Covid-19 will be not forgotten in a hurry and it forced me to find inspiration closer to home to continue my travel adventures. At times, having a reason to go on these mini local adventures by recording them in my travel journal was a reason to stay motivated. I even bought a new sketchbook from a local bindery (@butnbenbindery) - best purchase I've made during this time along with the new walking boots!
This year, I was supposed to be taking part in a residency in Turkey. Unfortunately, Covid-19 put an end to that opportunity. Instead, I travelled north to the Highlands and spent a week exploring Inverness and the surrounding area. Not what I had planned in the slightest, but what an amazing opportunity to explore some places slightly closer to my doorstep. Turns out that creative adventures don't need to involve exotic overseas locations to be inspirational sketchbook fillers. To see more of the images from this adventure, check out my Instagram feed.
My annual pre-Christmas trip took me to Amsterdam this year. The reason for choosing this location was that my parents had gifted me a Rijks Museum Guidebook and said 'I must go!'
Surprisingly, the Rijks Museum was not my favourite of the trip. That would have to go to The Hermitage Museum, where there was a fabulous exhibition on Russian Jewels but even better I found a 'new' (to me) artist called Willem Van Genk, the exhibition was definitely my favourite of the entire trip.
Anne Frank's House was a poignant reminder of how horrible the human race can be to one another and a real insight into her life before and during the war. I also managed a trip to the Tulip Museum, Tulip Floating Market, Houseboat Museum, Botanic Gardens, Christmas Market, Stedelijk Museum, Canal Boat Trip, Orchestral Christmas Tunes at Concert Gebouw and Rembrandts' House. I only nearly got run over by a bike a handful of times, however I did get knocked over by a boy running away from a security guard after setting off a fire cracker outside the Rijks Museum. And had some significant bruises to prove it!
In the Spring/Summer of 2018, I had met a girl called Rachel in the Scottish Borders. She owns her own business called The Critter Co. (check her out on Instagram). She invited me to go and stay with her for a few days and do some exploring in her home town, Peterborough. So, I did just that!
As well as exploring Peterborough, I did some more exploring in Toronto (having visited only a few years previous, it was great to go back and do some other touristy things I had missed the first time around). I also made another trip to Niagara Falls (mainly because I was travelling with another friend, but also it gave me a brilliant excuse to see a friend who now lives in Buffalo in the USA). As I had visited here as well, this also gave a chance to see some of the other places and do some of the touristy stuff, I had not done the first time around. This included going on the boat to the falls and getting soaked and visiting Niagara-on-the-lake and doing a little wine tasting!
So the pre-Christmas was truly cemented as an annual tradition in 2018 with a trip to Tallinn. Ever since a semester abroad whilst at University (in Finland), I had fallen in love with this part of the world. I've also made it to Sweden, Norway and Russia, so Estonia seemed like a logical next step. It was FREEZING but what I remember most of all is the beautiful cobbled streets, traditional Christmas markets and fantastic cultural museums and galleries. It even snowed, which made it so picturesque. I made a pact with a student that I would record the experience and she could have the sketchbook when I returned. It felt good to have a purpose to the sketchbook...but I did manage some photographs before handing it over.
Just before Christmas 2017, I decided to go on a trip. I'd never been away just before Christmas before (I have been away over Christmas previously) and thought a city break was just the tonic after a busy semester at work. This was the first time that I took a legitimate sketchbook away with me with the sole intention of recording some of the sites and sounds of my mini adventure. I was really into pen drawings and collage at the time (still am on occasion), so ended up packing a bunch of collage papers - I still wonder to this day what the cleaner thought of the scraps spread throughout the room! It was a magical trip which became a tradition to visit a new city just before Christmas every year.
A few sketchbook pages from random travels...