Keeping busy in self-isolation is a pretty difficult thing, especially now that we’re having to engage with friends, family, and loved ones through social media or Skype instead of seeing them in person. When you can’t nip to the shops, out for a coffee, or take a trip to the cinema, filling your spare time becomes a bit of a daunting task. Luckily, in response to this global pandemic, companies have been kind and charitable in giving their products away or greatly reducing prices to help us keep busy for the foreseeable. If you’re running low on things to occupy yourself with, here’s five of our favourite freebies to help you try and fill at least a little of your time.
GOG’s free Stay at Home Bundle
Draw the curtains, fire up your PC, and get involved with some of these classic games that Good Old Games – aka GOG – have put in one neat little bundle to keep you occupied during self-isolation. Featuring games that can be installed on Windows, Linux, or macOS, you can enjoy over 20 games for exactly zero pounds and zero pence, including the alpha build of Hello Neighbour, Sang Froid, or GWENT, the card game from GOG owners CD Projekt Red’s smash hit series The Witcher. There are games in the bundle to suit everyone’s tastes: Postal and Shadow Warrior appeal to both lovers of shooters and crude humour, while old-school RPG lovers will find so much to sink their teeth into in the 1985 classic Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar. Aside from these, it also features the cyberpunk dystopian cult classic point-and-click adventure, Beneath a Steel Sky, so if you’re sad that CD Projekt Red has had to push back the release of Cyberpunk 2077, you can at least get your Neuromancer-style thrills from this incredible (free!) game.
Get Really, Really into the NHL
You may have seen a few jokes going around the ol’ Twitter dot com that as soon as the NHL (National Hockey League) decided it was safer to shut up the proverbial shop and cancel games, Canada put all its energy into coming up with a vaccine for COVID-19 and more or less managed it. It might be best to not let them in on the knowledge that the NHL is uploading lots of classic games of hockey to its YouTube channel, including documentaries on the sport and the (often hilarious) Road to the Winter Classics series. If you’ve never watched ice hockey before, there’s no better place to start than getting into the NHL, which is considered one of, if not the best league in the world. Games are fast-paced, exciting, and can change completely in the blink of an eye. If you enjoyed watching para ice hockey at the last Winter Paralympics, you’ll probably have a great time working your way through each of the videos.
Take in a bit of free stand-up comedy
Laugh, they say, and the world laughs with you, even in the midst of a global pandemic. The Stand is an Edinburgh institution and has given a start to hundreds of Britain’s finest comedians over the years. The news that entertainment venues were to close to the public wasn’t one the Stand was going to take lightly, and so on a Saturday night, they’re going to be streaming some fresh, live comedy streamed live from the venue from a group of brave, dry cough-free comics. The venue plans to keep the streams going for as long as possible, so if you find yourself in the house on a Saturday night – let’s be honest, if you don’t, you’re probably either very important or very irresponsible – you can take yourself on a virtual jolly jaunt to the Stand. Last week’s show featured bastions of the Scottish comedy circuit Mark Nelson, Jo Caufield and Vladimir McTavish, as well as British comedy icon Phil Jupitus performing live for a digital audience, who were still happily able to interact with them. The show is absolutely free to watch, but if you’re so inclined, you can help support the comedy institution through this crisis by donating a few pounds if you have them.
Collins are giving away free learning resources
If you’ve suddenly found yourself acting as parent as well as teacher, and have no idea how to spin it, you’ll be pleased to know that publisher Collins has published a whole host of free resources to help you teach your very own classes. If you’ve forgotten how to do Pythagorean theory or maths in general, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a resource for that. Parents in Scotland don’t need to miss out either, as there are resources for primary school learning, GCSEs, A levels, N4, N5, Higher and Advanced Higher topics. If your kids thought that this was just going to be a very long summer holiday, they, unfortunately, thought very wrong. Khan Academy, another brilliant online learning resource, has published some extremely helpful example timetables to break down your days too, just in case you’re struggling with how to structure a child’s school day. They’re also broken down by age, so you don’t have to just hope for a “one size fits all” solution when it definitely isn’t the case.
Get really into cooking and baking
As much as Wikipedia gets slated, it really is one of the single most valuable resources on the internet. One of Wikipedia’s sister projects is Wikibooks, a kind of open-source library that’s full of books that are out of copyright and other little nuggets of literary importance. It also has one of the vastest, incredible, cookbooks on the internet, and it’s all completely free. If you’ve decided to take this opportunity to get really into baking as we suggested in this post, you can find quite literally hundreds of recipes from every culture and cuisine the world over on Wikibooks. If you’ve loaded up on ingredients but have no idea what to cook with them that’s a bit different or interesting, you can find almost anything on Wikibooks. It’s also worth noting that it has an absolutely phenomenal section on how to make bread, featuring probably every style of bread that has ever been conceived by a human brain. There is also a guide on how to make a nice cup of tea, if this is something that you are somehow unsure of.
Read more: Winning at self-isolation
Image credits: GOG/NHL PR/Edinburgh Blog @ Flickr