Here we pick a selection of the best travel-related programmes, books and radio shows that will provide some isolation inspiration for the week ahead.
On the page . . .
Spin across Europe
Glorious: Beat the blue with Helen Moat’s tales of Istanbul in her book A Time Of Birds
Helen embarks on a 3,000-mile cycle ride with her 18-year-old son Jamie
Midlife crises come in many forms: shiny sports cars, gym memberships, flashy clothes. For Helen Moat, a 50-year-old teacher from Northern Ireland, it was slightly different, as she describes in her travel book A Time Of Birds.
One day, out of the blue, Moat declares she wishes to cycle to Istanbul. She asks her startled 18-year-old son Jamie to join her, and soon they are off on their 3,000-mile journey.
Moat’s ‘blunted’ feelings and the ‘dullness’ in her brain quickly lift as the pair pedal away on an inspiring adventure through the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
On her travels, Moat thinks often of her 92-year-old father, who found solace in birds, and reflects on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Yet this is not a downbeat read. There are humorous encounters and joyful times as they whizz along, plus some hairy moments — especially near Istanbul on a crazy ‘suicidal service road’.
- A Time Of Birds by Helen Moat (Saraband, £9.99).
Walk through time
Robert Twigger sets forth on a 390-mile hike from Christchurch in Dorset to Lindisfarne, Northumberland, in Walking The Great North Line
Veteran travel writer Robert Twigger, 57, is contemplative, too, as he sets forth on a 390-mile hike from Christchurch in Dorset to Lindisfarne, Northumberland, in Walking The Great North Line.
He has noticed a straight line of 42 ancient sites between the two places, including Stonehenge, Avebury, Mam Tor, and Ilkley. He dubs this the Great North Line.
With a couple of friends and some rum, Twigger heads north, his pals tagging along until Avebury, sharing midlife woes, and complaints about blisters and sleeping bags.
Twigger continues wild camping alone, avoiding upsetting landowners while enjoying the mystic histories of the barrows and stone circles.
This is a warts-and-all tale, with plenty of uncomfortable nights spent in hollows in sheep fields.
At Lindisfarne, Twigger has a ‘mini-enlightenment’ that it is ok to be ‘non-conformist, an eccentric’. By then, you can’t help but agree.
- Walking The Great North Line by Robert Twigger (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20).
Mark O’Connell’s intriguing Notes From An Apocalypse is all about the Irish writer’s ‘anxiety’ around the planet’s precarious future
With uncanny timing, new father Mark O’Connell’s intriguing Notes From An Apocalypse is all about the Irish writer’s ‘anxiety’ around the planet’s precarious future.
This prompts an offbeat adventure to see escape bunkers in South Dakota, remote landscapes in New Zealand where billionaires are building retreats, hideaway camps in the Scottish highlands, and Chernobyl — where a tourist bus takes him to the site of a modern day ‘apocalypse’. An uneasy read for uneasy times.
- Notes From An Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell (Granta, £14.99).
ON THE TELLY . . .
Camels & whale sharks
Watch on as camels race one another while being ridden by remote control ‘jockeys’, and whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) swim in waters near oil platforms in a behind-the-scenes look at the Arabian peninsula.
- Wild Arabia (Sunday at 8pm, one hour, BBC4).
Mancs in Mumbai
Culture shock: Absolutely India charts three TV brothers as they trace their roots in Mumbai
When the three Thomas brothers — Ryan, Adam and Scott, from Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Love Island respectively — swap the North of England for Mumbai to trace their roots, they are in for many culture shocks. Accompanied by their droll father Dougie, this week they find their inner Zen, while Scott has a hair styling session involving flames.
- Absolutely India (Wednesday at 8pm, 30 minutes, ITV).
Inside North Korea
As rumours circulate about the health of Kim Jong-un, find out more about his secretive nation with this Michael Palin documentary.
- Michael Palin In North Korea (Thursday at 9pm, two hours, Channel 5).
. . . ON THE RADIO
Desert island survival
When William Golding wrote Lord Of The Flies, his classic tale of boys surviving alone on a Pacific Ocean island after a plane crash, it was initially rejected by publishers for being ‘rubbish and dull’. Luckily one disagreed!
Enjoy this first part of an excellent BBC adaptation that will run over several days.
- Lord Of The Flies (Tuesday at 6pm, 30 minutes, BBC Radio 4 Extra).
Hiking in Ireland
Listen to Jane Clarke’s exploration of remote valleys in County Wicklow, Ireland
Travel along the Miners’ Way, exploring remote valleys in County Wicklow, Ireland, in the company of Jane Clarke, who has written poetry to complement the gorgeous landscape.
She also interviews locals about old mining ways and how life has changed over the years.
- The Miners’ Way (tomorrow at 4.30pm, 30 minutes, BBC Radio 4).
AND DREAM TRIPS . . .
Anyone for crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches and baking hot sunshine? Save 40 per cent on a six-night, post-travel restrictions, half-board stay at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas — now from £7,070 for two. This includes lunch in its underwater restaurant, a manta ray snorkelling trip and a stargazing experience (kihavah-maldives.anantara.com).
French spa treat
Imagine being on a seven-night spa break at the Evian Resort Hotel Ermitage on the peaceful banks of Lake Geneva in the French Alps — and then book it, if you like. The post-restrictions B&B price is from £942 pp, 20 per cent off — flights are extra (hotelermitage-evian.com).