• 15 Places To Improve Yourself

    If not now, when?

And so it goes. The passing of another year, and the ever so stark reminder that we haven’t quite managed to do all of those things we said we’d do for ourselves. No matter. Here are fifteen tantalising alternatives to combat those run-of-the-mill resolutions everyone else will be half-heartedly making come January. Read on and you’re already halfway there.

The Arrigo Programme Somerset, UK

Fiona Arrigo recognises that every now and then some of us just need to stop, unwind and take a frank look at our lives. With this in mind she will tuck you up in a cottage in Somerset, complete with log fire, and tailor make a retreat for you and possibly a partner. Therapists, flowers, customised nutrition plans and fitness experts are all on hand to bring body and soul together and get you back on your feet ready for any challenges you might face.

Best for: Letting go.     Find out more: www.thearrigoprogramme.com

Baggins Rochester, UK

Over half a million books line the shelves of Baggin’s Bookshop in Rochester. As England’s largest second-hand bookstore, and with just about every topic covered, it is the ideal place to stock up on research material for a new interest. With out-of-print and rare books also available, it’s a haven for book collectors as well.

Best for: Book lovers wanting to turn over a new leaf.     Find out more: www.bagginsbooks.co.uk

Lost Cottage Cornwall, UK

Nestled away amongst the thick oaks of Cornwall’s woodland is Thom Hunt’s wonderfully intriguing Lost Cottage: an idyllic location for a weekender course in bushcraft, foraging, knife skills shooting and Canadian canoeing. Learn how to make a fire, catch, prepare and cook your meals while keeping warm under the stars in the heart of the stunning Cornish countryside. It won’t be all work though, as over the course of the weekend you can also relax in the hammock village and sample real Cornish ale by the fire in the onsite bar.

Best for: Getting in touch with your wild side.     Find out more: www.7thrise.co.uk

Peterborough Petroglyphs Ontario, Canada

This sacred site in Canada is home to over 900 petroglyphs known as ‘The Teaching Rocks’. The collection, which is the largest concentration of aboriginal rock carvings in Canada, includes depictions of animals, including snakes, birds and turtles. Other decipherable shapes include shamans, solar symbols and geometric shapes. Marvel at the mystery surrounding the carvings – some images don’t reflect the items used by the Native American people at the time the carvings were made.

Best for: Mystery lovers and history buffs.     Find out more: www.ontarioparks.com

The Eiger Trek Interlaken, Switzerland

Crossing glacial gaps always sounds like something best left to the Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulphs’ of this world, but there are a great number of guided treks for folks from all walks of life across many of Europe’s most glorious glaciers. The Eiger Trek starts in Interlaken and follows a week-long route, taking you beneath the north face of the Eiger and throughout high-altitude terrain as you traverse the Oberland range. You’ll need a basic level of fitness and be able to carry a 30lb rucksack to take part, but in the long run, you’ll be rewarded with the most immense sense of satisfaction and a few impressive stories to tell the (future) grandkids when you’re done.

Best for: Those searching for a very big adventure.     Find out more: www.mountaintracks.co.uk

Gaia House Devon, UK

Silence, we’re told, is golden. For the ultimate retreat why not head to South Devon and spend some time with just your thoughts for company. Gaia House is a silent meditation retreat centre set amongst peaceful woodland in the Devonshire countryside. Personal retreats can range in length from two days to three months. The silence can aid meditation and help you gain a greater understanding of yourself.

Best for: A bit of peace and quiet.     Find out more: www.gaiahouse.co.uk

Wild Fitness Zanzibar

With our ever increasing busy schedules it’s often hard to find time to improve our fitness or take a holiday. Wild Fitness have found the ideal solution – a fitness break. You can spend 9 days on the beautiful island of Zanzibar taking part in workshops, fitness classes and training sessions which will kick start your fitness regimen and give you all the information to continue your new healthy lifestyle when you get home.

Best for: An all natural work out.    Find out more: www.wildfitness.com

Adventure Clydesdales Brimpts Farm, Dartmoor, UK

Learn the art of horsemanship by spending some time in the company of the gentle giants of the horse world, Clydesdales. Adventure Clydesdales in Devon offer 1 – 2 days of trail riding across dramatic Dartmoor in the south west of England. Spend hours riding across rugged moorland on the sure-footed horses and learn how to care for them. A scenic and physically challenging break but you’re sure to fall in love with your four-legged companions.

Best for: Animal lovers and free thinkers.     Find out more: www.adventureclydesdale.com

French Lessons Chamonix, France

Learn a language and develop your skiing skills at the same time with Cactus Languages. Various options are available including this skiing and language course in Chamonix, France. If you’ve tried to learn a language before you’ll know that sometimes the best way to learn is to be amongst people speaking the language and to try to use it yourself. The Cactus courses combine classes with activities – a typical day would involve a group class in the morning, leaving your afternoon free to indulge in your new, or old, hobby.

Best for: Winter sports enthusiasts and wordsmiths.     Find out more: www.cactuslanguage.com

Running The Highlands Alyth, Scotland

If running 122 miles in 6 days sounds like your idea of heaven, then this Scottish break could be just the thing for you. The run starts in the south of Scotland and finishes in Spey Bay in the North. On the way you’ll visit the Angus Glens, the Balmoral Estate, the Cairngorms and see many beautiful lochs, historic landmarks and coastal views. You’ll need to train in advance, as the minimum fitness levels require you to be able to complete a marathon in around 4hrs 15 mins. On your marks, get set…

Best for: Those who want to run the world.     Find out more: www.runningthehighlands.com

Shambhala Mountain Center Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, USA

The Shambhala Mountain Center is set in a gobsmackingly stunning 600 acre valley, high in the Colorado Rockies. For over 40 years they have provided a safe and tranquil venue for people to experience personal transformations and reach a deeper sense of awareness within themselves. With over one hundred self-improvement programs taking place throughout the year, the centre also offers Shambhala Training – a meditation discipline that develops confidence, openness and gentleness. An honest to goodness opportunity to get to know yourself.

Best for: Getting to know yourself as well as others.     Find out more: www.shambhalamountain.org

Chelsea Physic Garden London, UK

Founded in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden was originally intended to be used to train students to identify plants and learn about their medicinal qualities. In time it became one of the most important gardens in the world in terms of botany and plant exchange. Today the garden still educates visitors of all ages on various aspects of plant life and there are free scheduled talks and day long classes available. The gardens themselves hold over 5000 varieties of plants all in order of classification, so you can learn the various botanical names and see the relationships between species.

Best for: Green-fingered fans looking to grow.     Find out more: www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

The Yoga Farm Costa Rica

Set in one of the most biologically diverse areas of Costa Rica, this yoga and surfing break is ideal for any ecologically conscious health-lovers looking to reconnect body and mind. The farm is working towards a sustainable way of life and uses solar energy and composting toilets, whilst also harvesting rain and spring water and growing their own fruit and vegetables. During your stay you can take part in daily yoga classes and enjoy home-cooked (mostly vegetarian) meals. It’s also worth noting that the nearest phone and internet facilities are a two hour walk away. What a relief.

Best for: Regaining a sense of balance.     Find out more: www.yogafarmcostarica.org

Farncombe Courses Broadway, UK

Set in the heart of the Cotswolds, the 400 acre Farncombe Estate hosts a series of residential courses for adults who want to learn new skills or enhance existing ones. Described as ‘leisure’ courses, the topics range from cake decorating or crafts and textiles to literature, writing and digital photography. Onsite accommodation is available or for an upscale educational retreat pop next door to the Dormy House Hotel and Spa.

Best for: Expressing oneself to the fullest.     Find out more: www.farncombecourses.co.uk

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary Koh Samui, Thailand

As well as the usual luxury facilities you can expect from a spa, the Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Thailand offers a calm and serene Sleep Enhancement Escape. The package includes a consultation followed by specialised acupuncture, a body analysis, traditional massage, herbal remedies, detoxifying juices and much more. The package includes full use of the spa’s plunge pools, steam rooms and fitness centre. This ultimate in relaxing breaks is set in the spectacular island of Koh Samui and surroundings.

Best for: A well-deserved rest.     Find out more: www.kamalaya.com


Featured Image – Jrm Llvr

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