The Armchair Traveller reveals how to explore the world from home: Join Colin Firth in the French Riviera and pay a virtual visit to the zoo

  • Watch animals play and feed at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, Great Yarmouth      
  • Stream Magic In The Moonlight, which follows Colin Firth in the French Riviera
  • Seek interior inspiration from the Hotel Design At Home podcast

From travelogues to films and even webcams, Neil Simpson reveals how you can still explore the world from your own home during the lockdown.

Spotting the ‘Big Five’ on a longed-for African safari is off-limits at the moment and zoos have shut their gates, so you will need to be creative if you want to get a glimpse of some exotic animals.

Fortunately, some extraordinary creatures can be found closer to home, including at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Great Yarmouth, home to a pair of endangered Sumatran tigers as well as red pandas, snow leopards, gibbons and meerkats.

Getting closer: One of the Sumatran tigers at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Great Yarmouth

During lockdown, keepers at the 18th Century country estate in Norfolk have set up Facebook Live links so you can watch the animals play and feed. Daily events focus on different animals and you can even adopt one for £25 (

Sun-seekers yearning for the French Riviera should stream the sparkling 2014 romcom Magic In The Moonlight, as Hollywood stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone leap into open-top sports cars, cruise along clifftop roads and flit between a series of stunning Cote d’Azur houses. Scenes on sunny terraces and in candlelit gardens remind us why the South of France remains such a glamorous destination.

If you fancy a stay in St Tropez once the tourism industry reopens, find inspiration at, which has lavish photographs and detailed descriptions of Riviera hotels and hip hideaways, including boltholes, stylish villas, boutique B&Bs and even a royal retreat once owned by a Swedish prince.

Those who can’t wait to experience that ‘just checked-in’ feeling can pick a podcast to help bring the hotel look to their home. Hotel Design At Home is a panel discussion from The Arts Club in London’s Mayfair, where contributors talk about their work in five-star properties from Barbados to Tokyo.

Dozens of Arts Club talks are now available for free, and another travel special is Cultural Heritage: Beyond Monuments, which reveals how tourism could change if it focuses on local people rather than on ‘must-take’ photographs.

Holiday menus will certainly change for readers of Recipes For Edible Alien Species, a ‘cookbook with a message’ from the charity the Cyclades Preservation Fund.

Sun-seekers yearning for the French Riviera should stream the sparkling 2014 romcom Magic In The Moonlight

It explains how ‘alien’ fish from the Indian Ocean swam through the Suez Canal and now fight for supremacy among native species around the Greek islands of Santorini and Zakynthos.

By showing how to cook the new fish, conservationists hope they will be gradually removed, relieving pressure on native species such as tuna, sea bream and swordfish.

And if you’re missing artists and art galleries during lockdown, then try The website’s blog has a new ‘lockdown activities’ section which has links to cultural events and productions streamed from galleries and theatres around the world.

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