Get your butt to church.

Some one recently brought to my attention that my love of churches (and cathedrals) is a some what unusual one considering I am NOT religious whatsoever. Not that there is anything wrong with being religious it’s just not who I am. But I do love going into churches. I think they are an amazing source of inspiration. I genuinely think that everyone should stop in at least one church when visiting a new city.

I know there will people reading this being like ugh I’m not going to spend my vacation time walking around to churches. I totally understand that, but hear me out. Churches were the hub of communities for centuries so they can reveal a great deal about the city they are in. Then there is the masterpieces of architecture that most churches are. Plus they often house the most spectacular works of art: in the form of paintings, stained glass and much more. the-original-ecce-homo-st-010Churches were often showcases of the masters and architects of their time. I love that about churches. I mean granted the art work focuses on one subject matter, but the variance in approach and skill is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I mean hey everyone remembers the botched retouch of the fresco. So why not go see the amazing craft presented in these churches before someone else’s grandmother gets a hold of some paint brushes.

Ok so somehow I’ve convinced you to go to church (haha, it is probably best if it’s not a Sunday!), but where do you start? Glad that you ask! I’ve compiled my top 5 favourite churches for you to check out for yourself. So these are in chronological order for me, not most favourite, because that would be too difficult. Also I didn’t want to spend weeks going through photo albums, hard drives and photo folders to find my photographs of these places, so I am using other people’s.

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(Photo © Whitney Curtis)

Cathedral Basilica, St. Louis, MO

This little gem of the Central West End is one that I remember from being a little kid. Like I said I’m not really religious, nor was I raised particularly religiously. This was a beautiful place for a person of any age or religious background. Once you walk through the doors the inside is a warm, glistening gold. Then once you look closer you see that the ceiling is not just gold but a collection of mosaics. These mosaics were completed in 1988 and collectively contain 41.5 million glass pieces and since is covers 83,000 sq ft it is the largest mosaic collection in the world. Which ain’t too bad for a little ol’ church in the middle of Missouri. If you ever get to St. Louis you should go and spend time looking up at all the amazing detail this ceiling has to offer.

 

img_2097Notre Dame, Paris, France

Ok so Notre Dame itself is amazing! BUT my love for this church definitely comes from a little Disney movie that I doubt anyone besides me  has actually seen.The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out when I was 6 and I was obsessed to say the least. For my 7th birthday, my dad made me not one but two Notre Dame themed cakes. One was the shape of the outside, while the second was a stained glass window made of cake and sprinkles. Now that I’m an adult I think way to go Dad that was no easy feat, also come on 2 cakes, sort of adorable overkill. When I finally did get to Paris I made sure to get to get to the Cathedral as soon as I could. Any place with gargoyles and flying buttresses is cool to me. What is a flying buttress? Well it’s the weird arches sticking out of the back of the building that essentially hold up vaulted ceilings. Plus gargoyles, did I mention gargoyles?! This Cathedral is beautiful inside and out.

2634238499_c5c4c2ccac_zGedächtniskirche, Berlin, Germany

The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche is a church in Berlin located in a  big shopping area of Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm. The church was built in the 1890s and was partially destroyed in a bombing raid. A portion of the church still remains, but there is a new church that was built alongside the former portion. The new freestanding tower is a hexagon and built with a bunch of blue glass bricks. The tower is often lit from the inside and shines through out the night. The inside envelopes you in the blue. My favourite bit is the balance between the old and the new that is so evident from the outside.

sacre-coeur-2Sacré-Cœur, Paris, France

Ok for this one you don’t necessarily need to go in side. Of course you can, it is stunning on the inside. But I think the beauty of this church lies on the outside. It sits on the top of the hill of Montmartre which is the highest point of the city. From a distance you can see this beautiful white building sitting above the city. Then once you get to the top of the hill and see all of the intricacies and details of the building it is mesmerising. Then you turn around and you get one of the best views of Paris that you will ever see.

sagrada-familia-dreamstime-1Sagrada Família, Barcelona Spain

This is probably an obvious one. Inside, outside, Gaudí’s creation is a masterpiece. Each facade is a completely different work of art and one that needs to be marveled at. Seriously words can not describe the beauty that is this church. Then you go inside and just wow. The stained glass, the columns, the vaulted ceilings, every millimeter has been painstakingly thought out and created. It is definitely worth the hefty price-tag. Make sure you spring to go up the tower. Here’s my post about Paris and Barcelona.

dsc04649aOk so after this long post I do need to say it’s not all about the churches. I just find them to be the most easily accessible to the public. While I was in Paris I had the opportunity to the Grand Mosque of Paris. It was equally as inspiring and moving as any of the churches that I listed above. The amazing tile/ mosaic work was like nothing I’d seen before.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is that even if you aren’t religious whatsoever (like me) take a minute and look toward a nearby religious centre (especially the old ones). They were the center of communities and have very inspirational architecture and art. Plus it’s a chance for all of us to step away from our computers for a little bit.

 

You’re driving on the wrong side…

Or is is the right side? Who knows. But when my mom came to visit I knew it was time for a little road trip! I rented a car from Sixt (btw they were always super helpful and reasonably priced, so would definitely recommend them). We hopped in the car and drove up to Luss on Loch Lomond. I’d never been to Loch Lomond and I heard that it was beautiful so it was really about time. As we drove up everything was gray, dark and foggy, so I thought uh oh this wasn’t going well. But once we got close the fog had burned off and the sun came out. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t believe the views. We walked around Luss for a while and thought it was time to stop for lunch. I drove us down to Cameron House and we had lunch in the bar. Cameron House is really cute it massive and decorated in lots of tartan and oversized furniture. I really liked it, but of course as expected it is on the expensive side. After lunch we headed across to Stirling so that my mom could see Stirling Castle. I never been there either, but I knew it would be a treat for my mom. The drive to Stirling was quicker than expected and once we arrived the castle was still covered with just a little bit of snow. The castle is really nice and well maintained. I really enjoyed the visit there. I know that my mom did too.

Down to London Town

img_4433Some weekends you just need a get away and this one definitely could not have come at a better time. Except for the whole lack of funds due to being jobless now, but that was a problem for future Kat and I wasn’t worried about that. (I know I’ll find the next big adventure when it comes to jobs and I know I’ll be moving on to something bigger and better). Luckily before then I arranged for a little Anniversary and birthday present; I thought that I would get Col tickets to an Arsenal game. Since we decided to go down for a long weekend the rest of the trip was my present. We flew down and immediately found our cute little Airbnb. The owner was definitely an American living in London with little SNL objects and other jokes that were so American it was great. I felt right at home.

Then the touristing in London began. We went up to Sky Garden and the views were amazing. You can book tickets online for free and you just book with a time slot. There is of course a queue to get up and a bit of security to go through, but it’s maybe 10 minutes to get up to really spectacular views. Once up there are a few cafes and restaurants to choose from. And although they are quite pricey if you take the time to look there is something for every budget. You can’t complain being in an indoor botanical garden high up with amazing views of London.

It was off to the Tate Modern after that. We thought oh well it’s a quick walk over there it won’t be bad. And to be fair the walk to the Tate Modern wasn’t bad at all. What was rough was that the place is HUGE! I mean floors and floors and floors of modern art. You have to cross a bridge and go up and down floors in two different but connected buildings. I’m not complaining, it was incredible, but man were we exhausted.

Saturday was the big game day and to say we were both excited was an understatement. I had never been to a real football game. We found a cute coffee shop near where we were staying called the Shoreditch Grind. There we had a nice little pregame brunch and coffees of course before we headed for Emirates Stadium. Before the game even started I knew it was going to be a good time, because the Stadium is so well designed. There are gates all around the outside with individual letters and you were only allowed to enter into your assigned gate. Then you were ushered up to your individual section. Each section had a few bars and snack stands, as well as a good amount of bathrooms. I mention this because I’ve been in stadiums where you miss have of the show or game due to the fact that you are standing in a queue waiting for something. After a few pints at the bar we headed to our seats. The game itself was well disappointing, but it was an enjoyable time non the less.

The rest of our evening consisted of you guessed it a restaurant called Meat Liquor and well it was a great combination of the best burgers and cocktails I’ve probably ever had. Plus I mean b&w photo booth for the win! Seriously I couldn’t recommend this place enough, go now if you can! The last day of our trip we went to probably my favourite place maybe ever. No I’m not kidding it was amazing! God’s Own Junkyard is Chris Bracey’s amazing collection of neon signs, props and more. The electricity bill on this place must be insane. But you walk inside and it’s incredible. You expect that this much visual stimulation would be too much, it’s a gallery of light and colour and type. I was obsessed. Plus there is a cute little cafe in there that even does vegan sweets so what more could you want. img_4557

All in all London was a great little trip away and as you can tell I was quite the happy camper! I’m still not sure that I could live in London full time, but my next trip there will definitely be sooner rather than later!

Can I get a screen print?!

When you’re working as a digital designer getting messing and physically working with your hands isn’t something that happens regularly. I was really excited when I found a master class in screen printing at a local brewery. When I started with this design it was an intricate set of 3 poppies. Once I got going I forgot how annoying it is to cut a stencil with an Exacto knife (scalpel in the UK). I powered through, with a pint of course and ended up with a nice stencil. The best bit was getting to screen print though. Just getting covered in ink a bit and physically working with a medium was something I missed. I definitely want to get my own screen printing kit soon.

Snowboarding in July?!

When work decides that they need a team day, they figure out a way to do a winter sport in July because why not?! I have never been snowboarding so for me this was a new activity. I was just ecstatic that I didn’t fall. I can’t say that for my pal Jane, but she was doing really well up until that point.

We were taught to go backwards, which is the most frightening thing. Though apparently this is done so that going the other direction is much easier. I DON’T BUY IT. But hey I really had fun and it did make me want to go again. I’m not sure when I will but I like it. Want to snowboard indoors in Glasgow? This is where we went!

Tattoo

I got a tattoo… Ok tattoo number 3. But this one is amazing and I’m obsessed. I worked with the amazing Daniel of Inkdependent Tattoos to design this amazing flower piece. I knew that I wanted peonies and a feminine tattoo. Daniel managed to come up with this and I loved it. After hours and hours with 2 different sessions he finished it.

I love it and I can’t get over the detail that is in this. Below is the finished product that I added once it healed and looks normal. Go to Inkdependent Tattoos if you want a detailed tattoo they are professional, funny and ridiculously talented!

Drawings

I’ve found that some times it’s really hard to want to create something when you are creating and making things all day for work. So I’ve found away to stay motivated. essentially like when people are trying to lose weight they have fitspiration images they look at in. I decided to hang up my drawings on my wall so that I will continue make more. I started with one and it seems to work because I’ve been creating more as time goes on.  I do feel slightly narcissistic staring at my own drawings every day, but it keeps me motivated.
Drawings

Want to see close ups? They aren’t the best drawings in the world, but I’m proud of them and they keep me inspired to create things. So here they are 😀