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Try something different

The 10 top ideas for taking up a new hobby in 2011.

Maidstone Pumas v East Kent Mavericks
Maidstone Pumas v East Kent Mavericks

Get your kit on

For those who play it, American Football is not a contact sport

– it’s a collision sport. It’s full on fun, so why not give it a go at one of Kent’s three clubs: the East Kent Mavericks from Canterbury, the Maidstone Pumas or the Kent Exiles based in Orpington? Chairman of Kent Exiles Dave Pester said: “You don’t have to be good at catching or running or even enjoy tackling to play American football. Whether you are quick and agile or strong and large, there is a position for you.”

www.kentexiles.co.uk, www.pumasafc.co.uk and www.ekmavericks.co.uk

Make a splash

Skater boys and girls looking for new ways to try out some sick tricks will find wakeboarding and waterskiing right up their halfpipe. At Action Watersports in Lydd, novices and pros alike can learn with fully qualified coaches on the private lake. If either of these isn’t enough of a thrill, try gliding across the water at 40 miles an hour barefoot.

Book at www.actionwatersports.co.uk.

Sample a Shepherd Neame Brewery Tour

Faversham-based Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewer, so they must be doing something right. Find out more on an 80 minute tour – gaze into traditional mash tuns, taste natural mineral water from the brewery’s well, try malted barley, smell locally grown hops and see how traditional methods and state of the art technology produce a great range of Kentish ales and speciality lagers. Afterwards get an enlightening tutored tasting – audience participation is encouraged!


Test your skills at curling

This wonderful Olympic sport has found a home near Tunbridge Wells, the first and only curling ice ring in the country. Modern curling is a game of skill, precision, fitness and fun. The objective is to slide a granite curling stone weighing 20kg from one end of the ice rink to the other (40m) to a target marked on the ice. No skates are needed and the game is played between teams of four. It’s sometimes called 'bowls on ice’ but there’s more to it than that!


Cycling at Bedgebury Pinetum
Cycling at Bedgebury Pinetum

Try mountain biking at Bedgebury

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is a world-class collection of dramatic conifers and a beautiful setting for many outdoor activities. The two thousand-acre Bedgebury Forest offers miles of family cycling, mountain biking, riding, walking and adventure play for all ages and abilities. They even have their own CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club) qualified off-road coach who aims to make the thrills and skills of mountain biking accessible to as wide a range of people as possible, so grab your cycle shorts and head to Bedgebury for some active fun.


Practice Pinball

The Pinball Parlour is Ramsgate’s newest attraction and the work of two long-time pinball fans, Peter Heath and Pinball Geoff. The Parlour is open weekends between 1pm and 6pm and there are more than 30 machines from the past and present buzzing and pinging into action. Some machines date back from the true inception of pinball, through to its golden age in the 50s, 60s and 70s to more current day hi-tech machines, flipper-happy fans of the silver ball will be in heaven.


Follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton

A session at Buckmore Park will be a day to remember as you follow in the footsteps of British F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Johnny Herbert – all of whom learnt their trade at Buckmore as youngsters. Suitable for children from four, adults (16+), small and large groups this MSA licensed, 1200m international outdoor kart circuit near Chatham promises thrills for everyone, plus a full calendar of events.


Get your skates on

Revolution Skate Park and Climbing Centre in Broadstairs is a great way to let your kids get rid of any excess energy. Challenging without compromising safety, the park offers a variety of attractions including driverways, roll-in’s, flat banks, deathbed and a massive vert quarter-pipe, plus a new set of boulding walls. For those new to this sort of thing, there is a beginner’s fun area, plus you can book skate boarding lessons or join the climbing club.


Take to the slopes

Chatham Ski and Snowboard Centre has the longest artificial slope in the South East and is the premier winter sports facility in the region. It is also part of the company which teaches more people to ski and snowboard than anyone else in the UK. The centre is open throughout the year and offers skiers and snowboarders of all levels the facilities to practise and learn new skills. There is an active ski club and snowboard club at the centre where you can meet and learn skills from others with similar interests.


On a roll

Ever wondered what it is like for a hamster inside his wheel? Having a go at zorbing in Ashford should give you a good idea. Participants step inside a giant ball and are pushed down a hill. This can be done with one or two people inside or with the added comedy factor of water being thrown inside as well. Anyone wanting to try out the sport in a bid to get fit, should head to Bewl Water where you can walk on water inside the giant hydroballs in a purpose built pond.

www.rollmania.co.uk or www.bewlwater.co.uk

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