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Notes from home

notes from home
travel notes :: homecoming
And just like that, we are home.

For the past fourteen weeks, I’ve lived out of a small backpack. The Boy and I have visited eleven countries on three continents. We stayed in hotels, hostels, short-term apartments, the spare rooms of friends and one bright orange camper van. Traveled by plane, train, bus, bicycle, boat, foot, rental car, elephant, taxi, tuk-tuk, back of a pick-up truck and one bright orange camper van. Completed so much visa paperwork that I have no empty pages in a passport that doesn’t expire until 2018. Coped with six languages we don’t speak at all and one I haven’t spoken for fifteen years. Earned qualifications in scuba diving and making coffee. Snapped around nine thousand photos. And still found we were smiling at the end.

And yet, now I write this sat on my very own chair in our very own flat in our very own neighbourhood in Londontown. Our Christmas decorations are still on the floor in the corner of the living room. There’s a stack of post that will take all week to read. So many ‘let’s catch up’ dates we want to make with friends. So many big announcements have been made while we were a bit off the grid. I keep feeling like this is the new year and then realising everyone else feels it’s a quarter over already.

scrapbook page
Right now, there’s a funny honeymoon feeling about our homecoming. Things I have missed seem shiny and new now. Laundry that involves neither a sink nor coins. Reliable hot water. Fluffy towels. My hair dryer and a hair brush that was not a courtesy gift on an airplane. When I open my wardrobe, it’s like all my clothes are brand new again and there’s so much choice! But at the same time, I can’t remember where anything is, even though I know there was some sort of system to what was grouped in each drawer and basket. Scrapbooking supplies are the same: almost like I’ve forgotten what I’ve collected, which is strange since I am used to using that stuff every day and knowing exactly where everything is even when it looks as though that’s completely impossible.

scrapbook page
I’ve been writing notes throughout our entire journey. I fell terribly behind at transferring them from notebook to blog when we hit the lands of less internet (which weren’t necessarily the places on the map you might expect!) and so my plan is carry on writing those posts, a bit at a time. I can even post some of them with coordinating scrapbook pages!

scrapbook page
Which brings us to the big question crafty girls ask about something like this: how are you going to scrapbook those nine thousand photos? And it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit. I think I have a plan, and yet it seems so simple that perhaps something else will come about, but these are my intentions. At the moment, I’m in the process of editing out the rubbish photos and deleting things that are extraneous (in tricky lighting, I tend to take three or four exposures of the same thing, for example, and now that I can view them on my monitor, I don’t really need all the duplicates) and uploading them to Photobox. I’ll be ordering a huge amount of 4×6 prints. Not nine thousand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I order close to two thousand, all told. Which sounds insane. But here’s how I scrapbook 90% of the time: I go to the drawers where I keep tons of 4×6 prints, choose something and start scrapbooking. I don’t scrap chronologically. I don’t feel a themed album has to be completed all in one session. I just go with whatever catches my eye on a given day and that means I’m still adding pages to the album from our trip in the summer of 2006 and our honeymoon album has about a zillion layouts in my head but only a dozen or so actually on paper. Plus I love divided page protectors for adding in more photos without creating more full pages. So I’m excited to get started scrapping those prints but I’m also happy to have lots of other pictures in the photo drawer so I can carry on that process of working with whatever seems right on a given day. That is what keeps scrapping from ever feeling like ‘work’ even when it is my actual job! And I planned from the beginning to use the journal entries and blog posts about each of the different spots as journaling for those pages. I may type it all out on the old typewriter, especially if I can find a ribbon that will give it a bit more ink.

scrapbook page
But I also realise that my scrapbooks are a ‘me’ thing. I love scrapbooking. If you read this, you probably understand scrapbooking. Not everyone does – not even all our family and friends. So I also want to make something more accessible, that takes little to no explanation, and that will come in the form of a chunky photobook. I’ve done photobooks of various events over the years, but they are mostly small in format. Ever since Liz of Paislee Press posted about this book she created with pictures of her daughter, I have kept the idea of a proper coffee table photobook in mind. I’m going to go through and select the very best images and create a book with lots of full page photos and very little text. And in chronological order. So I can look at it on the table and think ‘oh yeah, remember that year when we decided to just drop everything and travel around the world? that’s in that book.’ So I’ll keep you posted on that too. Interestingly, I was convinced in my head that such a big book would be far more than it is, but you can print 200 pages of pretty in hardcover for under £50, which although certainly not crazycheap is about a quarter of what I had imagined.

street signs
But other than those rambled plans, I’m in a little bit of a haze as to where to go from here. Is it worth doing a travel Q&A post? I don’t know if anyone is really interested in how to live from a ridiculously small backpack or how to find out if your spider bite is going to kill you or eleven ways to wear your hair with no more than nine bobby pins. Or if the more curious part is the planning or the budgeting or figuring out what to eat. So if you have questions, please ask away. I can even persuade The Boy to write some answers if you want to hear his perspective. He is far more well-travelled than I, having grown up in three different countries just for starters. And while I am quite excited to come back to different choices of ‘stuff’, he was actually quite happy to continue living from his selection of three shirts indefinitely. He is also more adventurous, so he did some things that I didn’t do, like deep sea diving and eating spiders for dinner. (Well, I ate femur of spider. That’s all I could manage. He ate entire spider for starters and then followed it up with a main course of tree ants. Call it adventure or call it crazy; I won’t argue.) So yes, go ahead and ask what you like in the comments and we’ll put together some answers!

And now that I’m back to my own computer and my paper and scissors, I’m excited for some lovely things here on the blog. The weekly sketch will continue, giveaways every weekend but then some other non-scheduled things too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that means I am very fond of home and pretty paper right now. Very fond indeed.


28 March 2011

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68 Comments for Notes from home

  1. Madeline Says:

    I am so happy you are back home in your own flat and that you are both safe, I won’t have to worry about any more LOL That was an adventure for sure. Are you Ben happy you did that?

  2. Jennie Says:

    Welcome back home -I have followed along on some of your adventures with your posts – and know that you have had an amazing time – but somehow – there’s no place quite like home is there?
    Jennie x
    PS am enjoying BFS class just as much second time round!

  3. MissSmith Says:

    I think the answer is DEFINITELY do a travel Q and A :D Glad you had a good time!

  4. Rebecca Says:

    Welcome home, darling!!! I am so excited to hear more about your traveling! Enjoy the feeling of being home!!! :)

  5. Becky G Says:

    So glad you had such a great time. Can’t wait to see your pages as you scrap them – I love your style of scrapbooking so much! Would love to see a travel Q&A – hubby and I are off on a two week fly drive to the States next year for our silver wedding (not as adventurous as you, but all we can afford timewise) and I am already planning for that!

  6. Jacky Scales Says:

    Glad you’re back safely and had such an exciting adventure.I don’t think I would have eaten any part of a spider!!
    Am also thoroughly enjoying BFS the second time round.

  7. Gill Says:

    I can’t believe it’s so long since we were Journalling our Christmas and you were off on your adventure! Welcome home – and regarding those questions, I’d say just tell us everything!!

    I shall be so interested to see how you record your trip. We travel a lot and every time, I think “I’ll plan, I’ll prepare, I’ll fit it all in nicely” – and yet I never do, I always have to simply go with the flow. I love seeing all the different ways of saving these special times, extraordinary places and once in a lifetime experiences. Because save them we must!!

    It’s good to have you home again and I’m going to enjoy hearing about all the great places you visited on your adventure…just as I am about to set off on mine!

  8. Karen C. Says:

    Welcome home! So glad you are back safe and sound and with a million memories to share!

  9. Katherine Says:

    Beautiful pages – sounds like a great adventure (you are braver than me with spiders….I wouldn’t want to go near a spiders femur, let alone eat it :))

  10. Ruth S Says:

    Great to hear you’re back safe and ready for a bit of scrapping ;)
    I’ve loved hearing your travel posts from far and wide, and will look forward to seeing those LOs whenever you manage them!
    Hugs, Ruth S

  11. kirsty Says:

    Welcome home. Enjoy rediscovering your things. Can’t wait to see some of your pages. Enjoying BFS at the moment

  12. jhayboy Says:

    Welcome home…

    and I know that lost feeling that you are going through now – dont worry, it goes pretty quickly…


  13. Handmade Hannah Says:

    What a fabulous adventure probably never to be repeated. You can dine out on all of your travel stories for years now! You’ll be talking about your trip when you are old and wrinkly together. What fantastic memories to share with someone. I am really looking forward to seeing your layouts with your photos of your travels :)

  14. Sinead Says:

    Welcome home Shimelle! Looking forward to hearing lots more about your trip and seeing it scrapbooked:) x

  15. Victoria B Says:

    Welcome back! yes, I had missed your travel posts – such amazing photos and a easy writing style which gave a fresh perspective on familair places. When I return from a BIG trip, I splash out and get my photos printed at what I consider top quality printing at Peak Imaging. Photobox are great and I use them for my everyday shots. But I find the prints come out a bit dark. The photobooks from there certainly do, although I haven’t used them for a while for a book because of that. Just a thought.
    Thanks too for the sketch a week; I have been pushing myself to try all the pattern papers you mix so effortlessly. And also enjoying the Monthly class at Two Peas. Welcome back, indeed.

  16. Robyn Houston Says:

    Great blog entry today – looking forward to your forthcoming layouts. Following along on your 14 week adventure was enjoyable – what incredible memories for you.

  17. Tracy Says:

    Sounds like you had an amazing time. Good to have you back.

  18. mariangeles_spain Says:

    Welcome back!!

  19. Tammy Says:

    Welcome home! That sounds like quite the adventure. I like your plan for the pictures. I’m the same way – I’d rather have drawers and drawers of photos to scrapbook when ever I want then to ever be “caught up”. :)

  20. Denise Says:

    Welcome home- I know what you mean about re discovering scrap stash!Enjoy getting back into it all.

  21. betsy Says:

    Wow Shimelle! I can’t even imagine the kind of time you must have had! welcome home to you and the boy!

  22. Alison Says:

    Welcome home…glad you have had a wonderful time- hope you get settled back in quickly xx

  23. Cathy Watson Says:

    Welcome home!Hope you are loving your new bathroom.xx

  24. Michelle Says:

    Welcome back! I cant wait to see/hear about ur adventures! I’d also love to know ur hairstyle tricks! lol Glad u had fun…

  25. Kes Says:

    Well hello, and welcome home! I’m a newbie to BFS this time around and enjoying the prompts a lot…
    My SO and I went for 5.5 months around South America arriving home to Melbourne in March of last year – so I can completely understand the having a whole cupboard full of clothes after backpacking for so long, and the ‘discovery’ of your scrapping stash all over again. We were only home for such a short time that I’m already missing a lot again – although I’ve built a new stash in Stockholm! I’m like you, in that I just scrap what takes my fancy on a given day rather than have a plan for everything in the beginning…
    Oh, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your hair ideas – I grew mine out specifically for South America and mostly just sported a ponytail every day!!

  26. Catherine13 Says:

    Sounds fab…looking forward to seeing some of your travel projects… and btw I’ve really been enjoying BFS. Welcome back!

  27. sandie Says:

    Welcome home!! Look forward to hearing more about your travel. What amazing memories & stories you must have.

  28. pidgen Says:

    I loved “riding” along w/ you on your trip and checked back everyday to see where “we” were. lol. so i missed having you post these past few weeks. :(
    I would love to know exactly what you packed! I’m trying to do the 333 project (33 articles for 3 months) and am actually enjoying it. So, I’d love to know what you packed.
    Also, shots of all the hairdos you can do with 9 bobby pins? LOVELY! :)
    Welcome Home!

  29. glee stormont Says:

    welcome home! look forward to the ongoing adventures.

  30. Katie Says:

    Welcome home! Can’t wait to hear more about your travels (especially what you thought of NZ) and see your trip scrapping and photobook :-) That 14 weeks seemed to go very quickly!

  31. Natalie Says:

    Welcome home, Shimelle! It’s been lovely seeing your updates and I’m looking forward to seeing them continue— and also to seeing the layouts you make with your photos. :)

  32. Judi Davis Says:

    Welcome home both of you. Would love to hear more about your travels. Jude.x

  33. JenniferSanborn Says:

    Welcome home!

    Did you take a picture of the backpack you lived out of? I love to travel light and I hope to see how/what you packed.

    I’d be happy to read your Q&A :)

  34. Amy Says:

    I am glad you are home safe and sound! And, it is lovely to see you linked up through the class forum :-)

  35. Erin K Says:

    Glad you made it home safely. Good luck rediscovering life!

  36. Carol Says:

    So glad you and Boy are safely back, Welcome home!

  37. Peta Says:

    Hi Shimelle (and The Boy), welcome home!

  38. Natalie Williams Says:

    Welcome back to London! Can’t wait to hear more about your travels, sounds like such an incredible trip :)

  39. HelenW Says:

    Welcome back! I can identify with that coming home feeling, especially the ‘why on earth do we need so much STUFF’ feeling, it took me quite a while to get over the contrast of living out of a rucksack in communities where people have so little and coming back to a house full of THINGS! I have never managed to sort and print out the 5000 photos I took on my 3 month trip in 2008, so I m hoping to be inspired by you and just get on with it. I generally scrap chronologically (which means I m always behind!), so I like the idea of just choosing the photos and scrapping them when the mood takes me – perhaps I ll try it! H

  40. Delanie Says:

    I had to laugh when I read about your photobook. That’s exactly what I’m doing – even down to using those Off To Press templates by Paislee Press as my inspiration. I have 6 weeks worth of photos from Cuba and the US. I have about 20 pages down, countless more to go. :)

  41. karen aldrin Says:

    Hi Shimelle,a great way to use a huge volume of photos and to include journalling about them is a Project Life album by Becky Higgins.You can add layouts and full photo pages throughout.

  42. TracieH Says:

    Welcome home :D

  43. Dawn Says:

    Great to have you back, can’t wait to read more about your fabulous trip and see the many photos and layouts you’ll produce.
    What lovely memories you’ll have forever.

  44. Annette Navarro Says:

    Welcome back home! I’ve enjoyed your posts and photos that you managed to blog along the way of your trip. Of course I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing lots more of your adventures. You are so funny!

  45. Lara Says:

    Welcome home! Have loved checking in now and again to see what you’re up to. Glad to have you back with a thousand plus photos to scrap – lots to be inspired by! xx

  46. KateinCleveland Says:

    Oh yes please … looking forward to hearing more about your travels.

  47. Mel Says:

    Welcome home :-) Lovely to have you back – though it’s been lovely to hear about your travels, and I look forward to hearing (and seeing) still more!

    I have a travel Q: I’m going to California in the summer (woo hoo!!) which I’m just a tad excited about, but it’ll be my first ever long haul flight – 4 hours has been my max so far! Any tips for surviving a long flight and adjusting quickly to a vastly different time zone? Thank you! xx

  48. jenna Upson Says:

    So glad you had a fab time away, But so glad that you are back home with us! i have missed all your beautiful projects Shimelle x

  49. Joy Says:

    Great to have you back! My son is planning a 3 month journey across lots of different countries so any advice would be welcome!

  50. Katie Kelley Says:

    Welcome. happy. Love reading any post you write of any length.

  51. scrappysue Says:

    Welcome back Shimelle! Its been lovely to hear of your travels, and very happy to hear that you will be sharing your pages too! I might just have to make coffee books with the ridiculous amount of photos we take on our long vacations (5 or 6 weeks though, nothing quite as long as yours!).

  52. Michelle Clement Says:

    I would love to read your travel Q & a! i’m quite the novice backpack-liver-out-of-er, and I know a trip is in our future. :) lol. I hope you had an amazing time!!

  53. Irene Fitzpatrick Says:

    Welcome home! Loved your travel posts and photos!

  54. Tinkersdamn Says:

    @Mel- stay hydrated!

    Welcome back Shimelle! I read my husband the bit about the Boy being happy to still wear the same 3 shirts, and he just said “Well! If it’s a good shirt, why switch?” Men.
    I just had about 600 photos printed and found that Snapfish, though slower, is about half the price of Photobox. Same quality. HTH

  55. MMarie Says:

    Welcome home! I’ve loved your journey and also am VERY curious about how you lived in the backpack (I’ve done a small book bag for a 1 wk trip to Europe and thought that was good, but not 14 wks), tips like your hair, etc. And I’d realy love to know how you planned the trip, how much time it took to pull together, and the financial side of things. It’s dream of mine to do something similar with my family one day. Thank you so much. Get some rest!

  56. LucyF Says:

    I too have really enjoyed reading about your travels!
    A few Q’s:
    what did you take with you? was there anything you took & found you didn’t need or anything you wish you had taken?
    how did you decide where to go & how much did you book beforehand vs when you were there?
    what were the biggest challenges you faced?
    was there anything that surprised you in a “good” way?
    what would your #1 tip be for anyone thinking of doing something similar?

  57. Kirsten Says:

    Omigosh, Shimelle! I did think you were crazy at the beginning – I turn into a basket case when we have to travel to Eastern Washington for a weekend for my daughter’s softball tournaments! You should have seen me head out for a cruise last November….I’d love to hear anecdotes. And wonder this…did you have a restless, “unsettled” feeling the entire time, being on the move so much? Or did you find a way to make each place a bit of home? I think the stress of that long on the road might do me in!!!

  58. Michelle Clement Says:

    he he – Okay, I’ll leave some questions! I liked what you were talking about above: How do you live from a ridiculously small backpack?? I definitely want to learn eleven ways to wear your hair with no more than nine bobby pins, too! I’m curious about how you found places to stay – did you do hostels? hotels? Any tips on finding not really really skeezy places! Also – tips for doing laundry in sinks? lol. I have before, and I don’t know what I was doing, but it took waaaay too long to dry! :) Thanks, lovely!

  59. Barbara Says:

    Welcome back, glad you had a wonderful time, I have enjoyed your blog and twitter updates and look forward to more posts and scrapbook pages.

  60. lorena b. Says:

    Welcome back Shimelle! What an adventure I can only dream about! One day my daughter (teenager!) & I will take some kind of trip, probably not like yours, but an adventure nonetheless. I was fortunate to have traveled a little as a child with my parents and wish the same for her. Loved to read how you scrap because it’s pretty much how I do too! Yay for you and The Boy on your fantastic voyage!

  61. Sarah Says:

    Welcome home! I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures, and am looking forward to all your posts about your travels. I, for one, would like to hear about everything that you listed above, and especially how to live out of a backpack!

  62. Anna Says:

    Welcome home Shimelle xx

  63. Iara Says:

    welcome back home Shimelle! can’t wait for your posts, pictures and travel layouts!

  64. Shannon Hager Says:

    Welcome home! I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures. I would love to know which places would be kid-friendly. My family and I are moving to Okinawa this summer. We are hoping to do alot of traveling around Asia. Thanks!

  65. sarah Says:

    Welcome Home!! Can’t wait to hear more about your travels…I loved the posts you did when you first went but realise it was hard to keep up when on the road. My question would be this…if you could revisit just 3 of the places you went to (could be a particular town, city, event, landmark etc…) which 3 would that be and why??? Thanks xx

  66. Alexa Gill Says:

    Oh this all sounds so familiar. It’s really exciting to be home at first, but it doesn’t take too long for that to wear off! Glad you had a wonderful time. I am still occasionally scrapping pictures from my rtw trip in 07/08 and I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘caught up’. But I’m ok with that, it’s still fun to scrap stories from time to time and reminisce.

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