Beyond the book club

Beyond the book club

Why not try something new and give your social life a little boost while you’re at it? Daniela Soave shares a few inspired ideas she tried with her friends.

Why not try something new and give your social life a little boost while you’re at it? Daniela Soave shares a few inspired ideas she's tried with her friends.

Last year one of my resolutions was to shake up my social life.

While I loved catching up with friends over dinner, in the nicest way possible, it had become a bit same old, same old. So I thought – could we combine getting together with new, cultural experiences?

Of course the answer was yes. As a fluid and informal group, my friends and I have discovered music, art, theatre, wine and even food, and we’ve already got a wish list for 2017. It’s given us new interests, things to talk about and brought extra zing to our friendship.

My tip: kick-start your 2017!

Over supper, my friends and I talked about the sort of thing we’d like to try, bearing in mind we didn’t have limitless amounts of cash. Essentially, we wanted to do something, then talk about it. A new experience to share.

How about rediscovering vinyl or becoming experts on a particular director by watching and discussing their films? When the weather improved, could we gain a new appreciation of our surroundings by starting a history walking group? Learn about and sample different types of apple used in cider production? Could we tap into a local U3A (University of the Third Age), or sign up for a series of lectures at a nearby art gallery? How about putting on talks and events ourselves by hiring an upstairs room in a pub?

Here’s what we did to supercharge our social lives

  • Record playing – We kicked off our cultural club with a record listening group. Nowadays, music is a background to whatever else we happen to be doing, but what would it be like to listen to an entire album without any distraction? We revisited David Bowie’s 1972 classic, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’. Lights dimmed, volume cranked up, we listened to the tracks in the order they appeared on the record, getting a sense of the album as a ‘work’ rather than a mere collection of songs. It stirred memories of our teenage selves, yet as adults we also listened to it with new, appreciative ears. It was unexpectedly moving and exciting.

  • Wine tasting – We organised a wine tasting at an independent supplier at a nominal cost (paid for by selling old DVDs on the internet). That inspired a coffee tasting (word of advice: better to make this a morning event, unless you want to be up all night).

  • Summer walking – We walked long sections of a West Country canal over several Sunday afternoons in summer, enjoying a pub lunch midway through the day.

  • Classical recitals – We chanced upon a series of free Bach organ recitals at our local cathedral, learning about this amazing composer and discussing his music while picnicking on the cathedral green afterwards.

  • Watching The Bard – We rediscovered Shakespeare through the excellent cinema live broadcast series, which costs a fraction of the price of a proper theatre ticket (even better when you can’t get to your nearest theatre).

  • DVD club – In tribute to good old British film, an afternoon of Ealing comedies on DVD. We still meet for supper, but it’s no longer the mainstay of our friendship. And we’re going on to more adventurous things. Next, we’ve persuaded a local potter to do a two-day workshop with us. Who knows what will happen after that?

How to start a new group

  • Don’t leave it to chance – commit to a regular date, the same as you would with a book club. Set aside an evening or afternoon a month for starters, and see how that goes.

  • Plan a few months ahead at a time – it can always change – so that you have time to prepare. Nothing will kill off your group faster than if it’s a damp squib.

  • Try different things by changing the focus every few months – taking the seasons into consideration. Indoor pursuits work better in the cold, dark months of winter and some of spring, but as the weather warms and days get longer, your choice of event can reflect this.

  • Take turns in organising and hosting the group – that way the responsibility doesn’t always fall to the same person and it helps prevent things getting stale.

  • And… enjoy!


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In the Village shop

audnay 16/02/2017

In our little shop in the village, we do buy from the shop but also, we can buy plants that we have finished with, so you could take a couple of plants down and then swap them if you see a nice plant that will look good in your garden,swap seeds, if you have a surplus. There is books and magazines to swap, or sometimes you might just take some down, but don't want any at that time, but a week later you might see something you like, and just take it, its an honesty thing really, even eggs on tabl



This year we have started a Saturday family walking group. We also get together every couple of months for a themed family meal made by a different member of the group each time. The themes have so far been food from different countries. We dress up in clothes we think might represent that country and generally have a jolly good time.


bjtraveller 16/01/2017

What an inspiring and easy thing to do. Well done

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