At Queensmead, the world is our oyster with our residents regularly exploring far-flung destinations from the comfort of their own armchair. It’s a simple premise but it brings our residents together, sharing recollections of their own trips and experiences and allowing for exploration of places that they have not yet been. After all, there are not many people who have been everywhere and done all that!

Every month there is a different destination, with some repeat visits. Our community joins together to immerse themselves in arts and crafts, music, food and culture of a given country and we share our stories about our visits or why somewhere might have been on our wish list. The stories about why we never got there are often just as interesting as those who made it. This is a very powerful exercise in imagination and memory, where our residents are able to revisit thoughts and moments that they replay in their own minds with the people that they now live with. It helps us to understand more about each other and to appreciate our individual experiences as we reinforce our own feeling of community. With our armchair travel days, our residents have been all over the world, free from Covid restrictions and Visa-completion!

Our recent destinations have jumped the Atlantic and explored the edge of Asia, as well as a well-loved trip to tiptoe through the tulips in the Netherlands.

In April, we took in the Dutch springtime with a trip to Holland – by popular demand. This was a very busy session, with almost all our residents having visited Holland; some more than once. Our residents made windmills and bouquets of tulips and virtually explored Europe’s flattest nation by watching a documentary. There was even a Dutch sing-song! Our residents chatted together about their travels in and around Amsterdam. It was wonderful to hear them revisit tales of all that Amsterdam is famous for, from the Anne Frank Haus to coffee shops and funny stories about the Red Light District. Food is always an important part of our Armchair travel sessions and Holland was no exception. Our residents delighted in the Dutch charcuterie board – full of sausage, cheese and fruit. To complete the day, they enjoyed the cutest chocolate windmills you could ever imagine.

In September, our residents headed to Turkey. This is a brand-new armchair travel destination! For some, they had been to Turkey on holiday but, for many, Turkey and Turkish culture was fresh. Our first activity set the scene. A documentary exploring Istanbul and explaining Turkish customs gave us the background we needed to get stuck into our arts and crafts. While in Turkey, we made our own evil eye (Nazar Boncuk) bracelets. Sustenance came in the form of a mid-afternoon feast of Za’atar bread, Un Kurabiyesi biscuits, big fat, juicy raisins and – what else – Turkish Delight!

Our interactive Turkish trip ended with a belly dancing lesson. Our fabulous belly dancer, Margot, showed us all how belly dancing worked and even taught us some moves that we could follow from our chairs. With a fantastic performance to close the day, our trip to Turkey was enlightening and so very entertaining.

Often, our residents ask us to make return visits and Canada was so popular that we visited once again in October. Many of our residents have been to Canada, with some having been across the Pond more than once. Canada is a destination rich in memories for our residents, with many bringing their own photograph albums to share their memories with each other. Our residents are an intrepid bunch, having explored Toronto, Ontario and Banff among other cities, while others have taken in the Niagara Falls from the air – by helicopter! Canada is world-famous for its natural beauty and wildlife but it’s still surprising the hear from our residents about their Grizzly bear-spotting adventures. With waffles in maple syrup and a quiz to mark the occasion, it’s little wonder that our residents are making a return to Canada via their armchairs.

What makes our armchair travel sessions so special is that they can inspire further conversation and community sharing between residents. Our most recent trip to Canada encouraged our resident, Bill, to explain more about his time in WW2 and tell us about his Canadian crew. He brought his photos and a model airplane he has built and painted to show the group over dinner, with his pilot duck presiding over the meal. It’s wonderful to see memory lane so easy to explore with our armchair travel trips.

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