This week… adapting, aspiring and acting out

The pandemic resurges and the world continues to turn. Whereas essential items in my mum’s handbag were lipstick and a cotton hankie, I now automatically check for hand sanitiser and a mask before leaving my front door. I can’t say it’s exactly second nature as a part of my (emotional) brain still hopes I might wake up and find it’s all been a dreadful nightmare. Whilst society strives to adapt, some days, I’m not actually sure whether I’m acclimatising or in complete denial.

International collaboration

I was invited to join The Aspire: Reinvent Virtual Conference 2020 this week courtesy of Dr Sam Collins. The conference series is bringing together women – and a few men – from around the world who aim to create a career and a ‘life of impact and visibility’. Aspire for Equality aims to inspire, empower and support like-minded women to make changes in their lives and careers through virtual conferences, workshops and event content, and tailored mentoring. Founder Sam Collins is a social entrepreneur, speaker and author, and highly engaging and passionate about bringing women together in support of one another. The international programme of speakers’ first-hand stories over the two-day event were candid, moving and inspiring. My first virtual conference, it was extremely well organised and presented. There were networking opportunities and break-out workshops, as well as short exercise and meditation sessions, just as you would expect in reality. A new Sam Collins Podcast series is available on Spotify if you’d like to find out more about Aspire’s work. The third in this year’s event series is Aspire Resolve Virutal Conference runs from 3 to 4 December.

Six escape to the country

Grade II listed Colleton Hall. Photo Oliver’s Travels.

In response to the government’s rule of six Oliver’s Travels are offering some of its largest UK properties at a discounted rate of up to 50%.

For instance, make yourself at home at Colleton Hall, a Grade II listed country house in north Devon. Featuring four grand reception rooms, a south facing terrace, thirty-eight acres of private grounds to walk and a lake for canoeing. Exmoor, Exeter and a variety of popular beaches are all within easy reach but, frankly, who needs to venture out when you can safely enjoy playing To the Manor Born for a few days.

Colleton Hall is offering 20% off stays of three nights or more for groups of six on available dates throughout September, October, November and December (excluding the festive period). A three-night stay in October normally £2,903 will cost £2,322 (working out at £387 per person), saving £581 based on 23 to 26 October dates. The Colleton East Wing, a separate annexe with its own entrance and three bedrooms, is also available for groups of six.


L to R: Frans Hals (1582 – 1666), The Laughing Cavalier, Netherlands, 1624, (c) Trustees of The Wallace Collection; An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahník at the Wallace Collection (2019). Photo Irene Caswell.

The magnificent Wallace Collection has this week announced a revised programme of exhibitions for 2021. The focus will be two of the Collection’s finest jewels, masterpieces of Flemish and Dutch art, displayed alongside other works by their artists.

First on the agenda will be Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes. Peter Paul Rubens’s (1577-1640) two great masterpieces of landscape painting, The Rainbow Landscape (The Wallace Collection) and A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning (The National Gallery) will be reunited for the first time in over 200 years.

Peter Paul Rubens’s Rainbow Landscape, (c) Trustees of The Wallace Collection

Next, in autumn 2021, Frans Hals’s (1582/3-1666) iconic painting, The Laughing Cavalier (1624) will be displayed together with a careful selection of the artist’s best male portraits from Europe and North America. The painting is one of my favourite pieces. The Cavalier’s sardonic expression and his rich attire exudes the romance of the swashbuckler genre. The Frans Hals: The Male Portrait exhibition will demonstrate how Hals revealed his sitters’ characters like no one else before him.

Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes (19 April to 13 September 2021). Frans Hals: The Male Portrait (23 September to 30 January 2021). The Wallace Museum.

Tate Archive at 50

L to R: International Surrealist Exhibition (1936) and Vanessa Bell painting Lady Robert Cecil (1905). Both photos gelatin silver print on paper. Photos courtesy Tate Archive @Tate.

Tate Archive is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a new display of British art from 1600 to the 2000s. Items from over 100 archive collections tell the story of new beginnings, historic moments and personal histories. Treasures including sketchbooks and drawings, as well as unpublished photographs and letters, from the world’s largest archive of British art. With a special focus on the 20th century, materials have been selected from each year from 1900 to 1999. Vanessa Bell, John Constable, Lubaina Himid, Derek Jarman, L.S. Lowry, Ronald Moody, Marlow Moss, Donald Rodney and Jo Spence amongst many others feature.

Rare items on show include the programme for Yoko Ono’s event at the pioneering Destruction in Art symposium in London in 1966, shown with a fragment of Biba fabric from her performance of Cut Piece. Further highlights include materials from The Thin Black Line, one of three exhibitions curated by Lubaina Himid in the early 1980s, which marked the arrival on the British art scene of a radical generation of young Black and Asian women artists.

Tate Archive is 50: A Journey through the World’s Largest Archive of British Art at the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Archive Gallery, Lower Level, Tate Britain (12 October 2020 – Autumn). Pre-booking is required.

Arctic: Climate and Culture

Arctic: culture and climate. Photo The British Museum.

A reminder that Arctic: culture and climate opens this week at The British Museum. Developed in collaboration with Arctic communities the exhibition will feature objects from ancient mammoth ivory sculpture to modern refitted snow mobiles to celebrate the ingenuity and resilience of Arctic Peoples throughout history. A powerful story of respectful relationships with icy worlds and how Arctic Peoples have harnessed the weather and climate to thrive. (22 October to 21 February). Tickets, adults £18.

Five top tips for spotting winter wildlife

Mountain hare. Photograph courtesy of Paul Sharman.

Scotland is a given for incredible opportunities to encounter wildlife, from pure white Mountain Hares and Ptarmigan in their winter coats, to the Golden Eagle and iconic Red Deer, both notoriously difficult to spot. Paul Sharman of Hebridean Adventures, a specialist wildlife watching operator, offers his top tips for nature enthusiasts hoping to see elusive wildlife species in their natural habitat.

Be in the right place at the right time for the best chance of success. A little forward planning and research will pay dividends if you’re hoping to seek out something in particular.

Plan your visit accordingly to maximise your time. If you have limited time, for instance, there are excellent commercial wildlife hides where you might see Scottish specialities like red squirrels and crested tits. Remember to take some birdseed or peanuts in your pocket!

Be comfortable and have what you need to enjoy your day. Check the weather forecast, wear clothing layers for differing climates and pack a drink, warm hat, spare camera battery, and so on.

The closer you look, the more you see. Getting too focused trying to spot the larger, even more glamorous species, you will miss the dozens or even hundreds of different flora and fauna species around you that are just as fascinating.

Hebridean Adventures offer wildlife watching cruises in Scotland such as, my particular favourite, trips around the islands of the Outer Hebrides, and somewhere I would like to explore. This includes St Kilda, the Isle of Skye, the Small Isles, Shiants and Summer Isles, the Minch and the scenic west coast of the Highlands, searching for whales, dolphins, puffins, eagles and other marine and coastal wildlife in association with wildlife watching equipment specialists

In my inbox

What does luxury travel mean to you?

Outdoor adventure or wellness holiday in an exotic location? Photo Beau Monde Traveler Magazine.

If you feel inspired by the mention of wildlife watching you can upload a photograph or video that defines luxury travel to you. Enter What does Luxury Travel Mean to You, a competition by Beau Monde Traveler Magazine, with the opportunity to win a Seven Day Luxury Holiday in Porto or Madagascar and $5,000 in Photography Equipment.

That’s all for this week. Please share your recommendations in the comments. Stay safe and well.

As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on domestic and 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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