Back On The Hobby Horse

As Ellie wrote last week, we here at Image Daily are not fans of New Year's resolutions and all that self-enforced deprivation. The pressure to perfect and improve beyond measure just because the calendar says January does not compute.?So we're going for a different New Year, New You angle and spreading some actually-sound-like-fun dreams under your feet. Our hobby maven Jeanne - member of two book clubs, a knitting circle and perennial night school student - is here to round up where one can start collecting new hobbies that keep the January blues at bay.

Paris is always a good idea

Just over a year ago my life was at this juncture where it seemed all my friends and college acquaintances were moving on, either starting professional training or running off to South America and populating my Facebook feed with hi-res photos of them sliding down the side of some friendly volcano. I meanwhile was walking around Dublin with vague ambitions to re-heel my boots. I was being slightly haunted by the all too damaging fear of missing out that plagues most people nowadays. So I decided to do something entirely for myself and enrolled in French classes. I adored the language in school, my interest in French cinema ably aided and abetted by actors such as Romain Duris and Guillaume Canet. However I had let any ability I once possessed languor and it was back to advanced beginners pour moi. Three terms later the battle to beat the Tipperary twang out of my French accent remains a compelling classroom challenge.

I'm enrolled in the Alliance Fran?aise, which is situated in a dinky red-brick building on Kildare Street next to the National Library, The alliance is also home to a fine caf? La Cocotte where you can conjugate verbs to your heart's content and if you're lucky nab the pain au chocolats while they're go-to-heaven fresh.

Classes are not cheap though, but they are very good and available at times that suit office workers. Depending on the teacher you will have homework so taking a course can become the intellectual fixture of the week while you spend the rest of it catching up on sleep. The Alliance also has chapters in Limerick, Kilkenny, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Wexford. Bon chance!

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God wouldn't have given you maracas if He didn't want you to shake 'em.

You know that scene in Funny Face where Audrey Hepburn blows off Fred Astaire, who is too old for her, by dancing all over a smoky underground Parisian bar and basically wins at the being tipsy in a bar competition? Just because you talked your mother out of sending you to more Irish dancing classes when you were eight doesn't mean you can't follow your dreams of being Baby Houseman. Adult dance classes are a veritable thing now with swing, burlesque and ballet attracting curious souls in droves.

Rebecca is currently a masters student and a late ballet bloomer with?Dance Theatre Ireland in D?n?Laoghaire. ?I started ballet when I started college - I just decided it was something I wanted to try and it transpired that there were adult beginner classes out there so even if I wasn't going to have any chance at getting into the Bolshoi, it wasn't too late to start it as a way to get some exercise. It's a pity that we have this idea that unless you learn something like dance, a musical instrument or languages before a certain age it's too late. I'm actually glad I took ballet up later: I didn't have time to develop any bad habits.?

If ballet doesn't sound like your thing you can always indulge your inner flapper and take up tap dancing. Classes begin next week with Dance Ireland with drop in rates available. Stop putting yourself in the corner and get those clacky dancing shoes on.

?Scoot up to the attic and get Ma's old box of dress patterns, Mammy. You're going to make me a new dress.?

Sick of the limp stuff dying on sales racks? Dreaming of your ideal dress? Ever think about making it yourself? Well, before you start eying the curtains with ?beady and adventurous eyes like Maria Von Trapp and Scarlett O?Hara you should maybe consider taking a class. One of Dublin's most eclectically lovely boutiques, Om Diva, are rerunning their highly regarded Learn to Love your Machine workshop with designer Jane Hayden, running two sessions on January 18th and 25th.?So if you have a sewing machine languishing in the house bring it along or use one of Om Diva's to get a feel for the DIY life. These workshops €65 and include basic materials, tea/coffee, pastries and a chilled glass of prosecco to finish. To book a place the self-christened Sip and Stitch team call 01 6791211.

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

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