Front row tickets to museums, galleries and more

Virtual tours. Copyright The Royal Collection Trust

If, like me, you enjoy snooping around great country houses, museums and galleries then social distancing needn’t stop us from exploring. Isn’t it true that as one door closes, another opens? While UK attractions are currently closed to the public many are opening their virtual doors. Now is the perfect time to take a personal tour of some of the best collections from the comfort of your armchair. Here’s a few of my top picks this week.

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Review: Andy Warhol at Tate Modern

Marilyn Diptych 1962 Acrylic on canvas support (each): 2054 x 1448 x 20 mm. © 2020 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

Andy Warhol (1928 to 1987) was the son of immigrants, a shy gay man who became a leading figure in the visual art movement otherwise. He was born in 1928 as Andrew Warhola to working class parents from present day Slovakia. In 1949 he moved from Pittsburgh to New York. Initially working as a successful commercial illustrator, his skill at transforming the imagery of American culture soon developed as ground-breaking pop art.

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Recycling: are repeat travel experiences worth it?

Everyone seems to have a bucket travel list. Instagram is populated with hero images that aim to make us green with envy. You know the ones where it appears someone is teetering alone on a mountain edge, admiring the panoramic view. Or standing by the ocean on a vast deserted beach. The more exotic and off-the-beaten-track the destination, the more authentic and life-changing the experience. New and remote locations are the only ones worth seeking out, right?

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Sweet memories are made of this

Just rocking up at the airport gets my heart racing with excitement. I’ve been that way since my first flight as a child (to Dublin, and on to Galway Bay, thanks for asking). When we entered cloud, I thought the engine was on fire!

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Bye bye 2019: the highlights

It seems like only yesterday since the Millennium but another decade ends and 2020 begins. The past ten years have taken me from a long career in public relations to writing for publication in my third act. I’ve joined a new demographic (age really is just a number!). Like most people, there have been ups and a few downs. I’ve learned a lot and it’s true that retaining your curiosity is the foundation to a life well lived, including health and happiness.

Summer opening at Buckingham Palace
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Abbeys and cathedrals: intrigue, love and hubris

I’m not a church-goer although regular Sunday services were a part of my upbringing. I don’t know if it’s that familiarity between heritage churches and childhood, but I love the feeling of peace and contemplation in the soaring spires, graceful arches and supporting buttresses of these historic buildings. The stories of the people who built them and those who worshipped, remain in the exquisite architecture and dramatic frescoes. The very stones are imbued with history and all its attendant intrigue, love, ambition and power.

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A life of contemplation: Abbey of Santi Nazaro and Celso

The Benedictine Abbey of Santi Nazaro and Celso was founded in 1040. It was also a fortification hence the disproportionate watch tower.

It seems like every town and city in the Piemonte region of north west Italy features a magnificent historical building, or two. If, like me, you appreciate classical architecture, incredible gardens and exquisite frescoes this should be on your list of places to visit. This part of Italy is so different from the sunny climes further south and it has a distinctly Gothic atmosphere.

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