Peace For Paris: Why Social Media CAN Make a Difference

60 Postcards is moving towards the Tribute Collective. To find out more or to get involved, please contact: thetributecollective@gmail.com

Feeling overwhelmed by the online world and intrigued to experience life without it, I spent October completely switched off: no Internet, nor a mobile phone. At the time, I appreciated it and was reluctant to log in to anything again. But on Friday night, after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, I felt grateful to be back online and, in particular, to be back on social media, as I realised how powerful it can be; a powerful force for good.

Sickened by the barbaric events in northern Paris, I wondered how I could help in any way. Realistically unable to jump on the next Eurostar to the city, I felt that social media was, and is, the most accessible way to offer support. Yet, I was disheartened and disgusted to find so many disagreeing with that fact.

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Jean Julien’s ‘Peace for Paris’ sketch – now a global symbol

I have witnessed and heard several slammings of the French Tricolour profile picture on Facebook and the sharing of the ‘Peace for Paris’ symbol with some questioning, ‘How does this even help?’

Are you kidding?

Rather than scrolling through feeds of day-to-day dilemmas, trivial moans or vain holiday selfies, instead we are viewing a sea of solidarity; people all over the world joining together, showing support for the City of Love and letting those affected know that we are thinking of them. In my eyes, it is poignant, crucial and comforting in a time of crisis. No, of course it isn’t going to put a stop to acts of terrorism directly. But it is a global act of love, for a city and country shaken up, terrified and grieving. We are offering a virtual hand on the shoulder. We are telling them that we are here, no matter how far away we may be.

Isn’t this the best possible use of our online presence?

I wonder if the people opposed to this example of unity are also opposed to the function of ‘checking in as safe’ or the ability to use the platforms to share information about missing people? I doubt it.

I understand and appreciate that social media provides a space for everyone to share their personal thoughts and opinions, but I felt compelled to write this to remind myself, and others, that we really need to take control of our own networks. WE set up our accounts. WE select who we connect with and who we follow. WE choose what we read or ignore. WE decide if we want to show support by joining in global campaigns like this – for Paris and beyond, of course. WE have the option to unfollow or unfriend the poisonous people who post vitriolic, ignorant, racist statuses. Cut them out – don’t let them have a voice.

Right now is a time where social media should be used positively and for its vast reach. It is not a time for hating. There is enough of that going on.

Out with the selfies and in with the solidarity.

Paris – Je t’aime.

x

 

Dad’s Story: Tower to Tower 2014

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

Last weekend my Dad (along with five great friends) took on the brave and inspiring task of cycling 202 miles from London to Paris for Cancer Research UK, in memory of my wonderful Mum. I knew the journey would be full of stories. Who better to tell the tale of the Tower to Tower Cycle than my Dad himself. Paul – it’s over to you………….

(The Team – Cyclists: Paul Chadwick (Dad), Paul Nation (Nation), Tony Watson (Watto), Tom Nation, Gemma Nation, Adam Clark. Minibus driver: Jan Watson)

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And so, the moment had arrived. On Wednesday evening, Watto picked up the minibus with his wife Jan (who kindly agreed to be the driver) and loaded the bikes. We attended the Rising Sun garden for final arrangements and necessary hydration.

On 5:30am Thursday morning we made our way to Tower Bridge, met Rachael for photos and to collect the postcards and then we set off on our adventure. Two hours later we were somehow still well north of the river and the GPS device (which cost a fortune) was not working!

Finally we made it to Greenwich tunnel and while riding we all had to dodge and swerve to avoid something rather unpleasant on the ground. But, we then emerged the other side to see the splendid Cutty Sark. It was large, bold and striking – steeped in history. It was funny how Gemma missed it. She said it was because she was so focused, but somehow she had definitely not missed what was on the ground on the way through!

It soon became evident that the military style organisational skills of Nation and Watto were manifesting themselves. So many plans, so few conversations. So many ferries, trains and cabins booked which were cancelled then re-booked! I can see it now – ‘Watto and Nation Communication Company extraordinaires!’ We crossed over the M25 and felt we were heading south. Not before, however, Gemma had the first puncture very swiftly reported by Watto.

Then we really started spinning; Adam in his Yellow Jersey, Tom totally relaxed (covering ground effortlessly), Paul going for ‘Downhill Nutter of the Year’. Watto was getting his calves pumped and Gemma was gliding. Oh yes, and then me! To try to speed me up they had leant me Watto’s son Paul’s road bike. That was great – I appreciated that a lot. But, we didn’t quite manage to sort out the pedals in time. Road bike – yes. Pedals – not so much!

We got stuck in and racked up some miles in very hot weather and arrived at a pub for a pit stop. We promptly ordered thirteen pints of lime and soda. Well, they were gone in a very short space of time. I gave the Irish Bar man a postcard before we left.

A strange thing happened after lunch as we came to Lower Addlington. It was fine going down into it but coming out, oh my goodness. This was when we encountered ‘Beat Box Tractor Man’ (BBTM) which was a chav on a huge chunk of a bike with a beat box on board, who over took all of us on the way down. Watto, ready to take him on the ascent, was amazed as BBTM pulled away from him. At the top he was not even out of breath but wanted to join us on our trip to France. I only heard about this. I didn’t meet the guy as I was pushing my bike up the hill at the time. The only consolation for me was that I was catching Watto up (even though he’d managed to stay on his). We made it to the top and, back as a group, we were ready to go again. The next hours were tough as we made our way to Newhaven and it became apparent at this point that we were falling behind schedule.

undertheeiffelWhen we did arrive in Newhaven, Watto and Jan had to head off to Calais to go over in the minibus. We had a ‘Brewers Fayre’ beer and bite after changing at the Supermarket. We were finally on the boat. We had two cabins which we wanted to split fairly. Well, I ended up in one to myself and Paul, Tom, Gemma and Adam were in the other. (Paul has roomed with me before. He knows of my snoring!)

When we disembarked at Dieppe there was sight of the minibus but poor Jan and Tony had not slept at all. They’d had to catch a later ferry than planned. Things go wrong but you have to get on with it (Assembly #1 for next term!). And they were great – no moaning at all.

We were hit with a new sensation of cold damp mist in the air at 04:00am the next morning and off we rode down the impressive Avenue Verte. All six of us were spinning freely. We caught site of another cyclist and there was excitement in the air – on the horizon was a large man on a bike in a Heinz Baked Bean t-shirt! Middle aged, perhaps older than us – what the hell, we were going to take him! At breakfast, after seeing him a couple of times, we gave him a postcard and he had kindly handed us a tenner for sponsorship.

We later arrived at our destination town (can never remember the name of it) and had lunch and beer. We booked into our quirky hotel and all had a sleep before re-convening on the hotel patio for a pizza and a few bottles of Leffe (Watto loved those!). We met a man called Eric who was cycling from the middle of England to the middle of France. We handed him a postcard, naturally!

tourdefranceThe next morning it was off to Paris. It was a long cycle. We met Irish Paddy and Aussie Bruce who were very sociable and joined us for some cycling. We stopped in a town and Jan and Tony met a religious man who was travelling from the Czech Republic to Ireland just with a fold away bike and all of his belongings. We continued on with a few breaks along the way and eventually shared a meal with the whole group.

And so, to the final day. Watto looked the business initially until he put his flip-flops on his back and then he looked like he was going to take off! Paul had planned a route which kept us fairly clear of Paris traffic. The moment when the Eiffel Tower came into view was a significant one for us all. As we were cycling in, Watto and Tom ended up joining a Pelaton around the City of Love and we lost them for a while. But we all came together at the infamous Eiffel Tower. We were delighted that we made it! After a meal nearby we caught a spot to watch the cyclists in the Tour de France, showing us how it was done. What an incredible weekend!

Paul (Chadley Wiggins).

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Congratulations to Dad and the team. What an incredible challenge for a fantastic cause. Mum would be so, so proud.

I spoke to Dad about the postcards on the phone the other day. It really took me back to when I was waiting for my first response. I could hear myself through his words, ‘We haven’t heard from anyone yet, have we? That would really make it – getting a response to a postcard’. I explained that I’d had the same fears, that you have to trust that people will get in touch in their own time. Approximately 30 minutes after that call, I received an email. Two email responses now in plus an anonymous postcard finder donation! MAGIC! Look out for more about those on the 60 Postcards Facebook Page.

Enjoy your weekend, all!

Rachael xx

(It is not too late to donate a pound or two. JustGiving link. Thank you!)

The 60 Postcards Tower to Tower Cycle Challenge!

60 Postcards: Create. Share. Inspire. Bringing you news every Tuesday on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

It brings me a GREAT amount of pleasure and pride to bring this post to you today. I may have put the postcards to one side for a while, but they are making a very big come back soon and there is a very strong link with my original journey (except I didn’t do it quite like this!).

My hero, Mr Paul Chadwick (Dad), has got a team together for a fundraising challenge with a twist. Dad along with Paul, Tony, Tom, Gemma and Adam are taking on the mammoth task of cycling all of the way from London to Paris – Tower Bridge to the Eiffel Tower! The Team will take four days to make their way over there and are hoping to raise as much money as they can for Cancer Research UK.

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They have been training very hard and the date for the ride is fast approaching. They set off from the Tower of London on the Thursday 24th July and head to Newhaven and catch the ferry to Dieppe. Then they follow the Avenue Verte to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, completely their mission on Sunday 27th July. Now cycling fans will recognise that date – it has been chosen for a very special reason. The final stage of the Tour de France is also on that Sunday! The 60 Postcards Tower 2 Tower Cycle team will be finishing when the City of Love is buzzing with more bicycles than ever.

There are six members in the team so this means that they will take ten handwritten postcards each (written by myself) and they will scatter them along the way at times they feel are right! I am already excited at the prospect of gaining more postcard finders!

I was able to interview the gang when I was last at home in Dorset and so I have created a video. It took me a very long time to put this together (mainly because I was laughing my head off at Dad)! Please take a look and share if you can!

You can visit the JustGiving page here. As Gemma has said on the page description, anything is appreciated – even a high-five!

I am so proud of this bunch and I absolutely cannot wait to be there at the finish line to see them in.

Paris really is becoming a place that will be held close to our hearts with two tributes for Mum now linked to the city.

Bon soir mes amis!

Rach xxx

 

Book Reader Tales: Spreading the Magic

If this is your first visit to the site, my guest post for SkyLightRain summarises my 60 Postcards story so far.

Hey guys,

So, it’s a Tuesday and that means it is time for my weekly 60 Postcards update – the first of my new routine (which I introduced to you in my last post).

I am fully aware that I am a broken record and need some new chat (story of my life), BUT, I will say it again – one of my favourite things about writing my book has been hearing from readers.

There are lots of messages that I would love to share (and hopefully will be able to in the future) but here are three special tales from 60 Postcards book readers which involve a splash of magic, a drop of serendipity and a pinch of fate all mixed into each!

SHAKESPEARE & CO SERENDIPITY (KATHERINE)

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“Hi Rachael, You wont believe this but I’m just back late last night from a wonderful trip to Paris and I was dying to bring my boyfriend to a bookshop near Notre Dame I had been to a few years ago with my Mum and Dad “The Shakespeare Book Company“. Low and behold I was able to find it again and there staring at me on one of the first book piles I glanced at was your book. I read the back cover and had to buy it immediately.”

I fell in love with Katherine’s message straight away. The Shakespeare & Co bookshop will always be a very special place to me, as it is where ballet dancing, New York living, Stephanie, found one of my postcards. But the meaning of Katherine discovering my book there became far more powerful when she explained that she also lost her Mum to cancer at the age of 28. The fact that she had been there with her Mum previously was lovely, but no doubt extremely tough.

Katherine said that she could draw parallels with our lives and could especially relate to my take on the reactions of others. I felt an instant connection to Katherine on reading her words – the shared feelings and the serendipity of that book shop leading us to cross paths. Well, email paths at least! Katherine, I know you said that you plan on leaving the book somewhere so please let me know when you do! And thank you for the words that anyone who has lost a loved one should remember forever, ‘Continue to keep their spirit alive‘.

ONE DAY IN PARIS (HAYLEY)

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I absolutely loved the subject title of the email from Hayley, ‘One Day in Paris’. It made me feel as though I was about to read a film script. And when I saw there were photos attached, I couldn’t wait to read on…..

“Hi Rachael, my name is Hayley, I’m Australian but living in London for 3 years now and I am an avid book reader. For me it passes time on the tedious and often hectic tube journey each morning or relaxes me before bed, so I’m always on the look out for new books to read. I came across 60 Postcards in Stylist and downloaded it to my kindle straight away. Not really knowing the background to the book (apart from your article) I set off to read it, a week before I was visiting Paris for the 4th time and just for the day! The things living in London allows us to do!

I finished your book, pulling into Gare du Nord on the 7.22am train from Kings Cross, inspired and ready for a day to explore one of my favourite cities.

I was thinking all day how great it would be to find one of your postcards but didn’t want to leave it to chance so when the opportunity came I thought I’d spread the 60 Postcards word instead. Strolling along Promenade des Berges de la Seine we came across a giant chalk board. People were picking up pieces of chalk that were left out for everyone and writing messages, ones of love, friendship and laughs. People just leaving their mark in this great city. So I thought how fitting but to put 60 Postcards on that wall. I’ve attached the picture along with the bridge plaque. I do hope the weather stays as lovely as it was and 60 Postcards gets to stay on that board, overlooking the Seine where it all started.

I’ve never lost a loved one, the thought terrifies me especially now that I live so far away from my family but your journey gives me inspiration and hope that I too would find the courage you have when/if I’m faced with the inevitable. Congratulations and good luck for the future 60 Postcards projects! Hayley xx” 

Simply amazing – thank you for spreading the word in the city where it all began!

A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP ACROSS THE WORLD (GEM & LAURA)

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When I heard from Gemma (who lives and works in London and is the same age as moi), the first thing that struck me was how much it felt like I was reading an email from someone I had known for years. I loved her jokes about finishing the book on the Megabus and then I was moved to tears when she explained that she was on her way back to London after an impromptu trip home to see her family because of the book.

Gemma shared her experience of losing her Granddad to bowel cancer four years ago and, with it, shared some beautiful insights into how somehow, somewhere – people we have lost are still very much here and a huge part of our worlds.

As book readers will already know, in the first pages I encourage the reader to use a blank postcard as a book mark and to write a message on it when you have finished, leaving it or sending it to someone. Gemma adds, “I am keeping the ripple effect going in my own way. My very best friend now lives in Sydney (sob) and I miss her so so much. Laura and I are two sides of the same coin, since she moved away I feel like I have lost my left arm and I miss her so, so much. She is my soul mate. We speak every day and she is still there for me but it isn’t the same as having her here. Your book touched me so much and I knew as soon as I finished it Laura would feel the same.”

I was thrilled when Laura then messaged me from down under a few weeks later!

“I have just finished reading 60 Postcards in my back garden of Sunny Sydney, and just wanted to tell you how much I loved it! I have lived away from home (UK) for 4 years now and my best friend recently sent me the book along with a beautiful postcard explaining your story. Now that I have finished I have just written my own note on the same postcard and I’m about to go and find a little cafe/ book store to secretly squirrel it in! Fingers crossed the word continues to spread all the way over here in Australia. 

Both girls on opposite sides of the world said that they decided to call their Mum’s (Marilyn and Carol) every day for a week to say, ‘I love you’ on finishing the book which was so lovely to hear.

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And so here are the messages written on the postcard that acted as a book mark for both of them:

“Bezzy,

I want you to read this book and love it as much as I did. I follow Rachael’s blog and she asked, ‘if you had one postcard left in the world, who would you send it to?’ I’d send it to you. Use this as your book mark and then leave it somewhere significant in Sydney and spread #60postcards around the globe. Write your own little message to the finder so they know what this is about…..” 

Dear Finder,

Congratulations, you have just become part of “Team 60 Postcards”! My best friend in the UK who I miss terribly sent me the amazing book 60 Postcards in May 2014 and if you have ever lost someone and want to truly be inspired I encourage you to find the book and read it now! The show must go on! Laura F”

The girls tell me that this postcard has been hidden in a gorgeous little bookshop in Surrey Hills in Sydney. That bookshop holds a special place in the girls hearts as it is, ‘full of second-hand books and literature and memories of our happy times. A perfect home for another worthy recipient to find our postcard.’

So any Aussies based in Sydney who may come across this post – get hunting! I really hope that the postcard is found, whether we hear anything or not.

This has been a longer post than usual but I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of it down. Thank you so much to Katherine, Hayley, Gemma and Laura for sharing their wonderful stories. I feel immensely proud and grateful to have you on Team 60 Postcards.

Do you have a serendipitous story of your own? If so get in touch: 60postcards@gmail.com.

Thanks very much for listening. Speak to you on Friday xxx

Ps There are still spaces for the 60 Postcards (free!) meet up on Weds 11th June. Click here to find out more and sign up :).

Say Bonjour to the Cover of the Book…..

1379282_10151920609570873_1200291066_nTo follow the story from the beginning, click here.

Evening all, or should I say ‘bon soir’ (probably)! Welcome to a mini-post. I won’t be chatting as much as usual tonight (phew).

I arrived at my apartment late afternoon Monday – a cute little one bedroom flat in the 17th arrondissement. It is exactly the kind of place that I was after. I almost feel like I live here now. (Herve, if you read this – you can have your apartment back – promise!). As I unpacked I realised I had everything on my list. Oh – apart from an adapter. Ooops. With a Mac and Phone to charge, not to mention a fringe only kept under control by the power of straighteners, this was a faux pas that needed to be put right quickly. Off I went and stumbled across a nearby pharmacy. Neither of the shop workers spoke a word of English. They found this hilarious. I stuttered and stammered and managed to buy a charger and found myself leaving to them almost chanting ‘Anglais, Anglais’. I wanted to join in but no one wants to be the English girl shouting ‘ENGLISH’. In French.

So the whole speaking French malarkey is not going fantastically well but I am soldiering on and, of course, come day ten of my stay, I hope to see at least a tiny improvement. It’s a confidence thing – most definitely a confidence thing. If you say something with conviction and with a crack at the accent, you will be ok. I had my first moment just yesterday when the waiter didn’t realise I was English for quite some time. Yeh – I know, I think he was being polite too, ha! But I will take that one!

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I have had a very chilled first few days here. I know many people wished me a ‘great time on holiday’ but really – I didn’t come here to spend too much time sightseeing. With Paris just a couple of hours from London, I figure I have plenty of time to come back and explore properly. I plan to see a little bit more every time I visit. I am here this week and some of next to work on the book, between coffee shops and in the apartment I am writing to you from now. I am saving my playtime for this weekend when Caroline (birthday girl) is joining me for a weekend of fun. By this time tomorrow, we plan to be catching up over a vino in a jazz bar in St Germain. I cannot bloody wait!

On Tuesday afternoon, I received an email from publisher, Briony.  The content of which was quite the surprise. It was the design for the cover – already! I could tell from the subject and attachment so took a deep breath and opened it up, filled with nervous excitement. Well I simply burst out crying, didn’t I.  In a good way – a great way! I just couldn’t believe that I was looking at my book cover. I told you in my last post that it still doesn’t feel quite real. I think this moment definitely made it a little more so. Now I can imagine it on a book shelf. I think Briony and the S&S Team (Anneka is the designer) have done 60 Postcards justice. And more. The colours, the fonts, the photos, the noticeboard concept – I am completely in love with it. I know my Mum would be too. I am grinning with pride and excited to give blog readers an exclusive look, just ahead of it being sent out!

So here is the 60 Postcards Book Cover……………

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What a wonderful thing to see whilst I am out here.

Sending a huge amount of love to my family.

Speak to you soon,

Rachael (insert French accent)

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The Return and My Secret

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To follow the story from the beginning, click here.

Bonjour mes amis. Ça va?

The French dictionary is being dusted off, my beauty of a birthday bridge camera is charging up and I am prepping my stomach for bread and cheese excitedly – it is time for the return. The return to Paris. (Not to be mistaken for The Returned – the harrowing yet wonderfully made French television series, haha!)

It is all a little last-minute as I booked my Eurostar ticket yesterday for MONDAY and I am frantically looking for a place to stay (within budget!) for my ten-day visit!

I can’t wait to go back to the city I have forever been in love with, even though I have been only once. And to think that it was a place that this whole Journey started from – it will now be somewhere I hold even closer to my heart. There are a million and one things that I will always wish that I had done with Mum. Going to Paris with her is undoubtedly one. But the ‘City of Love’ will always remind me of her.

Now what will I get up to…………

Paris To Do List:

Drink more coffee and eat more bread and cheese than I ever thought possible

Go easy on the vin rouge 🙂 (good luck on that one)

Find the most inspirational places in the city to write

Revisit lovely haunts from last year

Visit a hundred more that I never made it to

Put a lock on Love Lock Bridge

Take Project Inspire to France

Create a Paris version of my ’60 Postcards’ photo montage using letters

Talk to a bazillion people about my project – in French if possible (good luck on that one also, ha)

Make some new friends

I may even meet a postcard finder?…….

I feel excited, yet emotional – happy, yet I wish I could take my family with me.

Caroline’s birthday falls whilst I am out there, so she is hoping to join the fun for a couple of days. We can celebrate Parisian style! I have promised Miss Caroline that if she does – she will come out to a postcard treasure hunt and I have a surprise in mind that I am finding incredibly difficult to keep schtum about. Oh don’t worry – I will keep quiet. It will be oh so worth it. So there you go Caroline, the public announcement means this is all 100% certain! ;).

Now, you may be wondering what the blooming heck the second part of this blog title is all about? The return to Paris comes with the return of the cliffhanger.

You see, I have been completely honest with you in my writing – I have made sure of that. But there has been one thing I have been unable to talk about just yet. I have never lied, just never revealed.

I have a secret.

I suggest you pop back at the weekend where all will be out in the open. I just feel more than ever that there is one person in this world I just won’t be able to tell. It’s hurting.

The next post is my most exciting yet. It’s all a little mind blowing. It seems this 60 Postcards journey is affecting my life in ways I never believed possible……….

Until then, au revoir monsieurs and madames!

Rach xxxxx

P.S. Suggestions of Parisian gems are fully welcome – please email me at 60postcards@gmail.com or send me a tweet @60postcards.

P.P.S. I kid you not, as I am writing this I have heard back from Antoinette who owns the magnificent apartment that we stayed in last year. I asked if she had any recommendations for any smaller places in the area. She says that for three nights I can stay in her studio on the very same road as in December! Buzzing!

FREEZE! 60 Postcards – The Story So Far……

FREEZE!

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During the last week, I have found myself explaining 60 Postcards to people for the very first time. It’s tricky, you know? So much has happened since this project began on Mothering Sunday, March 10th, that I am finding it increasingly tough to condense it into a few points! Naturally, I don’t want to miss a moment. It’s time for a recap post, people.

Readers who have experienced the journey from the beginning – this will refresh your memory!

Readers joining now – this will give you a glimpse into what I have been up to!

Me – well, this is going to help me to organise my thoughts, to give me a chance to reminisce and to allow me to direct people asking all about it to a succinct summary of the story so far! Here it goes…..

WHY DID THE PROJECT START?

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February 11th 2012 was the day that I lost my beautiful Mother to cancer. Almost every single person and family on this earth is affected by this despicable disease in some way. I was utterly fed up of the milestones, of the reminders so In December of last year, I decided to try something different. I created a personal project around the date of what would have been my Mum’s 60th Birthday. I wanted to spread the word about her. I started off by thinking that I would leave notes around a city in her memory. I then took it a step further. What if I could ask people to respond to me? I hand wrote 60 postcards with my email address at the bottom asking the finder to get in touch. Now, where did I go?

PARIS

The last gift that my Mum gave to me before she passed away was Eurostar vouchers. I had never been to Paris and had been longing to for years. This would be the chosen city. Off I went with 11 fantastic friends to celebrate, to enjoy and to scatter my words. We filled our time with sight-seeing, food and drink and laughter. Oh and we danced with buskers (as you do). When I returned to my London home, I tried to switch off. Switch off from the thought that I might actually hear from a postcard finder. And then, they started flowing in………..

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Postcard responses….

These ladies sent the first email. I yelped on the London Overground. Not cool. But actually, it was my first response from Paris! Very cool.

Cafe deux Moulins in Montmartre, none other than the Amelié café, was where I had left my first ever postcard. This was Alexandre’s local spot for his coffee and he found it on a table outside!

Ivan, originally from Luxembourg, was browsing for a textbook when he happened upon my handwritten note, sticking out of the shelves.

In a moment of disappointment, realising that I would not make it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Becky, Ellie and Pam saved the day. I bumped into these girls and after reading my message as I walked away, the next I heard from them was an email response with a photo of it at the top!

A bookshop delivers yet again. New York City Ballet dancer, Stephanie, found this one whilst on a visit to see a friend in West Side Story there. She even took it back to NYC with her!

This one came as a shock, a little later than the others. Dan and Helen were running the Paris Marathon and found it in the apartment that we had stayed in!

  • ????? To be revealed…… 

THE BLOG

When I wrote on the postcards, ‘I will document this in a blog’, I don’t think I acknowledged at the time what a gamble that was. I genuinely wondered if the blog would ever start. I was relying a lot on strangers picking up handwritten notes. It really does sound mental now. Even if I had received only one, I would have had to set it up. I owed it to the finder! Luckily for me, not only did I receive the postcard responses, but the stories with them were so special that I felt that I simply had to share the magic. After a 2 hour blogging workshop, I was ready(ish) to let people in on my 60 Postcards project. Family and friends were following and then, after encouragement from friends, I decided to chance it and send an email to Stylist. A lovely mention in an Emerald Street email helped to spread the word and more readers joined me for the journey. It was perfect timing. My next location had been chosen…….

NYC

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Well, as if I was going to stop at Paris!!! Caroline (friend and Paris crew member) and I were thinking of locations for a long weekend away and there was only one place on our minds – NYC! I packed my pants and my postcards and off we went ready to embark on more mayhem and exploring a new city. ‘It’s just like the films’, I thought. A cliché, but it’s the truth. We saw some hot spots and tried some local haunts too and I wasn’t too keen on coming home, as much as I really do love London. By far my most special (and most bonkers) moment was when I was sat in a Theatre watching Paris postcard finder, Stephanie, perform!

Postcard responses……

This email came to me the very night that I left the Postcard on an NJ Transit. Malika had been hanging out with friends in NYC!

Annabella, a student in NYC from Miami, was shopping in her favourite store when she found my Postcard sticking out amongst the stiletto heels.

Now this one, this one blew my mind. Of all the potential postcard finders, the one from the Rockefeller building (Top of the Rock) was none other than, Amelié from PARIS! What! Yes. Woah.

I am yet to crack the code of this one, but someone in Denmark found this postcard at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park and contacted me in Danish. I’m still working this one. Determined to find out more!

  • ?????? To be revealed
  • ?????? To be revealed
  • ?????? To be revealed

PROJECT INSPIRE

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With some help from my readers, Team 60 Postcards, I asked for a little assistance with an idea for an extra challenge for my NYC trip. The chosen idea was Project Inspire! I asked 16 people to hold a sign saying ‘I heart NYC’ and to tell me about someone or something that inspires them. I called on a little help from the family on this one.

I am plotting a return to Paris. I now have unfinished business – Project Inspire needs a trip to France!

WHAT ELSE?

Oh just a few more things I have chatted on about….

BLOG STATS – Then vs Now

March 24th 2013:  FB:  436          TWITTER:   51     EMAIL:   67     VIEWS:    3405

July 30th 2013:        FB: 455+311  TWITTER:   287   EMAIL:   404   VIEWS:    37,254  (176 Comments)  

MY LOSS

It is not just the journey of the postcards that I am talking about on here. It is also my journey of the loss of my Mum. This is a legacy and a gift from my family and I to her. I have not held back at times, telling you exactly how I am feeling or have felt in the grieving process. A process that never ends but is explored and dealt with in ways that are completely different for us all. This was the most difficult part, of course, for me to share. I worried that it may scare some off and perhaps it has. But, the incredible feedback that I have received from you has assured me that I made the right choice. I want to show that it really is ok to talk about these things.

THE END.

Erm, NO. The most exciting thing about 60 Postcards for me is that it doesn’t have an ending. Who knows what will happen next……

To read this story from the very beginning, a very good place to start….click here

Speak to you soon when I really (really) will tell you about that visit to Greenford High school!

It will not be long before I reveal another postcard response! It’s the return of the cliffhangers – wahaha (insert evil sounding laugh!)

Ciao for now Team 60P – thanks for reading and sharing. I ramble on post after post but I struggle to explain just how much this means to me. So much.

Rachael – Postcard enthusiast xx

P.S Don’t forget to email me your photos of you (and friends and family, if you like) holding a postcard and telling me about someone or something that inspires you. Your own Project Inspire! Email: 60postcards@gmail.com.

Twitter: @60postcards

FB: http://www.facebook.com/60postcards

Respect for the Runners

Note: To understand the story from the beginning click here.

Smithy (Charlotte), Gooders (Paul), Simpson (Hannah) and Slapp (Kev) – I salute you. Congratulations for your Marathon running skills on Sunday and to the efforts of all involved in the touching tribute to Boston. Huge amounts of respect for the runners.

I walked home from work the other day and my sweaty, red face told me that perhaps I will leave training for a marathon until a little later in life. Watch this (very long) space. Running is a bit like Marmite, I reckon. Some people really love it and some people really hate it (you know who you are, the I-left-my-kit-at-home crowd). I find running quite therapeutic – whack your headphones in, crank up the tunes and use the time to forget about about the day-to-day.
I say this like I am someone who runs a lot. Erm, not so much. The most running that I have done recently was when I outrageously decided to take on the Vertical Rush challenge with work. If you are wondering what the Vertical Rush challenge is, it’s running up 42 floors of a building (which BY THE WAY is 920 steps). It hurt.
Vertical Rush @ Tower 42

Vertical Rush @ Tower 42

 The problem with running is in the getting started. Some nights after work I should get changed and run home. Or I could get the tube. Well, it would be rude not to use my travel card, would it not?!
I’m currently trying to shake off, what seems to be, a never-ending virus (thus why this is out later than planned). As soon as fitness (kinda) returns, running is on my agenda. Maybe I will go for a run in Central Park in NY? (Hey Caroline – pack your trainers.) I can give one of those running apps a go. I can see it now, the Nike app automatically posts to Facebook., ‘Rachael has run 0.01 miles today’ (due to an injury caused by doing her shoelaces up). Cue the invention of the ‘give it up’ button.
It was on Saturday 6th April that I was sat outside a coffee shop in London Fields when I experienced the first glimmer of sunshine England had seen all year. My phone went off and it was message from some avid runners. Meet Dan & Helen….
EMAIL:
Hi Rachael,
I’ve just found one of your postcards in the apartment we are staying in (near la Fourche metro station) and thought it was a great idea to honour your mother’s memory. I’ve attached a picture of myself and my wife (Helen) picking up our numbers today for the Paris marathon that we are running tomorrow.
Not quite the country that they were expecting....

Not quite the country that they were expecting….

In the picture we have just realised that an error on our entry form means the country we are running for is Albania, we are in fact from Sheffield. Would love to see the blog to see how the project has developed. Best regards,
Dan”
I laughed a lot. Hilarious. The photo was such a nice touch. They did it for Albania.
This postcard was found by Dan and Helen in the very same apartment that the Paris Crew and I had stayed in exactly 4 months before them and it was a beautiful surprise.
This was the couple’s first Marathon and they let me know their fantastic finishing times of 3:10 and 3:56.  Believe it or not, Dan ran this with no training as he had suffered a fracture to his knee just 10 weeks previous. Dan – if you read this, please may you confirm whether you are a) a pro athlete or b) super human. That is ridiculous! (I bet Dan and Helen wouldn’t get the tube.)
You'd never know that this was a pic of a couple at the END of the race!

You’d never know that this was a pic of the couple at the END of the race!

Before I run off (pun totally intended), I just want to say thanks to Emerald Street for featuring my blog in their email newsletter on Tuesday and linking it on their website. The increase in traffic, followers and contact that I have received has been both considerable and wonderful and it has made me even more excited about the future of this blog. There will be no shutting me up.

To readers old and new,
A Friday farewell….

The English Girls & The Eiffel Tower Postcard

Note: To understand the story from the beginning click here.

topofeiffel

My postcard makes it to the top!

EMAIL:

“Rachael,

Here is the photo we took of your postcard at the top of the Eiffel Tower! 🙂 My friends Pam, Ellie and I were all moved by the message on the back of the postcard, and we feel very touched that you asked us to take part in the project. It is such a wonderful idea and we wish you the best of luck with the other 59 postcards 🙂 Hope it all went well and that you had a fantastic time in Paris!

Take care,

Beccy”

So I may not have made it to the top, but my message certainly did. Wow.

I responded to the three girls and did a little digging to find out some more about them. Durham University was where they had all met. They are now living in different parts of the world from each other (Beccy – Germany, Ellie – Spain, Pam – London), so they were using Paris as a catch up break after being apart for five months.

eiffelgirls

Ellie, Beccy and Pam

As you can see from the pic, Ellie is holding a Ukulele! These musical girls decided to form a band last year (Three Octaves Down) and I have been told they even had band t-shirts made. Girls if you read this – I’d quite like one!

I knew I had a good feeling about that moment under the Eiffel Tower. What fantastic people – I really lucked out. The more I think about these responses, the more I realise how much I love it. A piece of card; a piece of card with some words on – that’s all it takes to kick something off. It’s a simple idea and I had nothing to lose, really. Not after the biggest loss I could imagine.

A man called Tim has come across my blog and has kindly commented on it and tweeted several times. He has written a book ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’ and is trying to sell 1000 copies on Amazon for charity. He has decided to send one of his books off on a journey and to blog about it. His last tweet reads: ‘@60postcards loving your blog and I have been inspired to try something similar to help promote my book :)’. I feel so honoured that the idea of scattering words has been used by a fellow tribute-maker.

So I am writing this on a train, again. I haven’t made any new friends this time but probably don’t deserve to – I’ve had my earphones in for ages, forgetting to press play. Idiot. I also just had a chuckle to myself as I was staring out of the window as I remembered something from when I was young…

“Is that the Eiffel Tower?” I used to ask mum. “No pet – that’s a pylon”.

Underneath the Eiffel Tower

Note: To understand the story from the beginning click here.

It’s been aeiffel2 week since I have written anything. It’s been a busy week. A good week yes, but I have to say that I really missed this. I’ve missed it a lot.
At the beginning of my last post I had mentioned my fear of chatting to randoms on a train. Now, to be honest I actually chatted to a lovely girl from Newcastle to Darlington on the way back to Londres! Consider that me eating my words.

This links nicely to my next story; a story of when talking to people you don’t know can be a very positive thing. I hand delivered a postcard. This was the one and only time I spoke to someone, rather than leaving it to be found. We had been frantically writing postcards in a café (as usual) after a stop at the beautiful Arc de Triomphe.

arccarolineme

From the Arc de Triomphe, we walked to Le Tour Eiffel (otherwise known as the Eiffel Tower, suprisingly). Many people had told us that we should book tickets in advance to guarantee getting up there. Great advice. With a not-so-set itinerary we figured we’d gamble it, though. We lost. As we got closer we realised that the queues went on for miles. It wasn’t ideal but the girls with me wandered on, as I scuttered about wondering where I could leave a postcard. I had to leave a postcard.

eiffel1

I was struggling. I wasn’t sure what to do. Angry at myself that I hadn’t thought this through well enough, I started to give up and head to meet the others. As I strolled past three girls together I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth asking for their help. OK, so it wasn’t leaving a postcard on a bench or anything but I had to try, right? They looked very friendly but I was more than ready for them to tell me to get lost – I was a girl on her own, hanging out at the Eiffel Tower with a postcard in my hand – they may think I was nuts, understandably.

When I approached them, I was greeted with warm smiles and I breathed a sigh of relief to find that they were English. My GSCE French was being pushed as it was – trying to explain the postcard would have been tough. I didn’t talk for long – simply told them that if they were going up to the top of the tower, I would like them to take it with them. As I walked away, I looked back to see the girls gathered around and reading the message. It was at this point that I started to choke up. I knew for sure they had read it; that they knew why I was there and what it meant to me.

I found my friends and I told them about what had just happened. I explained how I had a good feeling about this one, about how the connection of handing it to them in person made me feel as though there was more chance of hearing something back.

My instinct was right. The English girls did come back to me….