Podcasts to warm your ears

Photo by Pavel Anoshin on Unsplash

I’m not a massive podcast listener, but the ones I do listen to are entertaining, comforting and familiar. The wonderful thing about podcasts is that no matter what you are interested in, I bet there is a podcast out there on it – there is definitely something for everyone. You can also download and listen to them anywhere and anytime on your phone (and most of them are free) – I like to download them and listen whilst walking the dog or play them through the radio on long drives. How do you listen to yours?

So, this Winter holiday, download some new podcasts and get out in the fresh air to awaken all of your senses – you may even learn something along the way!

Here are some Christmassy inspired podcast episodes to get you in the mood:

  • 99% Invisible – For those who love design and architecture, myself and my fellow Librarians can highly recommend this podcast series. 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Here’s a couple of Christmassy themed episodes for you to enjoy:
  • The Truth: Santa’s NineThe Truth create their own original short stories that are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always intriguing. Each episode is only 20-30 minutes long. This episode tells the tale of two best friends that take part in a Christmas Eve heist only to discover their boss isn’t who they thought he would be.
  • Scienceish: Christmas Special – Haven’t listened to this series before, but looks right up my street! Rick Edwards (presenter) and Dr. Michael Brooks (Editor of the New Scientist), delve into the science behind popular culture. Enjoy last year’s Christmas special from Scienceish where Rick and Michael conclude Season 2 by revisiting their favourite questions – fringe theories, spider goats, and simulated universes.
  • The Infinite Monkey CageChristmas Special: The Science of Magic – The Infinite Monkey Cage is a BBC Radio 4 comedy and popular science series, hosted by physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince. Enjoy last year’s Christmas special that looks at the science behind some of our best loved magic tricks and illusions.

Other top podcasts series to discover for any time of year:

  • Spark from CBC Radio – This has been one of my favourite podcasts for a few years now. The host Nora Young explores how technology, innovation and design affects our lives.
  • Happy Place – Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast series builds on the success of the top 10 bestseller HAPPY where Fearne draws on her own experiences and shares advice from experts on how to work through feeling blue to finding joy each and every day. I need this right now!
  • Desert Island Discs – Another one of my go-to podcast series. Yes you can listen to many a famous celebrity on this, but what I really enjoy is learning about many interesting figures in sciences, arts, education, politics etc. Those who you will have never heard of before, but who have had very interesting lives and done some amazing things in the World.
  • Made of Human – Comedian Sofie Hagen chats to comedians, authors, actors, musicians, activists, medical professionals, podcasters, influencers and artists about how to do life. (Spoiler alert: no one really knows)
  • Table Manners with Jessie Ware – Jessie Ware hosts a podcast about food, family, and the beautiful art of having a chat, direct from her very own dinner table. With a little bit of help from her chef extraordinaire mum Lennie, each week guests from the worlds of music, culture and politics drop by for a bite and a bit of a natter. Oversharing guaranteed.

What’s your favourite podcast?

Winter Craft-along Online: Part 3

Our final Winter craft blog sees us making pom-poms with a fork and how to make tree ornaments with twigs. We are also showcasing some wonderful crafts that our Library team have been working on recently.

Fork pom poms

This is all new to me… pom poms… using a fork!? What crafting wizardry is this? This video clearly shows you how you can make super quick pom poms, and all you need is wool, a fork and scissors. Like magic!

So what can you make with your pom poms? Well, whatever you like really.

How about use white wool and make two pom poms, tie together and make a snowman? Use brown wool and make into reindeers or multicoloured wool and make pom pom garlands for your tree. Have a look on Pinterest for more inspiration.

Twig stars

Time to go out and get some fresh air for this one. All you need is small twigs, strong tape or glue (hot glue gun is perfect, but only if you have one), and twine/string. These stars can be used as decorations or, as seen in the video, as parcel toppers. Gorgeous!

Crafty librarians

There are so many talented members of staff in our Library, so I wanted to share with you a mere tasting of the crafts that are being created this year:

Share the Joy

We would love to see your crafts, so why don’t you share a photo and tag us in Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and use the hashtag #NULWinterCrafts2020.

I hope you have enjoyed our Winter Craft-along online blogs – Part 1 and Part 2 – and have found a pocket of time in your busy days to make something Wintery and Christmassy. I also hope it has inspired you to go out and discover other arts and crafts that you could make… because, remember, crafting is not just for Christmas 🙂

Winter Craft-along Online: Part 2

Winter Craft-along Online banner

As promised, here is our next instalment of Winter crafts – so glue guns at the ready for some more crafting antics.

As in our previous blog, we are embracing all things sustainable, and challenging you to make your crafts using materials found around the house. This time you will need an old jam jar, a pair of socks and some fruit!

Glass jar lanterns

For this one you will need an old, clean glass jar and some cheap PVA glue (the video says to use Mod Podge, but cheap PVA glue works just as good), tissue paper to decorate your jar and a tea light (real or battery operated). The video shows Christmas trees and snowflakes, but let your imagination run crazy – you could do a snowman, father Christmas, a snowy scene or a nativity. Really easy, but looks so effective, and who doesn’t love tea light lanterns when the nights are dark and cold.

No-sew snowmen

This is where your old (clean!) sock can be turned into a jolly snowman. For this you will need one white sock, some elastic bands or Loom bands, uncooked rice, 4-5 buttons (I bet you have some random buttons kicking about the house?), PVA glue, a bit of scrap ribbon or some wool for his scarf and then some more wool if you would like to make him a pom-pom for his hat. I am definitely going to have a go at making this – so easy, but looks so good.

Dried fruit garlands

I’ve been meaning to have a go at making these for ages, not only do they look good, but I bet it makes your house smell amazing! For this one you will need some citrus fruit – this can be oranges, limes, lemons, or even grapefruit – maybe you have some sitting in your fruit bowl that have seen better days and could be given a new lease of life? You can also use cloves and press them into the slices before you pop them in the oven, to make them smell so good. In the video is says the temperature in Fahrenheit – all of the blog and instructions I have read it just says to set your oven at the lowest temperature available on your oven. Cook low and slow and make sure you turn them over half-way through. You will also need string or twine to string them up. I have seen them on Christmas wreaths and as Christmas tree decoration – have a play and see what you can make with them.

Share the Joy

We would love to see your crafts, so why don’t you share a photo and tag us in Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and use the hashtag #NULWinterCrafts2020.

Look out for our final blog with a couple more crafts for you to try and inspiration from our Library staff.

Winter Craft-along Online: Part 1

For a few years now the Library has hosted Crafts at Christmas – a wonderful event that brings together staff and students into our Libraries for a time to unwind and focus our creative energies on some Winter crafts. Sadly this year we are unable to host our usual event, so instead we have created a series a blogs highlighting some excellent, but very simple, crafts that you can do in the comfort of you own home.

Our sustainability challenge

This time of year can be not only expensive but full of waste. So our challenge to you is to make these Winter crafts from as many materials that you have lying around the house as possible, such as old wrapping paper, last year’s Christmas cards, or old balls of wool lying around etc.. You’ll be amazed what beautiful crafts you can make out of the stuff you normally recycle or throw away.

3D paper snowflake

Last year I made these stunning 3D paper snowflakes out of the paper packing you get in your Amazon delivery! We make these snowflakes every year in our Crafts at Christmas events – they look really complicated, but are really easy. Why don’t you give them a go. All you need is paper, scissors, a stapler and sticky-tape…

Origami paper box

Another really simple paper craft, but instead of buying origami paper why don’t you make them out of old wrapping paper or even old, thin Christmas cards. These wee boxes are great for holding sweet treats for a loved one.

Recycled paperback folded Christmas tree

This is another super easy and very effective paper craft that you can do using an old book or magazine or catalogue. You don’t need any other materials other than the pages of the book, but you can decorate the tree afterwards if you like (I made origami lucky stars for the top of my tree):

Paper ball decorations

These are so pretty and all you need is string, glue and paper – we suggest using magazines and leaflets that you have had through the front door. Takeaway menus are great for it!

Share the Joy

We would love to see your crafts, so why don’t you share a photo and tag us in Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and use the hashtag #NULWinterCrafts2020.

Look out for Part 2 and Part 3 with even more crafts for you to try.

Digital Scholar Lab: find out more, and book your training slot

The Library has purchased Gale’s Digital Scholar Lab: a digital humanities platform with potential uses for students, researchers and module leaders, whatever your previous experience. It enables you to:

  • create and clean customised content sets, using our Gale Primary Sources collections (which include a wide range of historic newspaper, periodical and book archives)
  • analyse and interrogate the data, using the Lab’s text analysis and visualisation tools
  • manage and share content sets with others.

For those who regularly use digital techniques or methods, you can use the Lab to dramatically reduce the time needed to compile, curate and clean datasets, either using Gale data or locally held data, which can be uploaded into the Lab.

For those interested in teaching using the Lab, it contains a comprehensive Learning Centre that you can use to introduce students to basic and advanced concepts, with worked examples that can form the basis of a lesson plan.

Finally, for those new to digital humanities, and intimidated by thoughts of coding, the Lab provides a way to produce sophisticated, analytical research that requires no coding skill and allows you to make discoveries in archives that would otherwise be impossible.

To help you find out more about Digital Scholar Lab, representatives from Gale will be running two online training sessions for Newcastle University staff and students via Zoom on:

  • Monday November 16th, 14.00-15.30 and repeated on
  • Thursday November 19th, 10.00-11.30

The session will introduce you to Digital Scholar Lab, and its interface and workflows. It will cover text mining in general, search queries, curating and managing datasets, using analysis tools, and reviewing results. There will be plenty of opportunities for questions.

Any Newcastle University staff and students are welcome: you don’t need any previous knowledge of Digital Scholar Lab. However, if you have previously used Digital Scholar Lab, you may also find the session useful as a refresher, and to find out about recent enhancements.

To book your place on one of the sessions, please fill in our booking form.

If you are interested in more bespoke training (for example, for a specific cohort of students, or at a more advanced level), please contact Lucy Keating, and we’ll discuss with Gale representatives.

GUEST POST – OFF THE SHELF

Off the Shelf poster

Hi! I’m Caitlin, a final year law student and law library aide – and by now I’m used to the stress of exams and deadlines.

I tried the ‘poetry-pick me up’ after going into the common room for a revision break.

I stumbled across Sue (@kind_curious) in the Law School Student Common Room, where she asked, ‘do you want a poem?’. Not really knowing what to expect, I had to overcome a bit of social awkwardness! I was surprised by Sue’s passion and love of poetry, which was clear in the way she spoke about how she’d used poetry in the NHS before and it was what she enjoyed most.

I was asked questions about my current stress levels and how I was feeling with exams, and how I dealt with stress. I told her that when I get stressed I talk even more than usual, which for anyone who knows me sounds like I’m going at a million miles an hour, and she suggested something that would relax me.

I laughed as I saw no signs of chocolate or Netflix – my usual go to relaxation strategies.

Instead she said I needed something like a lavender bubble bath – again I saw no sign of a bubble bath in the Law School and I’d yet to find one in the Dungeon.

She picked out two poems that would make me feel like the relaxing in lavender: she suggested ‘Sonnet’ by Elizabeth Bishop and Shennagh Pugh’s ‘What if This Road’.

What if this road reminded me of Robert Frost’s ‘A Road Not Taken’, and was great for me as a an indecisive person. It was matched perfectly to the questions that Sue had asked me, as I read it as a  ‘roll with it’ approach to life, which is definitely needed to cope with exams and deadline stress.

The second poem, Bishop’s ‘Sonnet’, had great visualisation techniques, almost like a meditative poem – which was spot on to turn off the stress and slow everything down!

The experience was a great switch off from deadline stress, and a great use of the 10 minutes which I’d usually scroll through twitter or Instagram. It was something different, and really quite unique and relaxing, which I would definitely recommend to help have a break from any exam and deadline stress!

2020 Reading Challenge

Not one for New Year’s Resolutions? Well, how about a challenge?

Why not try a 20-minute-a-day-reading-for-pleasure challenge?

Pick something from the Law in Literature and Medicine in Literature collections, something from the Philip Robinson Library, or your own book shelves, and start today!

We all know that reading for pleasure is a good thing – pleasure is good! But it’s good for de-stressing, positive wellbeing, conversation, imagination, empathy, a break, engagement… READaxation! Don’t just take my word for it, click HERE for research by The Reading Agency.

Of course, if you read more than 20 minutes then… YES!

Share what you’re reading with your friends and family, colleagues and fellow students, comment on here, or even the social media world – #ReadingChallenge.

OFF THE SHELF – National Poetry Day

Off The Shelf

National Poetry Day marks its 25th anniversary this year with a mass participation campaign that highlights poetry’s power to harness the truth about life.

In commemoration of the event, Teaching Fellow Sue Spencer will be returning to the Law Library and Walton Library to take poetry off the shelf and share some meaningful conversations about the truths that really matter.

Drop in for a one-to-one chat and she’ll offer a listening ear and a poem to inspire, soothe and comfort you!

Wednesday 2nd October, 3-5pm
Law Student Common Area, Newcastle Law School

Thursday 3rd October, 4.40-6.30pm
Walton Library, Newcastle University Medical School

No appointments necessary.

Brought to you in conjunction with the Medicine in Literature and Law in Literature Collections.

190th Anniversary of the Natural History Society of Northumbria

Pink and purple wildflowers in a fieldToday celebrates the 190th anniversary of the founding of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, (NHSN) a local voluntary organisation that encourages and supports research in Natural History via lectures, field outings, education courses and publication of scientific papers.  The Society also established the brilliant Great North Museum: Hancock, which continues to house its fascinating Library and Archive collections, both important resources for the study of natural history in the North East of England.

NHSN Library

The Library, also established in 1829, holds a wealth of material on natural history, with coverage including flora and fauna, ornithology, geology, ecology, the history of natural history and biodiversity.  Here you’ll find the latest field guides for birds, plants, mammals and insects from around the world alongside regional, national and international journals and books about ecology, zoology, botany, ornithology, entomology, geology and conservation. The Library is open to everyone, but membership is required for borrowing books.

NHSN Archive

Meanwhile the Archive holds thousands of artworks, photographs, letters, diaries, and notebooks covering all aspects of natural history, zoology, botany and geology.  It also includes internationally important material, notably the original watercolours, pencil drawings and proof engravings by Thomas Bewick, the Northumbria-born naturalist and wood engraver.  Archive material is available to view by appointment only.

For a taste of what the collections have to offer, you can visit the Society’s newest exhibition: ‘The Beauty of Plant Science’, on display in the NHSN Library.  Curated by postgraduates at Newcastle University, the exhibition presents colourful botanical illustrations alongside myths and poems to show how Science and Art coexist:

You can also find a sister exhibition, ‘The Beauty of Insects: Seeing Art in the Entomological World’ on Level 2 of the Philip Robinson Library: