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British Summer Time at Barton Park Homes

In just two weeks British Summer Time officially begins and like the rest of us, residential park home owners can all enjoy the lighter nights once again as the clocks go forward. If you have a park home on Badger Hill Park you might enjoy the sights of Knaresborough Castle which is only a short distance away, or perhaps a walk along the coastline at Knott End-on-Sea if you’re a park home owner at Willow Grove Park in Lancashire.

Residential park home living offers a wonderful lifestyle for those of us who prefer a peaceful environment with a real community spirit, and with carefully chosen locations around the UK, Barton Park Homes offer a wonderful variety of living spaces in unique and beautiful spots. Our parks are specifically tailored towards retired and semi-retired people. With on site staff and well maintained grounds our residents can enjoy more of their time doing the things they love.

With summer approaching its the perfect time to think about how best to enjoy retirement living in the year ahead, and take up that new hobby you’ve been promising yourself. Being sixty is the new 50 (so they say!) and many of us now become more active as we enjoy more time for ourselves.

So why not forget the old routines and try something new? To help let your imagination run wild we have put together our 10 Best Hobbies for retirement living. We’re sure you’ll find something that takes your fancy so grab a cup of tea and start thinking about how you could spend the summer of 2015 differently!


family tree

One advantage with the advent of the internet age is access to information online, and being able to trace your family tree has become a popular pass time in the last few years. There are many websites that offer access to historical records for a price, but for budding investigators there are ways of discovering the answers to your family history that doesn’t have you spending money if you’re prepared to put in the time. Not only that, imagine how much more satisfying it is when you know that you have done all of the research yourself! Here are two websites to get you started:

Birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales

An international genealogy site run by the Church of Latter Day Saints


Residents of Barton Park Homes everywhere enjoy beautiful locations on coastlines and in the countryside with some of the best scenic walks close by. If you live in our Glenholt Park in Plymouth, for example, there is the incredible backdrop of a 66-acre oak forest on your doorstep! A great way to keep fit and earn some extra pocket money is what dog owners do every day for free, only this way you walk other peoples’ dogs! Initially something that started in the US, pet walking has now taken off in the UK. Many professional people with 9 to 5 jobs who have pets don’t always have the time to walk their dogs every day as they should, and are willing to pay people to do it for them. Rates vary depending on where you live so best to check with local classified ads to see what the going rates in your area are. Failing that, why not just offer to take your neighbour’s pets for a walk when they’re not feeling well, or to give them a break. All of our  parks have a great community spirit which is one of the things our residents love the most.


a9318e5bc6fbb979ebd2e2e300f58579Most of us have watched the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, but how many of us have taken the next step and spent a few pennies on something at a car boot sale only to find it was worth a lot more? The joy of antique collecting, however, isn’t just in the possibility of making a small profit, its also found in learning about the history of a place or an item, and how it came to be. You don’t have to worry about where to start because there are courses you can take, even online ones, to help you decide which area would interest you most. But probably the most fun way to learn is to just visit antique shops and fares and do some exploring. Ebay is the perfect place for buying and selling online if you prefer to do it from home (see our previous article on How to Ebay). Perhaps you’ll discover a love of Chippendale furniture or 19th Century French Perfume Bottles? You never know what little treasures are waiting to be found and maybe we’ll see you on this year’s Antiques Roadshow!


Anyone can get into photography nowadays, and the price of digital cameras makes it affordable to everyone. As well as a camera all you need is a laptop, some photo-manipulation software and you’re ready to let your creative skills fly. Although it might seem like a lot to take in, many digital cameras do most of the work for you and there’s no need for any technical knowledge to operate them. There are plenty of free software packages that you can download too which will turn your snap into a digital masterpiece at the push of a button. PC Windows users should try Gimp which is probably the best one there is. Once you buy your camera there are a couple of things to remember. Firstly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The great thing about digital is that your memory card will hold hundreds if not thousands of pictures depending on how much space it has on it. Typically an 8GB card will hold between 1000 and 4000 pictures. So whether you live in beautiful Bittaford Wood Park in Devon or the gorgeous Orton Grange Park in Cumbria you’ll be sure to find your inspiration.

Download the free photo editor software.


The peaceful pleasures of fishing have long been enjoyed by the British public, and there are ample opportunities for anglers all over our green and pleasant lands. If you’re not lucky enough be a resident of Willow Grove Park, which has its own well stocked and purpose built fishery, its easy enough to find the best fishing areas local to you either with an online search or simply doing it the old fashioned way – by taking a walk and exploring! Its important to remember that if you want to fish in canals and rivers you must first obtain a rod license from the Environment Agency (or you risk a fine of upto £2500 fishing without one).

Learn how to gain your rod and fishing licences.

grandad and grandson fishing



Another great way to enjoy the surroundings of the Barton Park locations is to get out there and spend time in them now the summer months are returning. Did you know, for example, that J Turner’s famous watercolour Ivy Bridge was painted in the nearest town to our own Bittaford Wood Park? Painting and sketching is probably the most accessible hobby for everyone to enjoy, and you will be surprised just how satisfying it is whatever your skill level may be. If you don’t want to dive straight to attempt watercolours, which takes practice and technique, then why not start out with some simple sketch drawings and go from there? The art world is waiting for you!


tai chi woman

The ancient practice of Tai Chi may well have its origins in ancient Chinese martial arts but its proven to be so beneficial to our health that its even recommended by our very own NHS. Its particularly beneficial to people aged 65 or over by helping reduce stress and keeping us mobile in our older age. Although learning with a teacher is generally preferred, you can always start from a book or online videos in the beginning. If you can convince your partner or a friend to join in then even better as practicing in groups can be much more encouraging and help you maintain good practice. Tai Chi is a gentle exercise and completely low impact which focuses on deep breathing and slow gentle movements. Perhaps the only risk it poses is to your street cred (if you’re the type to worry about keeping up appearances), although you’ll more likely be the envy of all your neighbours when they see how calm, supple and energetic you are once you become a Tai Chi Master!

See the official health benefits of Tai Chi.


As we get older some of us miss the feeling of being useful and contributing to society as much as we once did, but retirement living doesn’t mean an end to being useful! There are of course may ways that we continue to play a part as we grow older, but for those who still have the desire to do more then volunteering is the perfect thing to do. In the past our volunteering may have been limited charity shop work but in recent years it has taken on a whole new level. More than 20 million people in the UK donate more than 100 million hours to their communities each week, with an estimated economic value of £40 billion! The benefits of volunteering seem to help us in many ways too, from extending life expectancy, to an improved ability to cope with ill health and even increased self esteem. Its also a great way to stay sociable and meet new people whilst making a vital contribution to your local area. Find out about volunteering programs near you by taking look at this website, a database of volunteering opportunities.


tango dancers

Its been impossible to miss the upsurge in popularity of dancing the country has seen once more during these last few years.  But whether its watching TV News presenters make a fool of themselves on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing or the ever increasing dance classes that have sprung up in community centres everywhere, there is literally no escaping the love of dancing that has grabbed the heart of the nation. And of course there’s a very good reason for it as its so much fun! Once you take those first few steps on the dance floor, you’ll soon find that its not all about showing off or being able to sweep people of their feet. In fact the more you progress, the more you discover the simple pleasure of sharing a musical moment with someone who likes the same song or tune. A good way to start is to consider what type of music you enjoy before choosing your dance class – its no good learning how to jive if you don’t like music from the 1950s! Much better to think about the type of music you like and go from there. Maybe you’ve always enjoyed latin music in which case salsa would be great? For the more adventurous there’s always the Argentine Tango which is very popular once again, 100 years after it first became a hit. Its also a great way to enjoy time with your partner or maybe even find a new one if you’re single. The chances are there is a class somewhere near to whichever park home location you live in, but to help out you can see some online listings.


For the residents of Barton Park Homes there is one hobby that perhaps crowns all others – gardening. Whether its our annual gardening competition that is put on each year in Willow Grove, or the pleasures of creating your own garden simply to enjoy yourself during the summer months, its still at the top of the list when it comes to hobbies which are beneficial to mind, body and and soul. All of our park home locations have the perfect setting to create beautiful and personal garden spaces which reflect the personalities of those who live there. And of course if you’re looking for inspiration then its almost that time again when Alan Titchmarsh will be back on our screens telling us how we should be doing it!

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