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Coronavirus: Time to embrace the great indoors

With most families housebound for the foreseeable future, Tanya Sweeney looks at some inventive ways to keep the monotony at bay while being cooped up inside


You can access online courses from stars such as Serena Williams and Gordon Ramsay on Masterclass.com

You can access online courses from stars such as Serena Williams and Gordon Ramsay on Masterclass.com

You can access online courses from stars such as Serena Williams and Gordon Ramsay on Masterclass.com

Netflix subscription sorted? Check. RTE Player cued up? Check. Freezer full? Check. Full supply of loo roll stored away? Check. Skype credit bought? Dog walked (while keeping a safe distance from others)? Check.

Great… now what?

With the changeable weather, the great outdoors doesn't always provide some respite, so it might just be time to look into the more unusual things you can do with your spare time. The internet is providing a valuable resource, and many cultural and leisure pursuits are providing great services and events online. We've found just a handful to get you started.

1. Mental health

If you'd like to try some headwork in what are quite anxiety-addled times, Glo (Glo.com) offers unlimited meditation, yoga and Pilates classes online. After a two-week free trial, you can then do as many sun salutations as you want for about €16 a month.

2. Night at the opera


Comedy troupe Just These Please are releasing a sketch a week on YouTube

Comedy troupe Just These Please are releasing a sketch a week on YouTube

Comedy troupe Just These Please are releasing a sketch a week on YouTube

New York's Metropolitan Opera is now streaming 'Nightly Met Opera streams' on its official website for free. These will start at 7.30pm New York time (12.30am Irish time), but will be available to stream for 20 hours. "We'd like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times," said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. "Every night, we'll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years." The first week's schedule will be featuring timeless classics as Carmen, La bohème, and La Traviata. See metopera.org for details.

3. Culture club

Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can now virtually visit some of the world's best museums. Google Arts & Culture have teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries, among them the British Museum in London, the Guggenheim in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. You can take a cyber-walk through the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and see artworks from Monet, Cezanne and Gaugin. If you've ever wanted to try visit the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, now's your chance. Well, kinda. See artsandculture.google.com for the tour information.

4. Live and learn

Take a free online course - FutureLearn.com has just created a free online course, thanks to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, called COVID-19: Tackling The Novel Coronavirus. At Udemy.com, luminaries like Eckhart Tolle and Elizabeth Gilbert are providing classes in self-development and creativity respectively, while on Masterclass.com, you can access online classes from world-renowned greats like Serena Williams, Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet for around €16.67 a month. Sotheby's Institute of Art also has an expert-led online course in art history that can be accessed from anywhere in the world - see sothebysinstitute.com/online.

5. Sound of music

There's no need to miss the thrill of live music thanks to an Australian company, Netgigs. The online live streaming music service, which is in its infancy, can be accessed from anywhere on Netgigs' pay-per-view platform. With high definition video and audio, and the artists earning royalties with every gig, it's a good way to stay connected to the live music experience. See netgigs.com for more information.

6. Comedy central

Comedian Alison Spittle is using Instagram to pull a communal gathering together, using the hashtag #covideoparty. With a little help from her followers, Alison is picking a film, inviting people to start watching it at the same time and then tweet their commentary alongside it. Hopefully this will become a regular thing: see Instagram.com/Alisonspittle for details, or check the #covideoparty hashtag for similar events.

7. On the write track

Another Twitter hashtag worth keeping an eye on is #Creativebursts. Author Sarah Webb is providing daily writing games, story prompts and word fun. Videos and downloadables were made available on the Museum of Literature website (moli.ie) every weekday at 1pm.

8. Fan-tastic streams

Several artists are turning to live streaming to connect with their fans. Frames musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire live-streamed an intimate performance from his sitting room on Sunday by setting up a smartphone on a stand. "I will endeavour not to touch my face for the next hour," he said. "This is all very surreal. We're all in a strange dream together."

Limerick musician Emma Langford, meanwhile, is doing bedtime stories for all and sundry each evening at 8pm, on the Patreon platform. "If this creative lockdown we're seeing where venues are closing and artists are cancelling tours has shown me anything, it's that necessity is truly the mother of innovation," Emma has said. "They're not expensive to access, people can sign up for $2 a month to access everything, but all of those subscriptions add up, so it's hugely helpful for an independent artist like me. And then there's just the lovely aspect of me getting some reading in, and fans getting read too." Find her content on patreon.com/emmalangford.

9. Game for a laugh

Comedy troupe Just These Please, who have already garnered 25 million views online, are releasing a sketch a week on YouTube.com/justtheseplease if you want to get your fill of home-grown funny stuff. Their latest, 'Happy International Pretend You're Irish Day' takes a pop at those who like to think they're Irish on March 17.

10. What's the story?

If the kids have read every book in the house cover to cover, try accessing Storyline Online, which features a number of books read by actors. The books run for around 10-12 minutes each, and have a suggested reading level. Each title also features a handy activity guide for parents or teachers. See storylineonline.net for the lowdown.

Beloved author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers is also reading his gorgeous book How To Catch A Star on Instagram Live this week - it will stay on his Instagram page for 24 hours, and will add them to his website later. See oliverjeffers.com.

11. Top of the pops

Fancy trying to make a pop hit in your own house? Moog have create a new tool to help people created music while they're on lockdown at home. They have made its Minimoog Model D synth app available for free.

Synth giants Korg are also doing the same for its iKaossillator apps, which normally retail for around €18. iOS users can grab the music-making software for free until March 31.

Irish Independent