Things to do in York for 2019 – Get rid of those creative blocks

Happy 2019 folks!

How do you feel on the first productive day of this new year?

Raring to go? Are you bursting with ideas, or are you struggling to think through a haze of sugar, cheese and turkey sandwiches?

If you’re not really in the mood for setting life-changing resolutions then don’t worry, you are not alone. The zeitgeist seems to be shifting away from the new year, new you approach (who says I need fixing anyway, thank you very much) to a quieter, more reflective mood. This suits me very nicely. Rather than soul searching for things that I should be doing better, I like to spend this first week or so looking for ways to oil my creative cogs and crank up my imagination.

You may be interested to know that until 1752, we celebrated the start of a new year in March, not January. The weather has been kind to us so far, but winter is not a good time to deprive yourself of enjoyable treats or commit to flinging yourself around the gym in front of massive, unforgiving mirrors. I find that by indulging my natural curiosity, treading gently and perhaps discovering a new hobby – I am better prepared for a natural burst of energy come spring. Here are just a few of the things that I plan to do in early 2019.

Learn Something New

We are all short on time these days. You might like the idea of learning something new, but where do you fit it all in? Rather than booking a night class over a number of weeks, think about attending one of the many one-off lectures to be found in York. From published writers to psychoanalysts, you can listen to experts speak on a number of fascinating subjects. My husband and I even got the opportunity to hear renowned physicist Jocelyn Bell a few years ago. Even better? Many of them are free and open to all, thanks to a running programme at both York University Open Lectures and St Peter’s School Open Lectures.

Here are some of the events that I look forward to attending over the next couple of months –

14th January. 7.00pm – Neuroscientific Perspectives on Dance

26th January. 6.30pm – Turning Historical Research Into Performance

6th February. 5.00pm – On Attention Seeking: Psychoanalyst and Published Writer Adam Phillips

18th February. 7.30pm – Climate Change, Health Impacts and Health and Social Inequalities in the UK

20th February. 7.30pm – The Bitter Future for Coffee: Challenges In a Changing World

14th March. 6.30pm – Serendipitous Science: Accidental Discoveries that Changed the World


Try A New Craft

When I am stuck for creative inspiration, it can help to try my hand at something altogether different. Not only does being absorbed in a new craft help me to remove creative blockages, but neuroscientists are also starting to see evidence that it benefits the brain in the same way as meditation. Studies by occupational therapists have shown increased levels of happiness after activities such as knitting. There is even a suggestion that crafting has the same positive impact on neuroplasticity as other complex cognitive activities. It appears to be the taking part, rather than being the best, that matters here too. So why not try out a new craft, see where it leads you? The results cannot be any worse than my attempts at crochet.

For a selection of evening courses, Saturday sessions and even free taster workshops, check out the York Learning Courses prospectus. If you live in York, one should have dropped through your door towards the end of last year. If not, take a look at You need a little patience because the website is terrible. Keep an eye out for Indian Cookery with the fabulous Sharmini Thomas and Pottery classes with the excellent Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg.

We are also lucky enough to have a number of local artists, jewellery makers and crafters offering workshops in and around York. Take a short trip to see Helen Drye in her Design Studio at Riccall Grange and make a truly unique piece of silver jewellery. For a tranquil day of words, food and writing, my good friend and colleague Gayle Johnson is hosting her regular writing day retreat at Stillingfleet Lodge. I fully recommend booking one of the last remaining tickets.


Take A Reflective Breath

If all of this sounds too mentally testing, perhaps you just need to make a bit of space. A wander around York Art Gallery with nothing more than your notebook and pen might help. Drop in before the middle of May to catch Lucie Rie: Ceramics & Buttons. Alternatively, pull on a sturdy pair of shoes and take a stroll on the boardwalk at Askham Bog. (While you’re there, sign the petition to stop potentially disruptive building works from happening on neighbouring land.) Accessible to most, including pushchairs, this is a tranquil nature reserve just off the A64 at Copmanthorpe.

There are a surprising number of easy access, outdoor spots near York. If Askham Bog isn’t your side of town, check out the Visit York Nature and Gardens page for other places to see. Or you could take advantage of our close proximity to the Yorkshire coast with a trip to one of the quieter beach spots. Saltburn by Sea is definitely on my list for 2019. It might be wise to take a flask, as many business owners take a break over the winter period. Breathe in the bracing sea air – now there’s a way to blow away the cobwebs.

Live in and around York? Please share your plans for the next few months in the comments below. Recommendations of places to go also welcome, brazen advertising will be deleted.




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