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Berlin

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!

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

Whitby

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.

Whitby art print

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.

Out of town there are plenty of lovely country pubs to dine in but my top three are  The Forge in Aislaby, The Postgate Inn at Egton and The Ellerby Country Inn.

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.

Whitby gentlemen's shop

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.

Whitby Homewares Whitby tea towel

Whitby Greeting Card

 

 

I am on Spoonflower!

I have always enjoyed designing for fabric, and have collaborated with top fabric companies P&B Textiles and Dashwood Studio in the past. I have decided to join Spoonflower and make some of my designs available for purchase on there. I haven’t worked in collections as such. Instead, I have chosen some of my favourite geometric and conversational prints for you to choose as a one off fabric, or maybe to pair with something else you discover on the site. Take a look at the art I have just made available below, and let me know if you would like see me add a specific design to the collection!

 

Visit my Spoonflower Shop here.

 

spoonflower-conversational

 

Spoonflower - Christmas

 

spoonflower-geometric

To the West Coast of the USA and Back

Back in March, myself and another designer friend booked flights to the west coast of the USA; something we had been talking about doing for a while. Due to our work commitments we could only spare two weeks but decided to pack it full of sightseeing in four American cities. If you follow my artist Facebook page, then you will have already seen a few images from my trip but I thought I’d write a more detailed round up here. We began our trip in Santa Monica then headed south to San Diego, up to San Francisco and then finished up with four nights in Las Vegas.

 

I love architecture, and there were some beautiful and quirky buildings in every place we visited. I just loved the Georgian hotel in Santa Monica, and many buildings were decorated with murals at Venice Beach.

 

santa-monica

 

We travelled to San Diego via the Pacific Surfliner, a train that runs down the coast. It was great to see some more of the Californian coastline, and was an easy and reasonably priced way to get to our next destination. The Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego was my favourite area in the city as it was full of quirky restaurants and fun bars. Florent (pictured below), had tasty sharing plates, and I can also recommend Cafe 21, for some more delicious food, and live entertainment.

 

san-deigo

 

We visited Coronado whilst in San Diego, to see the famous wooden hotel. We also had a little time to pop in to Seaside Papery, a gorgeous shop stocking lots of beautiful stationery, including some by Rifle Paper Co.

 

I have always wanted to visit San Francisco and see some of the famous architecture and visit Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world! Definitely take a jumper if you’re visiting, even in summer, as it can get pretty chilly!

 

san-francisco

 

The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square, some of the most photographed homes in the city.

 

painted-ladies-san-francisco

 

We spent a bit of time in the shops, and I was delighted to find my work on sale in two locations, the first of which was trendy US chain store Paper Source. My first order went in to them at the beginning of the month, and I am thrilled to have my work available to purchase from one of my favourite stationery outlets. Paper Source has stores across the USA including in Santa Monica, San Francisco and New York. On a trip to Sausalito (a town across the Golden Gate Bridge), I spotted my art on postcards, from my collaboration with wooden postcard company Timbergram. It’s still a novelty to see my work on sale in shops, particularly overseas!

 

USA

 

The holiday finished with an adventure in Las Vegas. Highlights included visiting the Grand Canyon, seeing the Bellagio Fountains a number of times and visiting the Mob Museum in downtown LV.

 

I like the USA more and more each time I visit, and I look forward to returning back there sometime soon!

 

 

Art Inspired by my Home Town

I love drawing anything inspired by the seaside and lovely surroundings in which I grew up. I have been working with fabulous local bakers, Botham’s since 2014, creating the last two years designs for their Christmas tea towels. You may remember the image below, which had a winter look on the original tea towel, but I have altered it slightly for an all year round appeal, and it’s now available to purchase on a full colour tea towel.

 

Bothams tea towel_RA Smart

I have also created a colourful Whitby based design for a fine bone china mug, which have just arrived in their stores. Watch this space for the artwork appearing on more of their products soon!

 

Mug_new blue