This week … calm to chaos and cold showers

Here we are at the first of November in a year that has exceeded any previous year for me in terms of challenges, and I’ve had more than a few personal ones over the years. Who hasn’t? That’s an integral part of life. As we re-enter national lockdown in the UK in the next few days, I try to reassure myself that I know the drill. Keep busy, practice self care, stay in regular touch with family and friends. Added to the list now though is ‘try not to think too much about what I’m missing’. It’s a tough call.

Like other travel writers I spent this year saying, ‘I should be in Slovenia, Venice, Canada… right now’. As the year has worn on I’ve realised that’s not a healthy practice. Instead, I’ve been actively finding new ways to travel and enjoy fresh experiences, making contacts, and being even more creative about stories to tell, at a time when the news is far from positive. Even the discipline of writing my weekly online Journal keeps me motivated and connected. So, thank you, to everyone for following along, and for your feedback here on and social media.

I’m lining up some interesting virtual events for the coming weeks. Since the last lockdown, I’ve stocked up on books and I’m going to find a reasonably challenging jigsaw puzzle to order. There’s probably an App but I want to balance online time with actual physical activities. These are all simple pleasures that act as a form of meditation through sheer concentration. I’ll continue to walk regularly but locally and work out at home at least three times a week, with some yoga. I’ve started deep breathing exercises, especially helpful if I feel a bit of a panic coming on after watching a No. 10 press conference! Learning that cold showers are good for the immune system, I’ve begun turning the thermostat down at the end of a shower. It literally makes me squeal with the icy cold. It’s (almost) as good as sex.

Lisbon, city of urban art

Work by Odeith in Lisbon.

Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals, steeped in history. Beautiful tile-covered buildings, stunning rooftop views and atmospheric cobblestone streets are plenty. The Portuguese capital is also home to a vibrant urban art scene including work by Vhils, Odeith, PichiAvo, Bordallo II and RAF. Highlights include the Rotunda dos Corvos by RAF, the Sobe e Desce by Vhils which is the artist’s largest mural at an incredible 150m long, the outdoor public art gallery in Quinta do Mocho and the Monsanto Panoramic, which houses works from multiple artists.  A new film Urban Art Route showcases the city’s eclectic street art.

Calm to Chaos

Chimu Adventures in Antartica.

One day this week, seeking distraction from writing a pitch for a few minutes, I came across this film. Part travel documentary and part Apocalyptic genre, it’s a fine piece of filmmaking and I actually watched from beginning to end (around 40 mins). The story of how the team at Chimu Adventures worked behind the scenes to bring fellow Australians home from Peru and Antartica, in March of this year as the pandemic went global, is emotional, inspirational and heartwarming.

CALM TO CHAOS: A Dramatic Tale About Travel & COVID-19 reveals a realistic view of the travel industry, the challenges they are facing and the amount of hard work, dedication and committment it takes to deliver on a promise.

Calm to Chaos.

Travel tomorrow

Attica, regional food.

More and more of us are choosing more meaningful experiences when we travel. We’re seeking to reduce our impact upon the communities where we stay and, rather than simply observe, actually live the experience. Participating in an olive harvest in Attica, from mid November to February, hits all the right notes. Traditionally, olives are picked by hand using small rakes to ‘comb’ along the tree stems, or with wooden sticks that shake the olives off the branches. Nets are spread on the ground under the tree to collect the olives. It’s demanding farm work, beginning very early in the morning and ending at dusk. You’ll be glad to hear that rest breaks are imperative and lunch time is sacred.

A veritable banquet is laid out on crates beneath the shade of the olive trees, and includes olives from the previous crop together with salads of cucumbers and tomatoes cut from the garden, cheese and bread. Enjoy good company and the satisfaction of having done a good day’s work in the magnificent landscape.

There are a number of natural foods that are often subject to fraudulent pratices, such as honey, coffee and olive oil. Attica’s olive tree fruits are registered under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Troezen Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for their flavour and quality.

Attica’s agritourism accommodation units offer guests the opportunity to take part in olive harvests, and embark on other tour and activities. Visit the Attica web site for more information.

Italian Capital of Culture 2021

Piazza Garibaldi Emilia Romagna, northern Italy.

The UNESCO-lited city of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region has been named Italian Capital of Culture for 2021. Originally nominated for 2020, due to the pandemic, it has been decided to extend this honour for another year. Parma is situated alongside the thousand-year-old Roman road, the Via Emilia, that links Piacenza and Rimini. The programme of events will include theatrical shows, cinema projections, music concerts, dance performances, and food and wine fairs.

This exhibition sounds like my cup of tea (or glass of champagne, depending upon my mood). Design! Objects, processes, experiences – Through Time will feature items by 20th century Italian designers such as Archizoom Associati, Mario Bellini, Cini Boeri, Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni. Held in two separate locations, the Valserena Abbey and, the section on fashion, at Palazzo Pigorini. (7 November to 14 February). Three new dresses/sculptures (wearable art) by Italian artist Sissi (Daniela Olivieri) alongside costumes created by Sartoria Farani.

40 cities in 48 hours

Open House Worldwide Festival 2020.

If you like exploring cities and architecture, the Open House Wordwide Festival offers the opportunity to visit 40 cities around the globe over a weekend. The streamed festival will feature discussions, tours and more, with contributions from architects, designers, urbanists and citizens. Hear more about the most pressing issues from climate crisis to housing and transport to post-pandemic design. Free. (14 and 15 November).

In my inbox

Wintering. Photo Perowne International.

I’ve recently started subscribing to a podcast The Wintering Sessions by Katherine May. Katherine talks to writers or performers about the ‘cold’ seasons they have experienced in their lives. This is about the tough times, the periods in our lives that we all experience. In these difficult times there is comfort, humour and warmth in these podcasts. I recommend making a cup of something hot, snuggling down under the duvet, or on the sofa with a cosy throw, and let go of all your cares for a while to be reassured that everyone experiences ‘wintering’ and there are better times beyond.

That’s all for this week. Wherever you find yourself in the world, I wish you good health and peace of mind. Stay safe.

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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