Lockdown Travelling

Sketches and watercolours from travels around the world for a time when no-one is going anywhere. We can only dream

Sketches and watercolours from travels around the world for a time when no-one is going anywhere. We can only dream


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Lockdown Travelling

Andy Fairburn

Andy Fairburn

Travelling has always been part of my life. Firstly as a

student with a rucksack then latterly as a

businessman with briefcase and, of course, on family

holidays to off-the-beaten track destinations

(always). Travelling leaves me wide-eyed in wonder

of people, places and things. I’m fortunate to have

travelled to many countries and have always tried to

sketch when away.

Acapulco, Mexico

If you are lucky enough to visit Acapulco, the thing

one usually tries to do, is to go and watch the cliff

divers. On our last day, we spent most of the

afternoon in a restaurant downtown drinking

Margaritas. Opposite the cafe, was the bus depot

with its constant churn of activity. We never made it

to the cliff divers.

Helsinki, Finland

The trams in Helsinki each provide a microcosm of

Finland in their warm, snug interiors. Old women

dressed in huge fur coats, school children in brightly

coloured ski-wear, business people with scarves and

woolly hats. And all speaking a language that is

completely incomprehensible.

Gare, Vizzavona, Corsica

The Gare in Vizzavona is a tiny house beside which is

a single track that sees the Corte to Ajaccio train

pass twice a day. In Victorian times, Vizzavona used

to be a spa-magnet for rich Europeans seeking the

fresh alpine-like airs of the Corsican mountains. For

us, it was a welcome day of rest from a 180km hike

across the island.

Skagen, Denmark

The wind whips off the North Sea and although the

sun is shining brightly in the clear blue sky, it’s fresh

and cold. The beaches in Jutland run for miles,

backed by high dunes and punctuated by houses

that proudly fly the Danish flag. Watching the

windsurfers dance on the waves, we huddle down to

picnic in the dunes, protected from the wind to eat

our Smørrebrød.

Helsinki, Finland

Snow blankets the streets of Helsinki and the

temperature drops to -28degC. Beneath multiple

layers, I watched in astonishment as life continues as

normal. Children merrily make their way to school,

the trains and buses hum through the freshly cleared

streets. It’s light at 10.00 and it will be dark again by


Puffins, Iceland

On the cliff-face above Akureyn, a colony of puffins had

made their home. These clumsy, awkward birds were a

delight to watch as they battled against the swirling winds

that circled and buffeted around the rock face. By some

miracle they managed to make landings on the small

outcrops of rock that they each guarded fiercely against

one another.

Refuge, Corsica

The GR20 is known as Europe’s most difficult hike and

runs right across and along the mountainous spine of

Corsica. The hike normally takes around two weeks in

14 stages with each stage ending in a ‘refuge’, usually

a contrivance of broken down buildings and


Kotor, Montenegro

In Kotor, the tourism industry was just starting to get

going. Enclosed by mountains on three sides, it’s

harbour was filled with expensive yachts from Croatia

and further afield. Away from the waterfront bars, we

walked through the old medieval town stopping to

practise our newly found greeting to the locals,

sitting on wooden chairs in open doorways. ‘Dobre

Dan’ we said. ‘Dobre’ they replied.

Essaouira, Morocco

Take the most vivid of blues and the whitest of whites

and throw in some splashes of orange and red and

green and you have Essaouria, it’s main souk a riot of

colour, noise and aromas. We found the fish market

and after long negotiation, managed to buy five

steaks of fresh shark carved straight out of the huge

fish in the centre of the marble slab in front of us.

Elena, Corsica

As the wind got up, the mist started to descend and

the temperature began to fall. At the refuge high in

the mountains, Elena drank her tea and began to add

additional layers to protect herself from the cold and

damp. The final touch was the waterproof which she

zipped up to her nose so only her eyes remained


Bergen, Norway

The gateway to the Fjords is picture-perfect Norway.

It’s tiny streets and wooden house wind around the

harbour and into the foothills of the mountains. In the

centre of Bergen, we found the Opera cafe, one of

the most beautiful and expensive cafes in Norway.

Cavelossim, Goa

India is so magical, so chaotic, beautiful and

frustrating in every way and it never fails to surprise

you. After spending a day on the beach we walked

back through the trees, down a small track, to join

up with the main road. Halfway down the track was

an enormous church, painted bright yellow.

Reykjavik, Iceland

When most of the country is covered in ice and snow

for half of the year, it makes perfect sense to paint

your buildings anything other than white. How about

bright pink? Even on the coldest and wettest of days,

a bright pink cafe in the centre of Reykjavik is a

welcome sight and and open invitation to step inside.

Lucca, Italy

For what seemed like hours, we drove through the

darkness following only the automated directions of

our rented satnav. At one point driving through

someone’s backyard, we obediently took every left

and right turn as instructed. The children were

becoming restless and I admit to becoming a little

concerned. Would we ever find this place? This tiny

house, high in the hills above Lucca?

Vilnius, Lithuania

We walked through the old medieval streets of

Vilnius, stretching our legs after a day of meetings.

The cobbled streets wound up and down, opening

occasionally to reveal grand buildings often painted

in bright colours. The sky grew dark and it suddenly

to began to rain heavily. Next to a large pink building

was a student bar called ‘Spunka’ which sold

Lithuanian craft beer.

Detail, Vilnius, Lithuania

A church sits at the end of wide thoroughfare, lined

on each side with open air cafes beneath broad trees

that run in parallel and down to the square. Next to

the church is a beautiful tower.

Syracuse, Sicily

The weather was so hot that we decided we would

eat outside one evening, in the tiled square in front

of our house. Employing the help of all the children,

we managed to carry the old wooden dining table

out of the front door and set it up beneath a

streetlight. We ate homemade pasta that night,

drank Vino Rosso and watched the shooting stars.

Copenhagen, Denmark

In the centre of Copenhagen, there is a lovely restaurant

and cocktail bar called Brønnum. It’s where Hans Christian

Andersen used to go for a quick tipple before knocking off

one of his stories. Inside, its quite easy to imagine what it

must have been like for him, sitting by an open fire,

smoking a long pipe and talking with his fellow writers.

Oslo, Norway

It’s easy to forget that Scandinavia does actually enjoy

good weather in the summer. When the days are warm and

the sun is still high even at 10.00pm, it’s wonderful to walk

through this compact city centre and watch the bars and

cafes fill with life. If you can afford it, it’s really a lovely way

to while away a summers evening.

Manhattan, New York

What I didn’t fully appreciate, is that people actually

live in Manhattan. Beneath and alongside the

towering skyscrapers there are schools and

playgrounds and apartment blocks with people

living normal lives. We walked through Chinatown

and towards SoHo and watched people going to

work, taking the dog for a walk, playing with the

children, hanging the washing out and shopping in

the tiny shops on street corners.

Tallinn, Estonia

When I first visited Tallinn 20years ago, it was a

medieval town throwing off the yoke of decades of

Soviet rule. The streets had open markets selling

handmade shawls and blankets. Today Tallinn is at

the heart of modern Estonia where digitalisation has

moved daily life online. It is an exciting, innovative

and modern city. But the skyline over the old town

remains the same.

Benitses, Corfu

Our friends rented a house in Benitses and invited us to stay.

In the morning I would walk down from the house and into

the centre of the town. The shops were not yet open and the

restaurants were serving coffee to the few tourists that were

up and about. Behind the Main Street, was a tiny street with

narrow houses and at the end, a bakers selling freshly made



Urban sketching has always been an interest and a

love of mine but lockdown has forced us all to stay at

home. Bereft of inspiration, I asked Hilary one day

what she thought I should sketch. ‘Draw a parrot’ she


Riga, Latvia

Weirdly, I now have many friends in Riga, made

exclusively through business connections. One bright

morning, we walked through the commercial centre

of Riga to our first business meeting with a client who

would then become a good and supportive friend.

Opposite, his office was a grand building, the walls

surrounding its windows painted a vivid light blue.


Sketching a place or a scene is so much more

immersive than just taking a photograph. The very

act of sitting down to sketch something, means you

become totally absorbed in your surroundings and in

the occasion.

The process can take less than a minute or a hour or

so but you see the details you would otherwise miss;

the colours, the shadows and the way the light

catches in reflections.

And then, years later, when you look at your sketch

again, you are there, back in the moment.

Thank you

My sincere thanks to Nicky Newberry and the

cornerHOUSE for this opportunity. I hope we all

have the chance to travel again very soon.

Andy Fairburn


Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!