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10 fabulous freebies
Image: AP Photo - Kirsty Wigglesworth
You don't have to be a celebrity or write a column in a national newspaper to get offered something for nothing these days (although I'm not saying it doesn't help) - freebies are everywhere.
Commuters in the UK's major cities are more than familiar with free papers (often thrust at you by over-zealous distributers in brightly coloured jackets), while in the last couple of months I have been handed free samples ranging from anti-bacterial tissues to soy-yoghurts at major rail stations.
But this is just the start: a dedicated "freegan" or simply an old-fashioned bargain-hunter can now receive almost anything from goods to entertainment for exactly nothing.
Here are our 10 top freebies:
Museums and galleries
The last government made museum entrance free for all in 2001. It might not sound like the most significant thing in the world, but museums aren't all musty, dust-filled dark corridors like the ones we were forced to visit on school trips.
The free museums can be found everywhere from St Ives in Cornwall to Newcastle via Manchester, Liverpool and, er, Tring to name a few places. There's also something for everyone's taste, from art to science through war, design, football, mining, ships and dinosaurs.
In the current age of spending cuts and austerity it's comforting to know that there is still something that those in Westminster think they should pay for.
Books from libraries
While hipsters flick through e-books on their Kindles and iPads, you could still access a library of thousands of titles for free - and read them without worrying about your battery running out two pages before the end.
Wine and beer tastings
Yes, you really can drink for nothing, with a host of companies and breweries offering free 'tasting' events.
Majestic offers two-hour introductory courses around the UK for wine, while a host of breweries, pubs and restaurants offer free beer tasting events.
How? Well major film studios like to know how the public will react to their films, so set up previews of major releases to show test audiences. So not only are you paying nothing to see the film, you get to see it before anyone else.
TV and radio recordings
It's not the only way to be entertained for free, television and radio shows also need live audiences and rarely charge entry fees. If you fancy catching an episode of QI, X Factor or Top Gear visit the likes of the BBC's ticket pages, LostinTV.com, TVRecordings.com or applausestore.com and register.
Exercise and sport classes
Inspired by Andy Murray or Laura Robson to pick up a racquet? Players of any age can get free tennis coaching and court use across the UK through a scheme run by the charity Tennis For Free.
Swimmers under 16 and those over the age of 60 are also entitled to free swimming in public pools until the end of March 2011. It costs £2 for a card, but after that you can swim as much as you like.
Asda's Sporting Chance scheme lets children access free sports sessions during the school holidays.
Hairdresser training academies, such as those run by Toni and Guy or Vidal Sassoon, let people get their hair cut for free (or nearly free) if you're willing to let the people training to enter the salons trial their newly-found skills on you.
You could also look for nearby salons who need models for publicity shots or head to a beauty college that opens its doors to the public to give students some real-life experience.
If you have images of a straight 'F' student destroying your crowning glory, don't worry - it's all done under the the supervision of qualified teachers.
Gigs and festivals
There are plenty of free music festivals around, from the iTunes festival to Manchester Mela or Monmouth. Check out thefestivalcalendar to see which ones are free or, for a wider listing of free activities in Britain, free-events.co.uk has some great ideas for days out that come without a price tag including many festivals.
If it's a particular band you're looking for, make sure you're signed up to their website and are receiving email alerts - they might well be playing free gigs for fans if you sign up fast enough or appearing at a free event such as a launch at a record shop.
Download services might not like it, but you can listen almost to any track you feel like for free online, whenever you like. Services such as Spotify allow you to search for songs and artists, then queue up your playlist and listen to them in whatever order you like.
You'll have to listen to an advert every now and again, but think of it as a free radio station where you only hear songs you like. If you can't abide the adverts, for 99p you can get a day pass that means there will be no interruptions - perfect if you need a soundtrack to a party or even a wedding.
Skype is one of the most popular options for free calls. Download the free software, pick up a headset with a microphone (for around £10 - and that's only if your computer doesn't have one built in) and you're good to go. You can also use other free services like Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger) to make video calls, as long as you have a webcam.
However, ensure you're both using a computer for the call: it can be expensive to use voice over internet protocol (Voip) to call standard landlines or mobiles.
For more routine requirements, phoning directory enquiries can be done for free through 0800 118 3733 - although it plays you an advert for up to 30 seconds before using the service. You are supposed to register online first at 118.com.
Calling 0800, 0808 or 0500 numbers from a mobile can also be costly, despite the services being free from landlines, but using 0800Buster lets you pay only the price of a landline call, which comes at no added cost if you have inclusive minutes left in your mobile deal.
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hey moonsy lol i hope your cheek as you call it pays off,you know what they say "shy bairns get nowt"
i dont think your being cheeky by asking..come on car dealers..give moonsy a car..show us that theres still good business people out there!
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