The Top Ten Learning Holidays

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Top Ten Learning Holidays

We all long for our holidays, time off from the normal, humdrum working life and a chance to recharge the batteries. But why not combine that leisure time with activities for which you normally just don’t have the time? Here are ten suggestions that could perk up your off-work time.

Although aimed at South Africa, you could well explore combining some of these options with your next overseas holiday.

Cooking

Here’s an idea to get your imagination and taste buds working overtime. How about jazzing up your culinary skills during a holiday and maybe learning some of those kitchen restaurant secrets?

The small, privately owned Le Quartier Francais in the French Huguenot valley of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands offers a range of cooking courses for all tastes. The back-to-basics course teaches you to make your own butter from fresh farm cream, bake your own sourdough bread in a wood-fired oven and top it all off by making your own fresh cheeses.

If your tastes run to the more decadent, how about the Dessert Me course, filled with delicacies that defy calorie consciousness? You will also learn the subtle art of selecting the perfect wine to accompany your creations. For the patriotic, the South African Flavours course utilises only South African ingredients. You’ll learn all there is to know about local vegetation and indigenous herbs.

Painting

Painting in itself is very relaxing, but factor it into a holiday in beautiful, natural surroundings and you can not only unwind, but maybe spark off an active, lifelong interest in art.
So, where’s a good place to start? One option can be found in the small, pretty town of Villiersdorp, located in the border country between the Boland and the Overberg in the Western Cape, arguably two of South Africa’s most picturesque regions.In this inspiring landscape, artist Dale Elliot offers painting tuition in his studios during selected weeks of the year.

The courses enable beginners and advanced artists the chance to enjoy individual instruction and are customised so as to enable each person to enhance his/her individual style.

A recent innovation is the outdoor painting course, where you can paint at selected exciting venues in the district. These 4-day courses are designed more for the intermediate and advanced painter.

Golf

Golf is a very popular leisure activity offering challenges, rewards – and frustration. If you are looking for more challenges than your local course can offer, or simply want a change of scenery, how about a golfing holiday? South Africa remains a well-kept golfing holiday secret. The truth is, along with the natural beauty of the country, superbly designed golf courses to suit all levels of experience abounds. Along with golf, if you want a taste of luxury try the Fancourt Hotel and Golf Resort on the Garden Route, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline you will find anywhere. The Fancourt has been voted as the best golf resort in Africa no less than six times since 2001.

Apart from the Garden Route, the other three popular golfing holiday destinations in South Africa are Cape Town and the Winelands, Sun City, and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Region. If you prefer to travel, as opposed to staying at a single resort, why not try a pre-booked golf tour? You can combine sightseeing with your golfing holiday without the need to worry about availability of tee-off times.


Cheese Making

If you’re a foodie, there are a number of options to sharpen your skills while on holiday, and have fun while you’re at it.

Many people are fascinated by the science, or is it an art? of cheese making. With so many delicious varieties of cheese to sample and enjoy, why not take a course in cheese and yoghurt making? The Crags, a picturesque farm on the Garden Route just outside Plettenberg Bay on the southern coastline of South Africa, offers a 2-day course, suitable for beginners, which covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of cheese and yoghurt making.

Learn all about the production of cheese and yoghurt cultures and yoghurt making. You’ll be guided through a hands-on experience of making Fromage Frais, a soft, fresh cheese – together with Feta and Farmhouse Gouda cheeses.

At the end of the course you can take home a comprehensive manual, which covers all you’ve learned and more. The manual also contains production methods you can use at home to make your own cheddar, mozzarella and camembert cheeses.

Horse Riding

If you are a horse lover, then why not consider a riding holiday? Many locations offer brief, horse riding sessions suited even for the absolute beginner.

More experienced riders, and those with tougher backsides, can select holidays that extend over several days.

One such resort offering a wide variety of horse riding holidays is Farm 215, a 4-star country house nature retreat located on the Fynbos Road, between Stanford and Cape Agulhas in the Southern Overberg in the Western Cape. The African Horse Company offers guided out-rides from 1-hour to all day sessions.

Also select from a variety of longer rides ranging from a 2- day/3-night ride that covers the Walker Bay whale sanctuary and Grootbos Nature Reserve, or a 9-day/10-night marathon that takes in the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas.

You will be relieved to know that the first day of the 9-day trek culminates with a massage, if you so desire!

Creative Writing

Do you have a secret, burning ambition to become a writer?  Is there a Stephen King lurking under your daily persona? Discover your inner writer with a creative writing course.

If you have 10 weeks to spare, then you can do just that in the Parkview, Johannesburg area. Allaboutwriting offers 10-week writing courses that stimulate creativity and allow you to find your own creative style, whether you want to write a novel, screenplay or simply explore the world of writing.

The course takes up 2 1/2 hours once a week for the 10-week period. The first hour of each session is spent covering the basics of writing. The second half of the session is devoted to troubleshooting, workshops and mentoring works in progress.

The course is open to everyone with an interest in writing and is suitable if you are interested in fiction, non-fiction or screenplay writing. In addition to the weekly sessions, participants have access to facilitators via email throughout the course.

Sailing

Do you love the wind in your hair, the taste of salt on your lips and the sounds of waves against the hull of a sailboat?

Or do you get your thrills from the roar of a powerboat engine? Perhaps a sailing holiday would suit you.

There are sailing holidays to suit all tastes, but the Ocean Sailing Academy, located between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest Royal Yachting Association and South African Sailing Training Centre in Southern Africa.

Whether you are into sailboats or the power variety, the Academy offers career training and leisure courses for the international sailing community. It is located in Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, perfect both for sailing as well as shopping!

Flower Arranging

Much more relaxing, but just as challenging, is the gentle art of flower arrangement. If you’re feeling burned out and really need to unwind, consider combining your holiday with a course in flower arranging at the Cape School of Floristry, Pinelands, under the calm and watchful eyes of Gerda Tuffin.

The School offers courses for absolute beginners, advanced practitioners and all levels of expertise in between. Gerda started the School in 2001 and, if you’ll pardon the puns, it has flourished under her gentle nurturing. The beginners’ course covers all the basic concepts of flower arranging, including arrangements in a glass vase, posy arrangements, front-facing arrangements, country baskets, spiral wrapping and modern rose arrangements. The School supplies all materials and you can even take your efforts home with you.

More advanced courses are aimed at topics such as modern creative flower arrangements, gift hampers, ribbon making and basic and advanced bridal courses.

Surfing

Cowabunga, dude! If you like to Hang Ten, or endlessly watch the conclusion  to the Patrick Swayze movie Point Break , then this could be for you. On the other hand, if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, consider taking a surfing holiday and brushing up both your technique and surfing lingo. An ideal setting for your surfing holiday is the Wavecrest Surf School, located at Jeffreys Bay.  From a hippie domain in the 1960s, Jeffreys Bay, known as Supertubes, is today the host of one leg of the World Surfing Tour

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner. The main beach or dolphin beach is ideal for beginners and Wavecrest offers a 7-day surf package deal that includes a lesson each day, with a board and wetsuit available for your convenience for the rest of your holiday.

The surf course covers all the basics, water safety, how to catch a wave, all about balance and finally, how to stand up on your board.

Bread-making

Love the aroma of fresh-baked bread? You can not only get that delicious smell wafting around your own home, but also have fun learning how to do it if you enrol for a bread-making course at the Bread and Wine Vineyard Restaurant at the end of Happy Valley Road in Franschhoek.

The courses are held at the Môreson Wine Estate where you will be guided through the intricacies of making four different types of dough, foccacia, sourdough, olive oil brown and soda.

You’ll be treated to your very own apron, recipe book and ingredients as you arrive for the 1-day course. After you’ve mixed your dough, learn how to fill, twist and shape your dough into amazing creations. Then, while your bread is baking in the oven, sample some of the wines available.

Wine sampling is hungry work, so what better way to satisfy your hunger with your very own bread creations, served hot – and hopefully delicious – direct from the oven.

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