15 hobbies that seem like a great idea – until reality sets in

Taking up a hobby always seems like such a great idea – until reality sets in, says Flic Everett.


Manky shoes worn by a thousand strangers! Aching arms! Bowling is less sophisticated than stacking bricks for a two-year-old – ‘Ooh, all fall down!’ – and only works in American frat movies as a device to make the star look goofy. It makes everyone else who tries it look equally foolish.


What a joy to learn a new language with a simple app! You will spend five days cheerily saying hermaña or frühstück into your phone before losing interest. The app’s owl logo on your home screen will guilt-trip you for the next three years.


Two needles and some yarn, several long eye-straining months to make a limp cardigan and, when you’ve finished, it’s full of holes. Knitting was a good idea if you didn’t want to look at your partner before they invented TV. Now, we have Netflix.


Who doesn’t want a shelf of elephant-shaped teapots, or Victorian tin frogs? Collecting is great if you’re a billionaire and can scour the world for rare jade. If you’re not, you will spend your life furiously losing eBay auctions and wondering if a toad pin-cushion counts.

The violin

Why didn’t you focus when you were younger? You could have been a prodigy. Still, it’s never too late, and playing ‘Pretty Polly’ repeatedly with a bow that sounds like a cat in a thresher is one way to begin again.

So you think you’d be good at knitting? Image: Getty Images

Chicken keeping

The fantasy of keeping chickens isn’t quite so joyous when you’re raking out their poo at 6am in the snow and the local foxes are circling like a gang in West Side Story, ready to tunnel under your laboriously erected six-foot fence and wreak carnage.


It sounds so charming. But really, what ‘precious memories’ are you going to put in yours? An old receipt from the pub, and a shopping list? Plus you’ll get Pritt-stick all over the sofa.


Who doesn’t need a clay pot listing like the Leaning Tower of Pisa to keep toothpicks in? Or a vase that’s slumped on one side like a melted bollard? Perhaps a cat that resembles a mutant pig? Join a pottery class and it can all be yours.

Making sourdough

The ‘starter’ is high maintenance. If you’re lucky, after five days it’ll resemble something the Ghostbusters tried to kill. If you’re not, it will detonate and cover the kitchen in a doughy mess (yes, the mixture really can explode). Just buy a loaf, eh?

Writing a novel

You have a great idea about a man who gets murdered and his wife is a suspect and er… it needs a bit of refining, but you’ve already written 200 words. A book is 80,000, you say? Might be better as a short story.

Wild swimming

If you can adjust to the chilling cold and overcome the fear of drowning, try not to think about the rusty bike wheels and smashed TVs lurking beneath. Or that woman who got a spider in her ear. (Yes, it hatched eggs.)


It will save you so much money on beer and wine! But it’ll taste like a teenager’s discarded socks marinated with dusty wax. This might be why vineyards and breweries make a lot of money – they know what they’re doing.


Everyone envisages the sunlit easel, the beautiful brushwork, the gasps of onlookers – and everyone realises, once they’ve finished their watercolour of Hills, clouds and sea that what’s in their head, hasn’t, erm… translated to the paper.


Wouldn’t it be great to bedazzle like Dynamo, plucking pennies from ears and playing cards from sealed envelopes? Sadly, becoming an adept magician is slightly less fun than learning 15th-century Hungarian, and it takes twice as long to master the basics.


Imagine the glorious invitations you’ll pen with your swooping, cursive flourishes of the feathered quill. Which is ideal if you regularly host large regency balls and need to hand-write all the correspondence. Otherwise, we have things called printers.