lovepinksmalleriamsterdamIf you were to ask me which city in the world has my heart, it would be Amsterdam. What started as a travel adventure aged 20, turned into a full blown love affair with the city as I didn’t return home for nearly 10 years.

When I think of Amsterdam I think of beautiful streets lined with glorious canal houses, faithful bicycles and well loved boats. I think of buzzing shopping streets, quiet hidden gardens, beautiful galleries and back street restaurants waiting to be discovered.

So when I was asked whether I would like to join London City Airport in promoting their #NoFilter Amsterdam I said, I sure do! The campaign is to show Amsterdam at it’s most authentic through photography, without the use of filters, instagram or smartphones. Luckily, when I visit a place there is only one type of camera in my hand, my trusty Samsung NX1100. I like to capture the place and my time there in the best way possible and for me this is always through a real camera lens.

The last time I visited Amsterdam was back in the Spring of 2014 when visiting old friends. I was reminded of the things I love the most about the city and I’m sharing them with you so that, in the hope you ever get to visit Amsterdam, you can make it a memorable trip too! I’m also sharing some tips on taking your own #NoFilter photography for your next trip wherever that may be.

1. Cycling – I couldn’t talk to you about why I love Amsterdam and not mention cycling. A fundamental way of life in Amsterdam, the people of Amsterdam travel everywhere by bike, in all kinds of weather! Travellling the city by bike gives you freedom, the whole city is yours for exploring. Hop on a bike and you will be able to navigate the city quickly and take in the sights along the way. Oh and it is so much fun!


Amsterdam tip: Rent a bike and head off on your own, unknown adventure. Be spontaneous, see what gems you stumble across, that is the best part! Oh and maybe take a map, just in case ;)

#NoFilter tip: Wear your camera around your neck so you are always ready to capture the shot. See something fun in front of you, snap away. I love this photo that I took while cycling (yes I can cycle with one hand!!) of my friends up ahead.

2. Creative Amsterdam – I don’t know what it is about the Dutch but they do creativity so well! In Amsterdam, there is always a pop up art exhibitions or market taking place in the city for inspiration. You can’t walk down the street without stumbling across a new little shop featuring up and coming design talent. I can honestly say I could never get bored walking the streets of Amsterdam.


Amsterdam tip: Head for one of the cities many markets, galleries or The Negen Straatjes (nine streets) as they are known in Amsterdam for creative inspiration, you will not be disappointed!

#Nofilter tip: Don’t wait for people to get out of the shot. To gain a real feel for the city, capture the real people who live there too! I loved this girls work and wanted to capture it in a photograph but I love the photo even more for having the artist in the picture too!

3. Park life – The Vondelpark is at the heart of Amsterdam life. If the weather is dry you can guarentee people will be heading to the park with their friends and family for picnics, kick abouts, a cycle or perhaps one of the many cultural events or markets that happen in the park every week.


Amsterdam tip: If you’ve had enough of the hussle and bussle of the city, head to the Vondelpark, stretch out on the grass and watch the world go by. Amsterdam is one of the best places in the world for people watching! The Westerpark (in the west of Amsterdam) is also a great place for a stroll and a drink in the hip, Pacificparc.

#Nofilter tip: Capture moments that you feel are typical for the country you are visiting, that way you can build a real feel for the country through your images. This is one of the things I love most about The Vondelpark and the Dutch people. They head out to the park, stick up a marquee and some bunting and celebrate their birthday, it never fails to make me smile!

4. Eating out – Eating out in Amsterdam is wonderful, there are so many fantastic little backstreet restaurants that you will always be spoilt for choice. As a resident of the city I was always hearing about a new place that opened or cycling past a restaurant I hadn’t seen before and adding it to my ‘must visit’ list. I miss being able to just pop into town for a quick pizza at Il Pacioccone with my friends.


Amsterdam tip: There are so many amazing restaurants in Amsterdam you will be spoilt for choice. Depending on the type of person you are when you travel, either do some research on Trip Advisor to make sure you find the best Italian or just wing it – you will seldom be disappointed, the Dutch do food very well.

#NoFilter tip: For great travel photography, take pictures of the moment. You may not think it a worthy subject at the time but it will be great for looking back at your trip and recreating that feeling. This pizza at Il Paccione was a very worthy subject and it most certaintly recreates the feeling of hunger…. drool….

I hope you do get to visit Amsterdam and that it captures your heart like it did mine all those years ago!

This is my entry into the #NoFilter Amsterdam competition, my photos will be judged by Duncan Rhodes from The Urban Travel Blog.

inspirationpinksunset-smalldreamer-quoteHow often do you allow yourself to dream? Like really dream big?

Perhaps you are a little like me. As I’ve grown older, become a mum, taken on more responsibility I’ve almost stopped allowing myself to dream. My day to day life demands I be realistic, so my wildest dreams have to form an orderly queue at the back of my mind, behind what we are going to have for dinner and whether Littlelish’s school uniform is clean.

And yet they are still in there, my beautiful dreams…

I dream of an ocean front house in California. Waking up to the soft sound of the sea lapping at the shore and spending time collecting shell treasures washed up on the sand with my daughter. While she was at school I’d take time in my studio to paint, inspired by the phenomenal beauty around me. We would finish the day as a family on the veranda watching the sky turn orange and purple as the sun bids us farewell for another day.

I’ve heard it said that California is a place where dreamers end up, perhaps I’m just being called home.


The golden state captured my heart 6 years ago, before the birth of my daughter. I took 2 months off to travel from LA up to the most northern point of California. It was the best summer of my life.

I experienced the beautiful sunset beaches of Monterey, the mighty Yosemite national park, the majestic redwood forests, the hip art galleries of downtown LA. I even managed to actually get lost on the lost coast. I travelled every road I could discovering the wonders and secrets of California and still I probably only barely scratched the surface. The beauty and variety of the landscape is awe-inspiring, there is a greatness that makes you feel incredibly alive and energised.




But is isn’t only the beauty of the place, the sunshine, the blue skies, the palm trees… California has a soul that is almost tangible and truly infectious and it can be found in the people too. I met such wonderful, inspirational friends out there, each one with real creativity and passion. They were so alive, so very free and it was contagious. My mind was opened, I felt inspired, I started dreaming big, mainly of ways I could return to this amazing place.


This week I’ve been inspired once again to dream as I’ve been chosen to be part of Visit California’s #dreambigawards campaign. The question is if the sky was the limit and I was really dreaming big, what would be MY unique Californian dream?

Of course this time I’d share the amazing adventure with my family. I’d be excited for them to be awe-inspired in the same way I was all those years ago. Perhaps we would explore in a campervan. I’d show Littlelish the wonder of the ancient sequoias and we’d blow our minds at the weird and wonderful Joshua tree. We’d certainly take a trip to Seaworld to see the dolphins and The San Diego zoo for my little animal lover.

But after all of that, to finish off a wonderful trip, my dream big California dream would be to throw a huge hippy beach party! Everyone would be invited including all the beautiful Californian dreamers we meet along our travels!

In the words of one of my favourite authors Jack Kerouac



Follow ♥ Lish Concepts ♥’s board Lish ♥ California Dreaming #dreambigawards on Pinterest.

text-california-dreamI’m entering my dream into a competition to win a trip of a lifetime to California for me and my family with the #dreambigawards.

What are your dreams, you haven’t forgotten have you?

Image sources: http://www.homebunch.comhttp://www.500px.comhttp://www.tumblr.comhttp://www.freehdw.comhttp://www.pinterest.com

Image source: Mark Tisdale, Fine Art America

When visiting a city for the first time, it’s common to head to the popular places that appear in all of the guide books. After all, if you’ve never been there before, how are you to know where else to go? As a local, however, you will know of all the other places that are away from the tourist traps, and often, these are the places to find as visitors, too.

Dublin is one of the thriving, bustling cities that are big hits with tourists from all over the world, and any local Dubliner will tell you that what tourists do during their stay in the Irish capital, aren’t necessarily the best things to do. Stay at one of the Travelodges in Dublin and take heed of some of these recommendations, from people in the know.

• Temple Bar is a hotbed for tourists during the evenings; it’s not where the locals go for a good night out. You may find that it’s overhyped, and overpriced. There are still plenty of good bars in the city centre though, or you could take a stroll to Wexford Street, about 10 minutes out of town.

Image source: The Temple Bar pub

 • During the day, a visit to Temple Bar is recommended – there are some cultural spots, such as the Irish Film Institute, that are well worth popping by.

• If you want a day on the beach – albeit a blustery one – Portmarnock, just north of Dublin, is where to go. If you’re planning on staying around the city centre though, St. Stephen’s Green is an ideal spot for a little outdoorsy fun and relaxation.

Image source:

• Dublin is packed with excellent restaurants, ranging from the Michelin-starred numbers, such as Chapter One, Patrick Gilbaud and L’Ecrivain, to the more affordable, including Matt the Thresher and The Winding Stairs.

Image source: Winding Stair

 There are popular places, such as the Guinness Storehouse, that, despite the onslaught of tourists, are still recommended by the locals.

If you plan your weekend to incorporate some tourist faves, and some local alternatives, and you can have the best of both worlds.


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