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Make the most of 2010 - continued 

26 more ideas for making the most of 2010 ( click here to read the previous 26)

27. Volunteer. If you have time on your hands, there are two main reasons why you should think about volunteering. Not only will you be helping others, but you will be helping yourself. Self pride, self confidence and satisfaction are just some of the benefits, and you’ll probably also have a whole lot of fun, too. Find out more from the Swindon Volunteer Information Service, Swindon’s Volunteer Centre website and Vinspired.

28. Get fit. Getting fit is NOT all about ‘No pain, no gain’ and getting yourself all sweaty. In fact, whatever your preconceptions about a personal fitness programme, forget them. Try the Nuffield Health Swindon and Fitness Wellbeing Centre at Greenbridge Retail Park, where they have adopted a wholly 21st century approach to the subject.

29. Get personal. There is one good reason why you should get yourself a personal trainer: you deserve it. Just because you’re not a Hollywood star or David Beckham, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from a professional looking after your physique. Check out our guide to personal trainers.

30. Eat more healthily. No preaching here. Few of us are angels when it comes to eating healthily, so let’s be realistic and accept that nobody’s going to change all the habits of a lifetime, especially overnight. But you could make a start. The NHS has an excellent section on its Choices website, which helps you take a sensible look at your eating habits, suggests changes and helps you through it – all without trying to make you feel guilty.

31. Be complementary. Hands up if you thought so-called ‘alternative therapies’ were only for ‘hippies’. Well, notice that we are calling them ‘ complementary therapies', not ' alternative therapies' - because such things as hypnotherapy, reiki, aromatherapy and flotation tanks shouldn’t be thought of as alternatives to either medicine or conventional therapies, but rather a kind of bonus. If you’ve never tried them or you don’t have a specific problem you need them to tackle, you should still think about experiencing complementary therapies. If nothing else, opening your mind to something completely new must be a benefit, and there’s no obligation to ‘believe in’ all the claims of their practitioners. Start by looking at our guide to some of the services available locallly.

32. Learn an instrument. Ah – another lifelong regret. In the words of Dire Straits, “I should’ve learned to play the guitar, I should have learned to play them drums,” but it’s never too late. Music is one of the world’s most powerful forces, and you should never underestimate the all-round boost your life receives from playing an instrument. Spend the next five minutes thinking about how your life will change for the better and the joy you will get from the challenge if you do learn a musical instrument after all, and then follow this link for information about where to find tuition.

33. Walk the dog. If you’ve got a dog, get walking! Dogs thrive on exercise, so if you are a dog owner and you step up your exercise regime, you’ll both benefit. Add some variety by taking advantage of Tara’s Trails, a special guide, specifically for dog walkers in Swindon. It will add a whole new dimension to your daily walk.

34. Dig up your family tree. Yet another one of those things you’d love to do but haven’t quite got round to it. The trick with family history is not to set your goals too high. It’s not about going all the way back to the Norman Conquest or finding everybody in your family tree. In fact, the job can never be completed because there’s always something left to discover. So think about tracing just one branch of the tree to begin with – and remember that the best place to start is talking to elderly living relatives about relatively recent times, which is a pleasure in itself. See the Wiltshire Family History Society's website for practical advice and check out the fantastic resources at Swindon Central Library, where staff are always keen to help you with your research.

35. Connect with your (Swindon) heritage. The more you learn about the past, the more you understand the present – and Swindon’s local history is no different. But local history is an active pastime, not a passive one. In other words: join in! When you have checked out SwindonWeb’s extensive history pages and visited the superb Swindon Collection at the Central Library, lend a hand to one or more of the many history groups in the town who are bringing our heritage into the 21st century. The Swindon Society is concerned with photographic archives of the town; the New Mechanics’ Institute Preservation Trust aims to restore Swindon’s most important historical building to its former glory; both the Highworth Historical Society and the Rodbourne Community History Group are go-ahead local orgnaisatoins with specific interest in small geographic areas. The Richard Jefferies Society is a rallying point for those interested in Swindon’s celebrated 19th century naturalist and writer, while the newly formed Alfred Williams Heritage Society is planning big things for 2010 to celebrate the life of the South Marston-born writer. All these groups aim to foster a pride in your past that you can carry with you into the future. So don’t just read history – make it!

36. Connect with your (Wiltshire) heritage. How long is it since you last took a trip to Avebury. Simply take a day out to put your hands on the stones at this world-famous site and remind yourself of the deep roots of the county where you live. Connecting with history is at once a humbling and empowering experience. And for the perfect lowdown on the county’s unique history, book yourself a professionally guided tour with an archaeologist at Expert Tours.

37. Go live. On SwindonWeb, we are great believers in live entertainment – which is why we have a constantly updated live music guide and theatre guide. Live entertainment is a treat, it supports artists and puts a spring in your step. So try to see more of it in 2010 instead of sitting in front of the telly.

38. Get snapping. We live in a golden age of photography - when everybody can afford to take as many pictures as they like – and share them with the rest of the world. The online photographic gallery, Flickr, has a group especially for photos with Swindon connections. So if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a photographer but couldn’t find an outlet for your talent, be a part of it – and help raise Swindon’s image to new artistic heights.

39. Get out and about. Swindon is perfectly placed, geographically, if you have earned a treat and want to reward yourself with a day out. With the history and culture of Bath and Oxford a short distance away, bustling Bristol not much further, and London within easy reach, Swindonians are spoilt for choice. We’re not so far from the sea, either, nor the heritage of places such as Salisbury, Portsmouth and the industrial Midlands. So get out more and make a day of it. Barnes Travel will not only get you there, but have plenty more ideas.

40. Support your local. Swindon drinkers are blessed with some of Britain’s best traditional pubs, excellent choice and, in Arkells, has one of the most highly respected traditional family brewers in the country. With traditional British pubs threatened by recession and competition from supermarket sales, there has never been a better time to show your support for your local. In return, you’ll discover what made our pubs great – and the benefits of having a ‘local’ to call your own.

41. Immerse yourself in history. Generations of Swindonians can’t be wrong, so take a leaf out of their book and take the waters at the Health Hydro in Milton Road. This fabulous historical building now plays host to some stress-busting modern facilities, including a gym and two swimming pools, but to try something really different, head for the jewel in its crown – the historic Turkish baths. Even if you only do it once in your life, do it in 2010.

42. Grow your own food. Allotments are back in fashion. They help to beat the recession, provide plenty of fresh air and are the perfect place for you to hop on board the green revolution. Our guide to growing your own food includes top tips from an expert. It’s all you need to make 2010 the year when you went back to your roots, in more ways than one.

43. Zip slide for charity. Put Saturday, March 13 in your diary if you’ve ever fancied taking a daring zip ride - and especially if you want to raise money for charity at the same time. Prospect Hospice is organising an event at the County Ground, where fundraisers will glide from one stand to another. If you can raise at least £100 for this brilliant charity and you fancy a challenge, visit the Prospect website for details.

44. Be a bookworm. Reading is one of the best ways to feed your brain and boost your outlook on the world, and if you are planning to read more in the next 12 months, then you won’t want to miss the must-see literary event in the Swindon calendar. Clear your diary for 13 days from May 3, 2010 – the day that marks the start of the latest Swindon Festival of Literature. The festival has grown into one of the most respected events in Britain’s literary calendar, and Cherie Blair and Maureen Lipman will be among the 2010 guests. Check out the official website for the latest news - and be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.

45. Get arty. If arts is your thing, don’t be shy. If ever there was a place that was dedicated to making the arts accessible to all, and using it to create a community spirit, Swindon is it. Whatever your interest in the arts and whatever your skill, the new Swindon Does Arts website is the perfect place to start. It will put you in contact with like-minded people, keep you informed about events and provide all the resources you need for making 2010 the year when you finally unlocked your artistic potential.

46. Sample the magic of the Mela. Put Saturday, July 31, 2010 on your calendar. That’s the date of the latest Mela – the ever popular and not-to-be-missed annual celebration of Asian culture in Swindon Town Gardens. This event is perfect for anybody looking for a heart-warming day of colourful activities and entertainment - and it’s free. Find out more on the official website.

47. Aim for the Olympics! We’re serious. You probably won’t make it into the GB team, but the volunteer programme for the 2012 London Olympics will be launched in 2010. This gives ordinary people the chance to be involved in the world’s biggest sporting event – either as a specialist helper or a general volunteer. Around 70,000 volunteers will be needed, but if you want to be involved in 2012, you must register your interest in 2010. Even before official registration has begun, more than 100,000 people have contacted the organisers to express an interest, so if you want to be able to say ‘I was there’, check out the official London 2012 website, sooner rather than later.

48. Adopt a local charity. We all have our favourite charities that we might support because of personal experience or family reasons, and we’ll no doubt continue to support them in 2010. But these days we are all bombarded with requests from other charities, and having to say no to most of them can be upsetting. One antidote to the guilty conscience that may result is to select one local charity that you intend to support – either for 2010 or as a long-term commitment. Explaining your commitment to one particular charity is a great way of overcoming that awkward moment when you have to reject a certain charity’s request. SwindonWeb maintains a list of some of the town’s favourite charities, along with contact details. Intended as a resource for people in need, it also provides a handy list from which to select a local charity to support in 2010 and beyond.

49. Buy a ticket to ride. If there is a town in Britain with a richer selection of charming small towns and villages surrounding it, we’d like to hear about it. Castle Eaton, Cricklade, Bishopstone, Purton, South Marston… these and all the others have their own unique character, whatever the time of year. And it’s easier than ever to get to know Swindon’s neighbours in 2010, thanks to the Dayrider Plus ticket. It gives you unlimited travel throughout the area, for a whole day on Thamesdown Transport and Stagecoach buses – and at £4 for adults, it's fantastic value.

50. Go to the dogs. Greyhound racing takes place at the Abbey Stadium every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights (and Monday and Friday afternoons). It's a relatively cheap night out - and you fancy a flutter you may even come home with more than you started with - and it's fun for all the family. You can even book online.

51. Serve yourself some tennis. Swindon has excellent tennis facilities, including opportunities to play all year round at the Delta Tennis Centre. If that sounds too much like hard work, pop in and have a look around first. Notice how many of the games are doubles (often mixed doubles), how few people are aiming for Wimbledon and therefore how sociable tennis can be. And you’ll get fit without trying. Check out our guide to tennis in Swindon.

52. Keep visiting SwindonWeb. Well, we couldn’t end without inviting you to join us on a regular basis during the year ahead. We continue to be proud of our mission to bring you ‘Everything Swindon’, so here’s to all of us enjoying another fantastic year in 2010.

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