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How to banish the autumn blues

29 September 2015

By Emily Davies

by  mendhak 

It seems too early to be saying this, but already there’s a chill in the air and it feels like the winter is well on its way. How rubbish! Summer doesn’t seem to have been long enough this year, but already we’re sorting through our wardrobes and deciding what we need to buy to get through those cold winter months ahead.
But going into winter isn’t all bad. There’s the buzz around Christmas and New Year to look forward to, and there’s a lot to be said for those cosy evenings in when it’s already dark by 4.30pm. For a start, autumn and winter brings a lot of entertaining and addictive TV – series shows such as Unforgotten and Downton, and the X-Factor and Strictly, of course. Not that TV is the only evening entertainment option during the winter. It would soon become pretty same-y if that’s all you did. There are plenty of other ways to pass those winter evenings, especially when you don’t feel like venturing out into the cold.

One way to have a great night in with your mates is to get the girls round for a bingo night. Now that there are so many online bingo sites like bgo, Wink and New Look Bingo to visit, all people need to do is bring their tablet or phone with them and you can all log in to the same site to play together. At, for example, there’s a host of different rooms to choose from, including Fairy Delight, Golden Galaxy and Crown Jewels, all with different levels of games and jackpots to play.

Joining a bingo site takes a couple of minutes and you’ll be rewarded straight away with a welcome bonus when you put your first deposit into an account. Many sites now offer a 400% bonus, which means that an initial deposit of £10 is automatically increased to £50. That’s a great starting pot to play online bingo as most games are only a few pence to play and all the sites have free games on their schedule. Playing bingo online instead of going out could actually help you in budgeting for the expense of Christmas, which is really only a few of months away now. An evening of bingo games works out much cheaper than a few rounds in a bar, or going out for dinner.
Playing online bingo doesn’t require any concentration, so while it’s fun to watch and get excited about as your card’s numbers get crossed off, it won’t prevent you and the girls from having a catch-up while the game goes on. All you need to add is a glass or two of wine and a few snacks to have the perfect girls’ night in. And, who knows, one of you might land a great cash prize while you’re playing and treat everyone else to a night out another time!

Of course, bingo is just one idea for a way to pass those long winter nights, but it’s one you can go back to again and again. First-time players will soon discover why everyone else loves this simple game so much!

5 Podcasts I LOVE

15 September 2015

Podcasts are my new favourite thing. My adoration began when I started my current job. 50 minutes of walking everyday to and from the office (okay, okay, and the occasional bus/taxi) became insanely dull listening to the same old songs on repeat. Sadly, I'm not one of those privileged few who sidle about with their Spotify Premium and their unlimited 4G (bitter? Me. Never). Because of this, the bright purple 'Podcasts' app quickly became my favourite (free) iFriend. 

It was Serial that first converted me. More specifically the addictive nature of Sarah Koenig's intricate storytelling. WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ADNAN?!?! I still don't bloody know. But, since that somewhat anticlimactic finale ---- no spoilers --- I've been pretty much podcast potty. For a girl who loves to read but never has the time (I can watch a whole series of The OC in a weekend but one book, it can take me up to a month) these short, sweet educational snippets are a remedy from the brainfuzz of trash TV. 

I've had a few people recently ask me for podcast recommendations so I thought I'd come up with a little list for anyone that's... well, keen for some aural pleasure...

1) Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin
When I think of Alec Baldwin, I think of him acting in romcoms and 30 Rock, along with controversial voicemails. I wouldn't necessarily have him down as a radio host. After listening to a couple of episodes though, it's pretty obvious that he fits in with the rest of the shock-jocks - you can tell he LOVES the sound of his own voice.  But this is something I can forgive for the quality of his guests.  Each episode he speaks to a different musician/ magician/ journalist/ actor/etc, to "hear their stories, what inspires their creations, what decisions changed their careers, and what relationships influenced their work."  My favourite installments are the ones where Alec speaks to Lawrence Wright, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gay Talese. Oh, and Kris Kardashian, purely for how deranged she is. The Paul Simon episode is worth listening to because of how awfully awkward it is. Come on, Paul, we know you're a musical genius... loosen up a little.

2) You Must Remember This 
THIS PODCAST IS THE BEST. Created, hosted and produced by Karina Longworth, it focuses on the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century. It really reminds me of Serial, with the same kind of attention to detail and exploration of real-life sagas. I listened to the 12 Charles Manson's Hollywood episodes in a matter of days purely because of how aurally moreish they are. Other installments include scandalous tales of Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, and other G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S figures of interest. 

3) Longform 
This podcast -- hosted by Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratcliff -- revolves around writers. My favourite episodes include the ones where they interview Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, Sarah Maslin Nir who wrote about abuses at nail salons for the New York Times, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic and just completely amazing. It delves into their practices, their stories, and the art of writing. And it's done in a really nice, casual, intimate way, kinda like a fireside chat... with a beer.

4) Soul Music - BBC Radio 4 
This series of podcasts looks at pieces of music with a powerful impact. The first episode I listened to was the one about Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Man, that SONG. I sang it at my Year 6 talent show and won. I sometimes think I peaked in coolness at 11. Back then I had more of an affinity with Shrek than Jeff Buckley, but still! Hallelujah is a song that transcends time and space, and has the ability to reaaaaally get into your blood. I think you're a little bit subhuman if it doesn't make you feel something, anything. The mosaic of voices that speak throughout this podcast explain their memories of the song, and experiences that have been framed by it. It's really heartwarming, and really interesting. Especially the bit of this particular episode when one of the speakers informs us that his daughter is named Hallelujah. Now that's dedication to a tune. Other songs featured include Something Inside So Strong, Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You, and the Smiths' There is A Light That Never Goes Out.

5) Filler Podcast
 Harry Hitchens and Matt Shore are the dynamic duo behind this podcast, which I've expressed my love for in a previous post. Each week they interview young talented creatives on how they got into their field, the way they spend their free time, and so much more. Notable guests include Rosa Park, editor of Cereal Magazine, YouTube filmmaker Jack Harries, and writer Charly Cox. As so many of us sit here post-college/ post-graduation and think "guh, what's next?" Filler's great for a bit of a morale pick-me-up, a glimpse into people that are out there really making it off their own steam. The millennial entrepreneurs, if you will. Series 2 is coming out soon! Seriously can't wait.

Other treats to taste:

Death, Sex and Money: Listen to Anna Sale looking into the things we think about the most but need to talk about more. Recent episodes speak to residents of New Orleans post-Katrina, and explore siblinghood, life as a wife, and more.

Politini: Politics and pop culture served with a twist. I listen to Aisha and Daniele when I want an honest, insightful view into American politics, racism, and/or life in general. 

Nerdette: The mantra of this podcast is that we all have something we're a little bit nerdy about. It's girl-centric & great. If you want to know who to listen to, who to read, and how to laugh, this is for you.

The Moth: This one I'm just getting into. The material for the podcasts are pinched from the Moth's amazing national StorySlams, that span the length and breadth of the U.S. Looking at the success of Humans of New York and other similar storytelling platforms it's clear that we're inexplicably drawn to real, raw human tales like moths to a flame.

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