Well, it’s September. After the chaos of the summer, my boys are back to school this week – Alastair today and Ed tomorrow.
I’ve always liked September. Being out and about and doing things over the summer is all well and good, but there’s something very comforting about settling back into a steady routine. I always try to start something new at this time of year, too – it might be a new art or craft, an exercise regime or even a short course in something.
This year I’m going to try Tai Chi. There’s a local class that I can join if I get into it, but I’m going to start out at home using a YouTube course. They’re great for things like this – my son Alastair uses YouTube videos to help him practise his Taekwondo patterns, too.
Ed watches tutorials that show him how to build fancy k-nex models, step-by-step. You should see some of the things he’s made – mostly guns, but then he’s a 10-year-old boy!
All you need to do is go to the YouTube website – youtube.com – or download the YouTube app onto your phone or tablet. Most Android phones and tablets will already have the app actually – if you can’t find it, it might be hidden away inside a “Google” folder”. YouTube is completely free to use, although they’re running more adverts these days than they used to. You’ll often get one or two adverts at the start of a video, but most adverts can be skipped after the first few seconds – look for a little “skip ad” button at the side of the video.
There are videos that show you how to do all sorts – in fact, if you search for something on there and don’t find anything, you’re pretty unlikely to find it anywhere else. At least not for free. There are useful things, like DIY tricks and how to fix your car, how to change a bike chain, gardening tips, cooking techniques and recipes. You can learn how to get a really close shave, or the best way to put on eyeshadow.
There are lots… and I mean lots… of arts and crafts videos – cross stitch techniques and patterns, paper crafts, how to make soap, how to draw faces, painting and modelling techniques. I’ve followed a few of those myself over the years – with greater or lesser success!
YouTube also has a whole load of academic material, too. Some universities have their own YouTube “channel” where you can browse all the lectures they have online. Most of them are American – Yale, Harvard and Stamford all have a lot of free online material that anyone can watch.
Or if you’re looking for something a bit less taxing – try searching for “the great train robbery sketch“. A bit of Peter Cook always brightens up my day.