New Year – New Experiences

We asked some of our readers to let us know what it was like to go along to the classes and events at the Primrose Hill Community Centre. So here is what they had to say, and it may help you to keep some of those New Year resolutions!

Chair-Based Yoga

My first instinct when reading the title was “Oh no! Who wants to sit on a chair and do stuff?” But in for a penny, in for a pound, so I decided to give it a go. Slightly to my surprise I discovered that the stretches in this session are similar to other (and ‘proper’) yoga classes that I have attended in the past. In addition, not all stretches are done sitting down.

The major difference is that a mat is not necessary, for the excellent reason that there is no getting up and down from the floor. I have to admit that I am getting older. A bit. Well, quite a bit really. Back in the day, when I was twenty, I could hurl myself prone, breaking my fall with one arm and clutching my rifle in the other, and rapidly get off the first shot within four seconds. Who says army training is not useful? These days, even the thought of doing this makes me wince. My regular descent to the floor at home to do a few exercises (supposedly on a daily basis but actually about once a week if I am to be honest) is more of a careful but clumsy lowering, accompanied by the very slightest of groans; or so I tell myself.

Fortunately, in this chair-based yoga class, the floor is irrelevant, other than standing on it now and then and being aware of the contact made by the feet. Apart from sitting, one does exercises standing by the chair, holding on for support if necessary, or else leaning against the chair. The emphasis is on stretching of course, but a strengthening exercise might be thrown in. We start by sitting down, with emphasis on posture and relaxing before moving on to the stretches themselves. Often these commence with the shoulders, before turning to the neck. After that some waist twists might be done. Wrists and ankles are not ignored and a bit of balance-challenge standing by the convenient chair might follow.

Mary, the nice woman in charge, talks us through it and demonstrates, as well as working along with us. Classes are free but a voluntary donation of loose change can be dropped in the hat. The money goes to the PHCA office and helps fund all of our activities.

My assessment: one gets a decent workout without any undignified scrambling up and down. In general it is perhaps best suited for those of (cough! cough!) more mature years rather than energetic youngsters. By the end of the hour session I feel that I have definitely been exercised and feel both physically looser as well as relaxed. To my credit, I have so far resisted the urge to pop in to The Princess for a swift half to reward myself.

When: Meet at Primrose Hill Community Centre on Fridays 2.15pm to 3.15pm

By Dr. Kevin Bucknall


Open House

Open House meets on Wednesday afternoons offering a talk, performance or outing each week. Many people attend regularly and newcomers are always welcome. Two hours leaves enough time for friendly, informal chat over afternoon tea.

Among the 2015 highlights was Anne Watts’ moving account of her nursing career in the world’s conflict zones. Tudor Allen, of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, illustrated his talk on Dickens and Camden with rare, nineteenth-century photos of shops, buildings and streets that were known to the author. Talks on travels through Burma and Nepal were well-attended. A visit to The Wallace Collection included a tour of Hertford House together with informative descriptions of key works in the collection. Films are shown captioned with subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. Rachel Cotterell spoke about what Open House means to her, “I moved here from the north of England. It’s a very good way to make friends. At eighty-four I’m too old to go out in the evenings. It’s lovely to have something in the afternoons.” Camden Square resident Beena Patel attends often and she agrees, “Everyone is so cheerful. Above all, it’s the chance to meet people that I enjoy.”

When: Open House takes place every Wednesday between 2pm and 4pm at the Centre.

By Tracey Mitchell


Primrose Hill Community Choir

We Just Love to Sing!choir

I’ve been a member of PHCC since it was formed by local musician Matthew Watts in 2012 when more than 50 people turned up to the first rehearsal! We have sung all styles of music – gospel, world, classical and pop – ranging from Verdi’s famous Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves to Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Johnny Marks.

I look forward to Monday evenings when we get together to rehearse. Many times I’ve thought, ‘Oh no, I don’t feel like it tonight. I’m too tired, it’s raining, too cold’ but stagger to rehearsal anyway, to return home humming and energised by the sheer fun of singing.

The choir regularly performs at St Mary’s Church and has sung at choral festivals at the South Bank Centre and other local venues. We have regular social events, which have included taking tables at the Primrose Hill Opera Cabaret, a karaoke evening and our Christmas Party at L’Absinthe.

When: Next term starts on 4 January when the theme will be ‘Songs from Around the World’. All are welcome, so just come along on Monday evenings 7.30pm to 9.30pm. More information at: or contact:

By Sarah Smith


Adult Trapeze

I am not a gym goer and I’m far from flexible so I was unsure what I was letting myself in for when signing up for trapeze classes. An hour-long session for adults is held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I chose Wednesday afternoon, 1.15pm to 2.15pm. Genevieve, who has been teaching trapeze at the Centre for 23 years, assured me I did not need to be experienced. All I needed was to be willing to give it a go, and a pair of leggings!

There were six of us at this particular class and they were all regulars. That is not to say I felt left out. They all introduced themselves and told me not to worry about what might happen in this session as they all had a first day once.

We started off with stretching, then working on my balance. This also gave me the opportunity to observe everyone’s skills before I was put to work learning static positions such as the candlestick and the gazelle. By the end of the class I had tackled what I most definitely considered to be many obstacles, proud of myself and appreciative of the cheers received by others.

The fact I was a true beginner was not a problem. Hanging from the ceiling was great fun, I assure you. It is something different, looking at an upside down world. The class is all about trying something new and I was told that just last week that a lady called Maggie attended trapeze as it was something she wanted to tick off her list of things to do before reaching sixty. It is for all ages and all abilities. People travel from outside London to have the experience and get involved and we’ve got it on our doorstep. Plus telling people you’ve started Adult Trapeze classes makes a great conversation piece.

When: Trapeze at the Primrose Hill Commnunity Centre runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday and has both adult and children’s classes. The term starts again on 4 January.

By Leanne Roche

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