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‘Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind’ - Seneca*

Yes, well thank you for that Seneca, but what do we do when we are stuck in self-isolation for the foreseeable future? What then?

What do we do to ‘impart vigour to the mind’ when we are stuck indoors on our sofas or sitting at our makeshift desks, staring at screens and trying to ensure our minds don’t turn to mash potatoes? What then? Plenty I say!

I’m sure there are many of you out there who, like me, are currently battling with the feeling of wanderlust whilst knowing it is imperative we stay in our homes in the hope to beat something bigger than ourselves. Some of you might be put off the idea of physical travel for a while yet, which is entirely understandable given the current situation. However as someone who does not deal well with claustrophobia, here are a few things I have been doing to allow my mind to wander and my imagination to run riot, as I am sat indoors (2 metres away from anyone else of course):

  1. Travel Books - there is a plethora of travel writing available that can see you trekking in the Amazon one day to walking along the Nile the next, all the while in your comfy slippers and with a cup of tea. I’m currently re-reading one of my favourite books - As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. If you haven’t yet read this, I highly recommend it. What greater way to escape (and broaden the mind) than to read an epic story of a man who leaves his home in England, travels to Spain and makes his way from the Vigo in the north to the south of Spain, with nothing but hopes that his violin-busking will get him by as he sleeps under the stars. My mind wanders to thoughts of our friends and colleagues in Spain and the rest of Mainland Europe. We are thinking of you all.

  2. The Travel Kitchen - Lonely Planet have recently started to post recipes daily on their website inspired by places and flavours from all over the world so why not give one a go? Admittedly this one is slightly problematic in that we are all home-bound and the thought of needing to go to the supermarket for ingredients fills many of us with dread / it might be near impossible for some of us. However, if you are anything like me you might already have all (or most) of the ingredients for that Pad Thai you told yourself you would learn to make from scratch as a New Year’s resolution. It’s now April and you obviously haven’t made it yet, so now is the time! Don’t have the exact ingredients? No matter! This isn’t Masterchef so improvise away and who knows, you might just find a specialty dish of your own. So whether you choose to make Hungarian Goulash, Turkish lahmacun or a combination of both, I wish you good luck and bon appétit! Perhaps you might even like to share what you have created over on the Forum?

  3. ‘Visiting’ the Wonders of the World - with a lot more time on my hands I find myself on Google Earth far more than normal. During my recent ‘expedition’ I found myself in Machu Picchu marvelling at the wonders the Inca’s left behind and reading up all about this 15th Century citadel. This wonder was one of the places I had hoped to visit this summer but given the global situation sadly this is just not possible. So instead, here you find me, after my four-day virtual Inca Trail hike and I’ve made it to the top! What a site to behold. Where’s next? Perhaps the Taj Mahal in India or Pyramid of Giza in Egypt? Earl Grey at the ready of course.

  4. Google Arts & Culture - I am sure many of you have used, or at the very least, heard about this one, but if not, prepare for the arts-related part of your mind to be very pleased indeed. Google Arts & Culture is a free online platform that houses artwork and content from over 2000 museums and archives globally. You have thousands of iconic, inspirational and beautiful artworks at your fingertips to peruse. There is information about the artwork accompanying the high resolution image and a ‘street view’ option which allows you to view the artwork in the museum / gallery it is housed in! You can do a virtual tour of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to the MoMa in New York to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. There are so many possibilities. So much to see and so little time! (Well actually no, we do have the time now don’t we I suppose?)

  5. Documentaries / TV shows / Films - there are so many documentaries, series and films out there available on TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc! Despite all of these platforms, I am a huge fan of BBC iPlayer - all you need is a TV licence and it is very easy to set up an account with them. The BBC Archive houses many highly informative and engaging shows on all sorts of arts, history and culture. Sacred Wonders has been my most recent box set and you will not be disappointed!

These are just a handful of ways I have been satisfying my wanderlust, engaging with the arts and trying to learn something new every day. I would love to hear what you have been reading, viewing, cooking, making and ‘any other verb-ing’ to stay engaged with arts and culture. I’m all ears!

*or words to that effect - my latin is a little rusty. Perhaps something to work on during self-isolation? That’s another point - learning a language without leaving your home!


Today's post was written by Shivani Mahida, who is one of the team members at The Arts Society House but working, like so many of us these days, at home from the makeshift desk mentioned in her essay.

This blog is composed by Florian Schweizer, CEO of The Arts Society, and made up of contributions by him and invited guest bloggers.

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