Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the world’s travel plans causing holidays to be cancelled or indefinitely postponed.
But there is a way you can indulge your wanderlust from the comfort of your home.
Here’s our guide to the best travel-related entertainment to enjoy while in quarantine…
In the footsteps of Sherlock
Thrilling: Conan Doyle was a writer and an adventurer. He loved sailing trips down the Nile (pictured)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle loved to travel — on sailing trips down the Nile, hikes in the Alps, grand tours as far as Australia and many a jaunt back home, too.
In Conan Doyle’s Wide World, Andrew Lycett tells the story of the great writer’s extraordinary wanderings, drawing links between his appetite for travel and his fiction, which Lycett believes benefited from ‘a strong sense of place’, from the first Sherlock Holmes tale onwards.
For some escapism during the coronavirus lockdown, it makes a wonderful read.
Escapism: Conan Doyle’s Wide World makes a ‘wonderful read’
The book starts with Conan Doyle’s upbringing in Edinburgh and his early train rides to boarding school in Preston.
Later, aged 20, while a medical student at Edinburgh University, Sherlock’s inventor joins an Arctic trawler heading for Greenland and recounts his experiences in a captivating piece of his early published writing: ‘A huge seal, sleek, sleepy and imperturbable, looked up with utmost assurance at the ship . . . farther on we saw on the ice the long, human-like prints of a bear. All this with the snowdrops of Scotland still fresh in our glasses in the cabin.’
This formative experience sets him going first to London — captured marvellously as ‘that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained’ in A Study In Scarlet (1887) — and then beyond. Dartmoor becomes the setting for The Hound Of The Baskervilles. And, after Conan Doyle’s trip to Switzerland, Professor James Moriarty famously attempts to murder Sherlock at the Reichenbach Falls in The Final Problem.
Lycett’s intriguing tome lets you travel by proxy, as Conan Doyle’s globetrotting continues into the Middle East, Africa, across North America, through South America and Down Under.
His descriptions are quoted and there is a fine selection of glossy old pictures.
Conan Doyle (1859 to 1930) was a writer and an adventurer — yet even in 1910 he had recognised that the world was shrinking as travel became easier: ‘There had been a time when the world was full of blank spaces, in which a man of imagination might be able to give free scope to his fancy.’
Those days, he saw, were numbered. But step into Conan Doyle’s (and Sherlock’s) travel world and that sense of adventure comes flooding back
- Conan Doyle’s Wide World, by Andrew Lycett (Tauris Parke, £20).
The Lost Pianos of Siberia is ‘a bit peculiar, but that is part of the book’s charm’
To make a journey (and write a book) because you would like to locate an old piano in Siberia on behalf of a Mongolian pianist friend may sound, frankly, bonkers.
Yet travel journalist Sophy Roberts’s decision to do just that opens up a region that few of us are likely to visit (Covid-19 or not), with vivid descriptions of this Russian landscape which stretches from the Ural Mountains in the west, to the Pacific Ocean north of Japan in the east.
Sophy’s oddball quest, described in The Lost Pianos Of Siberia, is driven by her fascination with the determination of former inhabitants to transport such bulky instruments into Siberia, a place so inhospitable that dissidents were banished to Gulag labour camps there in Soviet times.
Roberts’s understanding of Russians’ deep love of piano music, which she says runs through the country ‘like blood’, acts as the framework for her grand adventure from Irkutsk to Sakhalin Island, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk.
Histories (including the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918 at Ekaterinburg), literary references and encounters litter her lively story, with helpful maps and pictures drawing you along.
Yes, it’s all a bit peculiar, but that is part of the book’s charm. Does she find her piano? Wait and see.
- The Lost Pianos of Siberia, by Sophy Roberts (Doubleday, £18.99).
The Pursuit Of Art is a quixotic, illustrated travel book by art critic Martin Gayford
The Pursuit Of Art is a quixotic, illustrated travel book by art critic Martin Gayford about the locations he has visited — and the artists he met along the way — during more than 25 years in his job.
It has a pick-and-mix feel, with chapters on Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu (‘people who love art often become addicted to India’), the French humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (whom Gayford meets in Paris) and little-known Romanian and Icelandic artists.
Gayford travels to Texas to learn about the ‘sublime minimalism’ of Donald Judd, visits Beijing on a trip with the avant-garde artists Gilbert & George, and is charmed by cave paintings in the Dordogne.
- The Pursuit of Art, by Martin Gayford (Thames & Hudson, £16.95).
… AND ON TELLY
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
With narration by actor Bill Nighy, The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys follows Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer on a dramatic loop from Vancouver through the Rockies to Banff.
- The World’s Most Scenic Railway (7pm, Monday, one hour, Channel 5).
Join rugby legend Gareth Edwards and his wife Maureen in a glide along the Monmouth- shire and Brecon Canal, with stop-offs for fly fishing, discov- ering vital ingredients for gin in a hedgerow, and a night out listening to Welsh jazz. Gareth Edwards’ Great Welsh Canal adventure (7.30pm, Tuesday, 30 minutes, BBC Four).
ON THE ROAD WITH DAD
Catch up with comedian Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael, as they travel the globe together. There have been three series so far, which can all be streamed on Netflix. The first covers their ‘gap year’ in South-East Asia, the next takes them across Germany, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey. The third is set in America.
- Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father (netflix).