January is a tricky month in normal years with short days, wet and cold weather and the excitement of Christmas having died down. This year, the Pandemic has added another reason why you may not be feeling your best this month, so we’re always looking for ideas to share with you to make your every day a little bit better.

In a recent survey with 1,000 British women, 50% stated that had taken up a new hobby during the first lockdown. Not only do hobbies help you pass the time, but the research found that there were some significant mental health benefits associated to learning a new skill, as 26% of respondents say it helps them to unwind, 26% say it helps to combat stress, while 24% say it allows them to switch off.

So, we thought we would check in with our team to see how they have been spending their time during lockdown, and it turns out they have a wide range of interests!

Hopefully it will inspire a few of you to take up a new hobby or pastime to keep you entertained during lockdown 3.

Claire Ireland, Customer and Training Support Coordinator

My furlough days have enabled me to find a love for new skills such as cooking and baking – before lockdown 1.0 I had only baked in my GCSE food tech lessons. I am also trying to make the most of getting out in the fresh air and taking advantage of being a 10 min walk from the beach.

Claire’s delicious brownies

Rich Streeter, Trainer – Midlands and Northern Region

Lockdown Blues have been put to bed because I’ve been designing a ‘garden bar’ for the house… At the moment it’s going to be a sunken bar but I think the budget won’t stretch to that, so I’m now on plan B where it will probably be made from old wooden pallets.

Louise Everist, Training and Customer Support Team Leader

Similar to the first lockdown I have been taking my dog for lots of walks and have enjoyed finding new local spots to walk. I am also working towards my IQA TAQA L4 qualification which has helped keep my brain busy during furlough days.

Michael Murray, Head of Finance

Before lockdown my ‘hobby’ time was taken up with a number of activities including badminton, gardening and club cycling which have been curtailed for the time being, so, an opportunity to revive other hobbies. I’ve had more time for watercolour painting, and you can see some examples below. I also hand painted over 15 individual Christmas cards for family and friends. This year I have targeted to read 6 classic novels starting with ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ with ‘1984’ next.

I have also ‘discovered’ new walking areas locally and have polished up my saxophone – although I’m not sure my wife will want to be around when I try to rekindle my playing days.

Louise Grant, Head of Business Operations

Whilst I have been unable to do some of my usual hobbies including volunteering at East Clayton Farm and local art gallery, I have been busy designing and making jewellery.

I am also working towards my IQA TAQA L4 qualification and have been spending my spare time at home studying.

Laura Pettengell, Customer & Training Support Administrator

On my furlough days during the day I have been keeping myself busy by teaching myself how to rollerblade and I am very much enjoying it! I am still a little wobbly however plan to be a pro by Summer! 

Additionally, on days where I don’t feel so active, I have been painting and embroidering canvas’ which is very therapeutic. During the evening one day each week I have been learning to bake new recipes for dessert – so far Biscoff Cheesecake is the winner!

Emily Godward, Customer and Training Support Coordinator

During lockdown 3.0 I have decided to challenge myself and start running – whilst I am definitely not a very good runner, I am giving it a good go and hoping to be able to run a 5K at a decent time.

I am looking to start developing my French speaking skills and have downloaded an app to assist me with this.

As everyone else is probably doing the same, I am hopping on the baking train – well trying to bake anyway! 

You might also want to read this article published in The Guardian: 10 inspiring hobbies taken up by readers in lockdown