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New Year Old You

We love putting together lifestyle pieces for glossy magazines, especially when it might encourage people to reignite a passion for a long lost hobby. (Might have something to do with a long lost love of tap dancing ourselves…)


Here’s Cecile and Fiona, appearing in Woman Magazine celebrating their love of childhood hobbies. Read all about it here.

A recent survey revealed that £18.4billion is spent a year on hobbies – about £384 a year per hobbyist. But of those surveyed, one in ten people have had to abandon their favourite hobby entirely, which for many means a drop in their quality of life. For Fiona and Cecile, going back to their childhood hobbies has given them a new lease of life…


Fiona, 31, thought giving up ballet was the biggest regret of her life… until she started dancing again. 
Drawing myself up into a pirouette, I watched my hands gracefully fall to my waist as I curtsey to the crowd. Mum was in the audience, crying and cheering.
I loved ballet, it was my world. I’d started age three and my first pair of point shoes and my first tutu were my pride and joy.
As I got older, I thought I had to make a decision – become a professional ballet dancer or give up completely. Continuing to dance for enjoyment’s sake didn’t seem to be an option. By the age of 15 I was losing interest. Dance was never presented as a career choice at school and by 17, I’d quit.
Within a year, I knew I’d made a mistake. I missed it terribly. I moved to Plymouth to go to university and looked for adult classes but there were none.
After uni I moved back to my hometown of Bristol and every six months I’d look for classes again. There was always plenty of classes for children but nothing for adults.
Then one day when I was 27, I did my usual bi-annual search and while online, up popped Ballet Bristol, a new ballet company for dancers of all levels. That same evening, I went along to my first class.
I was ropey and the next day my muscles ached, but I was so happy. Twirling and dancing, stretching and performing, I felt like I was stepping back in time. The tutus, the ballet shoes , the grace and poise – I fell in love with it all over again.
I go to one class a week now, for two hours every Wednesday. My job in admin at a school is tiring and full on. Ballet is my time for me.
I’m not as supple as I used to be – I get aches and pains and I can’t do the splits anymore. But when I’m spinning around my kitchen, life’s problems melt away.
Ballet Bristol is a not-for-profit community based company. We perform at nursing homes and hospitals. Mum still comes to see my performances when she can – and she still cries when she sees me on stage!
I still have all my old ballet clothes, which I kept in a memory box all these years. Ballet has always been a part of me, I just forgot about it for a while. I try not to regret giving up – I quit for a reason. But I started again for a reason too. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because I have ballet back in my life.
See for more info.
Cecile, 56, an artist from Cardiff:
Sitting at the piano with my brother, we launched our rendition of a Clementi piece, taking one hand each. We raced through it, getting faster and faster until we collapsed into a fit of giggles.
My three brothers and I were all learning the piano and the sound of music forever floated about our childhood home. The atmosphere of musical fun and laughter was the soundtrack to my childhood.
I was seven years old when I started. We lived in California, then Ghana. Wherever we lived, people would stop by our house and makeshift concerts were always being staged.
But when I was 16, I left home to go to school in Rome. I lived with other families and it was then that I realised not every family has a piano in their home. Without a piano to play, my skills went rusty.
Years ticked by. I missed playing, but I couldn’t afford to buy a piano of my own. I moved to the UK to go to university – I didn’t think I had the time or inclination anymore.
In 2006, our children were getting to an age where they loved music and dance.  It was then that I realised I wanted there to be a piano in the house for their childhood like there had been for mine.
So I bought a piano and entertained the kids with renditions of ‘the Muffin Man’ and other simple children’s songs. The kids started having lessons. After a few years, I decided I should lead by example and show the kids that even adults need lessons and practise.
I was very shy and nervous. I’d forgotten so much and my hands were not as strong. I wasn’t as good as I had been when I was younger and it frustrated me. But I learned to let go of the frustrations and enjoy myself.
Playing as an adult is a completely different experience. As a child I used to have nightmares that I hadn’t practised enough and wouldn’t be able to play in front of my teacher. Now, I don’t have to worry about being in trouble. Whereas before I was told what I’d be learning next, now it’s all up to me – there is much more freedom.
As I play, memories of childhood flood back. The piano reconnects me with those happy days. Playing also gives me time for myself. I always like to feel like I’m still growing, no matter what my age, and learning piano again now helps me feel like there is still room to grow.
The piano bonds me to my children just as it bonded me to my brothers when I was young. We practise scales together and teach each other things. I’m showing my children that it’s important to do things you love and not just spend your life working and doing chores. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than just doing something for fun. I may have taken years away from the hobby I so adore, but rather than saying I wish I’d never given up, I can now say that I’m so glad I started playing again.