Weird and wonderful courses in London
If it’s action you’re after, ladies, look no further than this feminist punk-rock wrestling school. Two-time EVE champion Rhia O’Reilly will put you through your paces, combining core strengthening and aerobic exercises with the wrestling moves, holds and stunts that will transform you into a (choreographed) fighter in no time.
If you had the time and money to enrol on every course the Goodlife Centre offers, you’d be a dab hand at woodcarving, upholstery and bookbinding before the year was out. If like the rest of us you’re lacking both, opt for a one-day course in basic plumbing, electrics or using drills. You’ll then be armed with handy DIY knowledge, meaning you can make repairs without calling on pricy plumbers, and you can use the money you save in the long run to book a spot on that willow-basket-making class you’ve been dying to do.
You’ll be two steps closer to fulfilling those dreams of joining the circus if you get yourself along to one of these trapeze lessons and manage to elevate your bod on to the bar. The third step is wiggling around on it effortlessly. Easier said than done, we reckon. Luckily, trapeze expert Genevieve Monastesse is on hand to guide you through your aerial pursuits. Adult classes offer a playful alternative to exercise and sequences are tailored to the abilities of each student. That big top is in sight, pal.
Vegetarians look away now. At these tasty-sounding workshops, hosted at a small south London smokehouse, you’ll start the day with a cheeky bacon sarnie. Introductory butchery follows, schooling guests in the key cuts of meat used to make bacon as well as dry and wet curing techniques. If you’re hungry to get right to the source, you can pair a smoking class with an eye-wateringly early visit to Smithfield or Billingsgate market where you’ll be able to stock up on top-class produce.
The London Craft Club run regular workshops in the art of writing with fire. It's less dangerous than it sounds – less flaming quills and more hot instruments which allow you to draw your own freehand designs on wood and leather.
‘Buy a man a spoon and he’ll have a spoon. Teach a man to carve a spoon and he’ll also have a spoon, but probably a slightly less good spoon.’ Don’t let that old saying put you off, though. Learn to carve with East End ledge Barn the Spoon and find a sense of satisfaction that you just don’t get if you pick one up in Ikea.
London Terrariums provide glass demijohns or adorable-sounding tinyjohns to fill with soil and plants on their workshops, or you can BYOV (bring your own vessel). Rather than succulents, their creations are filled with leafy greens such as mosaic plants, climbing fig and ivy. Just how they plant them through such a teeny hole is a secret we're keen to have revealed.
The Ginger Pig's butchery classes are a must for curious carnivores - learn the best cuts to buy and how to roll, chop and slice the meat away from the bone. Not for the faint-hearted.
If we can stock our cupboards with homebrew, why not fill our fridges with own-brand fromage? A one-day course at Wildes Cheese's north London home will teach you how to do just that, using basic equipment and only one here's-one-I-made-earlier moment. The dairy-packed day will see you create a stretch-curd cheese that's similar to mozzarella, a fresh cheese that will mature in your salad drawer for as long as you can hold yourself back, and a super-creamy Philadelphia-ish spreadable cheese.
Dry stone walling is the magical placement of different sized stones to bear the weight of a flock of sheep – no glue or cement involved. Learn this ancient art with master waller John Holt at a series of hands-on fortnightly sessions. You too can build that raised flowerbed, packhorse bridge or even the delightfully named 'Cheek End'.
More things to do in your free time
Plan your 48 hours of freedom right here
Four Winters is an ice cream parlour with a rather unusual secret ingredient: liquid nitrogen. They’ve patented a special machine that freezes ice cream to order with a blast of the gas. Don’t panic. It all sounds nuttier than it actually is at this, Four Winters’ small, bright Soho branch. Yes, it’s a bit weird watching your ice cream billow clouds of gas as it’s frozen in that patented machine – but said contraption looks a bit like a standard Magimix, really, and the staff doing the freezing are wearing hairnets. There’s nothing less glamorous and more stoically familiar than a hairnet. But what does nitrogen-laced ice cream taste like? Pretty much like normal ice cream, if a tad smoother. Four Winters do a changing ‘seasonal’ offering as well as year-round specials, and the best flavour I tried was a tart, zingy passionfruit on the spring menu. Also excellent was a rich and nutty peanut ‘butter cup’ shake. The only disappointment was a rather cheap-tasting chocolate ice cream, which was too much like something you might hoover up at a kid’s birthday party and then deeply regret. Everything else was good though, and you’ve got to love the novelty nitrogen. And the hairnets.
Venue says Four Winters is a new-generation ice cream maker that harnesses the power of liquid nitrogen to create customisable made-to-order ice cream.