‘Join the Journey’: Girl Guides Scatter 140 Postcards around Europe

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey in Paris and New York, you can read a summary here. For 60 Postcards in Australia – click here

I’m taking a step back from the Aus experience this week, as I would like to share a reader’s story. GirlGuiding leader Katriona, got in touch with me recently about a European adventure she enjoyed along with a group of Girl Guides. I was thrilled to hear that they had taken on a postcard mission as they went and I was flabbergasted when she told me the scope of it: 11 girls, 8 countries, 8 days and 140 postcards were going with them. 140? Crikey. Read the girls’ story, written by Katriona, here….

Join the Journey – The Background

One of the celebrations to mark the centenary of the Senior Section (girls aged 14-25) within GirlGuiding in the UK this year, was the Senior Section Spectacular, Join the Journey. Join the Journey is a jailbreak style trip, which saw the Senior Section groups from across Scotland travel from Edinburgh on the 1st August to meet in Cologne, Germany, on the 6th August for the ‘Catch Us in Cologne’ event. Myself and two other GirlGuiding leaders, Sarah and Ceri, led a group of 11 girls (aged 14-18) on the adventure…

The group with the Viennese policeman they left a postcard with

The group with a Viennese policeman they left a postcard with

140 Postcards

Having read Rachel’s book, “60 postcards”, thanks to chancing upon a review of it online, I urged fellow leader, Sarah, to read it and discussed the potential of doing a similar type of postcard activity during our upcoming trip around Europe. We agreed that it would be a good opportunity and asked all those going in our group to bring ten postcards of their local area with them, as we were coming from many places across Scotland. This gave us a massive 140 postcards! Plenty of scope to leave them in unusual places during trip with that many to choose from!

The Handwritten Message

All the postcards had the same message on them,

“Hello!
Congratulations!  You have found our postcard. We are a group of girl guides from Scotland and are taking part in Join the Journey for Senior Section Spectacular 2016. On this journey we are travelling from Edinburgh, Scotland to Cologne, Germany via 8 countries. Please get in touch with us to let us know who you are & where you found this postcard”

The postcards had our group e-mail address on them so for finders to contact us. We left them throughout our trip where we visited Edinburgh in Scotland, Copenhagen in Denmark, Malmo in Sweden, Krakow in Poland, Budapest in Hungary, Vienna in Austria, Cologne in Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. We left them in many places including airports, train stations, trams, hostels, on mopeds and in public places! We also handed them out to people we met during the trip, which resulted in some wonderful conversations with interesting people (locals, other travellers and also fellow members of the GirlGuiding and Scouting movements).

The Responses

We were only half way through our trip when we received our first response and were delighted when more came in. So far we have had six responses to our postcards:

1. Timon and Daniel (from the Netherlands) – postcard given to them by us in Budapest, as a thank you for taking our group’s photo when we were visiting the local spa. (The spa is a must-visit if you are in Budapest!)

2. Sander (from the Netherlands) – postcard found on a train, travelling through Austria.

3. Sebastien (from Lille) – postcard found in Budapest and Sebastien is leaving the postcard in a new country.

4. Christopher (from Connecticut) – postcard found in Amsterdam.

5. Christian and Sabine (Marseille) – postcard found in Vienna.

6. Marina – postcard found in Vienna.

The Adventure Continues

It was a fantastic experience leaving the postcards during our amazing adventure around Europe but it also was so wonderful to see the joy and intrigue on people’s faces when we gave them a postcard as a thank you. We were all very excited, awaiting people getting in touch with us when they found one. When we were in Heroes Square in Budapest and received our first response from Timon and Daniel, it really built the excitement of the “60 postcard” idea and the girls were keen for others to get in touch too.

The positive response to our “60 postcards” adventure was not only shared by the girls but also their families and friends back home, who were just as excited to hear about who has found our postcards.

Looking to the future I hope that it has inspired the girls to continue the idea on future trips they undertake with family or friends. I know that I am going to do it again at some point over the coming year though maybe not with 140 postcards this time!

Katriona

*****

A huge thanks to Katriona and team for keeping the handwritten postcard project alive and for sharing their story. Girls – please keep in touch to let me know how you’re doing and if any more magic comes from the project. You never know when a response may come!

I will be back to the Aus tales next week.

Happy Tuesday all,

Rachael

What’s Your Story? A Postcard Left in the State Library Victoria

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

Ey up,

Part deux of the Australian postcard tales continue today, with the story of where my first postcard was scattered in Melbourne.

As I rambled about in my previous post, after enduring severe hand-ache with the frantic postcard-writing (as per), I decided to set off to the State Library of Victoria to deliver my first handwritten note.

When I asked a passer-by on the street if I was heading in the right direction, they gave me a warm but slightly strange smile. Weird. Turned out that the grand building was directly behind me, just across the road from where I was stood. “Oh yeh, that looks like it – must be the jet lag” I said, as the shade of my face rose to match that of my BRIGHT RED cardigan. I do love a bit of colour coordination.

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I set off up the stairs to the building (still cringing from my blind moment) and took a look around the library, full of gorgeous reading rooms and…well…a hell of a lot of books (over 2 million, in fact). Despite wandering for a while, I already knew where I was going to leave the postcard – Palmer Hall. A lovely blog reader sent me a message before I set off to tell me about an interactive display there called, ‘What’s Your Story?’ Perfecto.

The display featured videos of different people from Victoria sharing personal stories. Visitors were invited and encouraged to share their own stories, which will all be collected to become a part of the permanent State Collection there.

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Undoubtedly this display was right up my street. It brings it all back around to the power of storytelling – one of my greatest passions, particularly in personal stories. Although they are often very tough to share, I think it is a great way of celebrating the uniqueness of us all while also allowing us to create links, to relate to each other and understand each other better.

I couldn’t resist taking part so grabbed one of the cards and wrote a message under the ‘family’ section with a short message about mum. I snuck it in the pile. Being a tourist and not a fellow Victorian, I doubt my note qualifies for the collection! Still, it felt good to get involved. It was also a good distraction from my main purpose there. It was a decidedly tricky place to be nonchalant and drop a postcard without anyone seeing. I stalled for a while and walked around the exhibition re-reading everything about 100 times. Also did a few too many loops around the little shop which just drew attention to me even more as I was asked, “Can I help you?” by every member of staff which I think was translated as, “What is your problem, why aren’t you buying anything – are you a thief?”

The crowds had died down and there was no one around the story card collection drawers. I seized the moment (definitely out of blogging practice – just had to remind myself how to spell, ‘seized’. Gah). I popped the postcard into the drawer then casually and cooly (slash none of the above) wandered out of the room and then out of the library feeling that familiar nervous excitement.

Some days passed and I actually heard from someone who said they had found it in there. But all I had was a name and an email address and I haven’t heard anything since. Putting that one down to a beautiful moment in time and very grateful to that person as they moved it on within the building. It didn’t go unnoticed as I saw the following tweet…

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They couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it and, of course, I got in touch with the finder to hear their story. A lovely one it is, too.

Until next week…

The Australian Postcard Tales Begin…

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

I did it. I went to the other side of the world. Crikey, it’s far isn’t it? I thought I had an idea of what the cities would be like but no clue about the rest, other than what a few Google images and Trip Advisor searches could let me know. I was surprised and excited by what I found out there. What a magical place. And magic struck again with the postcards. You’d think I’d be used to process by now but every time a postcard was scattered, that nervous excitement kicked in again. The lovely people of Australia were so warm, welcoming and supportive of the project. And, after wondering if I would receive any responses, luck was on my side.

First stop – Melbourne

I felt like I watched approximately 20 films on the flight over. It would have been the perfect time, as I mentioned in my Aus launch blog, to write the postcards. Of course with the frantic last-minute packing and my fussy nature when it comes to choosing the right cards – I didn’t get them in time. Classic. And so, on arrival in Melbourne, I headed into the city to find what I thought – maybe, possibly, not sure – what I was looking for.

The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi was where I spotted some postcards with a design of Australian stamps all over them. That’ll do nicely. I picked up 20 and took them to the counter. Super helpful and lovely, Elle, served me (photo below) and was a more than a little puzzled by my purchase of so many of the same postcard. I told her why, we chatted for a while and then I decided to return a little later to make it up to the whole 60. Job done.

Postcards purchased, now it was time to go off and get writing. The familiar wrist-ache kicked in. Always worth it.

The postcard message:

“Hello there, 

You have found one of 60 postcards scattered around Australia. My name is Rachael and I am visiting from London, UK. The 60 Postcard project first started in memory of my wonderful mum, where postcards were scattered around Paris & NYC, asking the finder to get in touch. Now the tribute has grown and has become more of a collective concept to reach out to strangers, create new connections and to remind us all that grief does not have to be shouldered alone. We are in it together. If you stumble upon this note, please get in touch and become part of the project and story. With heartfelt thanks, Rachael xxx”

It felt good to be writing postcards again and it felt fantastic to be re-launching a project I love so dearly.

As soon as I began to write, I was itching to get out there and leave some around the city. My first stop was the State Library. I had a tip-off from a reader that there was an exhibition there which was right up my street.

And how right she was…..

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Please Note: My 60 Postcards Facebook page is temporarily out of action (for two weeks) due to another blog series I am writing called, ‘Girl Offline’, on the Huffington Post. Read more here.

60 Postcards in Australia: The Relaunch

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

So, it seems to be the 9th of June in the year of 2016 and I have NO IDEA how that happened.

Time has flown. My grief has remained but adapted and moved in different ways, I’ve had new work experiences and become an Auntie. Life’s been good, challenging, surprising and wonderful – things are ticking along pretty nicely. Yet, whereas I really needed to give my head and heart a break from the 60 Postcards project for a while, I’ve recently started to feel like there is something missing in my world. I soon realised that it was this. It’s time to get writing and postcard scattering again.

As ever, I am going for the slapdash, totally unprepared, late-night blogging-over-a-glass-of-wine approach. As ever, I’ve decided to incorporate 60 Postcards in to my upcoming travels. As ever I am still no better at planning the what, the where and the how. Hey – at least I’m consistent.

But the idea is very simple – the way it should be.

I’m hitting Australia at the weekend for a 3-week trip, travelling around Melbourne, Adelaide, Cape Tribulation, Whitsunday and with a final night in Brisbane. There was absolutely no way I could head to the other side of the world for an adventure and not use this opportunity to scatter postcards as I go.

60postcardsinaus

I will handwrite a message on 60 postcards  – explaining that it is a project to remember lost loved ones, that grief is universal and shouldn’t be shouldered alone – and scatter them around the places I visit. I will leave my email on for people to get in touch. I will wait and worry and hope that someone may find one. I will probably drink some beers along the way.

If you want to get involved by sharing ideas or spreading the word, please get in touch. And if you are an Aussie who happens to be around in the locations I am hitting, perhaps you could help with the postcard scattering. I am on 60postcards@gmail.com, tweeting on @60Postcards, photo sharing on the @60Postcards Instagram account and will be posting all updates with the hashtag, #60postcardsAus.

Just 6 days ago I received an email from a man who had stumbled across my book in Brisbane. He is launching a postcard project of his own and I am going to meet him when I am there. Serendipity is back in my vocab.

With just under 48 hours until I leave, I best get postcard writing. Failing that, I’m sure I will find some time on the delightfully long flight. Gah.

It’s good to be back,

Rachael x