Can Bingo Be a Healthy Pastime?

When people are looking for a new pastime that’s healthy, the usual exercise based suspects crop up, such as yoga, swimming and so on. Bingo, however, usually does not!

Bingo has become an increasingly popular leisure activity in the last ten years, and there has been considerable debate as to whether or not it can be considered “healthy”.  Below we’ve listed some points that you may consider to be health benefits.

Improved Cognitive Abilities

When you’re playing bingo – there’s an element of concentration involved.  You’re always listening or looking for the next number to see if it’s one that you can mark off your card.  This in itself will sharpen your cognitive skills.  Research has shown that people who play bingo have greater results in tests relating to memory and cognitive function than those who don’t. It also improves hand-eye coordination.

It can Reduce Stress

Playing a game of bingo can be a lot of fun.  There’s always a bit of an adrenaline rush when you’re close to a big win, and it can distract you from the stresses and strains of everyday life.  This can improve your overall mood just as other activities which give an adrenaline rush can, albeit the benefits may only be short lived. It’s well worth pointing out that gambling can itself become an enormous source of stress for those who become problem gamblers. If this applies to you we would urge you to contact one of the many gambling charities, or at the very least to take the NHS ‘Are you a problem gambler’ test.  Continue reading →

Top Entertaining Ways to Pass Time Online

The internet is a great tool for a variety of different things. If you’re looking for entertainment then there are simply thousands of ways to spend your time. We’ve got some suggestions for anyone that wants to find themselves entertained with a browser by their side.

Read Free Books

Copyright free books and public use literature can be a free way to entertain yourself. There’s loads of books out there that you can download on your phone, eReader or even your computer. These will give you access to so much entertainment, without spending a penny.

If you want to enjoy classic books then you’ll have a range to pick from. Most older books are no longer protected by copyright so you can download and read for free, you can find a huge collection of copyright free books at Gutenberg.

Learn a New Skill

If you’re in the market to learn something new then the internet is your best friend. Whether you want to learn a new hobby or work towards a qualification, there are loads of free courses to check out. These can even help you out with getting a better job or into another course.

YouTube and other streaming services can help you to connect with those that can teach you these skills. There are loads of free resources out there too, like worksheets, books and articles, that will turn you into an expert in your new field.

Watch Movies

With streaming services at an all-time high, you have hundreds of hours of top class entertainment at your fingertips. Thousands of hours of content are uploaded to the internet on a daily basis.

Services like Netflix, Now TV and Hayu are all great, with mobile apps to keep you watching on the move. Even on YouTube and Vimeo, you will find a variety of free documentaries to check out too.

Play Bingo

Bingo is known as one of the best online activities in the world, as it’s one of the few that can actually give you a bit of cash back. Sites like Rocket Bingo and Free allow you to play for free too, even earning bonus funds or real cash to play with. Continue reading →

The Impossible – Movie Review

“Close your eyes and think of something nice,” says Maria to her son.

I doubt that the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 would come to mind. Nine years ago near the west coast of Sumatra the fate of millions changed forever due to one of the deadliest natural disasters humanity has faced. Quarter of a million people were dead or missing, and millions were left homeless. But an incredible real-life story of survival, and what’s truly important, unfolds among the ruins.

The Impossible is the first re-enactment of the 2004 tsunami directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) and features Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as parents Maria and Henry.

Maria and Henry enjoy an idyllic Christmas holiday in Thai holiday with their three sons. On Boxing Day morning, the tsunami hits their resort and separates the family. “Is it over?” Lucas asks his mother. Though we know it has not started yet.

The movie is an interchanging play of highs and lows – a wake-up call for the true value of human bonds and realising that you are not alone.

The Impossible does not spare us the grim depiction of nature’s brutality, human suffering and death. However, bearing in mind that the family’s story of hope, love, survival and courage among the ruins is a true one, it is also an exception. And for many that are left homeless, injured or even worse, the story does not have a happy ending.

The Impossible is now available to but on DVD and Blu-Ray

Article written by Ellie de Rose.

Visions of Ecstasy: End of the Last Taboo?

Blas for me, Blas for you, Blas for everybody in the room Eddie Izzard

Until 1676 you could still be executed for blasphemy, but the offence came off the law books in 2008, opening the way for one of the strangest bans in the history of British cinema to be repealed. Now, 23 years after it was first submitted to the British Board of Film Classification, the British public will finally get the chance to judge for themselves Nigel Wingrove’s Visions of Ecstasy – a 19 minute short film banned because the BBFC judged that it was likely to be prosecuted for blasphemous libel.

So, if the release of Visions of Ecstasy marks the end of this long held taboo, it also affords us the opportunity to look at the history of how blasphemy has impacted on film censorship over the years.

The BBFC celebrates its centenary in 2012, but the first written guidelines for what was then the British Board of Film Censors were not drawn up until 1916. 43 prohibitions were laid down, covering everything from “Indecorous, ambiguous and irreverent titles and subtitles” to “Subjects dealing with premeditated seduction of girls“. Two of the prohibitions had to do with the appearance of blasphemy: “Materialisation of the conventional figure of Christ” and a specific prohibition of “The irreverent treatment of sacred subjects”. So we’ve come a long way.

Visions of Ecstasy

Depiction of the figure of Christ was cut from several films in the board’s first years of operation. It’s tough to find details of which films, because the BBFC site isn’t indexed like that, but DW Griffith’s Intolerance either slipped through the net or was given consideration as a more artistic work, because it seems not to have been censored for its 1916 release, despite featuring both the materialisation of Christ and nudity. In relation to Intolerance the BBFC did remark, in 1917, that they “objected to nude statuary when we have seen it in certain positions”. In addition the 1916 film Civilization was submitted in a shortened version for its 1917 release. The film apparently depicts Christ as an anti-war agitator. This was a very successful suppression by the BBFC. In 1931 the film came before the board again, this time in a full sound version, but it was rejected, probably because policy hadn’t changed on the depiction of Christ, and since then it seems to have been revived only very occasionally (probably in its shortened version) at the National Film Theatre. It’s not an official ban for blasphemy, but Civilization remains all but unseen here, because it depicts Christ.

At this time there wasn’t a real public outcry about blasphemy in the media, and in 1948 Secretary Arthur Watkins and President Sir Sidney Harris began presiding over a BBFC that abandoned the absolutes of the 1916 prohibitions for a board run by guidelines (which is still how the BBFC comes to its decisions today). The 50s and 60s saw the board struggle with cinema’s depictions of sex and drugs and rock and roll. It was really in the 1970s, with the rise of Mary Whitehouse and the Festival of Light (subsequently the National Viewers and Listeners Association, now Mediawatch) that blasphemy started to rear its head again as an issue in censorship, and indeed in the courts.

Ken Russell’s The Devils came to the board in 1971, and had a rough ride. Board secretary John Trevelyan wanted to protect the film, which he considered a great work of art, and there were a number of viewings of incomplete prints and letters back and forth with Russell as he fought to keep as much of controversial film intact as possible (as the cuts were made from unfinished prints there is no record as to how much went missing, but it seems likely to have been several minutes, some of that footage has since been restored to an occasionally shown Director’s Cut, though it will be the 1971 cinema version that comes to DVD in March). Blasphemy was, in fact, not one of the issues quoted by the BBFC, but it certainly was by the Festival of Light, whose campaign against the film was led by Peter Thompson, who had members mount a letter writing campaign, first to Trevelyan, who apparently replied to each letter saying “…go and see The Devils (it won’t corrupt you)”. Continue reading →

Film Review: The Descendants

It’s always nice to find a cultural oasis amid the plethora of remakes and formulaic junk pouring out of Hollywood but when the oasis is provided by writer/director Alexander Payne and the setting is the idyllic Hawaiian capital of Honolulu, it’s a veritable cause for joy.

Seven years have passed since Payne’s previous film, the highly successful Sideways, and it’s almost a decade since About Schmidt gave Jack Nicholson the opportunity to step down from his megastar pedestal to play a recently retired widower undertaking a road trip in what proved to be a masterful study of loneliness and old age.

In The Descendants, George Clooney is provided with a similar opportunity to break with his roguish, eternally youthful screen persona and do for middle age what Jack did for the over sixties. And I’m happy to report the opportunity isn’t squandered.

Clooney plays Matt Clark, a rich, workaholic lawyer based in Honolulu, with a wife, Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie), whose aversion to domestic tedium leads her to adrenaline-inducing pursuits (among other things). After a speedboat accident leaves her badly injured and comatose in the hospital, Matt is forced to suspend his daily routine to care for the couple’s youngest child, 10-year old Scottie (Amara Miller) and later their 17-year old semi-delinquent daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who has been away at boarding school.

Having been told that Elizabeth will never emerge from her coma, Matt is forced to honour the terms of her living will and disconnect her support system. Before doing so, however, revelations about Elizabeth, made by Alexandra, compel Matt to enter on a journey, both physical and emotional, in search of the truth. Accompanied by his dysfunctional daughters and Alexandra’s well-meaning but dim friend, Sid (Nick Krause).

The Descendants

Besides being preoccupied with his offspring, Matt also has to deal with the legacy of his forebears. He is trustee of the family property, consisting of 25,000 acres of untrammelled land on the island of Kauai, and despite the opposition of residents, it is the intention of Matt and his cabal of cousins to sell the land for development.

The two competing concerns soon become intertwined, ultimately providing Matt with a solution to both dilemmas.

It may not sound like much fun but there are plenty of laughs along the way. Most of them arising from disarmingly subtle situations. There are no pratfalls. No absurd situations. It’s character-based humour and the nearest it gets to broad comedy is when Sid’s social ineptitude leads him into trouble.

Despite the presence of a character who spends all but one brief sequence wired-up to a life support machine, it is never downbeat. Even in some of the more emotionally taut sequences, humour is never far below the surface. The younger cast members are all excellent with Woodley making the most of her lion’s share and there are even opportunities for scene-stealing appearances by old stagers Robert Forster as Elizabeth’s garrulous father and Beau Bridges as a senior member of the King family. Continue reading →

Grand National could make history In 2018

The Grand National is considered a historic event every year because of how high-profile a race it is. But this year will feature a number of interesting storylines that will make the race even more historic. With a jockey looking to earn a win to break a barrier in the race’s history, there is no shortage of historic possibilities. At the very least, there will be the possibility for history to make every stride in the Grand National feel as important as it ever has.

This potential for history is thanks to Katie Walsh. The jockey who is set to ride Baie Des Iles in the Grand National has the chance to become the first female jockey to claim victory in one of horse racing’s most challenging contests. And with a buzz growing around her horse’s chances to win the race, there is a very real opportunity that this historic outcome will indeed take place.

Walsh isn’t the only woman looking to strike this historic blow in the Grand National, as she is joined by Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore. All three jockeys could end up as the first woman to win the Grand National, which would make them historic figures in the sport of horse racing. And with the unpredictable nature of the Grand National, the outcome is not impossible. Continue reading →

Will Sizing John Create Cheltenham Gold Cup History?

There’s no guarantee you will ever witness history at a sporting event. There have been moments in memories past when greatness has narrowly eluded even the great teams and competitors. However, that should not be the case with the elite horse Sizing John in his bid to secure back-to-back triumphs at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The bay gelding won the event as an outside contender last season with a fine run as jockey Robbie Power in the saddle.

Sizing John has enhanced his reputation with further impressive victories. Jessica Harrington’s charge has built a notoriety and level of expectation every time he takes to the track. Therefore there will be much anticipation when he returns to Cheltenham Festival in March to defend his Gold Cup crown, with the Bay Gelding considered the leading contender on Oddschecker as per a variety of bookmakers. Only one horse since the turn of the millennium has managed to win back-to-back Gold Cups – as Best Mate won the race three times on the bounce from 2002 to 2004. Only six horses in the history of the meet have pulled off back-to-back triumphs, dating back to 1924.

There are few sporting events where you know history will be made. Real Madrid became the first team since the Champions League was reformatted in 1992 to win back-to-back crowns when they beat Juventus in Cardiff in June.  There are surprising times in history when in Super Bowl XLII when the New England Patriots were denied immortality in the NFL when their quest to remain unbeaten in the 2007 season was ended by the New York Giants.

The atmosphere at Cheltenham on Champions’ Day will be a special experience, matching that of a Champions League final or a Super Bowl. Tickets can be secured for £50 and if you’re a fan of racing or simply like soaking in the occasion of a major event – with the addition of a few beverages – then it is surely one not to miss out on.

Source: HorseRacingUK via Twitter

Sizing John has time to build form for the day but has already impressed in the National Hunt 2017/18 season. The bay gelding has risen to the occasion to claim victory at the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, overcoming a poor start to the meet to claim a comfortable victory over a talented field, including Djakadam. Djakadam has endured a number of failures at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, finishing second twice and he will be one of the competitors vying to deny Harrington’s charge the famous victory.