Jan 2024

So, what are your hobbies?

Finding pleasure in leisure. By Maeve Galea

There’s a moment in the opening scene of Netflix’s Beckham that would send a shiver down the average woman’s spine. From behind the camera, director Fisher Stevens asks, “And do you have any … hobbies, David?”

It’s the dreaded question that many of us have had to face; sitting awkwardly next to a new colleague at the pub, getting our eyelashes tinted by a chatty beautician or – perhaps worst of all – on a first date. And we fear it precisely because we’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realise that, no, actually, we don’t.

Thankfully for Becks, the inquiry doesn’t faze him. The conversation is taking place in the fields of his Cotswolds estate, where he’s unrecognisable except for his hazel eyes glinting behind the thin mesh veil of a protective bee suit. As a retired 48-year-old multimillionaire, he has endless time and money to dedicate to his leisure pursuits and passions – namely harvesting homemade honey, Lego and Lionel Messi.

But for many of us – women especially – while childhoods and adolescence are spent zigzagging from soccer training to hip-hop class, by the time we reach adulthood we abandon these pursuits. Sure, we might be regulars at boxing or Pilates, but our reasons for attending are usually rolled up in maintaining our health and fitness. A hobby, by definition, is different – it’s a regular leisure activity or pastime that is engaged in for pure pleasure.

Unlike the men in our lives, women are unlikely to be in the habit of spending an entire Saturday on the golf course. Throw in hustle culture (and the lie that to continue a hobby into adulthood or pursue a new interest we should seek to monetise it), plus the ever-present imposter syndrome that stops us from trying new things, and it’s no wonder that women are severely underrepresented in the hobby domain.

But we’re missing out. Psychologists have been spruiking the positive effects of getting lost in an activity for years, with research showing that people with hobbies often have an enhanced sense of work-life balance. The best part? There are a whole host of hobbies to try, and being not-the-best at something is actually a blessing as you won’t be tempted to turn it into a side hustle. Instead, try dedicating yourself to something just for fun, and relishing in the joy of mediocrity.

After all, has anyone actually tried DBee’z Sticky Stuff?

NOT JUST FOR DADS

While in the past only the rich could afford free time, today’s flexible working arrangements mean a lot more people can live like a CEO, sneaking off for a few hours of leisure time during the workday. Accordingly, activities that used to be the preserve of a small elite (and the pale and male) are now accessible to more people than ever before. Golf greens around the world are full of glamorous, young, white-gloved women expertly wielding nine irons, while the canals of Central London and the banks of the Seine are being inundated with under-35 urbanites in their ‘gorpcore’, casting off for an hour-or-so of recreational fishing at lunchtime. Even hiking has become a pastime beloved by models and DJs (who wear their carabiner clips around the city as a badge of honour), with trends analysts describing the once daggy Dad-endorsed activity as “the new yoga”.

MADI, WRITER
I’ve been known to fall for the odd finance bro, so it wasn’t my first time on a green. But this was much more fun: there was a bar, less walking and an unbuttoned vibe (and ‘par 3’ means it’s golf for the athletically challenged: i.e. me).

ANNIE, STYLIST
When I was 12, my grandfather had me pegged as the next Lydia Ko, so unsurprisingly I was the only one able to get out of the bunker. I was also the only one wearing appropriate golfing attire. What was with the legwarmers, Io?

IO, TIKTOK EDITOR
What? My background is in dance, which is another way of saying that when it comes to hobbies, I’m in it for the costumes. Post-game, I realised I do love tees, clubs and chips, just not necessarily the golfing kind.

MAEVE, WRITER
Golf is actually amazing for team bonding. We walked, we talked, we dodged errant balls. And, even as (mostly) beginners, we completed the whole course in 90 minutes. Plus, the bar was our 19th hole.

JUST FOR FUN

The cool and quirky hobbies of our fave creatives

Who: Georgah Crane (@georgahcrane)
Day job: Model, owner of Saloon Store
Hobby: Beekeeping
Why I love it: “Beekeeping is a meditative practice that teaches me mindfulness. You have to slow down your thoughts and focus on what is right in front of you.”
How to start: “Seek out a local beekeeper and ask if they need a hand, or find a workshop where you can see if you like it.”

Who: Sarah Munro
Day job: Co-founder and creative
director of Sarah & Sebastian
Hobby: Scuba diving
Why I love it: “Diving has given me a whole new perspective on how I interact with the world around me, and the videos and photos I take underwater become a powerful source of inspiration for my work.”
How to start: “I recommend starting at the Dive Centre Bondi. Their courses cater to beginners and provide essential skills for safe and enjoyable dives. I also encourage you to explore the remarkable work of pioneering ocean conservationist Valerie Taylor, and my friend, filmmaker Alice Wesley-Smith.”
Beginners should invest in: “Thinking back, I am so pleased I invested in a quality wetsuit. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being cold.”

Who: Claire Dinhut (@condimentclaire)
Day job: Content and condiment creator
Hobby: Pickling and fermenting
How I got into it: “A combination of It’s Alive with Brad and the release of Noma’s The Noma Guide to Fermentation secured my position as a pickling fan. I was living in NYC and quickly joined a fermentation club – so nerdy but so interesting.”
How to start: “YouTube videos are a great way to learn. The best part is that if you’re watching a video in another language, you can turn on captions, read the translation but still see what they’re doing. I also love Of Cabbages and Kimchi by James Read and Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon.”
Beginners should invest in: “The beauty of pickling is it doesn’t really require any special equipment. As long as you have vinegar and some produce, you are ready to start!”

Who: Tess Gigone (@tessmadalyn)
Day job: Photographer
Hobby: Jam making
Why I love it: “Making jam isn’t precise. You can really play and be creative. It’s so fun to be curious and create something completely from your brain … and then have it work out 99 per cent of the time.”
How to start: “The Sqirl Jam Book by Jessica Koslow is an amazing resource. If you’re looking to get started, she’ll teach you absolutely everything you need to know.”
Beginners should invest in:“I live and die by my scales.”

Who: Carmen Azzopardi (@zigs_mom)
Day job: Content creator
Hobby: Bouldering
Why I love it: “There’s such a sense of community! Where I climb is a safe space for queer people, the LGBTQIA+ community, women and non-binary people, and as a queer person, I really appreciate that. Plus there’s honestly no better feeling than finally completing a climb that you’ve been working on for ages.”
Beginners should invest in: “Good climbing shoes! They make all the difference.”

Who: Bryce Heyworth (@september___studio)
Day job: Owner of September Studio
Hobby: Ceramics
How I got into it: “I was working in hospitality and did some classes just to try it out. I started making keep cups for the cafe I worked at, and it just went from there.”
Why I love it: “It’s a way to switch off. I find it hard to focus on anything else, and as cliché as it sounds, there’s something calming [about working with your hands and with clay].”

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