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Amsterdam

I spent the Easter weekend in Amsterdam with friends and we were lucky to have some glorious weather! I have visited this Dutch city a few times now, but this is the first time I’ve had chance to relax and really wander around the streets that line the canals. An early morning run on Easter Sunday was lovely, as there was very little hustle and bustle at 8:30am, meaning I got chance to take some photos with the city looking peaceful.

Amsterdam Canals

To counteract the exercise, we ate a lot of delicious food! My favourite meals out on the trip are included below. We also had a delicious lamb roast home cooked by the friends I was staying with on Easter Sunday, accompanied by plenty of desserts!

Clockwise from left:

Greenwoods for breakfast.

By Lima goats cheese, tomato and walnut sandwich (in Haarlem).

This breakfast from Bakers & Roasters is in my top 3 of all time, and is certainly somewhere I will be going back to if I get the chance.

Winkel 43,  famous for apple pie! I went there twice during our visit!

I spent a few hours in Haarlem, which is a few minutes away on the train. There are shops, cafes and some lovely little streets to wander around, making for a nice location for a day trip if you want to leave Amsterdam for a few hours.

Haarlem

I finally wanted to mention is the fun brand Tony’s Chocolonely. This brand is committed to producing 100% slave free chocolate, which believe it or not, is an anomaly in the chocolate world. Their flagship store is conveniently a stones throw from my friends apartment in Amsterdam so I stopped by a couple of times to pick up treats to bring home from my visit. I have had this chocolate a few times, and it is now stocked in some shops in the UK, including Sainsbury’s, which is great news! There are now lots of flavours to choose from, from simple milk to dark pretzel toffee. My new favourite is caramel shortbread. There are free samples of all flavours in the shop, to help you decide what to buy!

Tony's Chocolonely

Thaxted Art

I love creating illustrations based on places, and working on this Thaxted project was no exception. This historic and beautiful village is in Essex, and is home to many quaint and beautiful buildings. I supply Gifted, a gorgeous gift shop in the heart of the village, and after a conversation at a recent trade fair I was asked to create an illustration that we could apply to a number of products. Their outlet features in the bottom left of the design below, and is currently a lovely red colour as per the image!

Thaxted is known for Morris Dancing festivals so of course some dancers had to feature on the design, as did Dick Turpin’s Cottage, the house that Gustav Holst lived in for a number of years in the 1900s and well as John Webb’s windmill, that can be found just outside of the village.

I have included a number of images of the products below. Get in touch if you would like to discuss a project for your location!

 

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Chicago – Four Days in the Windy City

I got back from my summer holiday just over two weeks ago. It was a mixture of full on sightseeing in Chicago, followed by three of the genuinely most relaxing days of my life. These were spent on Cape Cod, and then three more days in Boston. My friend and I had both been harbouring a desire to visit one of America’s largest cities for some time, and I am so glad we did.

We stayed in a hotel overlooking Millennium park, home to ‘The Bean’ (formally known as Cloud Gate). The park is in the east of the city and is right next to the shores of Lake Michigan. This was an excellent base point as it was right near to the loop train. This made it easy to access any area of the city that we wanted to visit. We did a lot of walking on our first day, which included The 606 – a 2.7 mile trail designed for walkers and cyclists alike. It is elevated from traffic and gives a lovely view out across the neighbourhood. It is similar to the Highline in New York, which I wrote about here. 

The Bean

The Bean Chicago

Chicago From Above

We rounded off the day with a trip up the 108 storey building Willis Tower. The viewing area which is open to the public is on the 103rd floor, but a super quick lift means you get there in no time at all. It is the second tallest building in the USA, and offers incredible views across the city. The landscape is so flat and you can see for miles and miles. We went just before sunset. It was great to see the city lighting up as the sun went down, and it was the perfect end to the day.

The view from Willis Tower

Andersonville

One area that I would recommend to anybody to visit whilst in Chicago is Andersonville. This district in the north of the city (nearest Metro stop is Berwyn) is an old Swedish settlement. There are plenty of places to shop, eat and drink. We had lunch at Hopleaf, a bar with a Belgian inspired menu and plenty of beers on offer. There was a delightful stationery store and framers called Four Sided where we both bought ourselves some souvenirs.

Hopleaf

We spent the next couple of days wandering the Old Town, watching fireworks at Navy Pier (Wednesday’s and Saturday’s in summer) and eating lots of food. The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra played in Millennium Park one clear warm evening, which was a lovely unexpected treat.

Jazz in Millennium Park

The highlight of Chicago for me was the architecture boat cruise which is run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. A docent volunteer leads the tour and our guide was incredibly knowledgable. We opted for a twilight cruise so by the time the hour and a half was up, it was dark and the tall buildings lit up the sky. The particular tour is listed in the top 10 on TripAdvisor in the whole of the USA!

More Places to Dine..

No visit to Chicago is apparently complete without sampling a deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s was our pizzeria of choice and it didn’t disappoint. A simple margarita with a pepperoni topping was delicious and I wish we’d had time for more!

Other food highlights included a waffle breakfast at Eleven City Diner on Wabash Avenue and the liquid chocolate drink at Goddess and the Baker which has three locations across the city, including Wabash Ave.

Goddess and the Baker cake and biscuits. My friend bought the birthday one despite her birthday being in March.Apparently it was tasty! 

Goddess and the Baker

Eleven City Diner.

The view from Willis Tower

Thank you Chicago (and my friend), for a wonderful 4 days in ‘the windy city’.