This week… bears, bocadillos and Banksy

How have you been? It’s been mostly cold, grey and wet in Britain this week. I have been learning about the piddock and its antics. I Zoomed to the Sainsbury Centre in East Anglia to review a fascinating new Bill Brandt Henry Moore exhibition and drunk copious cups of tea, spiced with cacao, orange and cloves to warm my cockles. Confused? All will become clear, read on…

L to R: delicious chocolate and spice tea by The Spice Kitchen; the piddock or angel wings seashell, photo courtesy marine biologist @bryony_caswell.

As my, ahem, small but devoted, band of Instagram followers will know, while we’re unable to travel it’s the little things in life that I’m finding especially entertaining right now. I took a photo of a pretty shell on the beach recently and wasn’t sure what it was called so I checked with my favourite marine biologist, Bryony Caswell, who to my delight confirmed it was a ‘piddock’, also known as angel wings. Apparently, they burrow into rocks for protection from predators. You have to admire their capacity for survival!

Here’s five things more that I liked this week.

Mallorca is open for business

Feliz Navidad from Mallorca. Photos courtesy Fomento del Turismo de Mallorca.

Mallorca is a wonderful place to spend Christmas from the festival of the Three Kings on Christmas Eve to the ’12-grapes of luck’ eating tradition on New Year’s Eve.

Local gastronomy

L to R: Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden; Mallorcan foods. Photos courtesy Fomento del Turismo de Mallorca.

Living on the island of Mallorca for a year some time ago, it was impossible to do so and not be involved in food, from field to plate, and eating nose to tail. Our landlord, Jaime, kept rabbits for the pot in the grounds of our villa, tended the vegetable garden and took us out on his boat to fish for octupus. He would bring us baskets of ripe figs and was amazed when I practically wept with joy (I adore these sweet, sticky fruits). A glut is usually fed to the pigs!

How I miss a lazy Sunday breakfast of bocadillos con mermelada, washed down with a cafe con leche, on the quayside at Puerto d’Andratx. I miss the fresh catch from the fishing boats sold on the quayside too. I still have a passion for buttery Montchego cheese, ensaïmadas (a traditional sweet bread, also perfect with your morning coffee), Pan de Higo (a fig and almond ‘cake’), and the moreish Christmas turrón, a nougat-like sweet made from honey, eggs, sugar, and toasted nuts. Then there’s the olive oil, sweet navel oranges, wines, pork sausage (sobrassada) and more. A visit to a food market or local producer offers a good day out. For instance, Terragust integrates produce from several local farms located in a rural setting. In summer you can take a tour, browse the farm shop and enjoy tastings.


Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden in Mallorca. Photos courtesy Can Bordoy.

Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden is a 16th century manor house in the heart of beautiful Palma’s old town. It was lavishly restored in 2018, and now features 24 suites. An added bonus is one of the largest private gardens in the city and with a pool. Prices start at 250€ per night for the Traveller Suite including breakfast.

Culinary delights in the Dordogne

Fontalbe gite. L to R: the main house; the living room. Photos courtesy Fontalbe.

Fontalbe is a luxury villa situated on its own private island and surrounded by rivers, forests and countryside. A new programme of gourmet experiences for 2021 includes immersive culinary experiences with chef Pip Priestley. Prepare food from market to table, hone cookery skills, go foraging, explore a local market and the make the most of an opportunity to cook lunch with Pip. Fontalbe is a former paper mill now renovated by a British couple to include six ensuite bedrooms in the main house, with a well-stocked French country kitchen and a private heated pool. There’s also an apartment for solo use. Located 25 minutes from Bergerac Airport, Fontalbe is also accessible by train for a more sustainable travel option, with a short commute from Paris to Bordeaux. Prices from a three-night experience, Euros 1250 per person from mid-April until the end of September 2021.

Hilltop Hikes and Wildlife Watching

Explore the Italian hills, photos courtesy Original Travel.

This one sounds idyllic and offers the chance to explore Abruzzo National Park accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. The park is teeming with wildlife from deer and wolves, to bears and wild boar. Learn about the rewilding efforts in the area and the connection between the local communities and the natural surroundings. Experience an overnight stay in a remote mountain lodge, enjoy dinner prepared with local produce and fall asleep to the sound of howling wolves, perchance to dream of Kevin Costner (sorry, that last point is my own imagination running wild, pun intended). Wildlife Watching in Italy’s Hinterland is part of a new ‘Near Frontiers’ Collection to Showcase Europe’s Wilderness. This particular 8-day itinerary is from £2,500pp, based on two sharing. The price includes all flights, transfers, guided activities and accommodation. Original Travel

Family Against Bombed Background. Image © The Henry Moore Foundation, UK.

Bill Brandt Henry Moore Exhibition

I joined the virtual press preview of Bill Brandt Henry Moore, the new exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. I’m just sorry I don’t live closer, as I would so enjoy exploring the juxtaposition of two master artists of the last century. Read the full review.

Moments of Modern Art

L to R: Danien Hirst – Kate Moss Record – image courtesy of John Brandler; Banksy – Peckham Rock Postcard – Image courtesy of John Brandler.

A new exhibition featuring works by some of the best-known contemporary artists is to open at Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Featured artists will include Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Kaws, Pure Evil, Connor Brothers and Rachel List with both original artworks and prints. Amongst the highlights will be ‘Heart Boy’ (2009) by Banksy, originally painted on a wall in Islington, London, but never exhibited in the UK before. Moments: An Exhibition of Modern Art runs from 14 February until Sunday 30 May. Timed viewing slots of one hour must be pre-booked and you can do this online. Prices £5 adult, concessions £3.50.

Stop press: Revised dates for ‘Moments’ Exhibition of Modern Art, due to the current lockdown these dates have been deferred to 2 May – 30 September. Please keep an eye out on their web site if you’re interested for any further changes.

Julian Opie at Ptzhanger Manor, Ealing

Works by Julian Opie. L to R: Mosaic tiles (2012); Julian (2013).

“We use vision as a means of survival and it’s essential to take it for granted in order to function, but awareness allows us to look at looking and by extension look at ourselves and be aware of our presence.” Julian Opie.

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery’s 2021 programme will start with a solo exhibition by British artist Julian Opie and will include new works shown both in the Gallery, as well as installations in the surrounding historic parkland of Walpole Park. To run from 18 March to 1 August. Prices not announced.

In my inbox

Items found by the public in their gardens during the pandemic. Photos courtesy the British Musem’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.

There has been a boost in finds by the public in their back gardens during the restrictions of movement in the pandemic. During the first lockdown 6,251 finds were recorded British Musem’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. So far this year, over 47,000 finds have been recorded, including a rare find of 50 modern South African Krugerrand 1oz solid gold coins. Found by chance in a back-garden in the Milton Keynes area they were minted by the Rand Refinery in Germiston in the 1970s during the period of apartheid. The Museum says, “How they ended up in Milton Keynes and why they were buried are, for the moment, a mystery.”

It is the Coroner who decides whether they are classed as ‘Treasure’, under the historic crown right of treasure trove predating the current Treasure Act, and determine whether the original owner of the coins or their heirs are known. Now’s the time to speak up!

That’s all for this week. Please let me know in the comments if you enjoy’s weekly round-up. It’s good to get constructive feedback on my musings. Stay safe and well wherever you are in the world.

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. In addition, during the current pandemic I haven’t had the chance to review any of the hotels, resorts and so on.

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