This week… bags, birds and The Beatles

I filed copy on two features this week, the first on wine and the second on coffee. Both were fun to do (sitting around tasting wine and coffee, what’s not to like!). Also, delving deep into a subject is right up my street. I like to tell myself it’s my natural journalistic skills but it’s probably more a case of being just plain nosey.

I’ve become fascinated by terroir, the magical combination of temperature, climate, soil composition and production methods, that impacts on wine, food and, yes, coffee. Fresh authentic seasonal food, produced sustainably and prepared simply.

Satiated with fine wines and delicious Speciality Coffees, I was easily distracted later in the week by exciting news of bags, birds and the Beatles.

Bag lady

I have long been an admirer of Emily Jo Gibbs work which includes this stunning Horse Chestnut Bag. Photo V&A ©.

The V&A is possibly my favourite gallery of all. The iconic South Kensington museum is reopening its seven miles of galleries in phases, initially Thursday to Sunday each week, beginning with the ground floor. That’s ample space for social distancing and enjoying 5,000 years of ingenuity in art, design and performance.

Grace Kelly and The Kelly handbag by Hermès. Photo V&A ©

Equally exciting will be Bags: Inside Out displaying the most stunning vintage and contemporary bags and related objects, from the stunning work of Emily Jo Gibbs to a magnificent Louis Vuitton trunk. (21 November to 12 September 2021).

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. Photo V&A ©

From the August Bank Holiday weekend the first and second floor collection galleries will reopen including Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. The exhibition closed after two weeks due to Lockdown and has been extended. (27 August until 25 October).

“For me, going out without that purse would seem almost like going out naked. Well, almost.” Grace Kelly.


Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari, Hudson Bay, Nunavut. Photo Destination Canada.

Now that a trip to British Columbia in September has sadly (but entirely understandably) been cancelled, I’m excited to hear that Canada’s first ever virtual Travel and Leisure Show will take place 10th (professionals) and 12th (consumers) September. Showcasing the world, the event will be free for consumers and professionals and has a nationwide reach. ‘Exhibitors’ will be able to interact from their virtual tradeshow booths and engage with an expected 15,000+ ready-to-travel Canadians, and more than 3,000 travel professionals.

Similar to a traditional travel show, exhibitors will be grouped into ‘Pavilions’, so not only will it showcase specific destinations but regions too. These will be grouped into six areas just like a traditional tradeshow Canada, USA, South America, Europe, Caribbean/Mexico. Visitors will be able to access videos, download brochures and chat with travel representatives and attend a LIVE webinar featuring a celebrity travel expert, to be announced.

While travel is tentatively resuming in stages there’s a long way to go for the recovery of the global tourism industry. These are challenging times for everyone. For Canadian readers of, DMOs and suppliers (lodging, attractions, and transportations), Destination Canada is generously offering to subsidise the exhibitor fees for the first 75 organizations that register for a full or shared booth.

A Global Footprint

The Old Man of Storr, photo Pettitts Travel.

While travel is tentatively picking up there are many challenges to chart these turbulent times. The overall consideration is to travel safely, consideration for both your own sake and that of the global community. We are much more conscious of travelling sustainably, supporting the communities we visit, respecting cultural sensitivity and a heightened need for human connection. Tailor-made trips are seeing a boom as seek a more personal, authentic experience. Industry predictions are for less trips in favour of longer, multiple-destination holidays. Think, one flight there and back, with more trains, cycling and walking in between.

I liked that an update from this tour operator wasn’t an aggressive sell but instead simply said ‘hello’ and outlined their specialism in bespoke travel around the globe. However, it’s the possibilities for Scotland that appeal to me. I live practically on the South Coast and so it’s been a while since I traveled far north. It’s difficult to know where to begin. I want to tread lightly, to be a traveller and not a tourist. I want authenticity, and yet elegance and comfort. I want to walk the beautiful lochs and visit the Outer Hebrides and Skye, to spend time at the best wildlife locations, while having a minimal impact on the environment. As you know from previous journal entries, I’m bordering on the obssessive with local, seasonal food. So discovering passionate producers and chefs on my travels is important too. And I don’t want to miss out on heritage and the textile crafts, from Fair Isle to Harris Tweed.

It’s a tall order and a good specialist tour operator is worth their weight in gold for inside knowledge, so that I can blend in, pay it forward and reduce my own footprint upon the world.

Culinary Road Trip

SOLA at Soho.

I’m a push-over for pretty packaging and when it’s wrapped around fabulous food that’s a winning combo. So, no apologies for highlighting another premium home-dining service this week. Chef Patron Victor Garvey at SOLA in Soho, where the menu celebrates the modern cuisine of America’s Pacific West Coast, has lanched BENTŌ by SOLA.
Diners are offered the restaurant’s choice of a five-course Prix Fixe (£69 per person) or ten-course Tasting Menu (£109 per person). First, I like the fact that the presentation is designed to maintain the same particular standards as dining at SOLA in person. Just as fish and chips taste good wrapped in newspaper, anticipation is everythng when it come to the sensual experiences and containers make a difference. Especially, as in this case, when it’s designed so that you simply open and eat, with no additional heating or finishing required. Equally attractive is that the packaging is fully-recyclable Finally, you get to choose from SOLA’s all-American winelist, served in individual 100ml bottles, as an optional extra. Calfornian dreaming…

As a teaser, canapés include Smoked quail egg ‘Mimosa’ or Dungeness Crab.
Mains might be Torched Mackerel with Kohlrabi; Warm Tatin of Hubert’s Tomatoes; or Squab Pigeon with White Peach. Handmade mignardises (bite-size desserts) include Pistachio Bavarois or Chocolate Crémeux (both are included on the Tasting Menu!). Available from Tuesday to Saturday via ordering platform Slerp.

In my inbox

Stream + Shout

It is 60 years since four young Liverpudlian lads made their first public appearance in Hamburg. This is where it all began for The Beatles. Over the next two years completed around 281 gigs, five engagements with four different live clubs, performing live at various Hamburg venues. This is also where they met Ringo Starr.

The Beatles… “grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool”. John Lennon.

The grand “Stream & Shout” show will be marking the 60th Anniversary on the very day that John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best appeared live on stage at the Indra Club in the city on 17 August 1960.

Stefanie Hempel, Hamburg’s ‘Beatles expert’, will be hosting the event on 17 August from 9 pm (CET) straight from the Indra in St Pauli to re-create original Beatles’ set from 1960, as well as some of their greatest hits and legendary songs. Together with her band, Hempel will be joined by friends from the music scene, celebrity guests and contemporary witnesses via live stream. Performing fellow musicians will include the Kaiser Quartett, Cäthe, Bernd Begemann, Jessy Martens, Billy King, Jimmy Cornett, and Michèl von Wussow. Hamburg’s landmark, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, will also be joining in on the anniversary celebrations with a special live act. as well as on Facebook and YouTube.

Bird Photographer of the Year

Bird Photographer of the Year Finalist, Jakub Hodan.

As a lover of both photograhpy and wildlife, I enjoyed poring over the finalists of the fifth Bird Photographer of the Year competition. Too many to choose a favourite – the panel of judges headed up by TV presenter, Chris Packham, had their work cut out – these are just two of my favourites. Inspirational!

Francis De Andrés Finalist in the ‘Attention To Detail’ Category.

The competition is organised by conservation charity Birds on the Brink and invites entry from photographers around the world. Nine lucky finalists were awarded with a pair of SWAROVSKI OPTIK binoculars. The winning entry was ‘End of the Day’, an image of a European Shag taken at Vardø in Norway by Majed AlZa’abi from Kuwait.

That’s been my week. Hope you have a good one coming up where you are in the world, and stay well and safe!

As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on international travel guidelines.

Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted.

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