I’ve spent the last weekend reading through old copies of Lonely Planet Traveller and National Geographic Travel magazine. Since the first lockdown in March 2020, I’ve not really seen the point in getting all wanderlusty. Plus, I’ll be honest, I’ve been through a long period where I’ve really not been fussed about travelling.
Lockdown in the UK has had a really strange effect on me. At first, not being able to go for dinner, brunch or a pint at the pub felt like punishment. Then I remembered I lived in a small rural village, the nearest city a 40-minute car ride, and that dinner, drinks and dancing weren’t a regular occurance anyway. So I stopped missing it. Well, I say that, but anytime I saw Mowgli post on social media, I’d drool over the thought of one of their chip butties.
And that’s sort of how I’ve felt about travel, too. I stopped reading about it, not much of my social media feed was based on it, and so I forgot. I embraced home. I’m extremely privileged to have spent the last year at home, with access to green spaces and a garden. I acknowledge that this has not been the same for everyone, and while it’s not been sunshine and margaritas all year, I can’t complain – and wont.
Coffee and crumpets, curled up on the sofa, I reached for the pile of magazines collecting dust and started leafing through. From the pages, Italy jumped up at me, terracotta roofs tumbling down hillsides, rows of vines ripening in the sun, turquoise waters and tiny coves. The bright lights and billowing steam from the ground in Manhattan, hotdog vendors and movie sets. Snow-capped mountains and infinity pools. I poured over the pictures and devoured the words. It made me want to plan. It made me remember ice-cold beers overlooking the Duomo in Florence, eating oranges on the beach in Valencia, star-gazing on Milford Sound and so many more adventures past.
It made me remember the missed gigs, weekend breaks and holidays planned for 2020, which also look unlikely this year. So much of this year is dependent on so many variables, which makes planning hard, particularly for anything longer than a day out. But days out is what I do, so I poured more coffee and settled down with The Great Dane, wondering where our ‘firsts’ will be once we’re allowed. This is the list we came up with:
First Day Out: Chatsworth House
Oh, how I love Chatsworth, especially at Christmas. We have a tradition that we go to the Christmas Market every year, since our first trip there in 2014, and so we were a bit gutted it was cancelled in 2020. I can’t wait to go back and wander the grounds, dream about having a kitchen garden as amazing as theirs, and watch the sun turn the house golden as it dips low in the afternoon.
First overnight stay: Throstle’s Nest or Titanic Liverpool
Tough call. In fact these were our joint second place. The beds at the Titanic are heavenly, the bathroom bigger than my kitchen at home, and their rum Old Fashioneds are the perfect way to end the night. It’s also one of The Great Dane’s favourite spots for coffee. The hotel holds a special place for us, too. We’ve celebrated big occasions here, taken visitors for drinks, gone out the way to have nightcaps with family, melting into the huge sofas and putting the world to rights. And it’s also where we officially became a couple. Sorry, that should have come with a warning!
Equally, Throstle’s Nest near Skipton is an absolute ideal spot for a short break. We stayed a couple of years ago, just before Christmas, as a little getaway from all the festive stress and we keep vowing to go back. Family run, with only a few bedrooms, Throstle’s Nest is a cosy and welcoming B&B with just 5 rooms. They’ve since expanded, and have their own private lodge, complete with hot tub, which is also on my list! We spent the night curled up with our books and a glass of wine in front of what I think is the biggest log fire I’ve seen.
First foreign trip: Calahonda, Spain
This was – and wasn’t – a tough call. We’ve been planning a trip to Vancouver, have had a to Copenhagen cancelled and I’m itching to get back to Madrid. However, Calahonda in Spain, holds quite the space in our hearts. We’ve had family holidays over the years in a little resort on the beach, nothing flash, but decent self-catering apartments with a pool, restaurant and bar onsite. It’s a 15-minute drive to Marbella, one of the most well-known resorts in Spain, for celeb-spotting and big-name bars; and a 40-minute drive to Malaga, for tapas and a wander round the old town. Mainly though, it’s a fly-and-flop, only talking to one another to say ‘beer?’, ‘lunch?’, ‘ice-cream?’ After the last year, something familiar and comforting, and also where I don’t need to pack outfits for every possible eventuality, is exactly what is needed.
We’ve tentatively made a list of days out near and far for when we’re allowed, which as the UK seems to be tentatively edging towards spring, I’m hopeful won’t be too far away. But over to you: where’s the first restriction-free place you’ll be heading to? And where should I be adding to my list? Let me know!