Journalling a sibling rivalry

One of the good things about having a sibling is that you can test whether certain quirks of your personality are a result of nature or nurture. Mim and I have a reputation for sororal telepathy as far as fashion, birthday greetings and Facebook statuses are concerned (we published near identical ones on our return from Paris and not simply in a “I just came back from Paris” way).

However, one major difference in our personalities relates to travel. I love it; she doesn’t. Flights to and from Belfast are taken under duress. She has absolutely no desire to visit New Zealand. She’s not spectacularly keen on new places. And when she does travel, she doesn’t write a journal…

As I’ve explained before, our parents were very insistent when we were growing up that we should record our family holidays for posterity. Not just photographically, but in writing. As youngsters we were started on scrapbooks that might contain a sentence or two about our activities (very early books indicate some tracing over parental writing) as well as suitable souvenirs and illustrations – drawings of sandcastles, ice lolly sticks, postcards and sheep wool amongst other ‘interesting’ items. This progressed to more writing based journalling – by age 9 I was writing more and in notebooks of my own choosing. Generally, such entries were about food – but I’ve mentioned that before too.

When we went to America the summer I was 10 and Mim was 7 the journalling was even more important – it was part of the deal struck with school to let us out of the classroom a few weeks early for an important cross-cultural encounter. The last time I read through my creation I discovered a bizarre mix of (bad) drawings (particularly one of Ellis Island and someone crying), lists of food (typical) and observations of weird Americanisms (our mother specifically told us before we left that we should only refer to rubbers as erasers in America, it took me years to work out why). Anyway, the pinnacle of Mim’s travel journalling career was reached during this summer, with her description of our 4th July experience in New York:

“We watched fireworks, this is the sound they made: bang.”
[Actually, to give the girl credit, she was still 3 weeks off turning 7 and managed to use a colon correctly.] 

Anyway, the bottom line is that travel journalling is a past time that me and my parents value immensely, but she doesn’t. My journalling has been refined over the years to the point that I’m now terribly specific about what is required (what a surprise, me, being terribly specific about something!):
  • A5 sized notebook, lined, preferably with an elastic band round the cover. 

  • Different colour pens. (Or, as I acquired recently, a pen of many colours – not had one since school!)

  • Scissors, glue & sticky tape. 

  • Pile of stuff gleaned from places visited – tickets, boarding passes, receipts, postcards, business cards, maps, food packaging… 

  • [Top tip for you: if you want photos of landmarks etc, pick up as many brochures as you can find in tourist information centres, then cut them up to illustrate your writing.] 


I’m incredibly glad my parents instilled this in me. In fact, it probably goes some way to explaining my fondness of blogging and did, in part, lead to my Palestinian blog which is basically a write up of my journal from a trip there in 2007. I dug out the diaries (or at least the grown up ones) last night for the purpose of this post and read the one from my first trip back to the Pacific from cover to cover. I’m quite proud of that one – I was a student and had plenty of time on my hands to work on it when I got back, which probably explains this hand-drawn map of Waiheke Island: 


One of my favourites is from my US trip two years ago. Perhaps because I travelled solo, I got a lot more of it done along the way, and it’s full of random bits of rubbish – an Oreo packet; mini cereal box; and Magnolia bakery boxes to name but a few. I had a lovely A5 notebook, with a classic NYC image on the front, but the irritating thing was that because American paper sizes are different, stuff I collected didn’t always fit – thank goodness I carried scissors… 

Oh yes, and the other thing I’ve got into – the notebook cover collage. As if the inside wasn’t enough!
Going back to my sister and journalling. As we waited for the Eurostar at some unearthly hour of the morning the other week, our Mum handed us a notebook each and informed us that she was carrying glue – just in case. I hadn’t been sure that two days in Paris would merit a journal, but this was only an A6 sized book and it was, after all, my first trip there. I wrote up some of the trip while we were there and on the way home, Mum took notes from guidebooks and my camera on the train and what did Mim do? Sleep. No mention was made as to whether there would be a prize for the best completed journal, but if there was, I hope I’d win after the effort I put into finishing it on Sunday.
Creative use of the Paris iPhone photos and a classic cover collage. 

What’s that you say? I ought to get a life? At least the next time I visit Paris I’ll know exactly where to find the truly amazing patisserie we visited…

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