Sydney's unexpectedly cold autumn has got us wanting to either rug up on the couch with three blankets or wanting to escape to Queensland for the weekend. But without having to leave Sydney, here are ten things that are super-fun even when it feels like it's colder than winter. I've included both activities at home and out.
1. Karaoke If you love to sing (even if it's in the shower), you'll love karaoke at Mizuya. The restaurant and karaoke venue plates up Japanese food and alcoholic drinks in private karaoke rooms. And here's the kicker: you order your food and drinks on touch screens. Super fun.
Another option is GreenBox, which is great if you don't care about food and just badly want to sing along to Taylor Swift or Bon Jovi (I don't know what kind of songs you like - I'll throw anything out there).
2. Movie marathons
The ultimate activity in cold weather: movie marathons. It's especially rewarding if you pick a series like Harry Potter or The Matrix or if you go with a genre or fun theme like Disney cartoons or Quentin Tarantino flicks. Alternatively, re-watch Carrie and Big's roller-coaster relationship on Sex and the City or witness Vic Mackey kick some butt on The Shield. Clearly, I have some favourites, but my point here is that you should watch whatever tickles your fancy and maybe even something that you find nostalgic. It also helps if you choose funny, heartwarming movies (I recommend anything directed by Judd Apatow).
Watching movies in a theatre will do the trick as well. Movie theatres are often warm and snug, but make sure you bring a comfy jacket anyway. Watch a few movies in a row on a Saturday afternoon to make the most of the cosy movie-theatre vibe. Or treat yourself to a Gold Class session and order a bottle of wine as well to warm yourself (and your significant other) up. Just ensure you don't fall asleep - those Gold Class reclining chairs (let's be honest, they're practically beds) are uber-comfy. 3. Exercise Yeah, exercising in the cold is no fun. I agree. But exercising will undoubtedly warm you up. So instead of that boring gym membership, join a team sport, whether it be basketball, hockey or netball - just make sure the sport is indoors.
Or you could take up swimming (in a heated indoor pool of course). For something extra-special go to the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. The centre also has a sauna, steam room, and a spa. All very conducive to warming up in wintry weather.
If you're more into building flexibility or want to get into something more artistic, try hot yoga or dance classes. For my review on Hom Yoga, my favourite hot yoga studio, click here; and for a comprehensive guide to dance classes in Sydney, take a look here.
4. Food, oh glorious food Food is the ultimate comfort in cold weather. I already have an article on the Best Winter Wood in Sdyney, but there are always new additions to the list. And of course steaming hot meals are perfect in the cold.
One dish that deserves a mention is the Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung. These piping hot pork dumplings have an exquisite soup inside - watch out, it's extremely hot and can burn your tongue (I've had it happen before because I'm too eager to eat these little dumplings of joy). For those who have never eaten Xiao Long Bao before, take a look at the little table card that shows you exactly how to savour it the right way.
Of course a steaming cup of hot chocolate is just as satisfying (if not more) in cold weather as steamed dumplings. Get your chocolate fix at Lindt Cafe or Israeli chocolatier Max Brenner. Or substitute chocolate with a cup of hot coffee at well-liked Campos Coffee in Newtown or Alexandria.
And the finishing touch is a warm dessert. Badde Manors in Glebe has a sticky date pudding that's to-die-for. Or you could indulge in their delicious hot rhubarb and apple crumble with ice cream (minus the ice cream if you don't want that cold hit).
An alternative is you cook up a storm at home - this won't only warm your tummy but also your house. Make a night of it with some friends and imitate Masterchef or Nigella recipes.
5. Internet fun
The Internet has endless hours of fun in store for you. So if it's cold and rainy outside, stay at home and let the Internet entertain you. If you're anything like me, you'll spend hours on end just looking up shoes or dresses on ASOS. Click here if you want to see a list of the Best Online Fashion Stores for Women.
If you're not a girl, or you would rather not browse through hundreds of handbags, then maybe online games are something you'd rather spend your time on. Whether it be Starcraft, Farmville or even Scrabulous (now Lexulous), there's a bottomless array of games available online. Otherwise, join the latest craze and play Words with Friends on your phone (only on iPhones or Android).
Another activity I recommend is chain-watching videos of Maru, YouTube sensation of a British Fold cat in Japan, known for sliding into boxes. Then there's Cute Roulette, which features random videos of animals. But if cuteness doesn't appeal to you, keep it simple - spend your night Facebook stalking or catching up on what Kim Kardashian and Simon Pegg are up to on Twitter.
It's no secret that drinking alcohol will keep you toasty warm. But whether you're willing to brave the cold only to go to a bar or nightclub is up to you. Regardless, here's a list of the Best Small Bars and the Best Nightclubs in Sydney. If possible, order drinks that are flaming. These are not only fun because, let's face it, they're on fire, but also because they're literally hot. Go for a Flaming Lamborghini or a Blue Blazer.
Otherwise, if you don't want to venture out into the freezing cold, make cocktails at home. Get creative and be your own mixologist. Or stick to ones you know - make a layered B52 shooter which you can light on fire. Remember to drink it with a straw. Just beware; I've burnt my eyelashes when downing this drink.
7. Board game night
On the same night that you make your own cocktails, you could also hold a board game night. Get your friends to bring a game - that way you'll have a range of games to choose from. My personal favourites are Scrabble, Pictionary, and Taboo. If you wanna take it a step further, take it to the next level with a Wii or Playstation Move. With all the movement that's involved, playing Wii Tennis or Bowling will keep you warmer than sitting around playing board games.
Rug up on the couch next to the heater, pull a few blankets over yourself in bed, make a fort, whatever - but reading is a calming and not to mention warm activity which is perfect for winter. Get through the Millennium Trilogy or reread the Twilight saga. Find the newest bestseller, and get it delivered to your door by ordering it online at Book Depository, which offers free shipping.
Another festival that's coming up is Winterbeatz. Unfortunately, the line up is yet to be announced, so the website refers to Winterbeatz 2010. But it's something to look forward to nonetheless (if you're into R&B and Hip Hop, that is).
Who doesn't wanna wear funny shoes and make a fool of themselves chucking balls down a lane (unless you're really good, in which case you'll make the rest of us look really bad)? Visit a Strike Bowling Bar, which is a pretty spiffy venue.
Strike has a bar and food menu as well, so make a night of it with a group of friends or with a date. There are various locations around Sydney - find the nearest one here. Alternatively, you could always go to your local bowling venue.