to finish. Then why not join up with the Norwich Ukulele Society which meets every other Sunday at the York Tavern, Leicester Street, Norwich. There is a 30-40 minute workshop before each meeting for anyone that feels they would like some extra help. This starts at 4.15pm and cost is �5 per person.


Norwich Community Agriculture (NCA) (norwichcommunityag.blogspot.com) is currently being established to run two organic vegetable growing projects: a four-acre site at Postwick whose members will subscribe to a weekly share of the vegetables, salads and fruit; and a school market garden based on two acres of the Hewett School that will produce vegetables and salads for the school kitchen. Why not get involved with these commu-nity-minded approaches towards where we get our five-a-day from. Alternatively learn more about getting your own allotment at:



You might like the odd glass of plonk but are you clueless about fine wines? Brushing up on your knowledge. Norwich Assembly House (01603 626402, www.assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk) hosts wine tasting evenings. Meanwhile there is a 10-week Monday evening course at Wensum Lodge where you can improve your knowledge, discuss wine using the appropriate terminology and build on identification by taste, texture and nose. Places �110 (�44 cons). 0344 8008002, www.norfolk.gov.uk/adulteducation


Don't pretend that you haven't occasionally – just occasionally – flirted with the idea of escaping to Las Vegas and making a living as a good-natured yet utterly seductive pole dancer? To prepare Pole Fusion (www.polefusion.co.uk), offers pole dancing taster sessions, fitness sessions and even burlesque classes at the Top Body Gym in Gorleston. Courses are aimed at complete beginners, all you need is the right attitude and a basic level of fitness.


A five-week beginners yoga class has just started at Julee Yoga (07793 458216, www.juls.co.uk) on Upper St Giles in Norwich which is open to complete beginners as well as to beginners who wish to consolidate their understanding of their current practice. The class is based on Vinyasa Flow yoga, a challenging, accessible and invigorating form of yoga practice. This builds strength, stability, flexibility as well as stamina. Cost �35 per session. There are also regular Yoga meditation courses at Wensum Lodge.


Norwich Buddhist Centre, Bank Street, 01603 627034, www.norwichbuddhistcentre.com

There are plenty of secular meditation groups throughout the city, several taking place outdoors during warmer months. Meanwhile Norwich Buddhist Centre runs one-hour drop-in lunchtime beginners meditation sessions on Mondays (12.15pm) and Saturdays (1.30pm), �4 (�3 cons). Also evening meditation classes on Mondays, 7.30pm �5 (�4 cons). No need to book. Very relaxing and enlightening.