Penguin slide into podcast recommendations

Another day, another spin.

At lunchtime on Saturday, as I was talking to one of my oldest and dearest mum friends, I realised I had started propping myself up on the kitchen surface to steady myself. Later as I cooked dinner, the spin hit.

Humour me for a minute and imagine a kids book full of penguins. They always seem to be pictured doing awesome tummy slides across their glacial playgrounds. That was me. I knew I had to get to the floor quickly. I turned away from the oven and somehow tummy slided my way across the kitchen floor, put my forehead down and let the spin do its worst.

Rosa went running to get me a pillow. Rhys was called. Tom came to give me a cuddle. I watched the remainder of the meal preparation from the rather cold tiles of the kitchen floor.

When spins hit, I’m immobile and my eyes are juddering so I can’t focus very well. But I’ve learnt that it’s essential to keep my brain occupied. This is where podcasts come in. They provide a bridge from the shit moment back into a more decent moment and stop me falling into an all too familiar deep dark soup of negative thoughts; “Why me?” and “When is this disease going to give me a break?”

In podcasts I’ve discovered a never ending treasure trove of inspiration, fun, quirkiness, intrigue and human stories. In fact, I kick myself for not getting stuck into this world sooner. I’m convinced the wise words, inspiration, sense of fun and general ability they have to provoke my thoughts will see me through this shitty patch and I’m evangelical about sharing what I find with others.

So I thought I’d start a regular blog post to recommend exceptional podcasts to my friends and family. I’ve got time on my side, which most of you don’t. So how about I weed through the crap  and recommend the sharpest, most insightful and funniest podcasts that I find?

NB: All the links I provide are to the series. If you want to find the specific episode I refer to, it’s written within the text of the link (e.g. S2ep2 for Esther Perel)

1. Where Should We Begin? 

This series is fronted by a Belgian psychotherapist, Esther Perel. Each episode is a recording of a counselling session with a couple. It sounds creepy, because you are essentially earwigging on other peoples’ woes, but it’s an incredible short cut to Perel’s wisdom, I’d even go so far as to say infinite wisdom; carefully honed from years spent in the psychotherapist’s chair. Perel may appear to be talking to a couple who have very different problems to those you experience with your partner, but the penny drops quickly that the implications for your own relationship are also profound.

Try S2 Ep2: I want to feel wanted

2. Conversations of Inspiration with Holly Tucker

Tucker is the founder of Not on the High Street and an ambassador for the creative industries. In each episode she interviews a small business owner about how they got started, where their idea came from and the reality of running a small business. Tucker is so enthusiastic that all of her guests get what I can only describe as a truckload of adulation, but I listen to each new episode religiously when it’s released on a Monday. It’s full of wonderful insights.

Try the interview with Julie Deane (Episode 1), founder of the Cambridge Satchel company. She started with £600, designed her logo in Word Art and created what is now a multi million pound business from her kitchen table with her loyal mum at her side.

Also try the interview with Johnnie Boden (Episode 7). He had money and contacts on his side when he first started but he’s also worked his butt off and is particularly good at productive self-criticism. If you are short on time, listen to the last 10 minutes (from “45:00) when Holly asks Boden what advice he’d give to his younger self.

3. The Tim Ferris show

American. One of the most successful podcasts out there. Ferriss is quite Marmite; he has an ego and is one hell of a self-promoter. That said he’s also very impressive. He’s on a constant mission to learn and improve himself and he gets access to some amazing people. My favourite interview is with Alain de Botton (which I’ve referred to in blog post #4). I love the fact that this normally insanely confident American is clearly terrified of this rather dorky British philosopher. De Botton has spent a lifetime trying to understand what makes us happy and his insights are profound (I’ll try not to repeat that phrase again!)

or it’s number #118 on i-tunes:

In case that all sounds too heavy, there are two podcasts I’d recommend for an injection of pure fun.

4. The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White

This woman doesn’t need any promoting, she’s done extraordinarily well. Her podcast has been downloaded more than 50 million times and with good reason. Try it. Each episode starts with a panel of comedians giving examples of how they are feminists but… e.g. I’m a feminist but I de-tagged myself from a picture at a women’s conference where we were all standing in front of a sign which said ‘Empowered not Coward’, because my ankles looked fat.

5. Drunk Women Solving Crimes

It does exactly what it says on the tin. Three comedians sit around chatting, drinking and dissecting real crimes, past and present. Bizarre but a total pick-me–up podcast. I love the story in this episode about the family who are forced to check in at the airport in Sardinia in their swimsuits because their car was vandalised and all their possessions stolen.



One thought on “Penguin slide into podcast recommendations

Add yours

  1. I enjoyed ‘Death in Ice Valley’ – an investigation of a 40 year of mystery by a couple of journalists from the BBC and NRK. Well worth a listen!


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