Travel Sketchbooks


Niagara Falls, Ottawa & Newfoundland (Canada)

The surprising part of this trip is that I did very little travel sketching whilst I was away, especially as I spent a week of it with my fellow artist, @thecritterco. However, I spent so much time exploring, soaking in the atmosphere, and genrally having a blooming good time, that no wonder I didn't really have much time to draw.

On my return to the UK, I took the opportunity to get to grips with drawing on my iPad using Procreate and had a lot of fun trying to develop the hand-drawn look using an apple pencil. You can see some of my attempts included here.

A few highlights of the trip included;

*walking around the Niagara Glen Trail - was very pleased that I carted a walking stick with me, even though I'm sure some people do it in flip-flops! Oh...I won a lucky duck and finally got over my fascination with Niagara Falls (however running at 6am on my first day without most of the tourists was a delight)

*a bike trip around Ottawa with Escape Bicycle Tours and then renting a bike to cycle along the canal...bliss

*the amazing light show on the parliament buildings telling the history of Canada. And the tour inside the Houses of Parliament (both free)

*Maman by Louise Bourgeois, the huge spider sculpture outside The National Gallery of Canada and the excellent exhibition called Uninvited, exploring Canadian women artists including Indigenous artisans.

*The Canadian Museum of History where I watched a film called 'Reasons for Hope' by Jane Goodall and wish I had several more hours to explore all the amazing rooms full to the rafters of everything to do with Canadian history...the good, bad & ugly.

*Newfoundland - this was the best bit of my whole trip! From the flight over, being met at the airport in the early hours of the morning by my friend, to journeying around Newfoundland in Sweetpea...Rachel's campervan - all planned by two amazing people, Rachel & Rebecca. We saw whales as the sunset in Twillingate, we splashed on the beach, learnt all about vikings at L'Anse aux Meadows and listened to some traditional music. We ate delicious food...including pancakes courtesy of R&R on the camping stove, chatted, wandered and laughed...girls what a joy! 

*All the people I met, from the girl on the bus who I chatted to for 4 hours whilst travelling from Toronto to Ottawa (and recommended the Parliament light show), the guy from Austrailia who I met on the bike tour and had lunch with, and the guy I sat next to on the plane to St. Johns in NF, who probably just wanted a quiet flight but cheerfully chatted about the wonderful offerings of NF instead. And most importantly, Rachel who I have known for several years now and my new friend, Rebecca, who let me stay in her house in Newfoundland and then accompanied Rachel and I on our adventures around the made the whole trip extra special. 


Budapest (Hungary)

My pre-Christmas trip make a move this year to a post Christmas and New Year trip. Heading to Budapest at the beginning of January resulted in a mixture of beautiful sunshine, pouring rain and a little snow. It was out of season, resulting in the only one on a walking tour around some of the many sites and sounds of the area on both sides of the River Danube, with various bridges connecting the flat Pest side of the city, with the more hilly Buda district. The Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle are both grand buildings, with the former captured within my travel sketching. My tour guide even took me inside Szent István Bazilika (captured the domed roof in my mini sketchbook), Fisherman's Bastion where St. Matthew's quirky tiled roof makes quite the statement (also captured in sketchbook). Then pointed in the direction of some tasty Goulash (Gulyás) at a traditional eatery on the Buda side and finished the day at Strudel House, where you can watch artisans make the pastry, before tucking in on the Pest side.

On a particularly rotten weather day, I made a trip to one of the thermal spas which Budapest is famous for. The Gellert Thermal Spa has several of its pools inside intrically tiled interiors; from lovely warm offerings to freezing cold (brrrr)and everything in between. This was a surprise part to my trip, as my walking tour got moved, but I'm so pleased I had the oppotunity to experience this Hungarian pasttime. On my way back to the hotel, I even had a tasty funnel cake...yum. 

In addition, I made it to a couple of exhibitions. One was all the illuminating artworks at The Light Museum. Followed by a variety of rediscovered works (including a few that were found in a cupboard during current renovations) by János Vaszary at the Hungarian National Gallery. Jesuit Garden in Lemburg, 1915, was a beautiful energetic charcoal drawing. Beach Scene, 1934 captured an elegant woman in a cobalt blue playsuit posing on the beach in oil on canvas.

I musn't forget the statue of Columbo and his adorable basset hound, known by the name 'Dog' on the show. 


Nazilli & Īzmir + many more (Turkey)

The creative residency which was supposed to happen two years prior, finally took place and it was well worth the wait. It's amazing to think about all the local and UK based adventures I might never have taken if this opportunity had taken place when it was supposed too. Some things are worth the wait...

The Erasmus+ Creative Residency hosted by Grampus Heritage was based in Nazilli, a town in the west of Turkey. Over 5 weeks, I got the chance to try out several creative activities including cross-stitch (kanaviçe), paper marbling (ecru) and felt-making (both wet and needle felting). I created a series of 9 felt squares inspired by the 'doors of Nazilli', beautiful wrought iron patterns to be seen in the old town. I did some quick sketching in the ancient city of Nysa, by far one of my favourite places to sketch. I also did cultural trips to Buldan (textile village) where I splurged on several peshtamel towels which the town is famous for, made and ate tasty gözleme in Sultanhisar (a filled flatbread) and got to roam around ancient cities including Ephesus and Agora in Īzmir. I drank delicious wine in the bright blue streets of Sirince, realised that I'm heavy handed when it comes to pottery and ate amazing delicacies with interesting locals. I kept an online diary on instagram so check out @graceful_squeegee for more of what I got upto!


Margate & Broadstairs (England)

A year previous to this trip, I had considered visiting Margate, as I had heard good things (kind of a cheaper man's Brighton and home to Turner Contemporary) and thought it would be interesting to visit (especially as UK based travel was being encouraged due to the pandemic). However, I looked up photos of Margate's beaches and realised that it was going to be rammed and wasn't keen to travel all that way when I could stay in Scotland and experience quieter beaches. That year (2021), I decided to visit Kirkcudbright and Auchencairn. However, the thought of visiting Margate didn't disappear and so one quite blustery week in May, I travelled south for a few days to this delightful, if slightly dilapidated coastal town. Margate is certainly a town of two halves, showing off an impressive old town and contemporary gallery to one end and slightly more rundown seaside fare to the other. The walk along the beach to Broadstairs was a real highlight, capped off by the most scrumptious cake and copious cups of tea at a cute cafe bar whilst the heavens opened. I stayed in a top-floor apartment with amazing views across the sea where I watched the sun go down whilst eating fish and chips. And on my way home, via London, popped to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow to see a splendid array of printed fabrics by Althea McNish. 


Lisbon, Sintra, Belém (Portugal)

Having spent two years travelling closer to home, I took my first trip abroad post pandemic to the beautiful country of Portugal. What a glorious place - beautiful views, friendly people and great experiences to be had. Within hours of arriving in Lisbon, I was on a walking tour wandering with a local and a bunch of other happy tourists through backstreets and alleyways sipping on the tastiest Vino Verde (green wine). I just loved all the peeling paint, patterned tiles, pokey doors and greenery found in these old streets. The energy and atmosphere made me super happy I'd chosen this as my first overseas destination in a couple of years. On day two I was painting traditional tiles with @_art.of.azulejos, and I was super happy with the result! A trip to Sintra provided the opportunity to take in the sites of Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena), in addition to travelling to the most westerly point of mainland Europe and eating seafood in a cute restaurant by the seaside. I also made sure to take in plenty of galleries including visits to Gulbenkian Museum, Museum Nacional do Azulejo (Tile Museum) and Museu De Arte Popular where there was an exhibition on the history of baskets (the best bit was on how they intended to keep basket weaving alive and sustainable for future generations). In Belém I also visited the Castle and Monastery. What an exceptional trip! 


Auchencairn & Kirkcudbright (Scotland)

I had thought about going to Margate, but quickly changed my mind when I saw how busy the beaches would be! Instead, a friend suggested the artists' town of Kirkcudbright as close to the 'coast' and full to brimming with things I might like. 

I ended up staying in a village called Auchencairn at a Vegan B&B hosted by the sweetest lady who cooked the most amazing breakfasts. Probably the first time I've ever had chia seeds! In Kirkcudbright itself, I was the lone tourist on an 'Art Tour', which took in many great sites and interesting facts. The guide took me into people's back gardens to show me the exact views from famous artists' such as Peploe. When she found out my interests, we even knocked on the doors of people she thought I would like to speak too! Including one of the organisers of the art week in the town. An exhibition at the gallery on Glasgow Boys and Girls highlighted how important parts of the Scottish Borders was during this time including Cockburnspath, a place I have done several walks from in the past couple of years and one unlike Kirkcudbright that has lost it's artistic temperament of the 19th Century...

"It was here" wrote the art historian, James Caw, "that for a few summers in the early (18)80s nearly every cottage had an artist lodger and easels were to be seen pitched in the gardens or in the square, in the fields close by, or near the little harbour in the rocks below the cluster of white cottages at the cove. At times almost every house in the village sheltered an artist"  


Scottish Borders 

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!


Inverness & Highlands (Scotland)

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.


Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

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! 


Canada (Toronto, Peterborough, Niagara Falls & ...)

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!



Tallinn (Estonia)

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.


Florence (Italy)

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.


Other Travels

A few sketchbook pages from random travels...


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