the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Podcasts: stay-at-home journeys

on April 12, 2020

I returned from  Uganda three weeks ago and I’m still living in a limbo space. I’m not yet willing to relinquish the experience of volunteering at Bidibidi refugee settlement and not ready to launch into a new project. So what am I doing with my time? While overseas, I started listening to podcasts and this is something I continue to enjoy. Before I left home I downloaded BBC Sounds and while I was away, began to also use the podcast app on my phone. Every time I went to a hotel or restaurant with good internet access, I downloaded as many episodes as I could. As it became dark in West Nile around 7:30pm, I was usually in bed an hour later. Although there was electricity in the evening until around midnight, my eyes were often too tired to read, so I’d lie down and listen to a podcast.


There are some fabulous journalists who have turned their hand to creating podcasts and I became absorbed by many different stories including Paradise. In this series Dan Maudsley and Stephen Nolan investigate the deaths of British backpackers, Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton, who were found murdered in Guatemala after getting on a boat in 1978. Although there were witnesses to the murders, it takes thirty-eight years to arrest the only suspect. Why?

Another story I followed while overseas was The Missing Crypto Queen where Jamie Bartlett traces the whereabouts of Dr Ruja Ignatova who persuaded millions to join her financial revolution. Interestingly, episodes of this podcasts are recorded in Uganda, to illustrate the spread of her deceitful operation.

Now that I’m back at home, I’ve continued to listen to podcasts and can recommend Girl Taken by Sue Mitchell. The story shares the relationship between Rob Lawrie, a British volunteer at the Calais refugee camp and Reza who hopes to start a new life in England with his daughter Bru. Reza’s account of his experiences is not entirely truthful but Lawrie is taken with the idea of saving this refugee family. Both men make impetuous decisions that have consequences.


I’ve listened to quite a few cold case stories from North America where journalist try to crack unsolved crimes. One of the most interesting is Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo, where Canadian journalist Connie Walker unravels the story of a child believed to be murdered. Cleo, a young Cree girl, was taken by welfare workers from her home in Saskatchewan and put up for adoption in America. This shameful period which tore families, siblings and communities apart became known as the Sixties Scoop. But what happened to Cleo? The answers are obtained after a nugget of information is revealed during a late night internet search. (Incidentally, I could listen to Connie Walker all day. She has an easy-on-the-ear voice and is an empathetic interviewer.)

I’ve also enjoyed Hooked about addiction experienced by a teacher and a nurse. (I loved the anecdotes and banter shared by Melissa Rice and Jade Wye, the two recovered addicts who present this podcast.) If you’re interested in history, Philippe Sands tells the fascinating story of Otto von Wächter, a Nazi who escaped justice after the war in The Ratline. 

At this time of lockdown, when travel even within the local area is limited, podcasts provide an opportunity to explore places and experiences without leaving home. Do let me have your recommendations.

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