Ian Cook plays the ukelele

Indoor hobby inspiration for rainy days

Winter can be tough if you’re disabled. With seasonal cold weather and long dark nights, you find yourself indoors more than usual. So, keeping busy is a great way to stay healthy and happy. In fact, of all seasons, winter is the perfect one for learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby. And there are lots to choose from.

Amongst the hundreds of hobbies, music can be a good, creative and accessible pastime. But what if, like me, you aren’t very musical? Last year, I found a musical instrument that’s both creative and accessible: the ukulele. And it’s simple to learn. At its heart, the ukulele is a four-string instrument which is great for simple tunes played by those with little or no knowledge of music who want to teach themselves to play. Originally from Hawaii, but now with a worldwide following, the ukulele, or “uke”, is small and easy to carry and store. It’s ideal for people like me who have trouble carrying things around. It’s also robust and cheap to buy.

Best of all, there are lots of ukulele groups around. As the instrument isn’t classical or orchestral, ukulele groups tend to be relaxed, helpful and a lot of fun. Better still, the “uke” appeals to people of all ages and has even become fashionable with professional groups like the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing at the BBC Proms.

I bought my second-hand ukulele for just £5 at a local charity shop just after Christmas last year and have never looked back. I am not exactly a virtuoso but I have a lot of fun. Yes, that is what the ukulele is all about—fun. What you play is pretty much up to you but I like everything: folk, contemporary, and even the Morecambe and Wise 70s classic “Bring me Sunshine”. You might say that the humble ukelele brings me a little bit of sunshine in autumn and winter.

If the ukulele and music are not for you, there are a range of other indoor hobbies you can try:

Learn a new language

The long winter nights are perfect for learning a new language And then, in Spring and Summer, you can try out your newfound skills on a holiday. Learning a new language is a hobby that will keep your mind stimulated and, if you keep it up, it could be something that you can use in your career. There are lots of language learning apps you can download such as Duolingo. 

Cast off with knitting

Knitting can be the perfect hobby for crafty people. Once you’ve got the basics, you can knit while doing other things (like watching TV) and it makes watching telly on a winter night productive because you’ll end up with jumpers, scarves and hats for you and your friends and family. There are some basics you’ll need like a pair of knitting needles, yarn, a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches, and a yarn needle for joining pieces of knitting together. Then, just pick a pattern to start and off you go. It can also be quite a sociable activity with the growth of “knit and natter” groups.

Create beautiful calligraphy

This is another perfect hobby to learn in winter because with your new skill you can send out your own seasonal cards and send them in perfectly lettered envelopes. You can also make birthday cards and those for other occasions. As far as equipment goes, you’ll need tracing paper (and regular paper to practice on), a nib, ink, a pen holder, and a practice grid. Then check out YouTube for almost unlimited access to calligraphy tutorials. 

Try cake decorating

Knowing how to bake a cake is one thing, but decorating a cake is a skill in itself. Christmas cakes, Birthday cakes, wedding and children’s party cakes or retirement cakes. Again, head to YouTube for some really great ideas and inspiration. 

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