This week… under lockdown (four)

Another week in life under lockdown. Thankfully the weather has been sunny, and so waking at 5.30am isn’t the daunting daybreak experience of a foggy winter! Is it my imaginaton, or is the dawn chorus noticeably louder now that there’s little or no traffic to drown out the twittering birds?

Last week I was put on furlough for a part time role I have working with the media in the tourism industry. I try not to worry about the further drop in salary and tell myself I’m not alone. It also means, of course, that I have more, ahem… free time. As this is not something in short supply at the moment, I struggle a little this week to keep my mind off the news.

The government announces a further three weeks of lockdown. I feel rather silly saying, “this is hard”, when I think about what my family, and millions of others, endured during WWI and WWII. I think of how I felt last summer when I visited the Commonwealth War Graves in the Pas-De-Calais. I had expected it to be a rather subdued trip. To my surprise, exploring the many magnificent monuments and gardens made me realise that, in the presence of so much sacrifice and loss, how could one fail to try and make the best of every day we’re given.

“Laughter is an instant vacation”, Milton Berle.

Distractions this week have included a LIVE table read of the first (unreleased) episode of series seven of Grace & Frankie. This is one of my favourite Netflix series and ‘meeting up’ with the cast at their respective homes on Zoom was a lot of fun. Martin Sheen has a joyous BIG laugh, a guffaw, the sort that starts you off too. I’m obssessed with people’s backgrounds on Zoom. Lily Tomlin (oh, how I love her humour) points out a screen positioned to hide the jumble in her office. June Diane Raphael has ‘Brianna’ wallpaper! Jane Fonda’s home looks very elegant and, it turns out, Ethan Embry, who plays Coyote Bergstein, is a keen guitar player.

Grace & Frankie LIVE table read courtesy Netflix and You Tube.

I spent (a lot of) time this week faffing about online in an attempt to set up a virtual background to brighten up my own Zoom ‘meeting space’. I uploaded a dazzling Australian beach scene but couldn’t sort out the ‘green screen’ required to make it work well. Aaargh! I refuse to be outwitted by my laptop, so if anyone has the answer please get in touch.

“We’re all in this together, on our own”, Lily Tomlin.

With work in short supply for freelancers at the moment, it felt good to write a small editorial piece for my local newspaper to raise awareness of a community coronavirus resource group. We’re volunteers working to gather and publish online details of food, wellbeing and assistance in our town, particularly in suppport of the most vulnerable. Everything from food deliveries by local pubs and artisan makers, dog walkers and buddies for a phone chat, to Zoom physio sessions.

Stop press!

A webinar this week with travel editors (some with great backgrounds!) photo Irene Caswell

How and when the tourism industry will pick up is anybody’s guess at the moment with much speculation on how that might look post-pandemic. I attended a webinar with a panel of UK travel editors. (I notice enviously that some editors have their Zoom backdrops sorted nicely, thank you). The consensus seems to be that the travel industry will survive, with sustainability more important than ever.

I was invited to throw my hat into the ring and contribute to an opinion piece for Travel Inspires. Day visits alone in the UK accounted for a total spend of £64bn in 2018 (Source: Visit Britain). That’s a lot of jobs. While we have a way to go in terms of sustainable travel we can all contribute initially by taking the train, enjoying more staycations and contributing to the communities we visit, supporting smaller businesses and more.

In my inbox

Staycations post-COVID-19. Gisborough Hall in Yorkshire

This week I received many invitations to ‘plan a trip’ for when the pandemic is under control (it seems too optimisitic to say ‘when it’s over’). There is some light at the end of the tunnel, with a tentative hope that the pandemic peak in the UK is flattening. It’s too early though to actually plan but we can certainly dream.

Virtual wellness

I like this idea and it’s something other resorts might take note of. The Chiva-Som Hua Hin Resort in Thailand offers Holistic Health and Wellness in a wish-you-were-here setting. A new Online Wellness Services will connect you by video with the resort’s team of wellness advisors, practitioners and experts. This includes virtual consultations, activities and physical training, all on a one-on-one basis and available daily from now to 31st May 2020. A reservation is required (book at least 24 hours in advance).

HIIT on the beach

The Maldives is on my travel wish list and this little video of a HIIT workshop at Club Med Kani, with the resort’s GO team member Kerynn really appealed. The soft white sands and clear blue waters in the video make me homesick for the beach.

Instead, I felt inspired to up my workout at home and followed along with a session from Women’s Best on Instagram (no affiliation, but I do like their protein shakes). It’s easy to become complacent with your exercise routine and it felt good to try something new. I woke up the next day really stiff after some energetic squats. This is going to take some adjustment!

Frank Lloyd Wright. 70 years, over 1,000 structures designed and 532 completed

The Guggenheim Museum in New York is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. The iconic building is considered to be architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece. I spent some time reminiscing, well okay, day dreaming, about a long weekend in the Big Apple a while ago. I passed a pleasant half hour scrolling through a good selection of photographs online while listening to an audio guide on the building and its creator. One of the (many) things I love about New York is the architecture, and the Guggenheim is one to savour.

Whisky Galore!

Summerton Virtual Whisky Festival claims to be the first whereby whisky lovers can not only visit a virtual tasting room via a live stream but actively take part with a home-delivered pack. There’s a line up of guest speakers from expert producers. Tickets £38, includes curated whisky samples, mixers and snacks (they have thought of everything!) and complementary promotional items. (30 May)

Lady Carnarvon’s Blog

That heading sounds a little like Lady Windemere’s Fan, the four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde all about keeping up appearances and the social expectations of class.

Similarly, Lady Carnarvon’s blog journals life at Highclere Castle and covers a range of stories including many related to the filming of Downton Abbey at this iconic location.

I was invited to a virtual tour of Highclere this week. The estate has a rich and varied history with the first written records dating back to 749, when an Anglo-Saxon King granted the estate to the Bishops of Winchester. Today, the Castle is the home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Before you go…

I thought this week I’d share a Maldivian recipe so you can experience a little of the culture at home. I’m not keen on breakfast cereals, apart from an occasional bowl of porridge. Instead, I’m trying to eat more protein. Apparently, Maldivian cuisine traditionally consists of three main ingredients: fish, coconut and starches contained in grains and vegetables. So this recipe for Mas Huni caught my eye. So many of the recipes being shared on Instagram at the moment involve quite complicated, or harder to source, ingredients. This savoury breakfast dish is simple and I have everything in the cupboard. In the Maldives it’s eaten with freshly baked roshi flatbread, to scoop up the food, and sweetened hot tea. More recipes at

Recipe for Mas Huni

  • 1 cup smoked tuna or canned tuna chunks (diced or sliced)
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1⁄2 cup onion (finely sliced)
  • 1⁄2 cup lemon juice
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix the onions and Scotch bonnet with lemon juice and salt.
  2. Add the tuna and grated coconut and mix well.
  3. Serve with flatbread.

Do you like sweet or savoury dishes for breakfast? This dish would make a good lunch dish too. If you try Mas Huni, let me know how it turned out in the comments below.

In the meantime, here some of the amazing dishes I enjoyed on my travels in 2019.

Have a safe week everyone, #staysafestayhome. Not long now until freedom!

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