Posts By: Karl Hodge

Doctor Who: How To Be More Like The Timelord

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He’s over two thousand years old, travels through space and time in a wooden box and is always the smartest person in the room. Who wouldn’t want to be more like the Doctor? Coming back to the telly box this Saturday, Doctor Who is now in its 51st year – with a title character who could teach us a thing or two about how to live a life more interesting. While we don’t know exactly what Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor will be like yet, we can speculate. His face changes every few years, but he’s always the Doctor; an eccentric mass of compassion, cleverness and contradiction. These constants make him a truly fantastic hero – and a realistic role model. You don’t need a police call box that’s bigger on the inside or two hearts to be a better, less boring, more adventurous you. Let’s count down the ways you can be a bit more like the Doctor. The Doctor is never cowardly or cruel Former script editor and Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks was first to describe the titular time lord as “never cowardly or cruel”. Those words were used again as the Doctor’s motto in the 50th anniversary…

How To Be A Traveller (Not a Tourist)

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Tourists. Don’t you just hate them? Standing around on the pavement taking photos, blocking the doorways on the tube or babbling away loudly on the bus when you’re trying to read your book. Why can’t they be more like the natives; soaking up the real experience of the places they visit? That, fair friends, is the difference between a tourist and a traveller. The traveller makes their own decisions. They go to a foreign land to see what it really has to offer. The tourist goes to another country and laps up a packaged experience. Be honest; how often have you been that tourist? The guy claiming the sun lounger with his towel at 6.30 in the morning? The girl pickled in sangria, one shoe lost in the high street? The next time you go away, be a traveller instead – doing what the locals do and going where the experience takes you. You’ll come home a a lot more interesting than you were before you set off. Stay in one place for a while Get any train from London Kings Cross to Aberdeen and you’ll be seated near an American family “doing” Europe. There’s a least one in every…

7 Reasons To Carry A Penknife

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You’re heading out the front door, checking your pockets. You’ve got your wallet, phone, keys… What’s missing? Ah – yes. Your penknife. Because no right-minded person leaves the house without one. More properly, no-one should be without a multipurpose penknife; like the famous Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox. We’d suggest going for a Victorinox Spartan Pocket Tool or Swiss Army Hiker Knife. Some multipurpose knives are overkill, but both these models are compact, useful tools you can pop into your pocket and forget. Until you need them, that is. And you need them more than you think. 1. Cut things up Yep – it’s a knife, so it’s ideal for cutting things up. Chop up your Snickers bar in half, divide your sandwich and save a bit for later or slice a banana into your porridge in the morning. Our personal fave; use a penknife to carve up and eat an apple. Sounds like a waste of time? Your Grandad probably ate apples with his trusty pocket knife, avoiding all the icky brown bits and worm holes hiding under the skin. Bonus points: slicing up an apple also makes much less mess than chomping into one bite by bite. Grandad…

How to Start A Fire With No Matches Or Lighter

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Everyone knows how to make fire. You just take out a lighter and flick a switch – or strike a match. But what if you don’t have those things? What if you’re stuck in the wilderness with just what you’re wearing between you and the elements? Clue: your new name is “Wolf Food”. Maybe not. The ability to make fire is what separates us from animals. Chimpanzees can use tools and communicate with sign language, but the minute they learn how to build a bonfire this’ll be Planet of the Apes. Fire civilises. It brings light and warmth to the most inhospitable places. It dries us when we’re wet and lets us cook our food. It scares away creatures that mean us harm and stops us from perishing from hypothermia in the desert night. It keeps us alive. So, if there’s one thing you should learn to do  – one thing you have a duty to learn as a human being – it’s how to make fire. Sparks As Bruce Springsteen will tell you, you can’t start a fire without a spark. Well, you can – but using a spark is a classic method. It’s how your lighter works, after all. Sparks…

How to Play Guitar: Get Your First Gig In Seven Days

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To become an expert in anything, it takes 10,000 hours practice. Stuff that, we say. You can learn how to play guitar in about seven days. Most of those days will be spent practicing over and over until your fingers feel like they’re made of leather – but it can, we promise, be done. First, gather together all the stuff you will need: An acoustic guitar Some plectra (the plural of “plectrum”) A guitar strap A capo (we’ll explain this later) Three chords Finger tips of steel (these will come with practice) Why an acoustic guitar? Electric guitars are more expensive and they require additional stuff to work, like an amplifier and electricity. You can play an acoustic guitar anywhere. Also, you don’t need to spend a lot on an acoustic guitar. You can pick up a playable instrument new for under £100. If you don’t mind buying second-hand, you can halve that. Take a muso friend with you when you buy your guitar to make sure it’s not a lemon. Or just borrow your muso friend’s guitar. Much cheaper. Plectrums are the little plastic doohickeys you use to strum the strings of your guitar. Get half a dozen, medium thickness from any…

How to Win at Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Every Time

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Poker is cool. It’s like playing snap, except that you can win money. And now that there’s online poker, you don’t even have to put your trousers on when you play. Did you know there are people who play poker for a living? It’s totally a thing. The best players take home tens of millions of dollars every year.They can do that because poker isn’t a game of chance – it’s a game of odds. If you play the odds intelligently and consistently, you can win at poker over and over. And over. If you’ve never played poker at all the game is easy to pick up. Try a few free sites or mobile apps to learn the basics. Once you have the rules down, these eight tips will transform you from a poker rookie to a pro by the time you’ve finished reading. Don’t play drunk The Hollywood image of poker is of hard drinking men in back rooms chomping cigars and sipping bourbon. Truth is, alcohol impairs your judgement – in a specific way – that makes it a no-no for poker. It decreases your inhibitions so you’re more likely to take a chance. To win at poker,…

How to Cheat Death With A Lightning Strike

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Though it’s a common atmospheric phenomenon with over 8 million known lightning bolts flung from the heavens every day, there are still some mysteries that scientists don’t quite understand. We do know that in storm conditions clouds act like giant capacitors, storing up electrical energy. Lightning is the discharge of this energy between the ground and the cloud. With an average 30,000 Amperes of charge, there’s enough electrical power in a single bolt of lightning to power 3500 kettles or to light up 250 houses. The core of the bolt is five times hotter than the sun. We could go into much more detail, but this isn’t a science lesson – the only other thing you need to know is that if you’re hit by lightning, you might die. Instantly. How could you possibly survive that? Fortunately for you, we know. The Facts According to David Hand’s book The Improbability Principle, the chances that you’ll be struck and killed by lightning in the course of your lifetime are 300,000 to 1. Some statistical sources halve that to 1 in 140,000. Either way you look at it, those are pretty long odds… You’re more likely to be legally executed than are…

How To Make Make Friends In A New City Abroad

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Staying in a foreign country, whether you’re passing through as part of a gap year or staying on a bit longer, can be tough. You’re on your own, you don’t speak the language and everything is new and different. That can be cool for a while, just you against the world. But human beings were designed to be social animals and everyone tires of their own company after the 2nd or 3rd day. So, how do you make friends in a foreign country? The truth is, the rules aren’t all that different to making friends anywhere. In fact, it may even be easier to make friends abroad because you’ve got one key, cool thing going for you; you’re foreign. That automatically makes you 23% more interesting than normal. It also gives you an excuse to behave in ways you might avoid at home; to be a bit more proactive and outgoing. And here are nine ways you can channel that new found, exotic behaviour into finding friends: Learn the Language To our everlasting shame, we’re well aware that most of the world speaks English. About 1 in 4 of the world’s population, according to British Council statistics. In most of the…

How To Mix The Perfect Martini (Shaken Or Stirred)

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The Martini was invented in a time when cocktails were simple, subtle concoctions; the work of alchemists rather than acrobats. Few drinks can match either its strength or sophistication. One martini and all the worries of a stressful day have dissolved. Two and you’re James Bond, getting ready to fleece SMERSH operative Le Chiffre at baccarat. Three and, well, gentlemen do not speak of what happens after three Martinis. Except to say, it’s never pretty. In moderation the humble Martini remains the king and queen of cocktails. There are only two real ingredients; gin and vermouth. And it all begins with finding the right gin… Look at the labels With gin and tonic, a heavily flavoured spirit like Bombay Sapphire will shine through the fizz. With a Martini, you can afford to go for a gin that’s less crowded with big flavours; something more subtle. You can get a good idea of what flavour to expect from the labelling. London gin is a spirit distilled with a selection of natural botanical ingredients. There are up to eight of them and one of them must be juniper berries. It can’t have anything added after the distillation process expect for  pure water or the tiniest…

How To Pack A Backpack For Your Gap Year

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If you’re planning a year of travelling – then you’ll have to learn how to pack. Like the snail and the tortoise, you’ll be carrying everything you need to survive. Where do you even start? Fortunately for you, we’ve been around the block (world) a few times and in our travels have formulated the ultimate packing list. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you pack for a year abroad in just two bags. Choose your Bags Your main bag is for anything you don’t immediately need. Most long term travelers choose a back-pack, because you never know when you’re going to have to carry all your worldly good from one place to another. Suitcases are far too heavy and cumbersome. You may not need as big a bag as you expected though… a 45-50 litre back-pack is probably all you need – keeping in mind that you’ll be strapping a sleeping bag to the top. Try not to buy your bag online – you’ll need to make sure it’s solidly made, has enough pockets for and – of course – it fits comfortably. Waterproofing is essential. And a word about sleeping bags even though this piece is called “how to pack…