This Summer I headed up on a bit of a road trip with my family, from Lancashire all the way through Scotland to the very tip top archipelago of Orkney. It was a long and beautiful drive (although only half as long as my parents' who had driven up from Cornwall!) through glens and past lochs, with a stop off in literally the most stereotypically Scottish hotel I could ever imagine (think whiskey on arrival, tartan covered lifts and stag's heads on the walls) and then a jump on the ferry near John O' Groats.
The history of Orkney is so vivid: from crawling into 3000 year old cairn tombs on my hands and knees; jotting down Viking graffiti runes; and learning about its important location in the world wars - you can barely move for historical sites. One of my very favourites was the 5000 year old neolithic village (complete with shelving units!): Skara Brae. I'll write a bit more about Skara Brae in the coming weeks as I'm basing my new illustration for Light Grey Art Lab's 'Tiny Homes' exhibition on the settlement, but I have a few sneak peeks on Instagram.
Orkney is so so full of wildlife, it's pretty unbelievable. In one day I saw more puffins, grey seals, dolphins and even killer whales than I could ever have hoped to see in a zoo (and they looked far happier!). The killer whales in particular made the trip incredible - I won't pretend that I wasn't checking twitter for updates on where they'd been spotted and dragging my family around the islands to track them Twister-style (they all agree it was worth it haha!).
The islands have always been a place of inspiration to artists and creatives (notably Stanley Cursiter from Stromness!), so I made sure that I made the most of my time by grabbing every chance I could to take in the landscape through sketching. You'll always find me with a sketchbook when I travel - a lot of the time I find it gives my memory of the place a bit more sticking power than a quick snap - and I have to say that sitting on the clifftops in the sunshine, with my sketchbook and a big sandwich was pretty heavenly. I won't stay away for long!