As the world starts ‘getting back to normal’ this month, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the (weirdly!) fun times I’ve had at home thanks to the awesome activities that I’ve enjoyed online. One of the highlights of the multiple lockdowns for me is that so many more of my favourite things can now be accessed online and I really hope that they’ll continue in the future.
If we all carry on supporting live steaming events, I’m sure the venues and event suppliers will keep providing their services online as long as the demand is there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because it’s so helpful for people who have difficulty leaving the house under normal circumstances to access events online, and it lets people access entertainment around the country (and the world!) that we otherwise couldn’t travel that far to.
Here are just 6 of my favourite things to do online…
1 COMEDY CLUBS
You’ve no doubt already heard me enthuse about the online entertainment options I’ve been enjoying during lockdown, but let me re-emphasise that online comedy is just as entertaining as the real-life stuff. Going to comedy nights was mine and my husband’s favourite thing to do pre-pandemic. Whether it was with friends or just the two of us, we always tired to get tickets for as many shows as possible so that we had a comedy events coming up in the calendar each month.
So when theatres closed and live performances were put on hold for the foreseeable future, I suddenly found myself with piles of unusable tickets for 2020 shows and nothing to do on a Saturday night. That is, until The Covid Arms started up. Hosted by Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, it’s a monthly virtual comedy club on Zoom for £10 or YouTube livestream for just £2 (supporting The Trussell Trust), and it brings the most epic comedians into your living room at the weekend. Since I discovered it at the start of lockdown 1 I’ve been to all the shows and will continue to do so for as long as it runs.
I’ve also attended online comedy shows at Frog and Bucket and The Boat Show comedy club online – both of which offer different experiences – one with the option to interact via zoom, and the other with your microphone on so that the comedians can hear laughter.
2 GAMES NIGHTS
Prior to 2020, a regular feature in our calendar was games night with our friends or family. And not just playing games at home, going out to compete in mini-golf, escape rooms, bowling and air hockey at the arcade. If there’s a game to play, you can bet we’ll be gathering together to play it. Although we’ve been able to still connect and play games over video calls, using virtual Scattergories and playing Pictionary via screen-sharing on Zoom, we haven’t been able to find online mini golf! But we HAVE been able to go to escape rooms online – some of the most fun evenings we’ve had!
Each family or couple can log-in from their own home with the unique code. Then you’re all transported into the escape room, where you can explore the virtual space independently and will need to work together to solve the clues – with some people solving a riddle with another person cross-referencing the code. The most recent one I’ve discovered Dr Van Hollywood’s Marvelous Movie Maze plays like the Crystal Maze, so much fun!
3 DANCE CLASSES
Previously, I’ve had to drive quite distance to attend physical dance classes in the evenings. And, when it’s a cold and dark winter’s night, it certainly takes a lot of persuasion to get my husband and I off the sofa to go to a class. But I LOVE to learn to dance; it’s my main hobby, it fires-up my brain to learn new moves, and it’s the kind of physical activity you don’t really realise you’re doing = the best kind of exercise.
So, when Oti Mabuse started doing online dance classes during lockdown 1, I was hooked. I would dance along to her livestreams and re-watch her YouTube videos when she wasn’t hosting a class. Well, practice makes perfect, eh? Now, she has developed an online dance school Oti Mabuse Dance Studio where she still hosts ‘The Free Class’ every Monday alongside focused learn-to-dance sessions for children and adults. I’ve attended a variety of lessons and have learnt SO much – and from a Strictly Come Dancing professional no less!
I also enjoy attending Janette and Aljaz’s monthly online dance classes, which are more like a party in the kitchen! The Strictly couple teach you a routine over the course of an hour on Friday evenings, and then stick around for a Q&A afterward. We went to their Valentine’s special event where we learnt the Rumba and also attended Aljaz’s star-studded birthday party salsa dance class.
4 LIVE THEATRE
Just like our comedy tickets, theatre tickets feature prominently in our gift-giving. If it’s a birthday, Christmas or any special occasion, you can bet that’ll be treating my mum, husband or friends to tickets to a performance or a musical at the local theatre. Luckily, our local theatre has been offering livestream shows throughout the past year via the Fane streaming site and I’ve been to see Tom Allen, Joanna Lumley and Monty Don, to name a few. If you fancy buying a ticket to a livestream show have a look at what’s available through your local theatre first, because the profits help to support the theatre and keep it running until it can reopen.
Another thing you might want to check out is the Hay Festival, which is all online this year. I always wanted to go to the famous literature festival but it’s SO far away from home that we’ve never yet made the journey. So, now that I watch all the live chat sessions online, there’s no way that I’m going to miss it this year! I’ve registered to watch Caitlin Moran, Ruby Wax, Chris Packham, Julian Clary, David Hockney and many more. I’m also excited to see the Talk Art podcast with Russell Tovey live for a second time (I saw them at Latitude festival in 2019) – and the best thing is that all the sessions are free!
At Latitude festival in years gone by
The best thing to come out of the past year is that I have become more active. And it’s because I have been able to access regular live workouts on Instagram and Zoom. Again, just like the dance classes, it takes a lot of effort to persuade me to go out to do a class if I have the option of staying at home, so I never did. Other than a short gym membership at uni, I haven’t ever been to an exercise class, and I probably still wouldn’t. BUT I have a discovered that I really enjoy being more active, as long as it’s in a way that suits me – at home, with 5 minutes notice and, most importantly, live online.
The thing is, it has to be a live session that I’ve registered for – if it’s just a workout app or YouTube video, I won’t do it. There’s something about being part of a class that makes me feel committed enough to attend, but without actually having to see anyone else! I found out that I enjoy doing yoga, pilates and Pound fit, all of which I have discovered through free Zoom sessions from my local library. And I love the happy vibe of Karen Hauer’s ‘cute workouts’ on Instagram. I filled my calendar something active every day in January and February and I felt so much better knowing that daily dose of movement would get me away from my computer.
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed this year is the abundance of online courses that have become available. I’ve studied BSL in 2020, which has been an ambition of mine since the sign language classes at university clashed with my timetable so I couldn’t take the BSL module. I’ve also taken a Money Mastery course completed a CPD course through West Suffolk College and the Skills Network, so now I’m qualified in Personal Money Management. I surprised myself by registering for this particular CPD course – considering I was rubbish at maths in school and still drift off when looking at numbers, who would’ve thought that one day I would have achieved a First in my Financial Accounting module at uni, have written a money-advice blog for ten years AND completed a course in money management? I’m probably the most shocked out of everyone!
Anyway, it’s definitely been a benefit of the lockdowns that studying is now super-accessible and you can learn practically ANY subject online. I also completed an Ultimate Reset lifestyle course and money class with The Manifestation Collective and have attended business webinars with a variety of experts, such as Bloom Content Creation. If there’s a subject you’re interested in, or a skill that you think would boost your CV, why not look for a source you can study online? I love working at my own pace and it gives me something productive to do during my downtime.
What activities have you enjoyed doing during lockdown that you want to continue doing in the future? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas for online events to attend and workshops to learn from. 🙂
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