Thursday, 3 August 2017

Trip to Sweden

Hello lovely readers, and welcome back!  Well it's looking like summer has been and gone again, I wonder if we'll get any more warm, sunny days before the year is out?  In June I and the fella went on a trip to Uppsala in Sweden; we'd packed plenty of warm clothes since Scandinavian countries have a reputation for being cold but as it turned out it was much warmer than expected.  Here's some photos and details of our stay in the land of meatballs and Ikea (we did see an Ikea from a train window, but no sign of meatballs during our stay).


Day 1: Uppsala Cathedral and Botanic Gardens

On the first day of our visit we swung by Uppsala Cathedral (Domkyrka), where scientist Carl Von Linne and Gustav Vasa (Gustav I of Sweden) are buried.  The interior was very richly decorated with lots of gilt, sculpture and painted patterns.

Uppsala Cathedral
Carl Von Linne's grave

We then made our way to the Botanic Gardens, which house over 10,000 species of plants and which as an orangery and tropical greenhouse.  It was gorgeous to take a stroll through, sit on a park bench overlooking a lake and let the world go by.  I also had fun spotting the local plant and bird life.

View from Uppsala Castle to Botanic Gardens

Uppsala Botanic Gardens

Uppsala Botanic Gardens

Birdlife of Sweden - I believe this may be a Fieldfare






Day 2: Old Uppsala

On the second day of our trip we caught a bus a short while north of the city and found ourselves in Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), the site of several burial mounds and boat graves.  They had an impressive museum on the site which showed some of the best finds and gave a background in local history and Norse mythology.  The remains in the burial mounds had been cremated so there was frustratingly little that could be determined as to who was buried there, though there are several theories (including that they were ancient kings, or the graves of important noblewomen).

Burial mounds

We then headed to Odinsborg for refreshment, a restaurant famed for its horns of mead.  We also popped in Gamla Uppsala Church.

Odinsborg ceramic stove
Odinsborg collection of kettles

Gamla Uppsala Church


Day 3: Linne Museum

 For our third day's activities we headed to the Linne Museum, dedicated to Swedish scientist Carl Von Linne, who was a famed botanist and developed the sexual system of classification as well as binomial nomenclature i.e. the scientific way of naming species usually using latin names (homo erectus for humans, for example).  The Museum was his home where he lived with his wife and five children,  Adjoining the house was his garden, restored to be similar to what it was like while he was living there.  It even contained his favorite plant which he had named after him : Linnaea borealis.

Statue of Carl Von Linne

Linne Garden

A marsh-like flower bed in the Linne Garden


We then made a pit stop at Cafe Linne where I made sure to try a slice of famous Swedish Princess Torte - which apparently is often served up as a birthday cake!  I had fancied trying ever since I saw it on Great British bake Off.  You can find their recipe for it here.


Cafe Linne


Day 4: Uppsala Castle

On day 4 we decided to have a look around Uppsala Castle (Slott), which was built by Gstav Vasa in the 1550s.  It burned down in 1702 but in the years that followed was rebuilt and took on its present form.  It was possible to look around the old ruined parts of the castle where there were still scraps of floor tiles and wall decorations to look at, which formed part of what was once a very ornate castle.



We then had a chilled out stroll through the green spaces of Uppsala, stopping by the urban garden (Stadstradgarden).

Lake in the urban garden

In the afternoon we called by Ofvandahl's bakery-cafe (konditori) for a cup of coffee and a pastry.  Apparently it's quite the institution and is endorsed by none other than the king!

Pastries and coffee at Ofvandahl's
An impressive selection of cakes - the whole green one is the aforementioned Princess Torte
Cakes, pastries and sandwiches at Ofvandahl's
Pastries


Day 5: Stockholm

We couldn't miss seeing the capital while we were in the country, so on the morning of our fifth day we caught the train over to Stockholm for a flying visit to see the sights.  We walked by loads of impressive buildings as we made our way along the waterfront from Stockholm Central Station to Djurgarden (the capital is made up of a series of interconnected islands).

Building in Stockholm

Building in Stockholm

Situated on Djurgarden is the Vasa Museum, dedicated to a warship called The Vasa: a disaster of engineering that sank barely after leaving port in 1628 and which was raised from the deep in 1961.  The bottom of the ship was built far too narrow, meaning that the ship couldn't roll without tipping over and didn't have enough ballast to make it stable.  A real shame given that the ship was richly carved and painted, it also took several members of its crew to the bottom of the deep with it.

The warship Vasa

Stockholm waterfront

We then made one last stop by a sweetshop so my fella could pick some treats up for his kids.

Stockholm sweetshop window
Stockholm sweetshop window

We then had another day in Uppsala, where we mostly took it easy and went to visit the Museum Gustavianum, which contained an amazing 17th century art cabinet as well as an early autopsy theatre.  Unfortunately it was a little too dark in there to take decent photos without the camera flash on.  We also went to see the Carolina Rediviva, which is the university library usually housing a fine selection of texts and manuscripts (that section was closed on our visit due to restoration works being carried out) and the Upplands Museum which houses collections and displays relating to the history and folk culture of Uppsala.  In general we were very impressed by the quality of the museums on offer, the collections were well displayed and always very informative.

Then finally it was time to catch our last train back to the airport and a flight home!  We had such a lovely time and would love to go back for another holiday, perhaps in the capital this time so we can see some more of the sights there.  We were glad to be in Uppsala though as it was a little off the tourist track and just a lovely, green and peaceful city to wander through.  And as it houses Sweden's oldest university (Uppsala University, founded in 1477) it was a hotbed of learning and education resources.  I don't think I've ever seen a city of the same size so densely packed with museums!

Next time I'll share with you some photos of an (attempted) hike up to Jacob's Ladder in The Peak District.  Things went a little awry, but I'll tell you more about it then!

Thanks for reading, until next time!

Emma

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bring The Paint 2017: International Street Art Festival

Greetings lovely readers!  I hope you are well and thank you as always for visiting my blog.

Yesterday was a hugely exciting day as my hometown of Leicester hosted Bring The Paint 2017, an international street art festival.  There were a number of sites around the city where creative activity was taking place, with huge sections of buildings in the city being adorned by participating artists such as Smug, Leigh 'Mono' Drummond and Said Kinos.  The work and talent on display was truly breathtaking, and there were also other treats to enjoy such as skateboarding and BMX displays, music events, children's workshops as well as food and drink stalls.  It all added up to a great atmosphere with Leicester locals coming out in force to enjoy art and music in the sunshine.  The artwork should be up for some time to come so if you're ever up East Midlands ways, you can't do worse than to pop into Leicester and spend an afternoon wandering the city seeing how many pictures you can spot!  I didn't manage to find all of them myself, so will be making some repeat visits up town to track down the rest.  Until then, here's the ones I did manage to find!

Mural and graffiti in the LCB Depot courtyard

Mural on the side of the LCB Depot

Murals on hoardings around The Curve

Murals on hoardings around The Curve

Murals on hoardings around The Curve

Murals on hoardings on Queen Street

Murals on hoardings on Queen Street

Murals on hoardings on Queen Street

Murals on hoardings on Queen Street

Murals on hoardings on Queen Street
Inside Leicester Print Workshop

Inside Leicester Print Workshop

 We also took the opportunity to stick our heads into Leicester Print Workshop, who were hosting their annual exhibition of woodblock prints.  There was a huge diversity of work and so many exquisitely detailed pictures.  I was excited to learn that you can do letterpress, lithography, screen printing and etching at the studio - what a fabulous creative resource to have right on your doorstep!


Wave mural on The Sound House


Graffiti on Morledge Street

Graffiti on Morledge Street

Mural near Morledge Street

Graffiti and mural near Morledge Street

Graffiti and mural near Morledge Street


Mural near Rutland Street

Mural near Rutland Street

Mural near Rutland Street


As you can imagine, for myself as an illustrator I found it hugely exciting for the visual arts to be celebrated on such a monumental scale, especially at the current time when students are encouraged to study STEM subjects and arts education in general is being devalued.  Arts and cultural events are of massive importance to the enjoyment and well being of society and I hope that there will be many more events like Bring The Paint in future.

 Thanks for reading and have a great Bank Holiday tomorrow!

Best wishes,

Emma

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Exploring North Leicester

Hello all, long time no blog!  Hope all my lovely readers are in good spirits and that 2017 is treating you well so far.  I'm thrilled to bits to be back at my keyboard typing away, there's been a lot of upheaval in my life since my last post (including parting ways with my last partner, moving out of the home we shared and starting a new job) so posts stopped for a period while I got myself together again and started putting affairs in order.  There's been a fair bit of tumult but the job I'm in is going well at the moment and I'm happy in a new relationship, so I'm feeling in a better position than I was a couple of years ago.  I'm currently working as Administration and Finance Officer for an arts education charity called Pedestrian, so I'm still involved with creative activity but since I'm working there four days a week (and then learning to drive one day a week) illustration work has taken something of a back seat.

My new fella is from out of town (he hails from Manchester) and is down visiting this week, so I have decided to show him some of the sights of Leicester as well as treating him to a spa day.  Yesterday I took him to the north side of the city to see Abbey Park, Abbey Pumping Station, Belgrave Hall and Gardens as well as Belgrave Road (The Golden Mile). 

I took my trusty DSLR along for the trip, with a couple of new lenses to play with: a telephoto zoom and a wide angle.  There were plenty of opportunities to put them to use, starting right at the beginning of our jaunt when we spotted this Heron at Abbey Park!  Sadly it looks like I didn't manage to get him in focus properly but it was still a fab sighting.


Heron on the bank of the River Soar, Abbey Park

Keepers House, Abbey Park

Statue of Cardinal Wolsey outside the Cafe Pavilion, Abbey Park

Bridge outside the Cafe Pavilion, Abbey Park

Coot chicks, Abbey Park

Canada Geese, Abbey Park

Canada Geese, Abbey Park

Goldfinch, canal towpath

Abbey Pumping Station

Beam engine room, Abbey Pumping Station

Original boiler, Abbey Pumping Station

Belgrave Hall




Belgrave Hall Gardens

Belgrave Hall Gardens

Belgrave Hall Gardens

Belgrave Hall Gardens

Belgrave Hall Gardens

Belgrave Hall Gardens

As you can see it was a good day for bird spotting - Coots were out with their chicks, as well as Canada Geese and Goldfinches!  I loved my zoom lens for allowing me to get much closer shots of them than usual.

As always thank you so much for reading, hope to see you next time!