I travelled to Boston for the first time in April and was lucky enough to have a full day to wander around the city after I had finished work. The sky was bright blue and I walked almost ten miles taking in the sights, capturing little glimpses of green.
This week, here in the UK, 6 Music have been celebrating New York with a series of brilliant programmes and playlists. Until I visited last year, I hadn't been to NYC for over 20 years. In fact I could hardly say I'd been there at all as that first trip was only a fleeting 24 hours in which all we really did was rush up to the top of the Empire State Building and rather than feeling in awe of the city, we simply felt giddy about being so far away from home unsupervised. But then I found myself booked to go back to help to organise an event.
The first trip over was a 48 hour whirlwind recce. We landed late on the Monday night and at 5am on Tuesday morning I lay wide awake in my hotel room one block away from Central Park. What else to do but get up and walk? I decided I would head to Radio City Hall and zig-zagged across the blocks, round the side of the park and straight down Broadway. I stood and stared up at the vertical signs feeling excited and disorientated with commuters around me, my wide eyes giving me away as a jet-lagged tourist. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped for coffee and a bagel and then took a detour past Carnegie Hall, which I've wanted to see since listening to Ryan Adams' beautiful album of the night he played there. The city had me hooked.
We returned a few weeks after the recce to deliver the event and threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the city. I found myself feeling completely intoxicated by its creativity, energy and movement. It's clearer than London with wider streets. You can see it more easily, have more perspective. There's noise and madness but I also found so many quiet, creative corners.
When I first went to New York, all those years ago, to see the Empire State building and nothing else, I was on my way to spend a summer working in the Rocky Mountains. I met an American guy who made me a mix-tape. It included New York State Of Mind by Billy Joel and one lyric resonated more than the rest, "Been high in the Rockies, under the evergreens." On this trip to NYC, a group of us went to a brilliant piano bar in Greenwich Village one night. At 2am after one too many glasses of red, I paid twenty bucks for the pianist to play the song. The waitress stepped out from behind the bar. leant casually against the piano and belted out the words like a Broadway star. One lyric resonated more than the rest, "I don't have any reasons, I left them all behind... I'm in a New York state of mind." It's a moment I'll remember all my life. What a town.
This week I took myself away for a short but sweet writing retreat. I'm working on the second draft of a novel for 8 - 12 year olds and after having the first draft professionally critiqued last year I've been struggling to find time to dedicate to writing. Four days in wonderful Copenhagen helped me to focus. It's such a beautiful city and it was great to feel like an international student writing in cafes and restaurants. I really recommend the following lovely places to write...
I was lucky enough to be working in New York last month. What a town! I had no idea how much I would love it. One of the places we visited was the Ace Hotel. I had read it was a place where writers, film makers and artists go for meetings and to work on their projects and sure enough the lobby was full of creative types chattering around MacBooks. I loved the feel of the hotel and all the little details in everything. It made me feel really inspired.
I have travelled a fair amount in my life, for events that I have worked on and in the name of wanderlust. These days I find more and more that home is the best place to be but I hope this is just a phase and that I'll soon recapture the urge to explore. In the meantime, I have various things around my home that remind me of the far flung places I have been. This blanket is from magnificent Jaipur. Every single day it reminds me of the magic of the city and how it was an absolute assault on the senses in the best possible way. It takes me back to the tiny shop where the shop owners pulled out practically every blanket in the place trying to sell them to us. So wherever you go, buy a little reminder if you can, it doesn't have to be big, just a trinket that takes you back there and reminds you of the wonders of this beautiful world. And maybe this comfort blanket will spark just a little wanderlust in me and you.
I first discovered Frannerd via a Comic Book Day hashtag on Twitter. It was early in my illustration journey and I feel like her style really opened my eyes to a way of drawing I hadn't realised existed before. Telling stories with pictures but in a more grown up way. Fran is from Chile but has been living in Berlin, London and Hastings for the last few years. She creates absolutely beautiful YouTube videos following her journey, talking about what it's like to be freelance and giving an insight into her illustration and processes.
Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy her latest video. It may send you on a journey of your own.
It's not often these days that a television programme really absorbs me and makes me stop what I am doing but The Chronicles of Nadiya on BBC1 was a rare exception. If you can catch it on iPlayer or download it, do. Such warmth and a family full of love.