Tag Archives: hitchin

Yoga

Hobby butterfly though I am, my one constant over the years has been yoga. Through self-absorbed singledom, snatched lunchtime sessions near work, the smug stretches of antenatal yoga (first time around) and postnatal yoga co-opting baby, ending with the cheap convenience of an iPad app. Yoga reminds me that I have a mortal body which can be stressed, stretched and coaxed; sessions can be mundane or moving.
So, to review some of these approaches:
In Hitchin, the class I went to before motherhood made it difficult was Club Yoga led by Sarah. The lessons were unique and thoughtful. Feelings of frustration at being stuck in the same place for over an hour would subtly subside to quiet pleasure and focus. The classes hit a spiritual note that could feel uncomfortable for sceptics, but this was preferable to ‘keep fit’ yoga class that bang on about body-tightening benefits.
Second, I ordered the Tara Lee Yoga For You and Your Baby DVD to do with Babycub. This now appears to be unavailable. In any case, it is not a routine I would recommend. The short section focusing on yoga that includes your baby was gruellingly slow, and for every interesting move demonstrated (swing your baby from side-to-side, held by the ankles in a cross-legged pose) another bleeding-obvious one would be shown (holding your baby, dance gently around to some music). None of the other sections amounted to a great deal.
Third, I have recently used the Yoga Studio app to practice yoga at home. I love it: a calm voice describes the moves, a bendy lady demonstrates clearly on an uncluttered screen and sessions can be short or long. I went through a phase of doing short sessions when Babycub woke me pre-dawn, with the little mite kicking and cooing on a mat next to me, and felt very proud and relaxed for it. But I think I was in the crazed-new-mother phase then, and have now settled for bleary-eyed playing on the carpet. So now the odd session during naptime suffices. And gosh it’s good value for money.

Real ale and cider appreciation

I know this sounds like the easiest of assignments, investigating a local pub’s (the Half Moon) Best of British Beer festivals. But, one, leaving a fractious 6-month-old for the evening is tricky. And, two, I don’t much like beer.
The first was sorted by a lovely friend babysitting who didn’t mind watching Questiontime with the grizzly and very-much-awake Babycub.
The second, well, I may have learned a little better what to avoid. Hoppy? Yuck. Roasted? Ick. Mild? Yes, that’s about all I’m good for. It was also jolly to be out among the beery of Hitchin (mainly male, disappointingly few beards, surprising number of cyclists). My naive tasting notes follow:
Plateau (Burning Sky): golden beer, bitter, grapefruit, zingy
Blackberry Cascade (Saltaire): pale ale, blackcurrant, blackberry, yummy
Orchid (East London Brewing Co.): mild beer, weak, vanilla, spicy, my favourite
Decadence (Weird Beard Brewing co.): craft stout, hoppy, bitter, chocolate, too harsh for me
Lilly the Pink (Abrahalls): pink cider, like apple juice, easy to drink.

A is for Art (life drawing)

How I had been looking forward to this! Apart from one embarrassing session as a sixth-former and the odd candid doodle of Mr Latebloomingleo, this was my first experience of life drawing. The evening was run by the Art Nest in Hitchin at the Victoria pub’s barn and cost £12 with a glass of wine. I found getting started difficult and felt very self-conscious that other people could see my rubbishy sketches (didn’t help that I sat next to a retired life-drawing teacher), but a series of quick poses (1-5 min) loosened me up and I began to really enjoy myself with the longer poses. Results below. I’m quite happy with them but need to work on hands, feet, legs, arms, faces and foreshortening. Lucky I have another session next month to improve! IMG_2110.JPG

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R is for Rock (choir)

Finally, this project has forced me to leave the house and do something that scares me. This was Hitchin’s Rock Choir “The Ultimate Singing Experience” which generously offers free taster sessions. I harassed my friend Jo to go with me.
The choir appeared to be about 60 strong (95% female) on the evening we went and everyone seemed very cheerful. As newbies, we were welcomed into our row and I relaxed quickly. The talented and confident Hazel led us in some fun warm-up exercises (singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow making only a ‘ng’ noise while furiously mouthing the words). Split into bass, upper/lower alto and upper/lower soprano, we started learning the piece for that evening: Fall at Your Feet by Crowded House (weird lyrics when you scrutinise them). We sat in lower alto which seemed to have the most straightforward, if ploddy, job of singing the main bit while sopranos added vocal embroidery. While singing Man in the Mirror we did some hand-clapping and synchronised swaying like a real choir. The website talked about the natural high of performing as part of a bigger group.
But here’s where my ego interferes. If I had felt like a rock star during rock choir — think Mick Jagger dancing on his cherry-picker above stadia audiences — I might have been tempted to join. It turns out performing a small role as part of a choir, a team, didn’t do it for me, at least on this occasion. So, I have not found my interest, but a lovely evening nonetheless.

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Start

Fifteen years ago, at Newcastle University, I flunked joining any sort of club or society that would have broadened my interests, mainly so I could moon after my first boyfriend at the uni just down the road. Boo!

Amazingly, the boyfriend didn’t last, and I left university with a reasonable degree but without ever having left my comfortable pursuits of reading (alone!), watching films (might as well be alone!) and going for long walks in the company of my personal stereo (it was the 90s).

I’m not quite such a sad sack now. With two exquisite children (Toddlercub, 2.5, and Babycub, 5 months), a top-notch husband and a pleasant career on hold, I’ve lucked out. But I am still very low on the old hobbies and interests, and always needed to get very creative when doing that part of a CV (erm, learning Japanese/Spanish/Portuguese = just bought the ‘teach yourself…’ tapes; squash/khai-bo/football = went once; web design = just a lie, actually).

With 6 months of maternity leave left and a little more free time than hitherto, I’m going to put this right. I’ll take as inspiration the list of Newcastle University societies and add in a few other ideas as they occur. The idea will be to have some kind of experience of these clubs, either locally or by researching at home, and blog the results. And maybe add craft projects/other cheerful things.

The blog is for me primarily, but might also help people who are interested in making better use of their spare time and developing a hobby, or people in the Hitchin/Herts area who want to explore extracurricular activities in their environs.

Signed up for life-drawing classes at the Victoria barn and am investigating A Cappella and CAMRA. Internal battle being fought over pole dancing, sorry, fitness classes. Is it an empowering piece of gymnastics or the equivalent of becoming a sexual rotisserie? Or would I have the core strength to stay up long enough to navel-gaze about it?

Oh, and it’s ‘late-blooming’ because I’m getting round to this a bit late. And ‘Leo’ because I’m a Leo. But truly it’s because I could have spent the next 6 months trying up to come up with something cleverer and never posted a thing. Ta-ta!