Travel Sketchbooks

Seems an age ago now that we set off for Switzerland in our trusty T4 camper van.
We had three weeks, first we had to get to Switzerland and then we were going to drive to the South of France. On route we changed our minds and headed to Italy, which was the best decision.
After late night driving through France we arrived in Lausanne. a bit of respite from the camper van staying in a friends flat near to Morges, only a short walk from the beach.

I never knew that Switzerland could be so hot.
The atmosphere is super laid back here. In the guide books it says that Laussanne is the San Franscico of Switzerland which might be a bit far fetched, I can kind of see what they’re getting at as there are some trendy creative types .
Anyway after soaking up some rays on the beach near Morges we headed into Lausanne Old town. Here is a drawing of the old town from high up next to Notre Dame Cathedral, a stunning building full of Macabre carvings and sculptures.

After a couple of days in Lausanne we headed to Verbier which is high in the mountains, (the air feels so clean and the light is so pure photo’s I’ve taken almost look 3D).
The T4 doggedly climbed the steep hills and hairpin bends and we camped just behind a primary school. Here is a drawing of another boiling hot day at Verbier “public” swimming pool, which has a sauna, jacuzzi, outside pool, infinity pool, bar and restaurant. It’s great to people watch here, it’s a whole different dynamic to the one I’m used to in the East End of London.

The primary school is starting back this morning so we need to leave. We’ve changed our plans and decide to head to Italy instead of France, the lure of the Italian coast and food.
We’re going to head for PortoFino, an old fishing port made famous by the Hollywood stars ( including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) that visited it in the sixties and seventies. It now has a Chanel, Hermes and an art gallery selling Impressionist paintings with names I recognised, but alas no price tag. A coke will set you back 3.5 € here and that’s in the mini mart not the chi chi restaurants, next to which in the harbour are power boats almost bigger than the harbour, there was a gold one that must have had a crew of about twenty. Anyway despite the huge presence cast by the playthings of the mega rich it still holds some of it’s old charm and after having a swim in the harbour with some of the glitterati we climbed high to view the “village” from above. On the way to a small public beach (where little taxi boats can ferry you to snorkel and have lunch)

we found a tiny cafe where I drew this super Macho Italian, chewing the fat with his mates in his blue speedos, check out his huge chest rug.

After Portofino we drove down more tiny, bending, super steep roads and after a bit more off piste camping ended up in a campsite in Rapallo which was handily near to the best Pizza I’ve ever tasted. From here you can get to Santa Margherita and Portofino, this coast is incredibly glamorous, if you’re rich you don’t smile which sets a bit of a precedent for a lot of people, as everybody wants to be rich.
After chilling out in a campsite for four days, and eating mostly foccaccia crackers and ice cream it feels like it’s time to move, and after reading some travel blogs (as we only took guide books for France) The Cinque Terre keeps cropping up as an area not to be missed, so we decide to head there. It’s a national park and area of outstanding beauty with a protected marine area and lots of walks so we pack up and head off.
We arrive at Deiva Marina intending to use the campsite, but as the bit of the campsite for camper vans is basically a car park we decide to explore and find a car park for camper vans up the road which is free, result.
From here we can jump on the train and explore the whole Cinque Terre area and it is amazingly beautiful, it knocks the spots off Portofino, rugged cliffs out of which erupt tiny towns and villages bursting with tall colourful houses and cobbled streets cascading into the sea.
Each town has it’s own identity and food, don’t go to Manorola and expect to find something you saw in Riomaggiore, chances are only that one person made and/or sold it. ...
You have to buy a pass to enter  the Cinque Terre trails  and whilst walking along the cliffs you can descend staircases cut out of the rock to swim in magical coves that feel powerful, remote and dangerous even though you’re never really that far from the next village or town.

The coastline is protected and the fish you can see when you’re snorkeling are incredible, there were quite a few jellyfish and had to swim out a long way to avoid them. There must have been a storm out at sea, and sure enough the next day it blew in. On our last day on the beach at Deiva Marina, the waves were huge, very few people braved the water. The weather must be changing the guys on the beach who were selling sunglasses and sarongs are now selling puffa jackets, jeans and umbrellas….
The van is packed, after a last cappuccino we start the long drive back to Callais.

See more drawings from my trip at