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.
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
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.
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!
Eleven City Diner.
Thank you Chicago (and my friend), for a wonderful 4 days in ‘the windy city’.
As I wrote in my last blog post, I love collaborating with companies on products that I wouldn’t normally manufacture myself. I was excited to hear from a contact at Comme Des Garcons late last year,with regards to a potential collaboration. Comme Des Garcons is a Japanese fashion label based in Tokyo and Paris. The company was founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1969. The Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is dedicated to her. It features around 140 examples of her work from the early 1980’s to the most recent collections. The exhibition runs until September 4th 2017.
I created two pieces of artwork under the direction of Junya Watanabe. The finished garments are included in the Homme A/W 2017 collection and are on the theme of ‘happy army’.
The company had seen one of my repeat patterns featuring colourful cars, and wanted me to emulate that look for the designs to be used on their garments.
My initial sketches (some seen below), were done in pencil and ink, and mocked up in to repeat.
I went on to redraw my sketches and colour the artwork in a similar way to my car design. The end result is two statement prints that have been applied to high quality shirts for men.
I really enjoyed creating the art for this brief. Designing repeat patterns is what I love to do most. Working with such an iconic fashion brand is certainly one of my career highlights to date, and I look forward to working on more exciting and varied briefs in the future. If you’re an art director and are interested in finding out more about my designs, then head to my design portfolio page and fill in the contact form.
I worked on a freelance project last year with Bounty – an organisation that supports mums through pregnancy to the birth of their children and then to toddler and pre-school. The brief was to create designs for use on changing bags and accessories. Bounty wanted two gender neutral designs. After exploring various concepts the team opted for a 2 colour print design. The simple and contemporary geometric print has been applied to high quality textile products and can be bought from their website now
I love working on freelance briefs for companies who apply my art to products that I am not manufacturing myself. There are some images of the final products below.
I visited Berlin earlier this month for a bit of sightseeing with my boyfriend. This is the third time I have visited the German capital, but the first time I have had chance to properly wander the city. We had two nights and three days there, but would have happily spent another day or two as there is so much to see and do!
Berlin feels pretty big, so we bought daily travel cards and used a lot of public transport to navigate the city. We stayed right near Hauptbahnhof station which was really convenient for getting around. The weather was pretty poor when we first arrived, so after ducking in to a few shops, we emerged from TK Maxx with umbrellas and then headed to the Berlin Fernsehturm (TV Tower) for lunch. On a clear day, the views from the observation deck and restaurant are spectacular. We had partial views due to fog, but the longer we stayed up there, the clearer the sky got! You can just visit the observation deck, but we opted to pre-book a window table for lunch in the restaurant that rotates, giving you a 360 degree view of the city as you dine. Once the sky cleared a bit, colourful houses were revealed, as shown on the image below.
Berlin certainly did not disappoint on the food front. We headed to Markethalle Neun for food on Thursday evening – which is the night for a once weekly gourmet food market. I left full of fresh pasta, cookies and ice cream, and would definitely recommend a visit to anyone in the city on a Thursday! We then went to Mano Cafe, a cosy independent bar nearby. Time your visit right and you might be able to take control of the private little seating area accessed via a step ladder, allowing you to look down across the bar.
Another food highlight for me was brunch at Kauf Dich Gluklich. I first had their cheeseboard back in 2017 when I visited for new year, and I knew that I needed to have it again at some point! For approx 9 euros you get a plate full of cheese, avocado, pineapple and olives, accompanied by delicious bread. I would also recommend Father Carpenter which is located in Berlin’s Mitte district. I had a delicious vegan banana bread with whipped peanut butter and a chia and raspberry jam. Yum!
As animal lovers my boyfriend and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the Berlin Zoo – which is the largest and oldest zoo in Germany! There is also an Aquarium on site, which can be visited if separate tickets are bought and there are insect and reptile houses too.
I had read about Monkey Bar at the Top of the 25Hours hotel so after seeing all of the animals on the ground, we sat with a drink in hand in this tenth floor bar, looking down in to the Monkey houses at the zoo.
We did lots of walking during our stay, stopping by landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag building, as well as the East Side Gallery (pictured below).
We flew home from Tegel airport, which is closer to the city than Schönefeld is (the airport I’ve used previously), and we got a bus there using our travel cards, making it super easy. I hope you have a wonderful time if you’re planning a visit to Berlin in the future!
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.
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.
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!
Wow, it’s almost a year since I last wrote a blog post! Time sure is going quickly, and it has been a busy few months, with lots of travel for work and pleasure. I am loving being based in my hometown of Whitby. It is a fantastic place to come back to, after exploring lots of places both near and far. I read something online about the town this week, and whilst I have been meaning to find the time to blog for a few weeks, this has prompted me to take action.
Country Living Magazine has written an article discussing the results of survey where Whitby has been named the number one spot for a staycation in the UK in 2019! This is great news for the town. I am thrilled that Whitby is getting so much recognition for its quaint charm and beauty. It’s the type of place that has lots to offer both locals and visitors, and I really enjoy spending a weekend in my homeland, enjoying the sights and sounds that are literally right on my doorstep.
My coastal upbringing has been inspiring my artwork since I first launched the business in 2012, and I have included an image of my Whitby print below, which is available to buy on my Etsy shop. I created this piece of art when work was a little quiet a couple of years ago. Designing with no pressure or specific end use in mind felt good and this is one of the pieces of work I am most proud of.
I thought I would share some of my favourite places to eat and drink as well as things to do when in the town; so here we go!
Eat & Drink
Cranberry Swamp – a cafe known for it’s gluten free menu options and is conveniently close to home for me. Bacon and smashed avocado on GF toast? Yes please!
The Whitby Deli – A deli and cafe. They have pizza night on Saturday’s! I am told the scotch eggs are rather tasty. They stock local gin brand Whitby Gin which is well worth a try – cold or mulled, it tastes fantastic.
Moutreys – This Italian restaurant is my favourite place to dine in the town at the moment. The Mac & Cheese is the best I have tasted, but they have a big menu – making it difficult to decide what to eat. The portions are rather large, so work up an appetite before visiting!
Botham’s of Whitby – A family run business that is a bakery and cafe with a few locations in the town and further afield. Their chocolate japs are the best sweet thing I have ever tasted, although a bit like marmite – they divide opinions. Try one for yourself to decide!
Abbey Wharf – An impressive open plan bar and eatery located just off the market square. There is a simple menu focused around fish dishes with some meat and vegetarian options. I always get the battered goats cheese with chips, and a pudding, of course! There are not many places that are better to sit out and have a drink on warm summers day. Although there are plenty of tables on the balcony overlooking the harbour, it’s a popular place to hang out, so keep your eyes peeled for a spare seat!
Whitby Brewery – Take a walk up the 199 steps, feast your eyes on a fantastic view of Whitby and then quench your thirst with a drink from the Whitby Brewery.
There is a bit of a lack of fish and chips mentioned on my list, for a town that is famous for fish & chips. I don’t eat seafood so I can’t honestly recommend any restaurants. Well known eateries specialising in fish include Trenchers, The Magpie and Quayside.
Shopping in Whitby
The Whitby Book Shop – Anybody that follows my work, also probably knows that I love this quirky independent bookshop. They are an incredibly supportive stockist, and sell lots of beautiful gifts amongst rows and rows of books. Take a walk up the spiral staircase to discover more literature, records and greeting cards, and head to the back room on the ground floor if you’re wanting some children’s books or gifts.
An illustration I created for the shop is below, on a greeting card.
Fuzzy Dog Bakery – This shop made news headlines when it opened. Whitby’s very own dog bakery specialises in homemade delicious snacks for your four-legged pets. It is only a couple of doors down from the Whitby Deli, so you can treat yourself afterwards!
Furbellow & Co – This great addition to the town is little over a year old, and specialises in goods for men. There is a barber in-house on select days of the week and it’s wise to book an appointment. The shop is run by really lovely people, which makes it even better.
A Day Out
Whitby has lots of things to do and see. A trip on the open top tour bus provides fabulous views of the town, as does a boat ride out to sea. Short rides leave from the harbour regularly throughout the day. Climb the steps in the lighthouse and be rewarded with a unique view of the town. It has been rather windy the last couple of times I have gone up, but the view from the top makes it worth it!
The East side of the town boasts cobbled streets lined with independent shops, which includes Fortune’s Kippers, a smokehouse that was established over 100 years ago, in 1872. The Captain Cook Museum on Grape Lane makes for an educational visit for children and adults alike. Last but not least is Whitby Abbey, sat on the cliff top. It’s an English Heritage site, and is one of Whitby’s most famous landmarks.
The whale bones on the west cliff stand out when looking across from the east side of town, and it’s a popular spot for a photo. In my opinion though, one of the best things to do in Whitby, is take a walk along the sandy beach, or on the sea wall by the beach huts. The sun goes down towards Sandsend, providing some fantastic sunsets. Listen to the seagulls overhead or the waves lapping up against the rocks whilst taking a stroll.
Staying in Whitby
There is no shortage of places to stay in Whitby. Whether you want a B&B on the west cliff, or to stay in a quaint cottage in the centre of town, there are plenty of options. I have listed a few below.
Lavender Cottage – Set in a quiet courtyard just off Church Street means you are just a stones throw from all of the action. This cottage sleeps up to 4 people, and had been very tastefully decorated.
Horngarth Lodge – Luxury accommodation on Skinner Street. There are 6 ensuite guest rooms as well as a self catering holiday apartment. Book direct to save money.
Air BnB – Whitby, like many places, has a growing number of properties available to book through Air Bnb. I find this site often offers some more quirky options for accommodation in comparison to some of the other larger booking sites.
There are lots of other things that I could mention about Whitby, such as the fact it has a cinema in the Spa Pavillion, there’s a surf school and you can take part in a guided ghost walk, but I will leave it up to you now to take a look at what else this town has to offer by checking out the Discover Yorkshire Coast Website. There are plenty of special weekends and events taking place throughout the year so you can plan your visit around your own interests.
When I first created my Whitby themed artwork I had the intention of only selling it locally. I ended up adding it to my Etsy shop and have been thrilled with how many of the products I have sold on there. It is a heartwarming feeling to know that people are buying a souvenir from this special town, perhaps long after they have left. So many people seem to have an affinity with this seaside resort, that is evolving every day. Below are a few images of the products available to buy on my Etsy shop.
Save 20% on any item featuring this artwork this weekend on my Etsy shop by using the code STAYCATION at the checkout. The offer ends on 23/4/19.