This week…firsts

A decidedly mixed week. One minute wild storms, the next brilliant spring sunshine. Activities this week included a virtual visit to Winnipeg for the live launch of the world’s first purpose-built Inuit Art Centre. In between reviewing a new garden book for publication next month and popping into Monmouthshire to meet artisan food producers, I also spent time choosing British cheeses for an Easter family get together on Zoom. Today, Mother’s Day in the UK and spent solo in lockdown, I opened a bottle of bubbly and treated myself to smoked wild salmon and scrambled eggs for brunch. Silver linings.

Spring tulips and a glass of bubbly, Mother’s Day 2021.

Here’s a round-up of five things I liked this week, including a number of ‘firsts’.

The First Roman Emperor

The Mausoleum of Augustus at Rome, reopened after 14 years of renovation.

The magnificent of Mausoleum of Augustus has been closed to the public for most of the past 80 years. It has recently reopened after a 14-year closure and major restoration. The mausoleum site was constructed in 28BC and is the tomb of Rome’s first emperor (27 BC until his death in AD 14). Of over 13,000 square metres of walls nearly half date back to the original construction from the time of Augustus, a fact that gives me goosebumps. Other areas of walls dating back to restoration work in the 1930s and remains built in medieval and Renaissance times. A must-see for future city visits although you might want to visit out of season to try and avoid the expected crowds. A pre-bookable 50-minute tour is Euros 4. In the meantime, as we wait to travel again, explore the history of the mausoleum interactively online.

New hotels in Mallorca

Palma. L to R: Palma Cathedral exterior view; a cathedral door. Photo

Just two hours flying time from London, Mallorca is a favourite get-away island for Brits. Of course, there’s still the commute to and processing through the airport but it remains a popular destination, and with good reason. It is one of the prettiest islands in the world with a rich history, magnificant vistas, blue seas and a mostly temperate environment (I do recall snow one February!). Remarkably, there are nine Michelin starred restaurants on the island with new stars recently awarded to local Mallorcan chefs: Santi Taura for his DINS restaurant within the boutique hotel El Llorenç Parc de la Mar in Palma; and father and son, Benet and Jaume Vicens of Bens d’Avall restaurant in Deiá. This spring two new luxury hotels are due to open: the El Vicenç De La Mar, 5* at Calan Sant Vicenç; and Can Ferrereta, Santanyi.

L to R: Santanyi town; Hotel Can Ferrereta exterior and pool.

An original 17th century manor house at the entrance of the historic town of Santanyi on the south east corner of the island, Can Ferrereta will offer 32 bedrooms. Renovation has retained the character of the original building, blending with contemporary interior design. The hotel is sister to the 5* boutique Hotel Sant Frances in Palma’s charing old town. Features will include a bar, two restaurants offering seasonal Mediterranean cuisine, a 25 metre pool with sunbathing area and Sa Calma spa with sauna and Hamman, all set within Mediterranean style gardens. Santanyi is a pretty, historic town with a twice weekly market, restaurants and art galleries. Can Ferrereta welcome adults and children over 14 years. Rates for a double room with breakfast from 315€ per night:

World’s first purpose-built Inuit art centre

L to R: Michael Massie. Inuit (Happy Valley-Goose Bay), b. 1962. Subtle-tea, 1997, silver, wood. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Gift of the Canadian Museum of Inuit Art, 2017-564. Photo: Courtesy of the WAG.Subtle Tea by Michael Massie; Qaumajuq Inuit art centre showing Inuit dolls and other works on display. Photo by Calvin Lee Joseph. Post header photograph; the exterior of the new Inuit Art Centre.

The Qaumajuq (pronounced (KOW-ma-yourq or HOW-ma-yourk) at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) in the first purpose-built Inuit Art centre. At a press launch this week Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG-Qaumajuq Director & CEO, officially launched the new contemporary gallery designed by architect Michael Maltzan and taking inspiration from the light and landscape of Canada’s Northern landscapes. WAG is home to the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world. The Qaumajuq gallery will open on 27 March with the inaugural exhibition INUA displaying an integration of historic and contemporary works, including a unique collection of Inuit dolls. Check the web site for online events on 25 and 26 March.

Explore Poldark Country

In the UK we’re pinning our hopes on 12 April to escape lockdown and the tedium of everyday life. The industry needs to rebuild the public’s confidence and domestic breaks are probably top of most wish lists for this summer. I spent many happy childhood summers in Cornwall exploring rock pools on the beach, surfing the waves, and devouring clotted cream teas and ice cream. What I wouldn’t give for a week in Cornwall right now. It’s not simply nostalgia for happier times but also that the county, one of the Celtic nations, has so much to offer.

The Cornish coastline and The Headland hotel complex.

The Headland luxury hotel offers space to breathe, views, luxury accommodation and oceanside dining. If you prefer a little more seclusion the seaside village also features luxury self-catering seaside cottages located just a stone’s throw away from the Atlantic Ocean. The 39 five-star cottages are set upon a cliff-top in an enviable location for sea views over Newquay Bay and beaches with panoramic views towards Padstow in one direction and Poldark’s Holywell Bay in the other. The one, two and three-bedroom cottages also offer unlimited use of the Aqua Club with six indoor and outdoor pools, a heated spa, edge pool and vitality pool and sun terrace.

Talks from Waddesdon Manor

I hope that virtual events will continue after the world has opened up in real time. Like everyone else, I’m pretty desperate to escape domestic confinement but the past year has allowed me to join in countless webinars and workshops I wouldn’t normally have time for. The result has been a fascinating dip into different cultures, from coffee tasting in Colombia to curated exhibitions globally, and flower arranging in London to violin concertos in Florence.

Waddesdon Manor. L to R:Aerial view of the house and gardens; black and white archive image.

Waddesdon Manor is a fascinating place to visit. New online talks aim to offer an insight into the history and the unique collections of this fascinating dynasty. Amongst these are: Money Moving a Mountain. In 1874 Ferdinand de Rothschild bought nearly 3,000 acres of open farmland at Waddesdon. Fast forward a decade to the present magnificent house and gardens. Using documents and images from the archives, Catherine Taylor, Head Archivist, will tell the story of Ferdinand’s creation of the gardens at Waddesdon Manor (Thursday 8 April, 6pm. Adult £10); From Boredom to Board Games will explore the history of these forms of entertainment which date back to Ancient Greek and Roman times. Curator Rachel Jacobs will introduce some 18th century games of chance, education or simply recreational with wildly varying themes, and explore their origins (Thursday 15 April, 6pm. Adult £10). Tickets

That’s all for this week. Thanks for dropping in and please share your recommendations in the comments. 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.

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