Spending more time at home recently means I’ve been doing some well needed tidying up and inevitably discovering items & souvenirs that I hadn’t seen/thought about in a little while.
I’ve also been eating my way through the cupboards and coming across tea/foods which I had been ‘saving for a special occasion’. I’m not sure what the intended significant event was in my head but now feels about right to eat whatever I’ve been ‘saving’.
All this led me to think how lovely it is to have travel memories with me at home and how crazy it is that one taste of something or a look at a photograph, can send you right back to a specific moment.
In the same vain, now feels as good a time as ever to run through a few of my favourite objects/consumable items that take me back:
I’ve had to cut back on this a bit (I can’t fit any more on my walls without looking like a hoarder) but generally whenever I go on a trip, my souvenir of choice is a print. I love having an artistic take on a place I’ve visited up on the wall – it always brings back nice memories and also, makes my house that bit more fun.
It’s especially nice at present, as staring at the same four walls for a while can be a bit depressing, but these prints make it somewhat easier (I have an embarrassing amount more than this so I just picked a select few. I have a bit of a problem.)
Cream of Earl Grey Tea
Bought while living in Toronto, I became obsessed with this tea and for a while it was almost all I drank (apart from beer, of course)
I even wrote a post about how much I liked it.
Once back in the UK, I cut back a bit but only because I only had one pouch of it left. Until, my best friend came back from Canada and knowing me very well, also brought some of this tea back for my birthday.
It’s the dreamiest earl grey and I’m still excited every time I make a cup.
Before print buying, mugs were my choice of souvenir… Until they became a bit difficult to store. I still have a fair few I got from various trips and it’s especially nice when I have guests (of course I do not at present in lockdown), to talk about the places in question. If there’s ever an awkward silence, it’s an easy conversation filler at least!
This mug in particular always makes me laugh because I bought it (funnily enough) while in Shenandoah, on a road trip. This trip took me all round the Great Smoky Mountains, Chicago/Nashville etc, then Toronto/Montreal and then Banff/Lake Louise.
When I was in Banff, I then bought another mug but of ‘Banff National Park’. Both these mugs were then safely wrapped up and carefully transported back to the UK in my suitcase…
It was only when I got back home, that I realised both this mug and my Banff mug had the exact same background: same trees, same bear in the meadow, everything. I don’t know how that ended up happening – if one copied the other or if someone had intended to use the same design, but it made me laugh having mugs from completely different countries with the exact same image on. They probably thought no one would ever realise, I mean who is going to be buying two very similar mugs from two very different places?
This idiot, that’s who.
Perhaps this goes without saying but photos are the easiest way to bring back great memories of a trip – this is why I love printing out my photos and putting them into albums.
I even take some photos digitally and some manually, so that we still get the excitement of getting photos printed and seeing how they came out! Some of the best pictures I have were actually taken on my SLR.
Not everyone I know likes to keep photo albums, as they prefer to keep them digitally, but for me there’s nothing like sitting down and going through all the photos with a cup of tea. I also like to imagine my friends and I looking back at them in years to come, reading the captions and remembering whatever it was we got up to in “2015, all those years ago!”
What’s that? You didn’t think I could be any more of an East London stereotype? Sadly, you are wrong – I am the epitome of London hipsterness at this point.
I love trying new beers when I’m abroad (my god do I miss Canadian ales) and if I can (if I don’t have just a carry on), I always try to bring a couple of these back so I can pretend I’m still there. Then, if we like the bottle, once we’ve drank the beer we put a candlestick in the top and melt wax onto them.
These ones were bought in Budapest and I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out not drinking them…
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
There’s a few books I’ve read on the road – ‘ A Walk in The Woods’ by Bill Bryson, ‘Travels with Charley’ by John Steinbeck and ‘The Geography of Bliss’ by Eric Weiner, amongst others, but On The Road sticks in my head more than others.
I took it with me on my first big trip – ‘Trek America’, travelling from New York to San Francisco in a van, camping across the country, with a group of strangers. It was my first taste of real travel and since then, I’ve caught the bug.
That trip, with the addition of Kerouac’s words while travelling across America myself really was something special and whenever I see it on my shelf, I feel vivid memories of different places I read the book – at a campsite by the Grand Canyon, sat on a rock while eating lunch in Yosemite and in the picture below, during a rainstorm in New Mexico.
Bum Bum Cream
No, weirdly, this doesn’t remind me of Brazil – it actually reminds me of living in Toronto.
I first smelled this cream while in a Sephora and became obsessed with the scent.
It’s quite expensive, so I didn’t ever buy it for myself – instead it was gifted to me as a (very nice) christmas present.
It still feels like a luxury whenever I use it and brings back memories of all the times I stared wistfully at it in the shop, knowing I shouldn’t buy it for myself.
Rosen’s Cinnamon Bun Spread
This stuff is the absolute bomb – since a trip to Stockholm a few years back, I’ve been a bit of a cinnamon bun addict and go out of my way to visit Scandi cafe’s for some fika whenever I can.
Rosen’s in Toronto, is known for it’s incredible cinnamon buns and its so lovely to be able to take a piece of that home with you through this spread (seeing as I still haven’t mastered how to make physical buns myself).
As I have Raynaud’s syndrome, my fingers and toes often really struggle in the cold, turning white/blue and becoming painful. This is something I probably should have thought about when moving to Canada over their FREEZING COLD (I mean -10/15) winters.
This became especially apparently when my friend and I went hiking in Algonquin Park and I had to buy these socks in the gift shop and then wear three pairs of socks on the trail to keep my feet warm. It was -15 and we hiked for hours on a snowy trail but it was the most incredible experience. Yes, there was a moment when we both took our gloves off to eat and nearly cried because our hands were so cold, but instead of crying, we laughed and carried on.
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I’ve always found the “favourite place” question tough because I’m lucky enough to look back on so many places with fond memories. What I will say is that the fondest of these always have the same thing in common – great people. This picture for example, was not taken by a tree / roaming bear. It was taken by my best friend, hiking partner and all round great guy (not bear) @hamiltongjones. Thinking back to this ridiculous hike we undertook in Algonquin Park, in -15, where we packed cupcakes for lunch and didn’t bring a useful trail map… It could have been hideous. But instead it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. Yes there were times we were both so cold that we felt like crying but did we? No, we laughed instead and got our bums round the trail. It’s people, not places that make things so great and I’m glad to say I know some good’uns. ——— #Algonquin #Ontario #Snow #Canada #Favouriteplace #Favouritepeople #Peoplenotplaces #Smowgram #Wintergram #Forest #ProvincialPark #Canadagram #Ontariogram #Timeouttoronto #Torontolife #Travelgram #Hiking #Hikinggram #Fjallraven #Sunny #Sunnygram #Wednesday
Turns out it isn’t just prints and mugs I hoard, it’s also candles/candle holders. The pink jug with dried flowers in was from a beautiful shop in Paris and the little wonky house was from Copenhagen. Honestly though, I have so many bits and pieces like this that bring me so much joy.
My boyfriend and I are due to move into our own flat soon and I cannot wait to fill it with all these wonderful items; scents and memories.
Is there anything in particular in your house that brings back good memories for you?