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Surfing lessons, pottery workshops and foraging walks - learning new skills on your Cornish holiday

I'm a self-confessed jack of all trades, someone who absolutely loves learning new skills. It's a great way to find your next hobby, meet new people and keep your mind and body active. Since moving to Cornwall a decade ago I've tried, among other things, pottery, surfing, natural dyeing and latte art and while some of these courses run over a few weeks, there are plenty that only need a day or even a few hours. That makes them ideal for those of you would like to combine a few days relaxing in one of our cottages with learning a new skill.

A row of surfboards at a surf school in Cornwall
Cornwall is one of the best places for learning to surf

On and in the Water

The obvious place to start is with surfing or paddle boading lessons. Lots of our guests of all ages get their first taste of surfing while staying with us.

Our closest surfing beach is Praa Sands on the south coast, just a couple of miles from Middle Colenso Farm. Mobile surf school Global Boarders offer lessons from there when conditions are right. They also operate at Gwithian, one of the major surfing beaches on the north coast. I've had a couple of surfing lessons there with Global Boarders and despite the fact I spent more time falling off than standing up, it was great fun. Gwithian Academy of Surfing and Shore Surf School are also based there, offering plenty of choice even during the busy summer period.

If you're looking to make a day of it, then St Ives Surf School is based at Porthmeor beach just beneath Tate St Ives. You can head into town afterwards to explore everything St Ives has to offer. Further west is the Sennen Surfing Centre and in the other direction, Dan Joel operates a surfing school at Poldhu Cove on the Lizard.

If you prefer to be on the water, how about trying stand up paddle boarding? Ocean High, Go SUP and The Hoxton Special are all based near Marazion.

For those keen to try sailing, there are a number of schools which offer lessons for adults and children including Mylor Sailing and Powerboat School which is based near Falmouth. Stithians Lake and Loe Beach offer dinghy sailing lessons and other watersports.

Arts and Crafts

Cornwall is home to hundreds of highly skilled artists and crafts people, many of whom offer workshops, lessons and courses.

The celebrated Newlyn School of Art runs a number of short courses throughout the year ranging from Painting for Beginners to Cornish Landscapes. Some are suitable for novices while others are aimed at artists looking to improve their skills.

Pottery is one of my passions and I took part in an eight-week throwing course at the wonderful Leach Pottery earlier this year. For those of you who are just visiting, there are one-day throwing tasters, three and five-day intensives and various specialist courses which focus on particular skills of forms. There are also plenty of workshops and activities for families and children during the school holidays so if you're planning on visiting do have a look at what's on offer.

Potager Garden, based near Constantine, is a former garden centre and now home to a cafe, community garden and studio spaces. There is a programme of workshops throughout the year including foraging, basket making and weaving. I did a one-day natural dyeing course there a couple of years ago and highly recommend it.

Food and Drink

Foodies love Cornwall because of the amazing chefs and producers working here. For those of you who prefer to be more hands on, there are also lots of opportunities to learn.

We were big fans of chef Jeffrey Robinson's food when he was based at New Yard at Trelowarren but last year he turned his attention to teaching and launched St Ives Cookery School. The school offers one day cookery courses throughout the year. Based around the creation of a three-course meal, they are suitable for cooks of all abilities. There's also an option for an 'at home' course where you can learn in the comfort of your holiday cottage.

For those of you who like to walk on the wild side, The Fat Hen Wild Cookery School, based near St Buryan, hosts foraging walks, courses and feasts.

Just down the road from Middle Colenso in Porthleven, Origin Coffee offers a number of short courses for coffee enthusiasts. This is for you if you'd like a coffee tasting experience or learn how make the perfect espresso. I did the latte art course with a couple of years ago. Neither of us progressed beyond hearts (well, blobs really) but we had a terrific time doing it.


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